Skip to main content

Travel Treasure Transformation

By |

Photo: Bruce Murray/Visionfire

A rug from Morocco spices up a dining room design

Think back to a day when travel wasn’t quite so limited. You are walking around the quiet shops in the vibrant city of Marrakesh in Morocco. The textiles, pottery and rugs are unlike anything you’ve seen back home, and one rug in particular is calling your name. “I have to have it…” Suddenly you’re paying an arm and a leg to ship it across the earth to get it settled into its new Atlantic Canadian home.

This was the prelude to my recent work at a client’s home. As I entered the front door, the first thing that caught my eye was of course this incredible wool, multi-coloured Moroccan rug, that lay lonely on the dining room floor. I knew they hadn’t bought it here, and that the dilemma was going to be: “Do we use this rug … or abandon it to the basement?” 


Sometimes that object that you just can’t go home without loses its lustre when you actually have it in your space. It just looks different from what you envisioned and what felt special and exciting in the moment creates a bigger problem and in some cases buyer’s remorse. But this homeowner committed to her souvenir and a plan that would see this memento of a special trip become the inspiration for a fresh new look for her dining room.

The colour red is a difficult work-around for me. It can be harsh and unforgiving when attempting to soften a space and create a calming environment. But that’s what we decided to do. We wanted to work with the rug and try to optimize its beauty by softening the other features in the room and allowing it to really be the focal point of the dining space. 

The trio of baskets adds an additional element of texture to the dining room and makes a connection to the  Moroccan marketplace memories. Photo: Bruce Murray/Visionfire

We swapped out bright coral window dressings and heavy drapes for soft flowing cream linen. I happened to stumble across a beautiful rattan chandelier that would tie in earthy texture to the bohemian vibe of the rug. We installed creamy grass cloth wallpaper behind the existing antique, buffet table to add more dimension to the space. That was our plan: cream tones and various textures to build up around the show-stopping rug. 

We layered a large sisal rug underneath our Moroccan rug to expand the space of the dining room, added farmhouse dining chairs & pulled the mustard out of our rug for a custom dining bench. We kept the sitting area open, and bright with new accent chairs, nesting coffee tables and various neutral textiles. 

Luckily for me, these clients have exceptional taste in artwork, and we incorporated some large beach scenes filled with colour and calmness. 

The lesson? Don’t buy expensive things abroad that you don’t know what to do with. But if you do, find a way to continue the romance when you return home. Sometimes it’s the best outcome; this was one of those stories.

East Coast Living