Decorating on a Dime? This week’s article will be a step-by-step guide on how to create your own Moroccan ambiance under a few hundred bucks. Now that’s a deal! A bit of history.
Those who know me personally can say I have eclectic experiences. I love traveling, exploring cultures, meeting people, learning and of course eating! I don’t think I’ll ever give up these habits! One of my favorite places to visit is Morocco. The first time, I was working on a film shoot and hardly had a day off except on Sundays and normally I’d be in the hammam spa or in the souk looking for new treasures.
On my second visit, I made a pact with myself - I need to experience like the way Bebere people do. So that means wear a Jilaba, travel on a camel and roam the Sahara desert in search of fresh ingredients. I ended up taking a 5-week culinary course in a Bedouin-like camp and learned how to cook traditional Moroccan cuisine, as they do. It was my most memorable travel journal. I love preparing tagines (heavy clay pot), homemade cous cous, orange with rose water, fresh mint tea, baked dates and more!
A few weeks ago, I was approached by a popular food tv station as they heard I learned how to cook with tagines – the real thing! So they want to feature me on their cooking show and teach the host and viewers how to prepare a true Moroccan feast.
As I’m all about ‘wow’ factor, I decided to convert my drab spare room into a Moroccan haven. Its my plan to have the tea and sheesha pipes with maybe a surprise belly dancer…hmm? Most of my house is decorated with unique items from all my travel adventures but my spare room needed a slight revamp. I use it for meditation and those ‘peace-out’ moments, fairly minimalist. It was my intention to redecorate and this opportunity just kicked me into high gear, as the tv spot is weeks away.
I was on a tight budget, so I did most of the prep work myself.
Here’s how I started:
1. Define what you want and the colour tones to work with your space. I went with burnt orange shade as my walls were a light Ralph Lauren suede green and burnt orange adds a real warmth. I knew I wanted to hang one of my striking Moroccan lanterns, inset with varying stones, so I had to make sure everything would contrast well.
2. Measure the space. This is critical especially as you’ll be buying fabric by the yards! Measure length by width. Do it wall-to-wall as it's the same size as the ceiling.
3. Determine the type of fabric. As one end of my room had bay windows, I selected fabric that was somewhat sheer, flowing, as I wanted to weave the fabric. I wasn’t going for a true tent as the room is horizontal and it would have made the room look smaller.
4. Then create a prototype as one cannot return cut fabric at the shops. So I had to envision how I want to create the weave. I took a number of sari panels and safety pinned them and suspended them from one end of the room to the other. One can use sheets as well.
5. To tie fabric, use durable fishing wire – its amazingly strong and invisible. Once the prototype was on the mark, I then measured out how much more fabric I would need to create the effect. Its an 11x15 ft room, so I went with 14 yards of fabric with 120’ width.
6. Head to the fabric store. I had an idea in my mind of the type of fabric, I went to my fav spot. A hidden gem to find bolts of extensive quality fabric for dirt cheap is Fabric Fabric. It took me an hour as I had to go through all the aisles as it wasn’t really organize by fabric type. Voila! I found it. At first site, it had a crinkle in it and at first I wasn’t sure but as I unraveled the fabric, I fell more in love with it.
7. I placed a white piece of paper behind it to see if it was too transparent or not. As my ceilings are a stucco concrete white (ugh), I had to cover them without closing the space with solid fabric.
8. I also weighed the fabric (in my hand) as density is important and when your weaving through fishing wire, it can’t be too weighty.
9. Cut the fabric. I asked for 14 yards, keeping in mind the width had to be generous and
10. Negotiate. Its in my Indian blood and just can’t help it! Of course I chose the pricier fabric, so time to bargain. It was fun tho’, there is an art to this so not everybody can do it.
11. Phone Designer Dan to the rescue. I needed more hands and someone who comes equipped with ladders and drill kits to boot! This is needed as it’s hard to do this alone. One needs height and of course a concrete drill bit – that’s key.
12. Re-measure to determine the points to screw in bronze S-hooks and make sure its accurate. Then we tied the fishing line through the hook, one end to the next so it was horizontal. We created three parts.
13. Then we took one end of the fabric and started to weave through, above and below the fishing wire. We safety pinned the ends and tied the fishing wire tightly so it yanked the fabric up to the ceiling.
14. Start to ‘fill’ by gathering fabric to the middle and balance across the ceiling. I didn’t want any white ceiling to peep through so I made sure the fabric gathered and safety pinned in areas of concern.
15. The lantern installation. We took an S-hook and concrete drill and wall plugs. First drill a small hole in ceiling, insert the plug and then S-hook, it will hold in tact and will be solid.
16. More fishing wire. Just dangled a bit, as wanted the lantern tied below the fabric but not too low.
Presto! You got yourself a beautifully, rich, Moroccan haven, done on a dime! I’m so excited to not only do the tv shoot but watch it, when it airs. I will get the butterflies in my stomach as I know it will be visually spectacular. Let’s just hope my culinary lessons can match up to the decorating skills!
Designer Dan – Dan Yarhi, http://yarhisite.com.
More Photos of Morocco on my FB – Lina Dhingra – fb me!