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If you’re brave enough to throw away the decor rule book and embrace a profusion of colour, pattern and exotic accessories, you could be ready for the hottest interiors trend this autumn – Moroccan style.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 6th October 2012, 5:00 pm

Vibrant textiles, tiles and sensual textures are key ingredients, and are instant way to add warmth and personality.

Best of all, to achieve this visual feast, you don’t need to dig out your passport. Inspired by the North African Kingdom, designers have brought ‘souk style’ to the high street.

There’s no greater enthusiast for this look than Maryam Montague, author of the brilliant Marrakech By Design.

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“I fell in love with Moroccan design 10 years ago and I’ve never looked back,” she says, as she takes me on a tour of her home in Marrakech.

It was built by her architect husband in modern Moroccan style with domes, a spiral staircase and a small casbah-like tower, and is named Peacock Pavilions after the exotic pets which roam and screech in the garden.

“In a world filled with beige interiors, Moroccan decor seems the perfect antidote,” Montague says with a smile.

“It’s a refuge for addicts of saturated colour, and a haven for devotees of intricate pattern. This decor is not for the minimalist, but for the modern-day maximilist.”

Comfort is never sacrificed and her living area features cosy banquettes – low-slung couches – piled high with embroidered cushions. Beside them sit tea tables made from hand-etched trays.

Lanterns hang in clusters from the ceiling, casting intricate patterns onto the tiled floors below, collections of pottery in shades of turquoise and jade gleam from every corner, and there’s added interest provided by items discovered in the souks.

“The beauty of Moroccan style is that it’s attainable. It can suit any setting, yet it’s exotic, practical yet mysterious, and a little splash of it goes a long, long way,” says Montague.

Follow Montague’s style recipe for a magical Moroccan interior.

Pattern power

Picking up on pattern is essential, with Moroccan rooms boasting different patterns on walls, ceilings, doors and furnishings.

“Creating a wall of vibrant, decorative tiles is a fantastic way of introducing some mood-enhancing colour and an exotic Eastern touch,” says Leila Roberts, tile category manager at Fired Earth.

“Think about combining patterns and colours to create a warm, tapestry-like effect. If you’re not sure about tiling an entire wall, then a tiled panel with painted walls either side can be a great compromise, acting as a dramatic backdrop to furniture and accessories.”

Source souk style: Handmade, hand-decorated Marrakech tiles (11.8cm square) from Fired Earth are suitable for floors and walls, and come in Honey and Turquoise, £4.82 each, and monochrome patterned Targa, £9.95 each.

Colour magic

Playing with a dazzling palette of shades to conjure the rich, enticing sensuality of Moroccan rooms is fundamental to this style, says Montague.

“Colour is embraced as a source of happiness, visual stimulation and beauty. It often starts with the front door which will be painted blue to ward off the evil eye.

“Colour continues indoors, varying from sunny shades, such as orange and yellow, through to deep reds, while greens represent fertility and growth.”

Interpreting the look in a contemporary way is easily done with deep shades of orange, advises Marianne Shillingford, creative director at Dulux.

“You don’t need to consume a space with a vibrant colour – be creative by painting a pattern by using a stencil or by experimenting with a special effect perhaps on a feature wall,” she says.

Source souk style: An orange Moroccan Flame matt emulsion, £24.29 for 2.5 litres, could be teamed with the soft grey Urban Obsession matt emulsion, £14.59 for 1.25 litres, both from Dulux.

Sultry seating

Living rooms in Morocco are designed to be beautiful, restful and versatile with ample seating for the constant flow of guests, says Montague.

Characteristic seating is a Moroccan banquette, a low-slung backless couch, which typically runs along all three walls forming a U-shape.

“Create a banquette by placing a twin mattress on wooden pallets and then layering with lengths of brilliantly coloured fabrics or throws and use lavishly embroidered cushions for a snug, inviting feel,” she suggests.

“Place a pair of matching pouffes in front of a fireplace for an exotic touch and for further seating use large floor cushions.”

Source souk style: Next’s collection includes an onion-shaped, Surat multi-coloured ceiling pendant, £48, and a striking Multi-Door canvas, £30, featuring typical Moroccan doorways – a perfect finishing touch.

Exotic sanctuary

Bedrooms are particularly suited to an infusion of Moroccan style. “For those who prefer bedrooms of the dramatic and mysterious type, use patterned plush rugs, Bohemian day beds and walls saturated in colour to create a sensual boudoir,” says Montague.

“If that’s a little too rich for your taste, simply intersperse calming layers of soft whites and ivories amidst the richly patterned furnishings.

“Paint walls in creamy beige and taupe and focus colour and pattern in a wall hanging.”

Other touches she suggests are hanging a pierced lantern from a ceiling, so it casts patterns over walls when lit, and using an Eastern-style carpet instead of a headboard for a bed.

Source souk style: Plunder Dunelm Mill’s home collection, which features a Moroccan pendant shade, £24.99, and a daisy-shaped bevelled mirror, £69.99. For atmosphere, conjure an exotic scent with the Moroccan Spice tinned candle, £3.99.