Even if you’ve never been to Morocco in your life you’ll be familiar with the concept. The courtyard gardens filled with lush greenery and a sparkling fountain. Often surrounded by ornate plasterwork, architectural arches and warm rich colours. You can almost hear the sound of the water, feel the warmth, and imagine what it’s like to sink into those cushions. And as the sun goes down and the lanterns are lit, you can almost taste the spices and hear the call to prayer.
Well, if you fancy a little bit of Moroccan magic in your own backyard, it’s not as difficult as you think.
Tiles covered with geometric or other patterns are a big feature of Moroccan houses, both inside and out. They are not just confined to the floors and walls of kitchens and bathrooms either. To mimic a courtyard garden in your own home you could use patterned tiles on the floor and walls too. Don’t be afraid to mix patterns. And if cost is an issue you can always mix plain terracotta tiles with patterned ones, tile half way up the wall only, or create a feature wall with tiles. An even more economical way to use tiles is to cover the top of the dining table instead.
Let’s not be impractical here. I know we don’t find many architectural arches outside of hot countries. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create the illusion of one. If you’re handy with the paintbrush you can map out an arch shape and finish with two contrasting colours. This will also add depth visually to your backyard. Or alternatively you can hang an arch-shaped mirror on the wall. This will not only give you the ornamental shape indicative of Morocco but the reflection will make your space look larger too.
There’s nothing more soothing or cooling than the soft tinkling sound of running water. It’s not too difficult to install a fountain and there are plenty of options both online or at your local garden centre. A typical Moroccan courtyard would have its fountain at the centre but you may prefer (and it may be easier to install) to have one along the wall.
Daybeds and Cushions
Comfort is key here. For practical reasons choose a wooden or metal daybed so that it can be left outside all year round. And then pile it high with comfy cushions. There are no rules here. You may prefer to add lots of pattern and clashing colours, or keep it more muted with cream colours covered in shimmering sequins.
Then when the sun goes down, you’ll want to light candles in as many lanterns as possible. Hang some up if possible, put them on tables, and have yet more on the floor. They are not particularly expensive, so vary the size, shape and metals if you like but the general rule is more is more.
This is not the place for understated planting. The bigger specimens will look more dramatic and create more shadows and atmosphere. Place them in large terracotta pots in the corners of the space and around the daybed for added impact and shade from the sun. Then sit back, sip your sweet mint tea and pretend you’re in warmer climes.
All images are courtesy of H & M Home and feature accessories from their Summer 2019 range.
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