Peek Inside the Most Stunning Homes in Marrakech

Of the many museums in Marrakech, there’s one that designer Meryanne Loum-Martin always brings first-time visitors to help them get a sense of the city’s eclectic architectural legacy: Dar Si Said, housed in a 19th-century palace. “There’s a room that gathers absolutely all of the elements of design, from the mosaics, to the carved wood, to the painted wood, to the carved plaster, to the painted plaster—everything is in one room,” says Loum-Martin. “For me, it’s the essence of Marrakech.”

On her very first visit to the city nearly 35 years ago, the former lawyer turned interior designer felt at home. “I’m a mix of a lot of things, part French West Indian, part Senegalese,” says Loum-Martin, who was born in Côte d'Ivoire and lived in London, Moscow, and Paris before settling in Marrakech. “Diversity and mix is part of my DNA, and it is something that I have found here.” Historically, Marrakech has been a crossroads of cultures that have each contributed to the city’s unique aesthetic sense, and today, that global vibrancy continues to draw in creatives.

Those creatives now comprise Loum-Martin’s social circle, and she’s long been fascinated with the way they’ve devised their homes to combine their own tastes with traditional Moroccan decor. “There are a lot of places where there’s fantastic style, but it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to respect the local style and mingle it with your own,” she says. “In Morocco, and in Marrakech, in particular, foreign creatives can be themselves and yet have a Moroccan house.”

This juxtaposition of design sensibilities—where contemporary minimalism can meet ornate tilework, where opulent textiles can meet bare earthen walls—became the foundation of Loum-Martin’s upcoming book, Inside Marrakesh: Enchanting Homes and Gardens (Rizzoli, $60). Here, take a peek at its page

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“This room is like a European château in Marrakech,” says Loum-Martin of a Belgian couple’s living room. “The structural elements like the fireplace are Moroccan, and the furniture is European, like the animal-print sofas, which are a wink to Madeleine Castaing, the famous French interior designer.”

a white bedroom

In 1999, Loum-Martin began incorporating bleached wood into her Moroccan-style interiors, which were more typically filled with darker woods. For her own riad in Marrakech, Princess Letizia Ruspoli of Italy, alongside designer Jérôme Vermelin, kept things light and bright, including wood elements like the window frames and the small side table in the corner.

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Maïté and Paolo Bulgari tapped local architect Amine Kabbaj and Spanish design duo Gustavo and Pablo Paniagua for their home in the medina. “The ceiling is treated in a very modern approach,” says Loum-Martin. “It’s a classic Moroccan pattern but enlarged and in natural cedar wood. In another house they would’ve painted it in a darker varnish or in patterns.”

a courtyard pool

“This house is a totally different take on Moroccan inspiration,” says Loum-Martin. “You have the arches, plaster, ceramics, zellige, but it’s completely personal. It’s a house designed by an artist more than an interior designer.” Here, traditional Moroccan patterns are abstracted and reinterpreted with a contemporary Milanese bent.

an outdoor dining area

At the home of the Marquess Franco Santasilia Di Torpino and his wife, Rafaella, India-inspired decor blends with traditional Moroccan elements. “Marrakech allows you to live outdoors in a very sophisticated way,” says Loum-Martin. “There is this kind of outdoor refinement, which I love.”

a white alcove seat

Inside Marrakesh, by Meryanne Loum-Martin, Rizzoli New York, 2020.

Peek Inside the Most Stunning Homes in Marrakech