Sunday, 23 November 2014

We are Alarmed!

One of the projects during this weekend was to have a security system installed in the Riad.

Marrakech is a very safe city. Safer than most European cities for sure and the people of Morocco are very honest. Nevertheless we wanted to have a security system installed so that we can keep track of the Riad also when we are not in town (easy access via ipad or smartphone). Furthermore we wished to improve fire safety and make sure housekeeper Rachida feels safe when she is alone in the house. Rachida is in the house every day, which is probably the best security system in existence. Now the house will be equally safe when she is leaving for the night. 

 The design of the Riads are very open and all rooms open up towards the courtyard 
- now all these areas are covered by motion monitors and detectors.

We chose the newest system from Visonic and bought everything from Protexus in Sweden. Protexus prepared the system according to our wishes. We checked in all components when flying down to Marrakech and once there our "handyman" Fariji had everything installed in a couple of hours. Protexus then activated and adjusted everything and provided great support via remote. It was very easy and professional.

The brain of the system

Easy to use remote controls for managing the system and panic alarms etc.

Sirens with flashlight outside, to drive potential thiefs as well as neighbors insane

Smoke detector, motion detector and siren - all in one

The Riad is now secure

Per, in the alley outside the Riad,
Our entrance is the door with the green little roof at the end of the street.

It feels good to have this extra security in the house and it enables us to monitor whats going on also regarding fire, water, heat etc. 

Protexus was very professional and we had the best possible support of their customer service. The Visonic is the best available security system in the market, used globally by both private persons and corporate businesses. Check them out if you want to own your own system (instead of renting as with Securitas etc).

Be Safe,

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Off to the Red City for the weekend!

We left Stockholm really early this morning and will arrive at 10am to Marrkaech and enjoy 4 full days in the sun.

Marrakech in November, 22C and sunny

We have some practical issues to attend to before our permanent move in January. We need to visit our local bank, have a security system installed in the riad and follow up some projects we initiated in the house during our last stay. We checked in 2 big suitcases each and start to bring down the clothes and supplies we need for next year. We will also check out some new restaurants and bars.

This will be the last visit before we bring Disco (our dog) and move down mid January - we cant wait!

Soon we will be back in the alleys of Marrakech and our street in the medina!

Dinner with a view at El Fenn, we will dine here one of the evenings

We secured our tickets to TED talks in Marrakech on Febuary 28, we really look forward to this event! Why not join us?

Greetings from the skies and thank you Norwegian for free wifi in the plane!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Our new home part II: Decorating a house in Africa

It was early November 2012 and we had finally received the keys to our new home in the medina, now it was time to make it ours.

The house and swimming pool were in good conditions when we bought it (except some urgent paint job). When you buy houses in Morocco you normally buy it with the previous owners furniture and lets just say we had a bit different tastes in interior design. We wanted a traditional Moroccan feeling but with a modern twist.

So we sat out to meet local carpenters and artists to design the furniture, decor and textiles we needed. We chose a quite tight color plate: red/grey/white and copper, with the exception of the library/pool side salon that became the "Gold Lounge".

Mood Board, Color Plate for the interior:





Expressed by Moroccan pictures:




The result...

One of the salons after re-decoration and featuring the new color plate.
Antique copper tray table, grey kelim carpet, brass lamps and red/grey sofa. 
White walls, antique entry doors. Painting by well known local artist

The entire Riad was painted, outside as well as inside, a job you have to re-do every year due to the climate. Wooden doors and furniture were custom made by our fantastic carpenter Aziz and textiles to all rooms by his brother Si-Mohammed. We roomed the souks and antique stores for rugs, antiquities that fit our taste and had a lot of lamps special made (traditional Moroccan style with red/white glass to match our interiors)

The first floor gallery

During the first year of renovations and decorations we kept coming back, always discovering something new about our house and the medina, learning more and more about Marrakech and the people of Morocco. We actually made a quite good business renting out the house when we were not in town. But once everything was ready we were so happy with the results that we felt reluctant to have strangers stay there, after all they could break our carefully selected wine glasses or stain the precious fabrics! We decided to make it our second home, where friends and family would be welcome but no strangers, and the guesthouse business was put on hold, perhaps to be resumed in the future.

Below are some additional pictures of details from our Riad. This is quite a different style compared to our very minimalistic and strict Stockholm home that is all about black, white, chrome, glass and design icons. Its great to be able to have two so very different homes with different styles In two different continents.

    Antique Arabic door from the 18th century (left), Moroccan copper lamp (right)

Traditional Moroccan chairs and table in the upstairs hallway

The entrance hall

Lounge upstairs

One of the three bedrooms, this one with brown/beige colors

Another bedroom, here in grey/white colors
Cosy log fire in winter time

Moroccan lamp in one of the salons

 "The Gold Lounge" and library, with pink tadelkat walls.
The marks/moist that you find on tadelakt walls are called "Jinnes" 
and are considered the spirits of the house and not to be removed...

Lounge area upstairs, grey/red/white

Special made lamps with red/white glass 

Roof terrace

For more inspiration from Morocco, check out the informative and clever blog and shop of our neighbor Maryam Montague. She also wrote a very good book on Moroccan design, Marrakech by Design, available on Amazon. We suggest you buy it and bring some Marrakech magic into your homes!

Do you love or hate this kind of interiors?

Moroccan love,

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Our new home part I - Buying a house in Africa

The typical Riad is build around a courtyard, which is the center of the house
This is the "patio" of our new home

Riad – The Arabic work ”Ryad” translates into ”garden” and the traditional Moroccan riads were originally built as private palaces for the upper classes and royalties. A secret and serene hideaway from the hectic buzz in the medina. A riad is typically built around an inner courtyard and this architectural style magically eliminates the noise from the busy streets outside. You will experience the magic of Marrakech while walking through the 1000 years old narrow alleys and than escaping into your own little paradise. All rooms and doors, except the entry to the house, face the patio that is the center of the home.

 A traditional courtyard, laid out in squares and with a pool or fountain in the middle

Riads are completely closed to the outside world ensuring privacy and calm. For instance when you enter a riad in the medina you immediately face a wall and have to go right to enter the house, this design is to make sure that no one can look into your home when the door is opened. The same logic applies for windows and balconies that all face the inner courtyard and never the streets outside. The center of the home is the courtyard and this is were you show the finest things you have. The greater wealth the greater courtyard filled with trees as well as detailed arts and crafts.

Buying a house in Africa
It was mid June 2012 we went down to Marrakech to look at properties and possibly find our own Riad in the ancient medina. We soon learned that although all the alleys may look the same at a first glance there are the same differences in districts and property prices in the narrow streets of Marrakech as in New York or Stockholm.

After visiting everything from houses inspired by New York lofts to really run down ruins we found our little gem, Riad Arabe, located at the highest point in the medina in a very nice neighborhood.

It was operated as a guest house so we checked in and spent 2 nights in the house. We loved it, none of the other properties we visited could compare. We decided there and then to go for it.

After agreeing on the price with the owner followed several trips to get all the legal documentations and formal paper work done and in November we finally got the keys to our new home. Buying property in Morocco is actually a quite standardized process that feels safe even for a foreigner. With the help of our real estate agent Valerie, the notary office, a lawyer and a translator we got the buying process all wrapped up without any hiccups.

If you want to check out the Marrakech real estate market, we can strongly recommend our real estate agent Valerie and her Cote Medina .

The courtyard pool

Layout of the Riad
Riad Arabe is a traditional Riad (about 350m2) and was built in the end of the 19th century. The house consists of a impressive entry hall, a roomy main salon, a kitchen (off limit for anyone but our housekeeper), bathroom and a library/second salon downstairs. There is the palm filled courtyard with a very nice pool and a "B´hou" (outdoor lounge, see the picture left). Upstairs there are 2 double bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and another salon with a nice log fire. Up the stairs once more and you find a third bedroom with bathroom. The roof terrace has amazing views over the medina. The Riad is quite big and very well laid out. The walls are 1.6 meters thick which ensures a nice climate even in the summer heat.

The rooms are long and narrow, the ceilings are high, the walls are white, the bathrooms are tadelakt (cement with marble powder) and the house is 100% pure charm and positive energy.

The roof terrace
The roof terrace was really boring and mainly used for storage. We had it re-constructed in 3 levels featuring a dining area, a sunbathing area, a tent-lounge with a huge sofa, a wall fountain was put in place and we kept the vintage outdoor shower (see below). We had a gardener plant orange and olive trees, bougainvilleas and other greens to create a roof-garden.

View from the terrace

The people of Marrakech
The narrow streets of the medina all look simple and alike, almost no windows face the street and doors are not allowed to face each other, all to ensure privacy. Amazing palaces lie next to rundown ruins and from the outside you could never tell which door hides a treasure. Our neighbors are no different. On one side there is a really big and beautiful Riad where a large, noisy Moroccan family lives, on the other side there is a "a hole" where some people (friendly) live with their animals under very basic conditions. Opposite our house there is a hotel-Riad and a few doors a way you find the amazing place of Vanessa Branson (yes, that Richards sister). Its your typical Marrakech neighborhood.

Rachida - our wonderful housekeeper and cook, who we could never manage without.

One of the best things about Riad Arabe is the amazing housekeeper and trained cook, Rachida, who came with the house (!!!). She has proven to be an invaluable asset, taking care of us, the house, cooking fantastic meals and managing both financials and projects. She has a great sense of humor, is almost always on top of things and is very house proud.

That's the short version about our house, Riad Arabe. Its a beautiful little Riad and we are so happy to be the caretakers of this property. You never really own a riad, you just look after it for a while.

Part II of this blog post will follow shortly,

Sunday, 2 November 2014

2 Swedes in Morocco

Who are we?
Two Swedes deciding to move to Morocco and be a part of daily life in the buzzing, crazy and fantastic Marrakech medina. Both pushing 40 and having had - in our opinions - very interesting and fun careers we started to feel a longing for something else. Breaking free from daily routines and trying something new. The idea probably started already when we bought our house, a small "Riad", in Marrakech two years ago. A home away from home, where the sun always shines, the people are friendly and you can live a really good life at a reasonable cost.

We met some 13 years ago and have been married for 10. Until now our base have been Stockholm, where we live with our dog (a crazy dachshund named Disco) in a townhouse that used to be the horse stables of the prime minister back in the 19th century.

We also hang out in our summer house on the island Runmarö in the beautiful Stockholm archipelago. We spend a lot of time traveling the globe and our favorite spots include Galapagos, Rome, New York, Kenya, Cuba, Peru and of course Morocco.

 This is us, Patrick & Per

Patrick has worked as Sales & Marketing Manager in the film industry (Sandrew Metronome), heading a business unit for a leading publishing house (Norstedts) and his latest position is as Head of Communication at the the Royal Dramatic Theater, responsible for brand, sales, marketing and PR. 

Patrick in 5 words: Tall, Calm, Analytical, Fun, Daredevil
Best about Marrakech according to Patrick: The French food and great restaurants

Per is taking a break from his position as Managing Director for Fiskars Sweden (design group with a wide range of brands including Iittala, Rörstrand, Hackman, Fiskars, Royal Copenhagen, Gerber, Buster Boats). He has previously worked in the fashion industry as Global Marketing Director for H&M and Country Manager for Gant.

Per in 5 words: Talkative, Positive, Energetic, Fun, Impatient
Best about Marrakech according to Per: the relaxed lifestyle that contrasts our ordinary life

 Our dog Disco on the jetty of our summer house

During our upcoming year in Morocco Patrick will study French, Per will also study and continue with his board assignments: Cairman of Lindex and Identity Works as well as board member of  Stockmann and Akademibokhandeln. We will both get involved in charity and the local art scene. Most of all we hope to shift focus and relax. Disco will join us and keep busy chasing cats on the roof terrace.

The adventure starts mid January when we leave Stockholm and move to Marrakech.

 Our home in Stockholm City, located in a green courtyard and used to be a stable. 
Now being rented out to a nice Marketing Director of Klarna

Our little summer house on the island Runmarö

Our more exotic new neighborhood

Stay Tuned!


Per, Patrick & Disco