Tuesday, 28 February 2017

A Vogue kind of weekend

We had such an amazing weekend. Our friend Vanessa came to visit us in Marrakech and we are planning some really exciting new projects together. Vanessa is a philantropist, entrepreneur, art lover, writer for Vogue Mexico/Latin America and a glamorous jet-setting nomad. We met Vanessa two years ago in a carpet shop here in Marrakech and instantly became good friends and now we have several exciting projects going on together.
Hanging out with our friend Vanessa Arelle is always a blast (here we are at Dar JL)

Vanessa is the founder of a global initiative that has been in the work for over a year and is now soon getting ready to launch and will make a positive difference for youths around the world. We are very proud to both be on the board of this project and our communications firm Red City PR is helping with the launch, PR, and social media. This weekend was all about working on the global launch and getting some seriously amazing people, brands and celebrities on board. We will tell you more about this cool secret project as soon as possible, stay tuned!
We are working on an exciting secret project (here in the new garden restaurant of Royal Mansour) 

Vanessa is a true traveller and decided to write a travel article for Vogue Mexico/Latin America based on some of our best insiders tips. Who better than two Swedes living in the middle of the Marrakech medina to tell the Vogue Mexico/Latin America readers about what to do in the Red City? It was so much fun showing Vanessa all our favourite spots and local secrets. We will share the Vogue article with you as soon as it is published.

We went to one of our new favorite spots, Palais Aziza

We also did some serious shopping as well as several photo shoots for the article and some fashion stories for Vogue Mexico/Latin America.

Walking the medina in style.

We found time to do kundalini yoga on our roof terrace in the mornings (Vanessa is a skilled kundalini yoga  instructor) and visit our gym at Es Saadi Palace and the Dior Institut there.

Doing kundalini yoga is a great way to kick-start a creative day!

We had 4 very productive and creative days together and will be ready to lauch our secret project in June. Can´t wait to tell you all about it!

Dream Team in action!

We continue to keep busy and our communication firm Red City PR has has several new big clients and we are working with some major communication projects this spring. So much fun!
Stay tuned, great things will follow!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The architecture of a Riad in Marrakech

We just love our Riad in Marrakech! We had it now for five years and at the time we bought it we thought we would just have it as a holiday home but after we found ourselves going back more and more frequently we decided to make it to one of our more permanent homes. And now it is exaclty two years ago we decided to move down for a year to Marrakech.

Riad Arabe, from above.

To own a Riad has proven to be an on-going adventure, there is always something happening or something that has to be done. Like cleaning the pool from all the sand that constantly flies in from the Sahara or re-painting the walls every six months due to the damp in the medina. But also all the fun things like re-tiling the bedroom floors or buying new carpets and cushions for the living rooms. Our Riad is always full of life with people coming by to help us with all our projects but also with friends and family who come to visit. Our Riad itself, with it's intricate architecture and own quirky personality, has over time become a very dear friend.

The entrance hall to Riad Arabe

Our favourite room at Riad Arabe, the sitting room with the fireplace.

The word Riad means strictly "enclosed garden" but has over time come to represent traditional Moroccan homes built around a courtyard. The word is also often used in Marrakech for houses that have been renovated and opened up as boutique hotels or B&B. The traditional construction, with the rooms around an open courtyard and no windows or balconies facing the streets, is typical Islamic architecture and designed to maximize family privacy from the outside world, but also to protect it from the weather and all the incoming desert sand as much as possible.

All the windows from the room faces the inner courtyard, not onto the street.

The hallway on the second floor also faces out towards the inner courtyard.

A typical Riad in Marrakech, like the one we have, has three levels including the roof terrace. There are usually two rooms on the bottom floor, on each side of the couryard, often used as living rooms or dining rooms and on the second floor you find the bedrooms. On the top level is the terrace, often with spectacular views. In the muslim culture it is not common to use this level for social purposes, it was usually only used to hang the washing and men were seldom seen up here.

The terrace of Riad Arabe...

...where we often have breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Riads often have very simple outer doors and it is usually hard to know what door hides a palaces and what door hides a ruin. When you enter the Riad you always have to go right or left since it never opens up directly into the house. There is usually a sitting room in connection to the entrance.

The sitting room at Riad Arabe.

The centre of the Riad is the courtyard that is usually square or rectangular. It is often built around a pool or a fountain, since water was a traditionally sign of wealth, so the more water feature you had the richer you were. Water also has an important symbolic and religious value since Moroccans always wash themselves before prayer and fountains are said to represent paradise. In larger Riads you also find a lush garden in the centre, sometimes with lemon trees or even palm trees.

The inner courtyard at Riad Arabe.

The walls and floors of the riads are usually made of a material called "tadelakt", a waterproof plaster surface that are often used for baths or sinks. The word tadelakt means "to rub-in" in Arabic and you make it with lime plaster (sometimes mixed with crusched marble) that is polished and treated with soap to make it water-repellant. It is very durable and you can shape it and colour it as you like. Another material often used, and a way to show off your wealth, is the tile or zellij as it is called in Arabic. Some Riads in Marrakech have incredible tile work, like Villa Filali for example.

The beautiful inner courtyard of Villa Filali

One of the many inner courtyards of the luxury hotel La Sultana.

This cool courtyard belongs to the boutique hotel Palais Lamrani.

Another typical architecture characteristic of a Riad is the arch-shape that is used for doors, gates and windows. One traditional belief is that a horseshoe arch will protect you from the evil eye and bring you good luck. You can read more about arches in our previous blog post HERE!


Riad Arabe has arches everywhere, here is one with our cat, Trassel, posing next to it!

And lastly, a Riad needs a lot of love and lots of friends visiting!  
For us it is now time to leave Italy after spending a month with Arpino as our base. We look forward to return to the red city and our own Riad Arabe.

Be like a riad, beautiful on the inside!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Our townhouse in Arpino - the renovation

Today is exactly 1 year ago since we first visited Arpino and found our little Italian townhouse. It was love at first sight, not only with the townhouse itself but also with the beautiful village and the people living there. It was like we had landed right into a Disney fairy tale when we arrived to this magical town with its ancient walls, medieval towers and picturesque views. It was just perfect!
Our amazing townhouse that we call Casa Colle (The house on the hill)
Arpino - a truly magical place

Apart from being perfect, genuine and beautiful, Arpino was filled with houses and palaces that were for sale so our real estate agent Alison took us to lots of different properties that were within our budget. But it was not really necessary, we had already decided on what house we wanted from seeing the photos online, long before we came.  So the decision process was very short! After a couple of days in the village we started to negotiate with the seller who was also the talented builder and soon-to-be-good-friend, Claudio!

Our builder Claudio and real estate agent Alison

Claudio and his team started the renovation right away!
Claudio had bought the house a couple of years earlier and had started to do the basic renovations with the structure of the house. He had also removed most of the inner walls as well as the stairs that were taking too much space. After that he had halted the process, waiting for the buyer to make the decisions on what materials and design that he should use and work with.

Casa Colle during its renovation
After the negotiations were done we went back for Easter to sign all the contracts and after that the renovations took off. We started to look at the drawings and decided to take away the lift in favour of larger bathrooms. In the bathrooms we took away the bidets to have a bathtub and a washing machine that we thought were more useful. We also changed the layout on the ground floor, moving the kitchen from the windows to the inner parts in favour of having views from the dinner table.

Can you believe that these stairs on the first floor...
...used to look like this?

We changed the direction of the stairs in the whole house!
On the second floor we decided to keep the old build-in cupboard and we put up a wall to divide the bedroom from the hallway outside. We put in a chestnut wooden roof and a italian tile floor in a brown/red colour.

The second floor - before the renovation

The second floor - after the renovation. We kept the build-in wardrobe!
On the third floor we moved the wall inwards the living room to make a larger terrace where we wanted to sit and watch the breath-taking sunsets! We lifted the roof to the beams and made a chestnut wooden roof.

The before and after for the 3rd floor.

The before and after for the top floor bathroom. We decided to skip the bidets!

This is how the terrace looked before!

And this is now! Much wider, so we have room for lots of tables and chairs!

We then decided on the materials and colours for the floors, ceilings and walls as well as the doors, stairs and railings. It was so much fun! Then we chose where the outlets would be and where the lights and lamps would go.

We had such a great day when we went to buy all the lamps in the local lamp shop!


The old fireplace in the house left a hole in the wall

We decided to put an owl in it!
The whole renovation went extremely smoothly – and on time! We were so impressed with how professional it all was and also what good taste Clauido has! It was a true pleasure working with him. And after six months of renovations we finally got to move into the house in end of October! We celebrated with living in it for a month, only eating pasta and drinking Italian wines!


In front of our townhouse there is a poem called "A Dream" in Italian.

The plan is to use the house as our second (third?) home, spending as much time as we can there!

See you soon again Italy!