When Mary O’Dell first moved to Morocco seven years ago to work in artisan development, she had no idea that a turning point in her life was just around the corner. A year into her stay, she agreed to be set up with Pascal, a Frenchman, and owner of Kechmara, the local restaurant where the two had their first date. Mary and Pascal hit it off instantly, and now have a four-year-old daughter, Mila. Three years ago, Mary began sourcing vintage, one-of-a-kind Moroccan rugs, which she sells in her store Happytapis on Etsy. Like her rugs, life in the family’s Marrakech home is colorful, happy and vibrant.
Although many foreigners choose to either live in the “medina,” the old city, or in distant suburbs, Mary and Pascal prefer to live in a neighborhood that’s something in between — removed from the chaos of the medina, but still not completely isolated from the unique feel of the bustling city. “I’m on a first name basis with many people in the neighborhood, like the produce vendors, the furniture upholsterers, and especially the rug cleaners!” Mary says. The family’s rental home is somewhat unique, as it was designed by renowned French architect Charles Boccara as a prototype for a kind of house seen all around Marrakech.
Decorating has always been a mutual interest for Mary and Pascal, and home is where their two styles create the perfect mashup. “Pascal has an amazing collection of mid-century furniture and lighting,” Mary shares. “I love his taste and it’s been fun to create this home together — we really click in terms of our design sense.” Mary considers her style to be more colorful and playful, and has taken the lead in picking out the wall colors that cheer up each room in the house. From grey, lavender and bold turquoise walls to unique multicolored Boucherouite, Boujad and Azilal rugs to name a few, Mary has ensured that each space in the house has visual interest and lots of textured layers. In addition to being colorful, comfort and functionality have been top priorities throughout this family home.
Since insisting to renovate and repaint parts of her home at seven months pregnant, Mary has scaled back her ambitions for bigger home improvement projects. But she’s always eager to find new ways to refresh each space, without turning life upside down. “I’ve always felt strongly that you should feel at home in your space, and I’m willing to put up with some inconvenience in order to make that happen.” Mary’s advice to others who are passionate about creating personal and colorful spaces is simple — “don’t be afraid of bold color choices!” she exclaims. “Figure out what your signature is, and don’t worry if it’s not trending,” she continues. “My signature style is creating a gallery wall using a combination of art and found objects. I heard the gallery wall is going out of style, but I’m going to stick with it.” —Sofia
Image above: Pascal’s mid-century aesthetic and Mary’s vibrant and colorful style greet visitors who enter the family’s Marrakech home. The chairs are vintage replicas, which Pascal and his brother had made for their restaurant Kechmara. “Our console and lamp came from theBab el-Khemiss souk, Marrakech’s weekly flea market, where you can find amazing mid-century furniture if you have enough patience and determination,” Mary shares. All rugs in the family’s home are from Mary’s store, Happytapis.