Sep 29, 2013

Living Small

Good Evening Everyone,


I thought that I should share with you these little misconceptions related to designing and decorating small houses/rooms because I see them happening around me repeatedly.

Some of the Taboos related to living small and decorating a small home are;

1-If the room is small use smaller furniture and furnishings.

Wrong, whenever you are decorating choose furniture sizes that work in your room and are functional, too small furniture might mean that you need to buy 2 pieces instead of 1 and thus have more visual clutter and a more squished together layout, plus you do not want to end up with the doll house effect.
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2-If the room is small then you have no space to store in it, store your things somewhere else.

Wrong, there is always space to store things, for example even in a small room if the room's size and location of window/door/AC allow block out an entire wall and fit in custom floor to ceiling and wall to wall closets with sliding doors covered entirly in mirrors, it will double up your space and work as a great storage unit, it doesn't have to be your closet if you have enough wardrobe space and this room happens to really be small, you can always make it 40-50cm wide only and use it to store shoes, magazines and paper goods, DVDs, sports goods, the works!
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3-If the room is small then you must paint it white.

Well not at all, you can paint it black for all that matters as long as you love it. A well designed space will be able to allow you to perform all the needed activities in that space even if its small. White walls do work as a reflector and that doubles the light that you have in the room making your space feel bigger and making the walls appear like they are retracting away from you however, the room size won't change and its better for you to end up with a small room that you love than a small dull room that appears slightly bigger but isn't really.
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*If the room is small then you must use smaller patterns for upholstery, curtains, wallpaper, carpet, etc.

WRONG.

For the same reasons that 1 & 3 are wrong.

Design your rooms in a way that fulfills your needs and allows you to work and live in there in terms of layout, function, storage, etc. But, do it in the style,color,finishes that would make you want to spend your time there.

Sep 24, 2013

Riad Fes

during our honeymoon in Morocco we staid in Fes for 3 nights at a great Riad hotel called Riad Fes http://www.riadfes.com/. If you are ever in Fes you've got to stay there or at least visit for an exquisite meal in their excellent gourmet restaurant. The hotel follows the traditional Moroccan architectural method of a courtyard surrounded by rooms. The hotel is part of the Relais et Chateaux chain and consists of 5 different old houses which were purchased over time as the hotel expanded. All of the design work is new and not original to the 5 houses. the hotel includes a small garden, pool, 3 courtyards (Moroccan- Andalusian- Baroque) the rest of the hotel includes traditional moroccan detailing along with modern lines and luxuries especially the part that includes the spa, pool, and breakfast area which were completely designed in a contemporary style with some modern takes on traditional Moroccan bits.



this is the main lobby courtyard in the Riad, the mix of traditional Islamic and Moroccan architecture with french classic furniture in such hot colored upholstery is absolutely beautiful.





The ceiling is really high in this courtyard which makes you feel like you've stepped into a palace in ancient time.


I had to snap a picture of a ton of details in this lobby. I can't believe that they designed and executed all of the designs in this entire section of the hotel within 2 years, crazy right?!



you can tell the level of work that went into detailing this hotel when the steps risers look like this. is this beautiful color combo doing it for you? it definitely is to me!

looking up to the ceiling in a reading nook in the main lobby


they have an amazing old piano in the main lobby, didn't see anyone playing it but I assume someone does on certain events or nights maybe?


I spy a lounging handsome hubby <3 td="">



Isn't this just so lovely? Yeap we are still in the Main Lobby! can't believe how intricate it is.



stepping out from that beautiful lobby you find yourself in a small garden separating the originally different houses buildings







We had dinner in the Andalusian courtyard, Relais et chateaux markets its hotels as being those of charm and gourmand, you can tell its charming alright and I can assure you the food here is the best, we had a fantastic gastronomic dinner experience by this pool while enjoying the breeze and listening to an Ud player who guessed we were honeymooners and started playing Arabic wedding march anthems for us. I had the best fish ever at this dinner, I must have asked the waiter about the name of that fish type a million times but I never got it' it was a white meat fish fillet topped with tons of origin, lemon slices, and olive oil and it was the most delicious, most scrumptious thing ever, just thinking about the taste again...yumm






This is the modern part that I spoke about, this is where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served




you can see how the spa section and the story above full of guest rooms were completely done in a contemporary style




the roof top in this hotel is great, fully equipped with a grill and modern lounge chairs and a panoramic view of the city, with the hotel being on the top of the hill, this place would probably rock at night and it overlooks great parts of the hotel that you can see in the following pics;













I absolutely loved the seating they had on this roof top, guess who's on that chair?




ok so comes the last part in my pic-tour which is the room we staid at




we staid at a duplex room, a really beautiful modern/Moroccan room with a big bathroom and a seating area








the one thing I forgot to photograph in this bathroom was the great shower; a big shower with modern fittings and a frameless pristine door.


But seriously if traveling around and you'd love to experience true luxe living and mouth watering gourmet food you have got to go to a Relais & Chateaux hotel, check their website for a list of properties that they own around the world.

Sep 23, 2013

Wardrobe Organization by Nurbry


I had to share this great piece on organizing your wardrobe from Nurbry, a must-check-out website
"Summer is here, and if you have not had time to conquer your closet yet, there is no better time than now. An unorganized closet can equate to clutter, tardiness, and stress…who has time for that?
How To Organize Your Closet For A Guilt-Free Wardrobe
Your closet is no place for guilt! Every item in your wardrobe should make you feel amazing and proud of your investment, not the other way around.  It’s time to streamline your life and feel amazing about your beautifully organized closet!
With a little work, some closet therapy, and daily maintenance, you can save yourself a great deal of stress.  Any good closet organization project starts with going through your closet and ridding yourself of items that you no longer need, use, or should be wearing.
Below, we’ve listed 3 closet decluttering steps necessary for you to achieve a guilt-free wardrobe. Leave a comment below telling us your wardrobe organization strategies!
Step 1: Purge and Plan
Start by going through your closet and deciding what items you need to get rid of and what items are questionable.  If you don’t wear it, pass it on and don’t let it clutter your life. We often hold onto hope that we will wear something again, but that item often continues to sit in our closets and causes nothing but guilt every time we happen upon it. Free yourself, your mind, and your closet…if you haven’t worn it in a year – give it away! Remember to always give away items, rather than throw away, because you never know who might be able to use your hand-me-downs! 
Follow the closet purging tips below to help you decide what needs to go:
  • Analyze Everything: invite a friend over, try everything on, and take pictures of yourself. Be subjective. If an item of clothing doesn’t make you feel amazing when on, get rid of it – no matter how expensive, stylish, or amazing off the hanger something might look, if its not right for you, it doesn’t belong in your closet.
  • Think Creatively: some items can be salvaged but will need some creativity, a good tailor, or a needle and tread. Set aside anything that requires a new button or needs repairs, and take care of it now! Never put damaged items back in your closet. If items have potential, take them to a tailor to have them custom fitted. Or, consider shortening, hemming, or altering items to make them more stylish/wearable.
  • Mark Maybes: for questionable items that you just can’t make up your mind about, try a hanger or labeling system. Have all of your hangers facing one way and as you wear items turn the hangers around. As the year progresses you will realize what you have not worn and can toss them. You might also try marking maybes with a post-it and utilizing the same system.
Step 2: Implement
After you have the items you want to keep, devise an organization system that works for you. Try these simple tips to help organize all the items in your closet.
  • Accessories: roll up belts, gloves, and other small accessories and keep them in a drawer. Belts can often become tangled up so keep them separated and easy to gaze over.
Roll belts and store in a drawer with other accessories
  • Scarves: try using a tie hanger/organizer for scarves. This is an easy way to hang and display your scarves so that they are organized and easy to find.
Hang / Tie scarves so you can easily see them
  • Shoes: make your shoes visible. If you love shoe boxes, put a picture on the shoe box. If you can’t see them, you are unlikely to wear them. You might try buying a shoe hanger system and place off-season shoes in an under-the-bed container to maximize space.
  • Shelves: utilize shelves. Items like jeans, sweaters, and tee shirts can be much more easily organized and save you space by organizing on a shelf. Try labeling a shelf for jeans. Use categories like skinny, trouser, straight leg, etc. Then, place your jeans on a shelf according to the right label so that you can easily see style and color.
Use shelves to accommodate folded sweaters
Label jeans and display them neatly on a shelf
Step 3: Maintain
A well-organized closet stays well organized because of constant maintenance. Below are some organization rules to live by.
  • Never drop clothes on the floor and leave them there.
  • Take 5 minutes a day to inspect your closet and ensure that everything stays organized.
  • Have a special bin for items that need repair and constantly evaluate.
  • If you find yourself always feeling blah when you wear a certain outfit or always passing something over even after trying it on, let it go."
I'd add this

* Store shoes/accessories/hats/etc in boxes and bins and place them at the bottom of your wardrobe if you had that space available.

*organize your clothes per color or per category or both, you might want to have a gradient of color going through your wardrobe from one end to the other, or you might prefer to have a gradient of jacket colors on one side and then blouses, pants, and so on.

*Add baskets/bins on top of your closet if you had that space available for storing out-of-season items or- if planning a new closet- plan to have floor to ceiling built-in wardrobes, if you can afford them, the extra storage space that you get on top of your regular storage is priceless.

*For all of those drawers separators & organizers, closet organizers, shoes closet hangers, etc in Doha, visit IKEA they are ultimately the best

P for Purge


As summer vacations are well behind us and the back-to-school rush settle down, at least I think it did?, comes the time to purge and de-clutter.

I know most people call for spring cleaning and I'm all for it except I think there are specific times when de-cluttering and organizing your wardrobe and closets becomes a big task that you need to tackle it a couple of times a year and the best time to do that is in between seasons and at the end of vacations.

As you are about to put away your swim suits, flip flops, and short shorts and bring out your light cardigans, scarfs and closed toe shoes make a point of addressing the rest of your closet especially before going out shopping for new items.

These are basic rules that you can go by to purge your wardrobes content and any other uncategorized piles of "stuff" that you might have laying around in a box




When it comes to clothes and while sorting them out ask yourself the following questions;

* When was the last time I wore it? if it was more than 6 months ago and is not a seasonal item (winter/summer) through it out because you most likely won't wear it again. The same goes for that really nice item that you only used once and then decided you don't really need it.

* Does it fit me? if it's too big or too small through it out immediately, keeping clothes that are too small will not make us loose weight and holding onto pieces that are too big as a safety net in case we gain that weight again encourages weight gain and just takes up all the space in your closet. The same goes for items that are not really you and you can replace with ones that represent you.

* Is it fit for purpose? ladies, if you are not planning on having any more kids through out these maternity clothes. They will just make you look bigger and frumpy and no body likes that. Give them to someone who needs them more. The same goes for things that no longer serve a purpose in your house or are age inappropriate (eg; old toys,etc). 

* OMG, I have that?! if you find yourself asking yourself this question, through it out. If you didn't know you had a piece of clothing or an item then you most likely won't miss it or notice that it's gone and in the meanwhile it's just eating away space in your closet.

* How many of those do I have? If you have more than one say, black leather jacket that are almost identical or short pink skirts then keep only one and get rid of the extras. You will find out that you always stick to one piece and abandon the rest so unless your starting a collection you know what you have to do. The same goes for having 5 similar pairs of scissors (unless you have an arts & crafts related hobby)

* Is it seasonal? if the question is yes and it is not its season then store it away on a high shelf or closet. The same goes for shoes and accessories. The same goes for items not just clothing such as; Christmas decoration, etc...

* Is it a basic item? if the question is yes and you do frequently use it then hold onto it.

* Is it in? We sometimes find ourselves buying items that are so in right now and happen to be the latest trend, a few years later or a decade maybe? suede boots with tassels, unless you participate in rodeo shows, and leg warmers and headbands get dropped off the must have list and become a burden to your wardrobe shelves and closets, through them out.

**by throwing them out I of course mean donating them to charities which will make a better use of the items/cloths and give them to the less fortunate.

Sep 22, 2013

Riad Kaiss




Riad Ka├»ss in the heart of the Old Medina in Marrakech is the most charming little hotel ever. It's a Riad, traditional Moroccan house- Used to be the Harem of Moulay Yacoub one of Morocco's Sultans and dates back to the 1800s. The Riad consists of a courtyard surrounded by rooms, this boutique hotel had a total of 9 guest rooms including 2 suits with private terraces which is what we got. You can't get to the hotel by car as it drops you off at the closest point cars can get but after that you have to get a guy with a kart wheel to walk you to the hotel as he wheel your luggage along.

Moroccan traditional Riads take after Islamic Architecture greatly. The exterior of the buildings are usually subtle and blank with minimal if any detailing , the entrance is only lavish here because this Riad was turned into a hotel. Riads and traditional Moroccan houses also do not have any windows facing the streets, their exterior doors have no windows to maintain the security of the house and keep the insides out of sight (for modesty and envy related reasons). As a rule of thumb, if you are in Marrakech and you see old houses then you are in a previously Jewish neighborhood, as when Jews migrated to Morocco from Spain they were used to having windows in their houses.

As you walk into the Riad you are welcomed by colors, patterns, tiles, intricate and lavish detailing and roses, everywhere!



We found out the secret to the great amounts of roses we saw everywhere, our hotel manager took us around the Marrakech markets and showed us a few florist shops. Apparently 100 roses cost 100 Dirhams which is less than 50 QAR and a little over 12 USD!!!! I don't think you can beat that price anywhere.


Main Lobby! the hotel isn't your normal hotel, staying at Riad Kaiss feels like your staying in a friend's home, it's cozy and warm and far away from being formal and rigid. The Hotel has a mini courtyard that you first walk into, surrounded by the kitchen, service kitchen, office, and storage. There is also another bigger inner yard which is more like a garden separated from this one by arches and that's where food is served.



The smaller courtyard has a small fountain, some palm trees, and is surrounded by the Riad's kitchen, service kitchen, storage, office, and stair cases that either lead up to the rooms, roof top terrace, or spa.


the two courtyards are separated by a series of "horseshoe arches" also called Moorish arches and Keyhole archarches. and as you walk into the inner courtyard you can't help but be at Ah.


The inner couryard is a beautiful garden with a central fountain and a wall water feature. The garden dates back to the 1800s and has cactuses, fruit trees, and shade trees. This garden is where breakfast, lunch, and dinner is served so that you can enjoy the view, birds chirping, and soft breeze.




The inner courtyard is surrounded with comfy areas to eat at, this is one of those corners, a banquet topped with a beautiful intricate ceiling and Muqarnass work. You can see the ethnic fusion in the decor of the hotel; Traditional Islamic "Andalusi", African, Beduin, which represents all the ethnic backgrounds in Morocco.


They of course welcome you with a nice glass of Moroccan tea "Tai"
that you can enjoy while pleasing your eyes looking at this



Part of the package that we signed up for at Riad Kaiss was a cooking lesson for 2, a beautiful experience that you must try out with your partner, we enjoyed, bonded, and had lots of fun and it's a beautiful way to introduce yourself to the country's cuisine, so I'd definitely do that next time I'm in a new country.



the three of us were actually cooking; me, my new husband, and the Riad's chef Saida. There were no helpers, no sue chefs and together we made 5 different traditional Moroccan salads, 7 vegetables kuskus, and lamb and prunes tagine, DELISH. We were in the hot kitchen for over 2 hours.


this is me and Saida as we separate the lamb meat from the fat

and of course they set up a nice table for use to eat at in the courtyard


and this is the starter dish that we made, it includes 5 different traditional Moroccan salads, and I stopped taking pictures of the food after this one as the food was too good to wait for pictures to be snapped




So, you go up those lovely stairs and beautifully flesh in the wall mosaic style skirting up to the first floor where there is a beautiful salon

the salon has a nice small terrace where you can enjoy your afternoon tea

ps: everything is covered in tiles, mosaics, zellaij, if your a hopeless romantic when it comes to interior details your heart will skip a few beats in this Riad

in the center of the salon sits a beautiful fire place- it gets really cold in the winter- flanked by two seating areas and an array of bookcases full of history, design, cooking, and all sorts of specialty books both new and ancient. On top of that bench is a chess board and some other oriental traditional board games for guests to entertain themselves the old way

exiting the terrace of the salon you can either go down and back to the courtyard or up to our suit through this suit hand painted door. They even tile the stairs risers 



These are the steps you take to go up to our suit which consisted of a small bedroom/sitting area with a fireplace and then an private open terrace that leads into the bedroom.





We were served dinner on our private terrace in our suit the first night that we arrived and I must say, food in this place is delicious. Well, let me rephrase that, food in Morocco is delicious, there that's more like it.


and if you thought dinner on the private terrace was something you just know you have to have breakfast there too.

And let me tell you something, this amazing two trays of breakfast for two kept us full for a long time and again, delish. The hotel serves omelets in your preferred style along with traditional Moroccan breakfast which is that pastries platter, along with yogurt and fruit, jams, butter, orange juice, and your choice of tea, moroccan tea, or coffee. This hotel is seriously generous with their serving quantities. btw I never had orange juice that tasted so rich and naturally sweet in my entire life like I did in Morocco, everywhere. I think my blood was 80% orange juice by the time we left Morocco.

so enough about the food as I'm getting hungry looking at the pictures and reminiscing. This was our suit's bedroom, again you can see the fusion of styles and some french influence in the design of the room.


the room had a reading bench and two built in bookcases full of books of all sorts- really nice ones. It also had a shower, toilet, and vanity, no bath and a dressing room.


to read more about Riad Kaiss and the Sanssouci Collection log into their website. They have 2 other hotels within the old Medina and they are all equally beautiful and exquisite.

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