Moroccan Berber Rugs – An Overview

The tradition of rug making in Morocco goes back thousands of years. First woven for their utility, now Berber rugs are prized for their authenticity and are popular in Western modernist interior design. Beni Ourain rugs are one of the most sought after Moroccan rug styles the world over. Beni Ourain rugs are characterized by brown or black geometric patterns against a natural white or cream background.

The Beni Ourain is a group of Berber people that have long resided in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Consisting of seventeen different tribes, the Beni Ourain people are traditionally semi-nomadic shepherds and goad herders. These people began creating rugs from the wool of their sheep for practical purposes many, many years ago. Although they are now used almost exclusively as floor coverings, Beni Ourain rugs were originally made to provide warmth as blankets or bedspreads. This, as well as the superior quality of the wool, is one of the reasons that authentic Beni Ourain rugs are so soft and luxurious.

The craft of rug making is traditionally passed down from mother to daughter in Moroccan culture. Each rug is woven by hand in a time consuming and careful process. Since no pattern is followed each Beni Ourain rug is entirely unique. These Berber women historically wove records of their lives into the rugs. Universal themes of birth and death, fertility and nature, and rural life as well as tribal and religious symbols were all expertly crafted into their rugs. The geometric designs and symbols varied from tribe to tribe and even artisan to artisan. Each Beni Ourain rug is a unique piece of folk art.

The Western world took notice of Berber rugs during the mid-twentieth century when designers such as Le Corbusier, Ame Jacobsen, and Marcel Breuer began using them. The primitivism of these rugs added depth and dimension to the sleek geometric shapes found in modernist décor. Since their introduction into Western interior design, Beni Ourain rugs have remained popular with designers and regular homeowners alike.

The popularity of Berber rugs has endured no doubt because of their beautiful texture and stunning simplicity. Yet their versatility makes these rugs a friendly, yet sophisticated, addition to any room. The carpet’s cream color base brightens and opens living spaces – a design feature that is prized in current design trends. The neutral colors coordinate with a variety of contrasting or matching hues, while the geometric patterns somehow make these ancient rugs relevant to modern design aesthetics.

Traditionally, Moroccan carpets were no wider than 213 centimeters or seven feet. Now, authentic Berber rugs can be obtained in a variety of sizes making them suited to all different room sizes. For example, a Beni Ourain rug would make an excellent focal point for a high ceilinged living space. Or a smaller rug could add style to a master suite.

An investment in a Beni Ourain rug is an investment for a lifetime. They possess a rich history and remain highly sought after in the present. No doubt these beautiful floor coverings will remain a prize possession far into the future. Click here for further details.

Switch Plates and Home Updates

A friend recently completed a total DIY kitchen remodel. I was alternately proud and terrified. It’s a huge undertaking, in my humble opinion, and even if it’s totally do-able from a DIY standpoint, it’s still an overwhelming proposition for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to whip up one of those HGTV remodels from the floor up, but it’s not in my budget and the thought of having my kitchen out of order for an extended period of time really terrifies me. However, there really are easy, low cost alternatives to a complete gut and remodel. Simple, inexpensive updates that give an updated or finished designer look aren’t that hard to do.

I’ve recently updated my cabinetry with new hardware, it took us a couple of hours one Saturday afternoon. It probably took longer to decide on a design and finish than it did to install. Next up the plan is to install a custom tile back splash and all new switch plates to coordinate with my cabinet hardware and new sink fixture. These really are easy, inexpensive, weekend projects that can make a big impact.

My finish of choice is oil rubbed bronze. But, it’s safe to say you can find finishes in just about any color, material, and design. Wood, copper, tile, ceramic, even brushed nickel switch plates. Swapping out switch plates requires a screw driver and very little time.

If you are looking to make a quick update to your home, you might want to check out SwitchPlateStore.com

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Valentine Cupcakes, Cookies, and Cheesecake

Valentine cupcakes were a hit for Valentine’s Day this year. Kate and I baked up a gorgeous batch of chocolate frosted strawberry cupcakes with adorable Valentine sprinkles. We couldn’t seem to stop there because we followed that up with some of the cutest sugar cookies frosted with a lemon frosting and, again, more Valentine sprinkles.

Valentine cupcakes

Over the last year Kate and I have really gotten in to baking treats for holidays. We bake treats from scratch throughout the year everything from chocolate chip bar cookies to brownies, but we’ve never really focused on holiday treats aside from traditional Christmas things. It used to be that we would bake sugar cookies at Christmas and maybe an angel food cake at Easter. We changed it up this year by adding to our cookie cutter collection.

We bought a set of different sized heart shaped cookie cutters for Valentine’s Day. Then we ran across the cutest shamrock cookie cutters so now we have plans for St. Patrick’s Day cookies. And, we’ve already stocked up on Easter shaped cookie cutters as well.

But, back to Valentine’s Day! The Valentine cupcakes were inspired by Kate finding the most adorable red and white polka dot cupcake liners. The Valentine cupcakes became our spin on chocolate covered strawberries by using a strawberry flavored cake batter and homemade fudge frosting.

cherry cheesecake for Valentine's DayMy gift to Mike this year was a cherry cheesecake. Cheesecake is his absolute favorite dessert and I’ve finally gotten around to learning how to make cheesecake. Christmas marked my first New York style cheesecake and for Maggie’s 10th birthday I made a triple chocolate cheesecake.

So, for Valentine’s Day it seemed only right to make a decadent cheesecake with a homemade cherry topping. Although the picture doesn’t do it justice, it was a huge hit. I’ve actually found that making cheesecakes from scratch isn’t all that hard and it’s so worth the trouble!!!