The book "Arabian Nights" has been influencing Western living spaces since the 1870s, when affluent women recreated harem-like decor in their parlors. Famous stories from ancient Persia, Morocco and Egypt evoked images of the opulent interiors that epitomized the Islamic golden age. This style can be incorporated into modern living spaces, whether for a lavish theme party or everyday décor, with exotic rugs, plush floor cushions, draped fabric and accessories.
Furniture is one of the key components in recreating the look of "Arabian Nights." Harem décor is commonly associated with low seating, which often translates into cushions and oversize pillows. An arrangement of large sofa-like floor cushions can be used to replace couches, while chairs can be substituted with soft, round ottomans. To make the seating more decadent, add a surfeit of coordinating pillows, trimmed with tassels or mirrored tabs.
Fabric Wall and Ceiling Hangings
When it comes to adding fabric to the Arabian-inspired living space, the more the better, as softly draped fabrics are often used when recreating alluring Middle Eastern looks. Rolls of silk, less-expensive polyester or rayon can be draped to billow from the ceiling or hung to frame windows. Wall hangings such as a Persian tapestry can be used to tell ancient folklore, while adding an enchanting element to the living space. For a cheaper wall treatment, hang embroidered fabrics or materials trimmed with tassel for a fraction of the tapestry's cost.
Carpets have a long history in Northern Africa and the Middle East, dating back to the Paleolithic era. Authentic plush carpets can be the perfect addition to Arabian-theme decor. Consider patterned Berber rugs or luxurious Persian carpets, which are often associated with stories in the "Arabian Nights." The more expensive versions of these carpets are often handmade, fashioned out of wool or silk, but there are cheaper, mass-produced versions made out of Nylon and Olefin.
Well-placed accessories are often the finishing touch to an Arabian-theme look. Mosaic or heavily engraved metal mirrors are common in Moroccan décor and can be found in circular or arch shapes. Elegant teapots with elongated, curved spouts can be reminiscent of the story "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp." Engraved metal plates with scalloped edges can be used to serve a bevy of hors d'oeuvres. Moreover, lanterns can be hung on the walls like sconces or placed on the table to illuminate the lavish room scene.
- "Arabian Delights: Recipes & Princely Entertaining Ideas from the Arabian Peninsula"; Amy Riolo; 2007
- "How the Arabian Nights Inspired the American dream, 1790-1935"; Susan Nance; 2009
- "Moroccan style"; Alexandra Bonfante-Warren; 2000
- "Living Etc": Modern Moroccan Decorating Ideas
- "Elle Décor"; A Jewel of a Home in Morocco; Ingrid Abramovitch
- Photo Credit Robert Cianflone/Getty Images News/Getty Images