GRUELING…Emotional…Full of highs and lows…Fraught with bargaining, nail biting, indecision, endless possibilities, dirhams that keep on adding up and up and up...absolutely exhilarating. All of this for less than 15 meters long of wood. Yes…maybe my taste is a little on the “beldi” side. Ok, A LOT on the beldi side, but I moved to Morocco to fill my home with Moroccan stuff!!! Not the Moroccan interpretation of western and modern orientalism! I moved here to pick the beldi wood, hang the wedding blankets on the walls and go to the Atlas mountain carpet souks for our rugs! Why you ask? Well, simply put, it is the journey that counts for me.
The recommended carpenter that sits at the table we just bought from a friend’s brother is telling me that he doesn’t care how sweet the Moroccan tea and cookies I’m serving him are, he’s not falling for it. He is going to keep the prices at what he stated. It was a romancing of sorts on our part. Youssef and I fell automatically into our good-cop / bad-cop routine and my infallible eye towards the most expensive artisanal work that exists is still alive and strong. Trust.
Before I knew it I had thrown on my djellaba and we were racing through the outskirts of Casablanca trying to keep up with his kango. We arrived at his work shop and that is when we became convinced. It was a large, two level work space in which half-worked, raw, and finished pieces of wood lay side by side.
The bargaining continued: constant bargaining, constant dialogue about the price. This was getting exhausting. In the meantime we were falling somewhat in love with one of the nearly finished jobs he was working on.
The model we had agreed on at the house was quickly becoming not even near good enough. The dirhams were quickly adding on to the bill. He is brilliant in fact. I guess he damn well meant it when he said that my sweet tea and cookies were not going to make him soft on us. He meant it alright. In the end it is us that went soft. We decided on a somewhat medieval / berberesque looking simple hand sculpted notch pattern for the wood. This is far from the Romi patterns that we had dreamed of at 900dhs the meter.
The thing about the wood is this: You can find cheaper, but you just don’t know about the quality. You can find more expensive, which means more beautiful and good quality. In the end we went with simple and good quality. I imagine we will have this living room for quite some time.
My suggestions, if you are considering assembling you own Moroccan living room, are as follows:
- Start with the wood, order that first.
- Do your research, know what styles you do and don’t like.
- Don’t decide at the last minute to change the whole thing, then not sleep and change the whole thing back to what you had originally decided (makes for an unpleasant work day).
- Get a recommendation for a carpenter.
- Visit their shop, see where and how they work, you can even ask to see your raw wood before they start putting it together.