Dominic Bradbury, Journalist & Writer


Most of us are content with the challenges of one career, yet Maryam Montague somehow manages to juggle a handful of different occupations. Her day job involves working as a consultant in the field of civil rights, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. But she is also a passionate blogger and writer, focussing on design and her life in Morocco. Add to that some work as a design consultant and the job of co-managing – with her husband Chris Redecke – their two guest villas alongside their own home in the countryside outside Marrakech, known collectively as Peacock Pavilions.  

‘I believe that all of us have several careers locked inside of us and people just sometimes get caught up in one of them,’ says Montague. ‘But Marrakech is a city that that brings out many different sides to people. Many people who move here are on their second or third careers.  It’s definitely a feat to find time to do all these things but I have a very particular schedule for myself to make sure I get everything done and I do get up very early in the mornings.’

Montague was born in Egypt to an Iranian mother and an American father, who worked in public health and disaster relief. She went to school and studied in the States but left at the end of the 1980s to indulge a love of travelling and begin working on human rights programmes. She started out in West Africa, followed by South East Asia and then settled in Nepal after marrying her architect husband,  followed by a period in Namibia and finally Morocco. She still travels around ten days a month - mostly to Afghanistan, Mali and Egypt in recent years.

‘In Afghanistan I was working on an initiative involving Afghan women and so meeting with Muslim leaders, trying to better understand their situation and coming up with programmes that respond to their needs,’ says Montague. ‘Very often my role is to design a project and then get the team going and that’s what I have been doing for twenty years.

‘But I always try and add a cultural element to a trip so in Afghanistan I wanted to get away from some of the press we see about the country all the time and I was looking for the cultural underbelly. I met with students of jewellery, wood carving, pottery, miniature painting because I wanted to share that on my blog and try and change people’s impressions of Afghanistan. So all of my trips have a personal and a professional side to them. I have been to about 72 countries and if I haven’t been there it’s on my list.’

Montague’s blog began as a way of balancing the seriousness of her day to day job with something that was much lighter and fed into her love of design and her interest in collecting art, jewellery and other treasures. As she gained readers, the blog then led on to her first book, Marrakesh by Design, which was published last year by Artisan Books.

‘I started blogging when I was running a prisoners’ rights programme in Morocco and I was really craving beauty and light,’ says Montague. ‘Also we were moving to a new city and I was discovering it and falling under its spell. We fell in love with Marrakech and decided to call it home.’

Montague and Redecke moved from Namibia to Morocco in 2001, not long after the birth of their son Tristan, who is now 13, and has a sister, Skyler, 11. Initially they based themselves in the capital, Rabat, but then moved on to Marrakech where they were tempted by the idea of buying an old riad – or town house – in the medina. But then they began to think they might be better off living in the countryside, where the family would have a garden, more outdoor space and Chris might have the chance to build a house from scratch.

‘It was a long held ambition to build my own house,’ says Redecke, who was born in Chicago, grew up in Maryland and first started working as an architect in the States before moving abroad. ‘After going through the romantic thoughts about what a great place it would be to live in, we decided that we really wanted to be outside the medina but within reasonable striking distance of the city and that’s when the search for some land began.’

Eventually the family came across an olive grove sitting in just over eight acres of land on the edge of a small village, with views of the Atlas mountains in the distance. Here Redecke designed a family home that draws upon Moroccan architectural ideas but also has a distinct character of its own, with many contemporary elements added to the mix. Many pieces of architectural salvage, including doors from Rajasthan and screens from Iran, are woven into the fabric of the house, as well as bespoke elements such as the fireplaces. The house has a very individual character and feels very much in tune with its setting.

Montague was responsible for much of the interiors, weaving in layers of furniture, fabric, pattern and curios – including jewellery and tribal masks - gathered on countless travel trips. There is plenty of colour and pattern, too, with floor tiles in parts of the house designed by friends Samuel and Caltlin Dowe-Sandes of Popham Tiles, based in Marrakech, and stencils by another friend, artist Melanie Royals.

‘Both my parents are also passionate about interior design,’ says Montague. ‘I grew up in a house that was pretty singular in our neighbourhood, filled with old and interesting pieces from their travels. I really like that idea of having a house that felt like a curated collection of lovely and interesting things, picked up in a souk or a bazaar.’

As well as building and designing their own home, Redecke and Montague also did the same with two separate pavilions – ‘Medina’ and ‘Atlas’ – that sit within the same enclave and share the swimming pool, outdoor gym and other elements of the carefully tended gardens. The two pavilions have an identity of their own, yet with a similar blend of new and old, the bespoke and the curated.

‘There was a lot of thought about planning the landscape and the placement of the buildings,’ says Redecke. ‘The Moroccan imagery is not so much to do with the details but with the forms – the arches, the towers, the terraces. We designed and built the three houses at the same time and it was challenging to do it my way, partly because of the language issue and because there were three buildings going up at once and each one was different. It was exciting but demanding.’

As well as hosting individual families and guests, the Pavilions often provide a setting for creative retreats focussed on painting, stencilling, yoga and photography. In the gardens, Redecke and Montague have added a yoga tent, an outdoor cinema, a dining tent and a vegetable garden, with plans to add a modest hammam and spa. They press their own olive oil each autumn, while the gardens require constant love and attention. All of this plus the constant upkeep of the three houses does not leave Redecke that much time to pursue other architectural projects, but he is working with a friend on plans for three simple and sustainable off the grid pavilions for backpacking tourists.

‘Looking after Peacock Pavilions is really a full time job in itself,’ he says. ‘There’s the challenge of continuing to practice architecture and maintain what we are doing here. We have small projects that we move along with and that takes time. We just had to dig our well deeper because water is limited here, which is why we used as much drip watering as we can in the garden and try to keep to as many succulents as possible that don’t need so much water.’

During the hot Moroccan summer, the family usually return to the States to catch up with family. During the winter, if there’s snow in the mountains, they might head up into the Atlas and see if there’s any skiing. They also like to escape to the coast now and then.

‘We have been going to a town on the coast called Mirleft, south of Agadir,’ says Redecke. ‘For a spring break we will go for a week – it’s a crusty town with beautiful beaches and good surfing, so the kids go to surf school. It really is a nice getaway spot.’

Back at home, Redecke is training for a half marathon, Skyler is getting more and more interested in horse riding and Montague keeps fit with morning kick boxing and the garden gym. If she’s not travelling, it will then be up to her rooftop study to work across her many jobs, with a view of the mountains to keep her company. It’s one of the best spots within a home that is infused with the many flavours of the family’s travels around the world.

‘No matter where I have been, I have always trued to create a home that feels stylish and place where I would like to spend time,’ says Montague. ‘I got that from my parents, who said no matter where you are, you should make your place as beautiful as you can and a reflection of yourself. In all my houses I have tried hard to do that.’

Peacock Pavilions –




Maryam calls this her $5 room, with most pieces bought at bargain basement prices and often adapted, repainted or repurposed.

The large billboard ad was found in Spain.

The blue bookshelves were brought over from the States and painted; the camels on top are from Tajikistan and the glass picture is from Iran.

The road sign tables were made by Maryam and Chris using surplus signs bought in Morocco.

The sofa is a 1950s leather couch, bought on Ebay in the States, and covered in a fabric from Kurgistan.

The dummy by the sofa is French and has been made into a lamp, draped with African glass bead necklaces.

The large painting above the sofa is by an Iraqi artist.

The rug is a Moroccan blanket, made into a carpet.

The black chairs are from the souk in Marrakech.


This area links the main living room with the kitchen, the hall to the bedrooms and a stairway to the upper storey. It is an axis point yet also used for displaying pictures and treasures from Maryam and Chris’ travels, while pieces of architectural salvage – such as the doors – are woven into the fabric of the house.

The bar was made using a mashrabiya screen (used to divide men and women’s quarters or as windows) from Iran.

The black and white photographs on the bar are from Nepal, India and Morocco.

The window surrounds are made of Kuba cloth from Tanzania.

The ladder leaning against the wall is Moroccan and the horse head alongside it is from Senegal.

The door to the stairs is a Moroccan Berber piece.

The double doorway to the bedroom wing is from Rajasthan.

The sign above the door and the carved wooden guardian alongside it are both from Mali.

The fountain in the hallway is made with Nepalese stone.


The white, beaded blankets shrouding the metal shelves are Moroccan, while the red fabric hiding the shelves between is from Kurdistan.

Above, Kudu horns from Namibia have been made into a pair of wall lights.

The masks are all African, collected from a number of countries.

The rug on the floor is Iranian.

The dining table is bespoke, in walnut and was designed by Chris.

The chairs are all specially made, also in walnut.

The hanging light above the table was designed by Maryam – a bespoke piece.

The black table to one side, between the arched openings to the main living room, was made from a camel frame.

The pottery on the table is vintage Moroccan from Tangroute.

The small stools below the table are all African.

The piece mounted on the wall is a Koran holder from Afghanistan.


Area around sofa and circular mirror

The peacock mirror is from India.

The sofa is a bespoke piece, designed by Chris, and covered in a Moroccan blanket.

The leather pouf is Moroccan, with a yellow and white throw from Zara Home.

The table by the sofa was made from a Moroccan ceiling panel.

The two cardboard chairs are by Frank Gehry, bought in the States.

The two wooden chairs with orange seats are bespoke, designed by Chris.

The rugs are all vintage Berber carpets.

The black and white tram roll destination sign hanging from the ceiling is 1950s, Australian, from Melbourne.

Area by glass doors to terrace

The red chair is a 1950s piece bought in the souk in Marrakech.

Tibetan altar tables stand either side of the central glass door.

The green pottery on the altar tables is Moroccan, from Tangroute.

The oval table is a period French library table that was a gift from Maryam’s parents.

The doll on the table is a Chinese acupuncture practice doll with British goggles, bought in Egypt.

The branch on the table was found in Marrakech.

The central fountain is a bespoke design by Chris and Maryam.

The hanging lamps were designed by Maryam, inspired by the lanterns used by nomads in Yemen.

Entrance area

The small low table is Indian.

The two black and white cushions are Moroccan poufs covered in beaded wedding blankets.

Area around fireplace

The poster above the fireplace is a French turn of the century piece.

The jewellery collection on the wall around the poster is an assembly of pieces from Morocco, Pakistan and Africa.

The dolls on the mantelpiece are from the Philippines.

The table by the fireplace is Indian, made from the bottom of an old cart.

The Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe is a reproduction bought in the States.

The armchairs opposite are Mies-inspired designs, also bought in the States.

The cushions are contemporary Egyptian.

The campaign chair is a vintage British piece, a gift from Maryam’s parents.


The kitchen includes a bay window with a built in seating area and breakfast table overlooking the gardens at the rear and the pool area. The tiles on the floor were made by Popham Design (, a company in Morocco run by Americans Caitlin and Samuel Dowe-Sandes, who are friends of Maryam and Chris.

The dining table and chairs are copies of Eero Saarinen designs, bought in the souk in Marrakech.

The cross pillows are Maryam’s design.

The hanging light is by Normann Copenhagen.

The cabinets are Italian, bought in Morocco.


The floors are in stained cement.

The lanterns are Moroccan, made in Marrakech.

The stencils on the stairs and door are by Maryam’s friend, artist Melanie Royals, using Moroccan patterns (

The plasterwork around the door to Skylar’s room is bespoke, Moroccan.


The stencilled floors are by Melanie Royals -

The bed and headboard are draped with Moroccan wedding blankets.

The small chair is Indian and the angel hanging on the wall was bought in the States.

The green raffia rug is from Zara Home.

The silver pouf was designed by Maryam.

The pigeon lamp on the wall is by Normann Copenhagen.


The chandelier is Italian, bought in the souk in Marrakech.

The poster above the bed is French, 1920s.

The chairs by the bed are Syrian.

The headboard is a bespoke piece by Maryam and Chris using old print blocks.

The indigo bedspread is from Mali.

The floors stencil is by Melanie Royals.

The banquette is a Moroccan piece, covered in a Moroccan carpet and with pillows from Morocco and South America.

The Coptic Cross by the window is Ethiopian – a gift from Maryam’s parents.

The fabric window surround is from Kurgistan.


The tiles are by Popham Design.

The stenciled floor is by Melanie Royals.

The sink is Moroccan and the mirror and sink unit are bespoke.


Maryam’s study is contained within a small building sitting on the roof of the house, with views out across the gardens and landscape to the Atlas Mountains in the distance.

The stenciled floors are by Melanie Royals.

The bookshelf is bespoke, made using latticed cement bricks painted white.

A collection of birds nests and objets trouvé sit on top of the bookcase.

The chair is a 1940s American plywood piece, bought on Ebay.

The desk is bespoke.

The small table is an encyclopedia stand, from Chris’ family.


Bedroom of the Moorish Muse - 

Based around an old Lehnert and Landrock image of a
beautiful Berber girl.  
The room features:
1) Antique hand beaded hair ornaments from Yemen
2) A vintage bedspread from Rajastan
3) Drawings and paintings from contemporary artists
4) A lantern of my own design
5) A handpainted ceiling done by the Peacock Painters inspired by a Bukhara
textile that I bought on assignment
6) A vintage wicker peacock chair
7) Handblocked Bukhara print pillows, fabric bought in Egypt
8) Vintage Moroccan carpet
9) Sculpture representing peace commissioned from American sculptor Caroline
10) Lamps by French designer Corinne Bensimon
11) A basket made by a victim of the Rwandan genocide, filled by handblown glass
balls from Egypt
12) Vintage movie poster that brings together Arab and American imagery and

Bedroom of the Sufi Seamstress (Downstairs Room with the Pink Dress)

A room dedicated to textiles and hand embroidery.  Features:

* hand embroidered and tasseled V textiles, purchased on assignment in
* a constructed chandelier made from handblown lanterns from Egypt
* 2 lamps made with remnants of antique yemeni textiles
* shades made from vintage Indian saris
* Antique map of Paris
* Vintage Moroccan taznarght carpet
* A series of baskets made by Rwandan genocide victims, bought in Rwanda on
* A vintage Syrian brass vase
* Antique French lithographs
* A vintage steamer trunk from Chris's family
* An antique pennant hanging from the ceiling bought in Turkey on assignment
* A fireplace made of Moroccan marble
*either vintage Moroccan wedding blankets (twin beds) or an antique suzani
bedspread bought in Afghanistan on assignment
* A vintage Moroccan pink silk caftan
* vintage handbeaded fantasia horse decorations (over the caftan like a crown)

Medina Pavilion Salon

* Horseshoe arches, the shape thought to protect from the evil eye
*Vintage Persian carpet
* Vintage handcarved Moroccan tea table
* Antique Tibetan bench
* Collection of aqua vintage ceramics from the Taznarght area of Morocco
* 18th century Buddha from Thailand
* Handmade all handbeaded chair from the Uruba tribe in Nigeria
* Curtains made with pieces of antique Yemeni sari with real silver work
* crewel pillows from Kashmir, bought on assignment
* On the mantel and on the wall, antique French posters
* Vintage metal plaque of King Mohammed V
* Sculpture commissioned from American sculptor Caroline Douglas, representing
the ease of one's troubles
* Walls covered with original covers of antique French newspapers, representing
the Moroccan colonial period
* Antique Persian chandelier
* On the back of the couch: vintage Afghan tent passementarie, bought on
* Mosque inkwells
* Vintage red Moroccan wedding burnoose
* Antique Yemeni hair ornaments (on the wall) bought in Yemen on assignment
* vintage leather French suitcase
* Vintage handcarved Moroccan pillar with antique glass beads, bought on
assignment in Mali

Dining Room, Medina Pavilion

* 200 year old Persian painting
* Antique Moroccan muqarna (stalactite wood sculpture on the wall)
* Table made out of an antique Berber door
*Vintage Moroccan handpainted Glaoui ceiling
* Egyptian glass mosque lanterns
* side tables made from vintage Moroccan handcarved tent stakes
* Antique Cambodian rice cutter
* Vintage Persian carpet
* chairs bought in a Paris fleamarke


* Persian runner
* Hand embroidered suzani on the wall, bought on assignment in Kyrgyzstan
* Vintage Indian horse
* Antique Chinese wooden baby bath
* cushion made from vintage velvet caftan
* Series of Moroccan brass lanterns

Staircase -
* Done by the Peacock Painters to spec - my effort to preserve original Moroccan
henna design



Painting – Persian

Table – made from antique Berber door

Spice boxes on table from Afghanistan

Ceiling – bespoke, handpainted

Chairs – bought at Paris flea market

Rug – vintage Persian


Rug – vintage Persian

Tea table – vintage Moroccan

Bench – Tibetan

Aqua ceramics on bench – from the Taznarght region of Morocco

Illustrations on walls – covers of vintage French newspapers

Chandalier – vintage Persian

Couch – Bespoke

Chair – Bespoke


Fireplace – bespoke

Hands – German glove moulds
Fan chair – Spanish designer who had a house in Essaouira

Pillar by fireplace – Moroccan, with glass beads bought in Mali



Dining table – Indian door converted into table

Light over dining table – Egyptian, bespoke, all other lights also Egyptian

Stools – country stools upholstered with carpet remnants

Sofa – Brought from US, reupholstered

Coffee table – Made from old Moroccan window

Armchairs – Upholstered with Moroccan blankets, from Mustapha Blaoui

Fireplace – bespoke

Armchair in corner – American, covered with Indonesian ikat

Rugs – Moroccan/Berber plus Turkish rug by from door

Lanterns – Egyptian


Bed – bespoke, Chris Redecke

Printing plates on wall – plaster calligraphy by Maryam’s father and Chris had them wax cast and made in aluminium plus Coptic crosses from Ethiopia

Quilt – souk, Moroccan wedding blanket

Rug – Persian

Coffee table – vintage 1940s from Fes

Chairs – bespoke, from Rabat

Fan chair – rattan, found in flea market

Ceiling – Melanie Royals, bespoke


Wall painting – inspired by a screen designed by Armand Albert Rateau

Quilt – Indian

Chairs – bespoke upholstered in mud cloth from Mali

Rug – vintage Moroccan

Bed – Chris

Lanterns - Moroccan

Detail of fireplace

Fireplace – bespoke

Altar ornament – French, turn of the century


Bench – Maryam, bespoke

Red table – Nepal

Necklace – Papua New Guinea

Wall hanging – paintings, gift from Chinese best friend flanked by Yemeni hair pieces


Cocktail Party on roof at Peacock Pavilions – Chris, Maryam, Skylar, with friends Delphine, Omid, Sarah, Michelle.

Henna decoration with Skylar

Family shots by pool and on roof with Maryam, Chris, Skylar and Tristan

Outdoor cinema shots at Peacock Pavilions.

Chris and Maryam having lunch in tent in garden.

Chris with Peacock gardener, Najib.

Chris with architects’ drawings on veranda of main house at Peacock Pavilions

Maryam and Chris looking at tile samples with Caitlin and Samuel Dowe-Sandes of Popham Design at their office at their factory near Marrakech

Maryam and Chris at Barrage/lake in countryside outside Marrakech

Maryam and Chris at Majorelle Gardens, Marrakech

Maryam delivering copies of her book to Yehia Abdelnour’s store and gallery, 33 Rue Majorelle  

Maryam looking in souks in medina, Marrakech – multiple shots

Maryam at balcony of Café des Epices, medina, Marrakech

Maryam eating at stalls at Jemaa el-Fnaa