Michel's Vibrant Moroccan Home

Michel's Vibrant Moroccan Home

Fabienne Ayina
Mar 14, 2016
(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)

Name: Michel Biehn
Location: Old Medina — Fes, Morocco
Size: 150 square meters (1,614 square feet)
Years lived in: 6 years; Owned

"Eight years ago, I needed to refresh my life, before becoming too old," says Michel, the larger-than-life French expatriate textile expert, author, chef, hotelier and owner of Le Jardin des Biehn, who has taken up residence in the Old Medina. It was Nina Mohamed-Alaimi's—of Nina & Mohamed's Textured, Patterned Paradise in Morocco—idea to introduce me to Mr Biehn while I was visiting Fes. Michel revamped this property into a very intimate nine-room hotel; he lives in this colorful, vibrant house in the back of the oasis.

(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)

Not all rabbit holes are worth going down, but the colorful house of a design aficionado hidden in a citrus-perfumed Moroccan garden definitely is. "I was not looking for a riad—a Moroccan house with an indoor garden—I was looking for a garden...I need to live close to the water and birds," shares Michel.

Having fun was part of the agenda: "This house was silly and boring and I wanted to color it like a child." And he sure did—all the amazing paints were made with Michel's private collection of pigments. At times the enchanted space feels like a Wes Anderson movie set.

(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)

The house inhabited by a lifetime's collection of pieces from far-flung places, intriguing Japanese toys, rare stones from Benares, layers of rugs and textiles, djellaba fabrics reinvented as lounge pillows, flea market finds, and a small Cinderella figurine won over after a 10-year courtship in Rangoon feels incredibly cozy.

Fearless ("why not start fresh") and witty ("cactus is more chic than barbed wire"), Michel invents his own definition of what le bon goût should be with a festival of patterns, textures and colors.

(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Search for harmony and happiness.

Inspiration: A twist on Moroccan style.

Favorite Element: Colors.

Biggest Challenge: Renovations.

What Friends Say: Beautiful colors.

Biggest Embarrassment: Life is too short to be embarrassed.

Proudest DIY: My customized paints made with my own collection of pigments.

Biggest Indulgence: My collection of textiles.

Best Advice: Have fun.

Dream Sources: Damascus before the war.


(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)


  • All the paints were custom-made by Michel with his own collection of pigments.
(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)


(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)


  • Table: '70s vintage via flea market
  • Rugs: collected by Michel in India, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Africa, etc.
  • Textiles: collected by Michel in India, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Africa, etc.
  • Curtain: gift from Nina at Artisan Project
(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)


  • Chairs and table: plastic garden accessories
  • Tablecloth: Fes market
  • Watercolor art: Jacques Barrel
(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)


  • Spice canisters: recycled Bonne Maman jam jars
  • Counter: zellij tiles
(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)


  • Textiles: collected by Michel in India, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Africa, etc.
  • Closet: China
  • Rugs: collected by Michel in India, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Africa, etc.
  • Framed sun embroidery: 17th-century French
(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)


  • Counter, shower, and wall: tadelakt
  • Shower curtain: made of fabric used for outdoor furniture
(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)


  • Textile on the wall: bread blanket from Uzbekistan
  • Blanket with tassels: camel blanket
  • Silk: Florence
  • Other fabric: Provence
  • Red table: a local bistro
  • Indian ink art: Jacques Barrel

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Thanks, Michel!

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