I Dream of Tunisian Blue

Decorating with Tunisia in mind is like holing up in a Genie’s bottle.

There is something almost physical about taking in the blue and white hues of traditional Tunisian architecture and design. In the bay village of Sidi Bou Said – long a bohemian and artist’s sanctuary – one feels compelled to be immersed in the brilliant blues, set against crisp whites, under the hot Mediterranean sun.

Originally a pilgrimage destination, this, Tunisia’s most celebrated blue-and-white village, looks more like a painting, or a shimmering mosaic.

It is a study in bicolor simplicity, glimpsed along a labyrinth of winding streets, hidden gardens and flowering courtyards. Against dazzling white walls are flashes of everything blue: doors, window frames, shutters and moucharabiehs (latticework window screens), to name a few.

We sourced some of Sidi Bou Said’s finest interiors and exteriors for inspiration, seeking to recreate a Tunisian experience at home.

An elaborate birdcage is a key piece in Tunisian interiors. They are typically round and bulbous on top, with a solid rectangular bottom.

Bowls made from Tunisian olive trees, which are too old to bear fruit, can be used as decoration or for more functional purposes. Meanwhile, hand-painted plates in blues, yellows, golds, and oranges make for an enviable dinner party. 

Decorative murals and tiling in bathrooms, kitchens and pools is typically Tunisian, and a little French too. Not surprising given the long and complicated (i.e., Colonialist) affiliation between the two nations.

Tunisia is a small country that is bordered by the Mediterranean to the north and the east. It is for this reason, perhaps, that the color blue is used so predominantly in exterior embellishments and interior décor.

The layering of rugs and textiles create a bold, patterned and lush look.

The Tunisian inspired home is like living in a genie’s bottle set adrift in the placid tranquility of the Mediterranean blue. It is for this reason that I dream of Tunisia. Do you?

Images: Kristof AbrathAgent SmithhdandylionGuillem RiberaHouse to HomeBellygladAlexandre Paris; Nicole Jane Home; Liz Tagami; cat-o’


K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.