The restoration of Dar Borj Dahab took us about three years, once we got the work underway after a couple of false starts. Along the way, we tended to some major work, replacing ancient wood flooring and mismatched ‘modern’ tiles, and building in contemporary utility features. We installed all new plumbing and electrical wiring, and some security features. We faced inertia, bureaucratic delays, unfamiliar traditions and infuriating changes of mind–sometimes our own. Slowly, slowly, though, the house took shape, as lovely as we had hoped. Perhaps more lovely in some ways. Before we could call the job done, though, we had to consider how to make the a traditionally restored dar really work for us and our guests. The devil is in the details, as they say, and we think it is our obsessive attention to detail that resulted in a livable Medina home with its historical integrity intact.
Nooks & crannies, special touches
Our corner of the Medina came with miscellaneous nooks and crannies and as we went along, we gave several of them a purpose: a ‘small room’ accessed from a staircase landing became a sort of office (it’s where the internet router is located and was already outfitted with something resembling a desk). An unfinished cave below stairs is now a wine cellar. The new staircase we built runs from the front entrance to the terrace, four floors up, and in what might seem a logical move, but was a challenge to at least some of our workers, we insisted that each of the stair risers be exactly the same height for the full distance, from street to roof.
On the rooftop, we parted ways with tradition just slightly, to make the space much more pleasurable than it might otherwise have been. First, we had the traditional ridges of a Moroccan rooftop removed, and created a split-level terrace. And second, we had a removable ‘beanie’ made for our halka. It helps conserve warmth in the messreiya during winter and keeps rain out during the rainy season. These small things have made a difference.
Most of the finishings in Dar Borj Dahab were designed specifically for the house, and with an idea to keep things simple. We love the special touches brought to our home by artisans plying their trades, and now, with some of the messier aspects of the restoration well behind us, we can simply enjoy the results. Visit us, and we think you will too!