A Guide to Middle Eastern-Inspired Interior Design

A Guide to Middle Eastern-Inspired Interior Design

Interior Design
Decoration and Design
By Mateos Glen Hayes July 18, 2022

There is something truly unique about the amazing aesthetic of SouthWest Asia and North Africa (SWANA). It combines many of the best things that make an interior design pretty and unique. With vibrant colors, high-quality materials textured earthy hues, and an amazing diversity of aesthetic inspirations, there are few styles that are quite as versatile as Middle Eastern design.

In truth, “Middle Eastern” is somewhat misleading because it implies that there is one homogenous design, when in fact there is a wide variety of them. No one Middle Eastern interior layout will look the same, especially if they draw from different regional inspirations. This is good news for anyone interested in bringing this beautiful style into their home because it means they have an abundance of options to work with.  

Modern Middle Eastern Interior Design

It is not unusual to see a combination of the new and the old in modern Middle Eastern interior design.

It is not unusual to see a combination of the new and the old in modern Middle Eastern interior design.

In the modern world, Arabian interior design has adapted, integrating motifs from all around the world including the sharp clean lines of modernism and the uncluttered layouts of minimalism. In effect, the modern Middle Eastern interior design style tells a story of intersecting cultures and traditions. This is due to the rising prominence of trends such as globalism and is also connected to the history of European colonization of the Middle East and the various cultural exchanges that happened during this period.

This aesthetic diversity is evident in cities like Dubai and buildings such as the Burj Khalifa. In addition to being the world’s tallest building, this steel and glass skyscraper draws some styling cues from traditional Iraqi architecture. On top of this, Arab culture itself is in a constant state of flux, resulting in a fast-changing aesthetic style that tries to integrate modern elements while also retaining echoes of tradition and the past. This is what makes this design style so special as even when it draws heavily from modern trends it is still unmistakably Middle Eastern.

Moroccan Style

Moroccan style makes prominent use of ornamental tilework.

Moroccan style makes prominent use of ornamental tilework.

Moroccan style is perhaps one of the best examples of just how unique regional variants of Middle Eastern style can be, and how effective Middle Eastern interior design is at integrating foreign motifs. It is an eclectic blend of Arabian, Berber, Spanish, French, and Flemish design cues that make for a very textured and beautiful design. As with many Mediterranean styles, the Moroccan style makes good use of colorful tiles, bold colored textures that reflect the colors of the sky and of the desert, and ornate doors drawn from traditional motifs and framed by distinctive white stucco walls.

Moroccan furniture is also quite distinctive, featuring intricately carved designs made of brass and copper that line solid wooden pieces of furniture, and comfy ottomans that are overstuffed and upholstered with wonderful colors. Continuing the tile design, coffee tables will often be topped with inlaid tile designs that can echo the designs on walls and floors for added dimension. 

Common Elements of Middle Eastern Interior Design

While Middle Eastern design is quite varied, there are definitely some general common qualities that are worth taking note of. These distinctive elements are what set the design style apart, making it a perfect choice for anyone who wants their interior design to stand out without being too ostentatious. 

Traditional Inspiration

One crucial detail to understand about Middle Eastern design is the traditional inspiration that permeates it on every level. Traditional design cues are central to the style, even in more modern versions. What this means is lots of non-figurative forms, meaning geometric patterns, arches, and window lattices. The reliance on geometric patterns is an especially important element as traditional designs typically avoid images or illustrated depictions.

Echoes of tradition are found throughout the Middle Eastern design.

Echoes of tradition are found throughout the Middle Eastern design.

A honeycomb-like pattern is a rather common element in the design, both in wall decoration and floor tiling. This is where brass and copper metalwork come in as well for decor. For example, brass pots, lamps, and copper light fixtures are all integral to capturing this aesthetic.   

Specific Layout 

This design style makes use of organized design layouts, meaning that the allotted space should be arranged in the correct organized way regardless of size. This means making the most of the space you have and filling it with the best of everything, meaning the best furniture and the best Middle Eastern decor and lighting designs you can find. This however also requires balance to get right. You don’t want any one of these elements to overpower the rest of the design as this will disrupt the style that you are trying to achieve. 

Clean Lines 

Another aspect of the Middle Eastern design that is absolutely crucial is the clean lines of the layout. As with modernism, these clean lines allow for a design that flows well and reduces clutter. This doesn’t end with the lines of the room itself, but also extends to the furniture and other elements of the design such as carpeting and decor.

Clean lines are omnipresent throughout the design.

Clean lines are omnipresent throughout the design.

To echo the straight lines of the room you need to align furniture and Middle Eastern decor so that it also reflects parallels and straight lines of the room. This is easier with modern furniture, which has been increasingly integrated into newer interior designs. These straight clean lines also contrast rather nicely with the curvature of the rest of the design such as in arches and other details. 

How To Bring Middle Eastern Design Into Your Home 

Of course, all of these commonalities are somewhat general, so to get started you’re gonna need something more specific. The nice thing about the Middle Eastern style is that it is pretty easy to get into thanks to the various motifs you can choose to exclude or include. The abundance of choice might be a bit too much for some, but if you focus on these basic design choices you should be able to pull off a pretty good-looking interior design.

This style truly is a delectable mix of Eastern and Western design elements, so don’t worry if your home feels a bit too “western” for a Middle Eastern style interior because in truth any design can be changed. Plus, the typical North American home usually comes with a rather plain and standardized interior design, and that means that adding your own personal touch is made that much easier since you’re literally filling in blanks.

Brass and copper accenting and Middle Eastern decor are easy to add.

Brass and copper accenting and Middle Eastern decor are easy to add.

Integrate Geometric Patterns 

There are several ways to go about this without making major changes that might be best to do with the help of an interior designer, and most of them consist of adding stuff. Specifically, adding texture through various design elements, whether they be carpeting, ceiling carpeting, furniture, or even wallpaper.

The goal is to look for stuff that reflects the kind of distinctive honeycomb patterns that show up throughout Middle Eastern design, combined with vibrant colors such as red, mango, blue, purple, green, etc.  

Add Colorful Texture 

Speaking of colors, you want to maximize them in as many places as you can. This can be as simple as adding vibrantly colored throw pillows to a standard modernist couch, to repainting a room so that it has brighter colors.

Alternatively, you can also paint a room white or add stucco to help brighter colors stand out in the form of upholstery, and even decorative tiling. In effect, you have different regional influences to draw on here so do some research on the various aesthetics that exist as you are bound to find one that fits your tastes more.

Use only the sturdiest and prettiest materials in your layout.

Use only the sturdiest and prettiest materials in your layout.

Use High-Quality Materials 

This is a general rule and as such it applies to every aspect of the design. You want to get the best version of whatever you want to add to the room. So if you are wanting some ottomans for extra comfort, be sure to get finely upholstered ones with quality seams and plenty of stuffing.

For furniture, the priority is sturdy handmade items with nice texture and vibrant colors sitting on hardwood floors. If you choose to add tiling, we highly recommend going for the ceramic or porcelain handmade versions as these will be crafted to precision with beautiful unique patterns that will set the tone for the rest of the design.


Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes