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Moroccan Interior Designer Lara Ben Jaber on Turning Her Vision into Reality for Her Family

Lara Ben Jaber turned her vision into reality for her family, mixing organic shapes and a soft palette in her home.

lara ben jaber

Lara Ben Jaber in the kitchen, with its arabesque arches. Photo: Muk Van Lil

The move from sharing interior photos on social media via @looliving to launching her eponymous design studio was a natural progression for Moroccan designer Lara Ben Jaber. Based in the city of Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, where she lives with her husband and their three young sons, the interior designer made her personal home the perfect playground for experimentation. “We searched for about a year before this house came our way,” remembers the designer. “We are glad we had the patience to wait for our dream home.”

The TV room features a modular sofa Noxx sofa from Lab02 and a vintage coffee table. Photo: Muk Van Lil

While the family previously lived in a beautiful house built in the 1930s, they realized that they would soon need more space. They also wanted to live closer to the city center, which prompted this move and placed them near both the Het Loo Palace and the forest. Spread over 320sqm and two floors, the home comprises four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a private guesthouse with a sauna and a bathroom. The former carriage house from 1852 had been renovated thoroughly in the 1930s, leaving several features from the two periods preserved, while Ben Jaber introduced new changes to reflect her vision.

lara ben jaber

The starway ascends towards one of the original doors. Photo: Muk Van Lil

“We found old photos of the house and were able to see what the ornaments on the outside looked like,” she says. “We have restored them to their original state as much as possible.” The double front doors are original to the house (whose entrance was moved to the side in the 1930s), as well as the interior doors that Ben Jaber restored. Additionally, she included some new ones in the same style, with beautiful arches. “I consciously chose this pattern because it has the shape of both a mosque and the windows of the nearby church,” she says about her design, made by Brouwer Maatkeukens & Interieurs. “This way, I bring both cultures together.”

A bedroom with walk-in closet and linen from La Redoute. Photo: Muk Van Lil

The stairs and banister were also brought back to their former glory, keeping the strong connection with the history of the property. For a more modern twist and adding some contrast throughout, the stair railing, window frames, and interior doors were painted in a matte black tone from Vestingh Paint. Favoring a neutral color palette that allows for easy change – thanks to other decorative features – Ben Jaber explains: “I prefer to work with a maximum of three colors and let at least one of them appear in all the rooms in the house. This way you create peace and harmony, and it becomes a whole.”

lara ben jaber

The house was kept as close to the original design as possible, with double doors leading to the living room. Photo: Muk Van Lil

Made of burnt, weathered wood, the floor of the main living space is laid in a traditional herringbone pattern. Adorned with pendants by Creative Cables of different heights for a relaxed atmosphere, the fourmeter- high ceilings invite an abundance of natural light. Altogether, the different rooms create an eclectic yet cohesive mix of influences, recalling a New York loft aesthetic with the brick wall and Italian and Scandinavian touches with the quartzite kitchen top, among other elements.

The dining room connects to the living room, with art from Studio LDE. Photo: Muk Van Lil

“I thought the few bare brick walls suited this house and our way of styling and furnishing,” says Ben Jaber. “But it is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution and if you apply it incorrectly, it is an eyesore instead of an eye-catcher.” Excited by the many possible transformations, the interior designer did the project in several phases and moved in with her family after two months of intensive effort. “If we had waited until it was done, it might have never happened because for us, it’s never finished!” she smiles. “We always find something to work on.”

lara ben jaber

The custom bathroom bath is made from the same quartzite as the kitchen island. Photo: Muk Van Lil

At that time, the old kitchen hadn’t yet been relocated in the house but today, it has become Ben Jaber’s office, where a marble desk she designed combines with Pierre Jeanneret chairs. “The kitchen is where we live, so it had to be given a central place,” she says. “It is a real meeting place in the house.” Ben Jaber also wanted to take some time to feel the space before making all design decisions. “We don’t do anything hastily, including the furnishing, which is done gradually,” she says. “For example, we brought a lot of furniture from our old house to the new house. Only after we had lived here for a while, did we buy new things. I notice that the older I get, the better I become at making sustainable decisions.”

The baskets on the kitchen wall from Laif en Nuver are made from tree stumps, with bar stools from Wishbone. Photo: Muk Van Lil

Many elements were custom-made by Ben Jaber to align with what she had in mind. One of her key considerations was to create a family home that would suit her three boys. In that spirit, she designed a separate room when her children can play freely. Here, she opted for a white Noxx Scandinavian modular sofa from Lab02 with a vintage travertine coffee table, which both sit on a light-colored rug. “When we feel like we’re done renovating this house, we’re going to sit back and enjoy it,” says Ben Jaber. With someone with such an expert eye, however, it may always remain a work in progress.

lara ben jaber

Ben Jaber designed the kitchen, with an island made from durable quartzite. Photo: Muk Van Lil

lara ben jaber

Lara Ben Jaber’s light-filled workspace. Photo: Muk Van Lil

Custom drapes and a Newgarden Lola floor lamp in the dining room. Photo: Muk Van Lil

lara ben jaber

Decor touches throughout the house. Photo: Muk Van Lil

Originally published in the May 2024 issue of Vogue Arabia

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