High above the cacophony of Little Italy, Gabrielle Francis, 45, and Ahmed Jeriouda, 30, live in what might be described as a tapestry aerie. Occupying a duplex penthouse, the couple has furnished their home with ornamental and tribal textiles that reflect their love of exotic cultures.
“Everything we have here has a story. I feel like I’m surrounded by the energy of my travels,” Francis said. “I also have really cool tables from Target,” she added.
Some 40 antique musical instruments are living reminders of how the couple met — at a music festival in Jeriouda’s native Morocco. Francis, a holistic physician then living in San Francisco, and Jeriouda, a former civil engineer, married last year after a two-year, long-distance relationship, and relocated to Manhattan.
They found their apartment on Craigslist, paying more than they wanted, but also not regretting it. They have frequent visitors from Morocco and, said Jeriouda: “The concept of staying in a hotel is foreign.”
They entertain among the carved furnishings, Berber rugs and objects such as Moroccan henna lamps, a Kurdish saddle ornament, a hammered metal wedding hat from Turkistan and Bedouin beaded face masks repurposed into wall art.
“I tell people, ‘Welcome to the Taj Mahal,’ but it’s really like ‘the Taj Mahal meets the Kasbah,’” said Francis with a laugh.
The crowning glory? Their Moroccan-style rooftop gazebo furnished with brown wicker furniture from Target. The couple likes to make music here, the blinking rooftop light of Ferrara bakery across the way reminding them of where home really is.
Here are some other cool items around their abode:
- The Chinese opium bed cost $800 and about $1,000 to ship. It arrived in 30 pieces and took Jeriouda and a friend 12 hours to reassemble.
- A Kurdish saddle decoration (not pictured), used for weddings, was found for $150 in a market in Cappadocia, Turkey.
- Francis plays her father’s 19th-century Arabic drum. She’s the fourth generation to own it.
- Bedouin face masks — beaded and decorated with strings of small coins
- Tibetan singing bowls on a low dining room table. Made from seven different elements, each one representing a planet in the zodiac.