Rosena and Fred Charmoy are always entertaining. For one thing, it’s their job: The couple own and manage , an event company in Marrakech that has planned such star-studded occasions as the model and actress Poppy Delevingne’s 2014 wedding to James Cook. But hosting guests and celebrations is also what the couple love to do. “When the Yves Saint Laurent museum opened, we must have had almost a dozen people in and out of our house, having dinner, crashing with us, stopping by,” says Rosena, who hails from Ireland.
The couple met in Marrakech in the mid-aughts when Fred, originally from Paris, was overseeing a riad in the medina and Rosena was starting up Boutique Souk. “We began working and spending late nights together,” she says. “Finally, we just gave in and got married.”
In 2008, the Charmoys bought and moved into a two-story modern stone house with a turret in La Palmeraie, an elegant upscale suburb within a natural, 54-square-mile palm grove. The kitchen was hidden in the back of the house, which was a problem considering how much the couple enjoy cooking; Fred is often in the kitchen whipping up gourmet meals and cocktails.
On Sundays, the couple host long, lazy English roasts for their eclectic crew of friends, many of whom are participants in the city’s creative scene. “We never know how many people will show up for lunch,” Rosena says, laughing.
They spent several years carrying dishes from the tucked-away kitchen to the dining room at the other end of the house until their friend Cassandra Karinsky, an Australian textile designer, pointed out the obvious: “She said that in Australia, the kitchen would be at the front of the house next to the terrace and the pool,” Rosena recalls. “We were like, Of course! But that now meant we had to renovate the entire ground floor.”
The couple enlisted architect Nigel Murray of Nigel Murray Studio and appealed to their wide circle of creative friends for help. “There is a really exciting community that is redefining the aesthetic of Marrakech,” Rosena says. “Whether it’s ceramics or textiles, they are creating artisanal things with an interesting modern twist.”
They ordered three patterns of tiles for the new kitchen and bathrooms from their friends Samuel and Caitlin Dowe-Sandes, who own Popham Design (and whose own home was featured in ED in January/February 2019). Willem Smit, the dapper general manager of the legendary El Fenn hotel, took Rosena shopping for vintage furniture at the city’s Bab El Khemis market. He also ordered plant pots from Madison Cox’s ceramic workshop outside the city and filled them with olive trees.
And in just one weekend, while the couple were away, Smit redesigned the living room, adding a midcentury console, a chaise longue, and a dozen throw pillows from the textile designer Madeline Weinrib, a partner with Vanessa Branson at El Fenn, where her designs are sold in the hotel’s chic boutique. And for the Charmoys’ terrace, Karinsky commissioned a local group of basket weavers to fashion a set of whimsical but sturdy rattan outdoor furniture she’d designed.
Where the old kitchen was at the back of the house, the Charmoys created two bedrooms for their continuous stream of houseguests. Meanwhile, the top floor was turned into a master suite, with a terrace and a large dressing room filled with Rosena’s party gowns. “It’s almost like a separate apartment,” she says. “I just love the view from our bed of the palm trees.”
When the renovation was finally complete, the couple marked the occasion—naturally—with a big party that coincided with Rosena’s birthday. “A whole load of friends flew to town,” she says. “We cooked a massive paella, and Fred made some amazing turmeric-and-ginger margaritas.” And of course, Rosena adds, “No one ever left the kitchen.”
This story originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Siweb.