Homes & Design Photo Credit: MJay Photography

We Love This Moroccan-Inspired Outdoor Movie Theatre

Interior decorator Neelam Gurm proves you don’t need a backyard to get this quintessential summer look.

Outdoor movies may be synonymous with gravel parking lots and large, grassy fields, but for interior decorator and Patterns and Prosecco blogger Neelam Gurm, the fun doesn’t need to stop there. After noticing a blank wall outside her friend’s condo, she decided to test whether or not the classic summer setting (most often reserved for natural areas) could be recreated in an urban location. “You don’t have to have a backyard to create this,” she insists.

Exhibit A: the Moroccan-inspired look she ended up creating in downtown Calgary, mere steps away from the bustling 17th Avenue shopping district. Though the theme emerged from practical considerations (“Moroccan design is known for its layers and textures and I knew, because we didn’t have grass, we would need lots of pillows and rugs to just cozy-up the space”), the stylist also wanted to create an experience: “Just being in the space was so much fun,” she says. “The movie was almost like an afterthought.”

Gurm’s take on the outdoor theatre is complete with jewel-toned throw pillows, textural poufs and metallic lanterns, but she encourages everyone to make use of whatever furniture, fabrics and materials they have at home—read on to learn about the key pieces you need to recreate the look at home (summer’s not over yet!).

Get the Look: Outdoor Movie Theatre


1. Blank Space

“First and foremost, you want somewhere to project the movie,” she says. Even a sheet hanging on a string between two trees will do.


2. Comfortable Layers
It’s important to create a warm, comfortable space for everyone watching the movie. “It doesn’t have to be rugs,” says Gurm. Blankets on the ground will work just as well. When that’s done, it’s all about adding layers: “Lots and lots of pillows,” says Gurm.

“I gravitate towards blues,” says Gurm of the setting’s colour scheme. “When I found the rugs I knew that I wanted to pull the blues from it. It was easy to just find stuff that coordinated.”

3. Extra Seating
“I wasn’t quite sure how comfortable being on the ground was going to be,” says Gurm. “I thought if anyone had an injury or their back started hurting, there were other options for people to be part of the experience and still be comfortable.”

It’s not a movie night without snacks! Gurm made a Middle Eastern platter to match the Moroccan theme, but she had popcorn on hand, too.

4. Mood Lighting
Gurm didn’t have the candles lit during the movie, but they provide a warm glow—and create an inviting atmosphere long after the movie is over when people are still lounging in the space: “It was lovely to turn them on,” she says.

“I’d love to say the doors were intentional and very well thought out, but it was literally just a last-minute solution that worked out really well,” laughs Gurm.

5. Accessories
This is when you can let your creativity run wild. The white doors that acted as a backdrop for Gurm’s theatre setting, for example, were “just a fluke thing that happened” when she realized she needed to hide a bike that was locked up outside. “Certainly this has a styled look—it was created with that intention,” she says, but this is something anyone can pull off.

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