Manzil / Maison | Mariel Nelms



Welcome to the first post of our monthly Manzil / Maison series, a look into every day people’s homes, highlighting a variety of incredible human beings while sharing their unique raha roho pieces.

Manzil is the Arabic word for “house”, and Maison is it’s French equivalent. These two languages and cultures are tightly woven into the fabric of raha roho, and we love it.

I first came to know Mariel in 2017 when I was searching for a wedding photographer. Over the last three years, Mariel and I have built a wonderful friendship. She is my brand photographer and a mum play date buddy for our two young children. I love stories like this.

Images: Mariel Nelms

How does your home make you feel?

My home makes me feel at peace, and relaxed! 

What’s one thing you love about where you live?

We are lucky enough to live steps away from the Fraser River in southeast Vancouver. This is our first Spring in this neighbourhood, and I have loved discovering how lush it is by the river, and all the beautiful flowers around every corner that I didn't know existed in the winter!

What led you to choose a raha roho rug for your daughter’s room?

I've always wanted to create a really bright and playful room for my daughter that still felt cozy and peaceful come bed time. I love that our raha roho rug brings colour into her space, but also softness and a comfortable spot to sit and play. Even though it's bright and bold, it feels timeless because of its handmade quality and natural materials.

We love how you have set up your daughter’s room to evoke and engage playtime. What does Ruby love most about her space?

Her favourite thing recently is the wall of books. She loves choosing a new book to bring over to the floor for a cozy read on her rug. She also loves the "chore" of putting her books back on the shelf (for now, at least). 


  1. Aziza rugs / 2. Kids rugs

You can purchase one of our pre-designed rugs or create a custom rug for your child’s room using our design-it-yourself guide.



What is one thing you’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic?

That it's really okay to allow yourself to slow down and not be as productive as usual if that's what your mind and body are telling you to do. I have felt so many levels of anxiety and depression throughout the past two months that I've never experienced before, and I went from feeling like an ultra-creative and inspired individual to someone who wasn't even motivated to make dinner (which I usually love to do). I feel like I'm on the other side of my darkest feelings now, and I'm glad that I didn't try to force myself to do anything that just wasn't coming naturally. Everything can always wait.

Have you been reading or listening to anything lately?

I haven't, at all ! Unless listening to Peppa Pig playing in the background counts (for the 18th time while I clean up after lunch) …

I love the imagery you capture in your photography, what do you love most about this job?

Thank you so much! I think what I love most about being a photographer is getting to capture and share my view of the world with others. I would categorize myself as an optimist, and I know that I always see the best in people. When I photograph people, I hope that I can share with them the beautiful qualities about themselves that I see. When I photograph everything else, I love that I can hone in on the details and attributes that my eyes gravitate to, and maybe share an angle of something that other folks wouldn't have noticed.

Walk us through a day in the life of Mariel.

Well, writing out my typical day was definitely an eye opening exercise! I have never really been a creature of routine, but becoming a parent and then having a pandemic that seriously limits your daily activities certainly has brought more routine into my life!

Since I haven't been scheduling any photo sessions since the beginning of March, my life has been quite predictable! I'll be scheduling shoots again starting in June and truly can't wait for this change of pace.

But for now, my morning usually consists of a fairly early wake up, a few cartoons, and lots and lots of breakfast eaten by Ruby (she can consume a package of blueberries in about 15 seconds flat and currently asks for "more" after eating 2 eggs in a row).

I try to get outside with her every morning after breakfast. Lately she's very into throwing rocks into the river and looking for bugs in the dirt. We explore until we can't explore any longer and then head home for lunch. 

Once Ruby is asleep for her nap after lunch, I start working! This is when I answer e-mails, edit, book phone consultations and maybe even do some blogging or social media marketing (if I'm lucky). 

As soon as Ruby is up, it's playtime again and we colour, water the garden, head back outside for more wandering, read books together, and do a lot of snacking (I think I have the hungriest not even 2 year old in the world).

Once my husband gets home, I try to get out by myself for a bit by taking our dog to the park or going for a drive to pick up groceries if needed. I don't do this every single day, but I know it's important for my mental health to have some alone time!

Next, it's dinner and bath time! I usually have a bath with Ruby which is something new that I've been doing, and it's often the best part of my day. Parenting a toddler is so hard, and I feel pretty worn out most of the time, but Ruby is always so sweet and gentle and loving when we have a bath together and it makes up for all the hard stuff (and kicking and screaming).

Once she's in bed and fast asleep, it's time to unwind and I love to work in my garden during this time! I am so happy that the days are longer lately, and it feels amazing to have time to myself outside in the fresh air in the evenings. After this, we usually watch something on Netflix (we're in the middle of The Last Dance right now, and I'm shocked that I'm so interested in a basketball documentary), and then head to bed! 

If I read this 10 years ago I would think that I turned into the most boring adult in the world, but at 29 I'm really grateful to have a job that allows me to spend so much time with my wild child and I'm even grateful for our routines.

- Well, we love 29-year-old you! You’re an inspiration to many.

Learn more about Mariel’s personal photography business (family sessions and branding) here and the amazing Note Photography (operated with her husband Ben) for weddings here .


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