Read At Home in Turkey

Read At Home in Turkey

Turkey is a country undergoing spectacular transformation. But unlike many other such modernizing processes, this one does not involve the destruction of its rich and varied traditions of design and decoration. Nowhere is this better seen than in the pages of this book, in which the celebrated photographer Solvi dos Santos has traveled throughout Turkey during all four seasons to capture the soul of the contemporary Turkish home.

Here are the intense charm of the minimalist, pine-scented interiors of the Black Sea; the historic details of an antique monastery hidden in the Aegean; the élan of whitewashed Mediterranean courtyards fragrant with jasmine; the elegance of the Ottoman seaside mansions of the Bosphorus; the stark beauty of medieval, sun-baked, stone houses in the deep southeast; and the intimacy of a pied-à-terre in Istanbul’s shady backstreets.

Berrin Torolsan’s text provides a look inside these homes, and into the different worlds of their inhabitants, from hip designers, poets, and artists to teachers, farmers, and country gentlemen, from household names to unknown aesthetes. She uncovers the stories of each house and gives a sense of the geography and history of its location. 250 color illustrations.

A wide selection of homes, though unfortunately mostly of very wealthy people (common in interior design 🤷‍♀️) with luxurious homes laden with crown moldings. I mostly read the captions, which were generally thorough, and skimmed bits and pieces of the articles for each home.

A few things I took away: using unique textiles like suzani as window and door hangings, some masonry patterns I liked — a lot of rockwork throughout these samples, an appreciation for wood paneling and the art of the alcove. I learned a number of terms for textiles and other Turkish and Middle Eastern textiles.

I would say a little too much of the photography focused on surface details, and some of the images presenting a larger space were kind of hard to see (I imagine the photographer didn’t have enough room to work with). They were organized by season, but without reading the section dividers I couldn’t really discern why. As a westerner who only loosely knows Turkish geography, I would have appreciated a map of the homes. Istanbul itself is so large, it would have been neat to see the neighborhoods highlighted.

  • hazerpare — technique meaning “thousand pieces”
  • dyed wood with saffron
  • Inci Eviner — artist
  • build “bricks” from river stones inside timber frames
  • Amazigh beaded fly curtain

outdoor daybed beside stone wall with alcove with hanging light

open kitchen with large ductwork curving down to a tubular hood vent over the stove

eclectic collection of dining chairs in a sparse room with a red decorative frame painted on the wall

tall sone fireplace with arched opening, framed by wooden intricately carved alcoves
I love the dramatic tall fireplace facade up to the high mantel
white stonework with orange square accent tiles
Love the stonework in this — the accent tile pattern is great — artwork is by Erol Ekyavaş

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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