Turkish designer Begum Kiroglu’s Shanghai home is a magical mix of old Shanghai charm and different cultural influences, brimming with her own personality.
She discovered this old lane house apartment awhile back after strolling around the cozy streets of Hunan and Wukang roads two years ago. When she saw the space and how it is filled with light, she knew it was all she needed.
“I want to fall in love with a place at first glance. But in order for me to do so, the place must have a unique personality and character,” she said.
In this particular house, upon first sight Kiroglu loved the bamboo growing in the small garden, the original exposed brick walls running the length of the house, the old Shanghai patterned tiles on the bathroom walls and kitchen counter, and the collection of colors on the floors, walls and glass doors. “And the French windows took me back into the old French concession history,” she added.
Though living in Istanbul and Shanghai, the designer had a strong sense that she would find sanctuary in the lane house. She has had some important things happen at the new place. During the past two years, she had developed her own brand — Begum Khan — specializing in handcrafted, timeless cuff links inspired by the rich history and sophisticated craftsmanship of Old World cultures together with the vibrant styles of modern Istanbul and Shanghai.
She also has made efforts to put her own stamp on her home, which is where she tends to find inspiration for her creations. The first change she made to the space was to play with the lighting. “I put dimmer light bulbs in the overhead lamps and added old Shanghai floor lamps and lots of candlelight. I love my place, especially at night,” she said.
Both a creative space and a home, this place has been so much more than simply a place to live, she said.
“I started to change it into somewhere homey to me — elegant and warm. By itself, the old lane house apartment’s exposed brick walls, old colored glass door and old Shanghai patterned tiles give this ambience. I added onto that with lighting, antique Chinese furniture, textiles from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and many accessories I collected during my travels.”
The open kitchen with exposed brick walls has a long table perfect for hosting guests for candlelight dinners. “I love having people over all the time for big, long dinners and then moving to the living room for more after-dinner gossip,” Kiroglu said.
The interior style is definitely eclectic, with different cultures and styles all playing off each other: Uzbek Ikat pillow cases on the sofa, central Asian antique Suzani fabric on the wall, Ottoman patterned textiles, Shanghai Art Deco arm chairs, giant Buddha heads, and Chinese blue-and-white porcelain vases with which Kiroglu is obsessed.
“I love the designer fabric on the end table by Turkish designer Serdar Gulgun, giving a modern twist to classic Ottoman style. Shanghai Art Deco chairs radiate Shanghai style and characteristics, which are very complementary to the city’s and house’s original character. A Chinese screen above the sofa gives Chinese charm. Tibetan chairs with parrots and tiger stripes add exotic colors and funkiness and a wall of French windows in the bathroom looking into old trees creates a Zen-like ambience,” she said.
Her personal style is all about mixing things — oversize pieces next to something delicate, masculine contrasting with feminine. Local markets are key, and she shops at the famous Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and at antique markets in China. An interior look needs to develop over time, she said. Thanks to a mix of subtle colors, antique furniture and stylish lighting, the 90-square-meter one-bedroom house has character and feels calm and welcoming.
Ask the owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Shanghai?
A: All the different people, ideas and rich history make Shanghai very inspiring. After all, this was a focal place for my Begum Khan cuff link creation.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: The happiest place.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
A: After a busy day, I spray home scents and light up candles.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: I read magazines on the sofa with Earl Grey tea.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: I spend most of my time around the dining area working or having fun with friends.
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: As I sit on my sofa, I can look right onto the little garden with bamboo and palm trees or left into the park of the lane compound with trees hundreds of years old.
Q: How do you scent your home?
A: I love the room scents from Shanghai Tang, especially the ginger flower.
Q: What’s your favorite object at home?
A: I always smile at the matching pair of male and female Buddha heads. They look just as happy and serene as me.
Q: Where do you source furniture in Shanghai?
A: I recommend the excellent antique markets and warehouses in Shanghai and Beijing. Bring a flashlight to find some hidden treasures!