House & Garden | Diary of a Somebody

Tara Bernerd

The design consultant has fallen in love – with an Istanbul apartment

Tara Bernerd

May 20 2011
Tara Bernerd

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

It’s official: I fell in love today, with the most charming apartment on the Bosphorus. It needs some work, but that’s never really been something to throw me.

The morning started fairly slowly and that was intentional; I was determined to have breakfast in bed, one of my personal weaknesses, and make calls, read papers, organise my meetings here and allow myself a few extra indulged hours.

One of these meetings is with Emir Uras, who I arranged to meet with next week, to be followed by us all having dinner at his home. Emir is the founder of, and runs, Uras Dilekci; he is a particularly talented architect and a super guy to boot. We first met through friends and I have since spent time in his charming offices in Istinye plotting up all sorts of ideas. This next brainstorming is to see which of these ideas we will make a reality, so perhaps interesting things to come.

By 10am it was time to hit the road and get out of bed! This trip to Istanbul has been earmarked for some time as my slot to look for an apartment. So that’s exactly what I did. It has always intrigued me to look at properties, so to dive in at the deep end here was fascinating. Clearly with a city of 17 million divided between the Asian and European sides, linked by two bridges, the most essential decision was narrowing down the area.

My greatest challenge is to not think with my “work design” hat on, but to think personally. I say this, yet as ever I was analysing the product, and some of the developments were shockers, with poor layouts, dated bathrooms and kitchens, and below-par finishes. It was a strong reminder of how far we have come in the UK and especially London regarding developments.

It’s an area I have concentrated my efforts on for some time and it’s fair to say that the added values that our work brings developers through intelligent design from space planning to finishes is of benefit to all.

This is not only understood but is also the integrity behind Yoo, the brainchild of John Hitchcox. Yoo is only about the marriage of precisely this, development and design. John, who is a dear friend, has made design accessible and demonstrated the added values. To my delight I noted Yoo Istanbul.

Back in Bebek (the area I had identified), which incidentally is a particularly colourful and characterful pocket of this city, reminiscent of the Côte d’Azur with a little LA sprinkled in, I stumbled on my dream. An apartment overlooking the Bosphorus, actually just past Bebek in an area called Rumeli Hisari. It has a gate, stone steps, roses, its own front door and large loft-like rooms with views over the water and a divine terrace. Yes, I am smitten. It needs work, quite a bit; however, what good things don’t require a bit of effort?

So, armed with plenty to discuss and an appetite, lunch was next on the agenda. Although it is not exactly local Turkish culture, we decided on Cipriani’s. All the London boys were there, and it is great! The food was superb and it must be said it has a certain buzz.

My friend Flavio Briatore, who just arrived in town, was also there, warm hugs, hellos led to plans to meet later in the evening. Flavio has just opened his notorious Billionaire club here, which I believe was jammed last weekend for the Istanbul Grand Prix and holds a lot of promise for the summer.

From lunch to errands, including a girly stop before our dinner this evening at Paper Moon. So, any boys reading, you may wish to skip the next paragraph! You’ve been warned.

In truth it was nothing too frightening – just a good old-fashioned blow-dry. Well I say that, it was actually a fantastic edgy blow-dry in the super-fresh salon Cozy Kemal Baykar. A joy to be there, Mustafa my new-found hero of hair and friend is part of a very cool team.

With dinner arranged for 8pm, a few e-mails and calls about a new project bubbling at home in London, it was home to chill before going out.

Admittedly no gym today (relief), although, having said that, the one place that lures me is MAC Bebek, it’s incredibly cool, designed by Emir and beats hands-down most that I have been to. With aspects of Equinox (US) and a loft-like feel, its design and also its attitude give it top billing. So who knows next week even I may be bouncing out of bed to get there.

Dinner was a joy, I ran into Erkal who I am also meeting next week at his shop A La Turca, the taste-master of Istanbul, with antiques and rug collections that are out of this world.

Tomorrow I head south for the weekend and of course did not manage to pack – but I am sure I’ll manage first thing.

See also

Istanbul, People