Wednesday, July 21, 2010

dream homes

You never know what you don't know until you find something new. I've long had a soft spot for the ephemeral paintings of houses done by Daniel Merriam but I never thought such places existed in real life until I stumbled across an article about the Ottoman Yalis of Istanbul.

You can read the article I linked to if you want but the brief story is that they were originally summer homes built by viziers on the shores of the Bosphorus. The earliest of them date from the 18th century and were considerably simpler than the ones that came later, but common to all was a central room called a sofa with a bay window set out over the water and an interior fountain. All were built of wood with tiled roofs and each had a men's wing where business and conversation could be conducted and a women's wing that was the family quarters. The first were painted red with ceilings arched and decorated like a traditional nomad tent, their inner rooms painted in rich colors with gold leaf and mother-of pearl highlights. As the European influence grew stronger they evolved into fanciful pale palaces with multiple salons, magnificent staircases, solaria and luxurious appointments hard for most of us to imagine.

I haven't been able to find any photographs of the insides of any private residences because, as you can well imagine, the ones that are left are some of the most expensive homes in the world. Since the fortunes of viziers came and went depending on the moods (or health) of a particular sultan, and as a result of them having been built of wood, many succumbed to rot or fire.

The day isn't far off when we'll be living in a place that overlooks the water and that will be nice, but oh, how much sweeter it would be to be on our way to an old yali on the Bosphorus. We could wake to soft, watery light pouring through stained glass arches, and drink strong Turkish coffee on the terrace while watching the brightly colored sails of the gulets dance toward the Aegean.


  1. You're putting me to sleep... :-)

  2. Homes made of dreams and fairytales and magic! But imagine the housekeeping - course you'd have pretty maidens and handsome lads taking care of it. :-)

  3. Well now you have created a dream in me. I would love a tree house that looks like that amazing mansion( I have a weakness for tree houses). Perhaps Crow has such an abode?
    Sweet dreams, my sweet friend.

  4. I love this post for several reasons. One - you've introduced me to Daniel Merriam. It is good to get out from under my rock. Oh my goodness how I love his art!

    And the idea of dream homes like this is so appealing to me. Sometimes when I can't sleep, I do mental house tours, imagining all sorts of places that I'm walking through and just looking at all the beauty contained within and as part of the structure.

    Finally, I love the word viziers. I don't know exactly what it is that appeals to me about it, but I just love that word.

  5. nancy - Nothing wrong with that.. :-)

    marja-leena - Yes, when one inhabits a dream home everything gets cleaned and delivered magically. :-)

    belette - When Crow taught me to fly the first place he showed me was one of his magnificent aeries. You don't need doors when you can fly through any window.

    lisa - Merriam is a watercolorist whose work I've admired for a ling time and especially interesting because he paints straight through over the course of many hours using tiny #2 brushes. I do too but he does it better.

    I love places with odd sized rooms, cubbyholes, stained glass and magical ornaments to be investigated. The deeper you go, the higher you fly.

    Viziers, sultans, caliphs are words that evoke the exotic.

  6. To live such a life in such a palace - and in a treetop, yet!

    What does Crow's summer home look like, Susan? Does he have more than one? Which is his favorite? This nosey crow wants to know, if he doesn't mind answering.

  7. That sounds like a pretty good dream to me--the strong coffee, the soft light, the tinkling of the water. And that tree house is far out!!!

  8. One way to look at this is to imagine being with friends, like yourself, drinking that fine Turkish coffee. If that were the case, it would matter not what dwelling I was in. It could be a tent and I would be okay with it.
    But I can see the attraction of a beautiful unique home such as the ones you describe.
    A little cream for that coffee, thanks.


  9. I think the average American's dream home is one without a mortgage...but that said, I love this post! I envy (in a nice kinda envy) your move to a home overlooking the water.

    As far as living in an old yali on the Bosphorus, that would be nice but I would have to get Satellite TV to watch the ball games. ;-)

  10. drink strong Turkish coffee on the terrace while watching the brightly colored sails of the gulets dance toward the Aegean as the multinational megacompanies begin their construction of yet another oil pipeline sure to leak at some point, covering old Troy in greasy sludge.

    Sorry for the correction. :)

  11. the crow - It would be nice, wouldn't it? One of these fine days I'll draw (and possibly paint) some of dear Crow's aeries :-)

    liberality - It forgot to mention the halva, dates, pomegranates, hummus, couscous, and baclava. Dang, might have to do another post.

    jams - Neato, eh?

    spadoman - After all and all, home is indeed where the heart is.

    nunly - If either of us could afford to live in one of those I'm sure the cable bills would be very little concern :-)

    randal - Just can't get away from them, can we? bastards..

  12. i can see / hear / smell the 3 or 4 generations of familiy that would have been living in such a place..... elders and babies and pet mongoose (mongeese?) delicious multi-course meals of curries and ices and succulent fruits and veggies..... this one looks like a delicate paper cut-out.

  13. Wow - this was a lovely daydream. The houses, the history, and your wish...

  14. gfid - They do inspire us to dream, don't they?

    steve - I wish we could all live in tranquil beauty.