Before & After: The Dramatic Change for a Zen Moment

Before & After: The Dramatic Change for a Zen Moment

Efe Kababulut has transformed a 1970s apartment in Istanbul's Beşiktaş district into a peaceful family abode with a Zen garden and stunning views of the Bosporus Strait. The article was featured on Dwell+ as an exclusive interview.

"You become detached when you don’t have a home"

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After purchasing the 1,112-square-foot Imar House apartment, the house was mostly in its original state. In order to fully modernize the space, the apartment was stripped down to just columns and beams, enabling complete upgrades to the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems.

The aim was to blend Asian and European elements in a minimalist setting, which would mirror Turkey's cultural and geographical position as a bridge between continents.

After a yearlong wait for necessary approvals from Istanbul's building professionals, the renewed space now boasts an interior Zen garden, complete with raked sand forming a triangle in the living room. The space was converted from an exterior balcony and even includes a city department dedicated solely to properties visible to sailors cruising the Bosphorus Strait.


The entryway redesign is a testament to the importance of utilizing every inch of space in urban environments. By widening the existing closet and raising the head jamb, he not only increased its volume but also made it more accessible. The closet's integrated pulls reflect the capsule shapes found in the radiator covers throughout the apartment, while the slanted dropped ceiling helps to smoothly transition from the narrow arrival space to the expansive living room. The use of cypress to clad all surfaces also lends the entryway a more spacious appearance.

Situated near the entryway and living room, it is made sure to maintain a clear separation between the kitchen and the wider space. To modernize the kitchen,sleek duo-tone cabinets and refinished the concrete slab was introduced, effectively getting rid of its vintage characteristics.

A dramatic change to the apartment's original layout was made by merging the two bedrooms to create a single larger space. To take advantage of the increased size, the south wall was lined with a grooved surface that allows for cantilevered shelving at nightstand and chair-rail heights.