Kalkan is a popular place. If you read the KTLN annual survey, you will see what it is that people love about this gem, on the Turquoise coast.
However, one thing that never fails to amaze us, is just how few visitors take time out, to explore the quiet back streets of the old town, which are packed with charm and character.
This report, in words and images, brings you one of the finest examples of a traditional Kalkan property, from the heart of the old town - the recently renovated Courtyard at White House, Kalkan.
You can find the White House by following Süleyman Yımaz Caddesi - keep walking past Moonlight Bar, Sofra restaurant and Iso's restaurant, and you will see it on your right. It's a white building, on a corner!
Planning the renovation project
Halil Kelek and Marion Tuohy are the lucky people who live there, and run it as a B&B pansiyon. A few years ago they decided that they wanted to renovate the properties adjacent to the courtyard, in a way that was in keeping with its surroundings, and using traditional materials.
To help them turn this dream into reality, they got help from neighbours, and qualified architects, Pınar and Kutay Karabağ, (Atölyem Mimarlık). They also sought the assistance of interior design expert, Bihter Türkfiliz.
Below: Left to right - the team - Kutay, Pınar, Bihter, Halil and Marion.
They got official approval for the project in 2008, and started detailed planning for the work. The actual renovations started in November 2011 and ended in July 2012. Below we show you some 'before and after' shots of the property.
The White House Courtyard buildings
In fact, the property that has been renovated comprises three adjacent units, which lead on to a delightful courtyard. Nobody knows for sure how old the original buildings are, but the best guess is that they date back to the 1920s - to around the time the Republic of Turkey was founded.
It is believed that the buildings were built on top of the site of even earlier structures, which may have been built anything up to 150 years ago. Beneath one of the buildings is an underground water cistern, with a vaulted stone roof - quite rare in this part of Turkey.
Following the renovations, the Courtyard properties now offer 6 air conditioned rooms, all with en-suite facilities, which are available for the discerning tourist.
The renovation work has tried to re-use existing materials where possible, but where this was not possible, similar, traditional materials have been used.
For example, virtually all doors, windows, floors, ceilings and balconies are made from original, or replacement cedar wood. The smell of the wood when you enter the rooms is particularly pleasing.
Below: An original wooden ceiling decoration in one of the refurbished rooms.
Instead of using cement for the walls, they have painstakingly created traditional plaster, made from local sand, clay from Isparta, lime (specially imported from France), and organic material, similar to straw/hay. Not only is this material aesthetically pleasing, once whitewashed, but it also 'breathes' - which is something concrete doesn't do.
The renovation team
Pınar and Kutay have been lead architects on this project, but Halil and Marion have also been very much 'hands on'. Other key members of the team were Halil's brother in law and sister, Hüseyin and Hulya Söyleli.
They told KTLN that over 50 people have worked on the renovation of the White House courtyard buildings, and for many of them this was more than just a job - it was a labour of love. Here is an example of the lengths they went to, on this project.
One of the key workers with experience of this type of project was Ali Yılmaz, originally from Isparta, but now based in Antalya. He made a special trip back to Isparta, where he oversaw the extraction of the clay that was required to make the plaster. The clay was 2 to 3 metres underground, and once excavated, was dried out and ground into a flour-like consistency, using traditional methods.
Part of the old courtyard floor was made of small stones, and workmen spent hours laying additional black and white stones, one by one, to create wonderful patterns on the ground.
Amongst the tradesmen employed were general builders, plasterers, carpenters, stonemasons, electricians, plumbers, the people who did the tiling and marble chimney tops, and the men who restored the old fireplaces.
The outcome and overall effect
The project was completed pretty much on time, and just slightly over budget, which given the complexities involved, is an amazing outcome.
As you would imagine, all of this work in the old part of Kalkan town, was subject to scrutiny by the official government department responsible for protecting the country's heritage. Not only did they have to approve the original plans, but they came to inspect the works from time to time.
We are pleased to say that the final results met with their approval. If you take a look for yourself, you will understand why they got that sign off. The buildings look fantastic, and are in keeping with their surroundings, the climate, the lifestyle, and are true to the history of Kalkan.
Traditional style with mod cons
Having said that, these buildings now present a very clever combination of tradition and modernity. The look and feel is of old world Kalkan, but inside you have aircon, tasteful en-suite facilities, and very comfortable furnishings.
On the outside, the aircon units have been ingeniously hidden away, so as not to spoil the look of the exterior.
There is one concession to modern materials, in that you will see a glass door on Süleyman Yılmaz Caddesi, leading to the courtyard area. Why glass, we asked? The old building had a wooden door, but they decided that the beauty of the White House courtyard, should be visible for everyone to see from the street. We couldn't argue with that.
Below: The entrance to the courtyard on Süleyman Yılmaz caddesi. (Before the glass door was fitted).
Everyone involved in the project is quite rightly proud of a job well done. It is quite literally, a dream come true for Halil and Marion.
We believe that the Courtyard at White House, is not only something that they can be proud of, but it is a credit to Kalkan, and something which we all should celebrate.
Whilst this is an excellent example of a traditional Kalkan building, we should make it clear that there are many other buildings in the old town, which are evocative of the simple, traditional, Mediterranean way of life, from bygone days.
These buildings are largely undiscovered by today's tourists, which is a real shame, because we believe they would provide some special memories, which visitors could take away with them, when they leave Kalkan.
The next time you are in Kalkan, why not make some time to wander through the back streets of the old town, and discover these hidden gems for yourself.
Below, we publish some photos from the Courtyard at White House renovation, which we hope you enjoy viewing.
If you enjoyed this story and the photos, we believe that the architects are planning to give a presentation on the renovation later this year. They will have lots more 'before, during and after' photos to share. Look out for details on KTLN, nearer the time.
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