You can buy a house, but it is a hard job to create a home. The art of turning this empty, white space into your own by adding your personal touch is what makes you unique in the eyes of those around you. The ability to transform your space into a reflection of your personality can help in turning a regular item–something that might not stand out in someone else’s house–into a personal masterpiece.
The tell-all glass cabinet:
Bahia al-Torgoman has a little glass cabinet in her living room and in it she collects things that are her pride and joy. “It is a small oriental-looking chest with glass windows and a wooden frame engraved with Arabic drawings,” says Bahia describing her masterpiece. “It's really small, and I hang it there to keep my little collection of small glass items out of harm’s way.”
Bahia, who is in her late fifties, started collecting little glass and silver figurines when she was 13 years old, and she owns quite the collection at the moment. “Tiny little crystal characters and items I collected through my travels,” she says proudly. “I have a little crystal bottle with white flowers drawn on it that I bought in Venice; I own little figurines of Egyptian peasants, some ivory-made pieces I bought when I was in Hong Kong, and I have a little silver cart (similar to the street-cleaners carts), with a little broom on it that has a wooden handle.”
“I had this glass case designed by an Egyptian carpenter to store these characters,” says Bahia. “I have had it for the last 30 years.”
The life of a foodie:
Although emotionally she is more connected to a big brown chair that she forced her parents to take when she moved houses back in her childhood, Nina Sabry's current masterpiece is her cooking and Prestige brand bakeware.
“I have their red wok, red pots for making soup and sauces, a little white (yes, white!) frying pan–all of these things are super super nonstick and a little wipe cleans the grease and grime right off.”
Nina really likes the fact that these items match the color of her kitchen perfectly.The list of items in her cookware set is endless, she owns the cupcakes tins, loaf tins, mini cupcake tins and other items, but her favorite would be “the french-fry baking sheet” she says with a big smile on her face.
Nina automatically shares her favorite recipe for fabulous–and nearly fat free–french-fries. “Try making sweet potato fries with the french-fry baking sheet–just sweet potatoes cut julienne, olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary–pop in the oven for 30 minutes (no need to flip them because of the little holes) and presto!”
The art of auctioning in Egypt:
You will find Maysa Mahmoud in the auction houses every month or so; she will be standing there taking deep looks at pieces she is interested in or talking to one of the experts trying to estimate the value of a piece that she has grown a liking to.
“A few people in Egypt now have the mood to go to an auction house to collect old antiques,” Maysa says in a sad tone. “People with money would rather buy these new fat funky furniture items rather than the old beautiful Mobilya.”
The life of an antiques collector is not easy, Maysa spends days prior to the auction roaming the place and gathering information about pieces she likes, “auctions usually take three days, the great stuff are sold on Fridays, then on Saturday and Sunday, less valuable stuff are on display,” Maysa points out. “Sometimes I have to fight for a piece I like–an English man managed to snap an old library from me because he wanted to ship it to the UK and restore it to sell it there.”
Two items comes to mind when Maysa thinks of her favorite pieces, “I inherited an old beautiful bar from my grandfather that I keep in the reception with two small chairs next to it,” Maysa says. "And there is a small study table that my husband Hany adores.”
What makes me, me:
Doaa Samir considers pottery and wooden candlesticks to be her favorite collection. “I like collecting a lot of stuff, and I enjoy the feeling of owning these items, my friends call them Doaa-yat, (things only Doaa would like).”
“This is my own little sanctuary,” she says pointing to a corner in her room where she keeps lots of these little candle-holders and censers. “I sometimes turn off the lights and turn on the candles and enjoy listening to the radio.”
What she finds interesting about these items is their color. “I love the color of the wood so much, I think it has a warm, yet old, feeling to it,” says Doaa. “It helps me relax and calm down and create my own space for myself.”
Her favorite item in her collection is a small candlestick that she created herself. “I took a coconut fruit, and I emptied it, and broke it trying to keep as much as possible of the hard outer layer of it,” she explains. “Then I filled it with colored cotton and I placed a candle in its center.”
“Some people smile when they see my collection; some others laugh or shake their heads because they don’t understand my connection with these items,” Doaa says with a dreamy voice. “I can’t care about the reaction of others, these items helps me being myself.”