Karachi Apartment Filled with Character and Charm

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1958

This lovely Karachi apartment is full of character and charm, perfectly reflecting the vibrant personalities of the  couple who live here. Anjum and Azam Durrani combine a passion for  interiors coupled with a zest for life to make their home a warm and eclectic space which draws friends and family.

apartment charm

The couple moved into their current home a few years ago, downsizing from a larger house, after their  children moved away. We spent a wonderful morning browsing through the home and listening to their stories.

You moved back to this apartment after many years?

Anjum: Yes. We actually lived in these apartments after we first got married. But we later moved to a larger house with my in-laws. Now we have returned to where we started our lives together.

But you had to renovate extensively?

apartment charm

Anjum: Oh yes! The apartment was in a terrible state and I had serious qualms. But my husband just asked  me to trust him and we went ahead with it. We first fixed up one room and moved in while the rest of the renovations continued.

Did you have an architect on board?

Anjum: Not at all. My husband was in charge and we did everything in-house. It’s all his design. And the best part is that we did everything according to our needs and what we wanted.

Azam Durrani: I have never put pen to paper and drawn out a plan. But I have a vision of what I want to do. When I was putting in the red brick wall, Anjum wasn’t in favour of it. But she sees how it adds to the space now. It’s also a very practical house, that’s something very important to me.

You both love to cook ?

Anjum: Oh yes! In all our years of marriage, we have never kept a cook, we always cooked ourselves. In fact, our arguments are over who will get to cook on which day! I get offended if Azam cooks and I don’t get my turn. (laughs)

Azam: I have always had a passion for cooking. I also ran a restaurant in Karachi, called Dolphin, for many years. My son now runs the restaurant Loco in Karachi and my daughter also cooks very well. Cooking is passion for everyone in this house. We do everything ourselves, right down to making mustard and vinegar.

So the kitchen is a very important space for you.

Azam: Absolutely. The kitchen is designed keeping our love of cooking in mind. Everything in the kitchen is on wheels, it can be moved around. We have a lovely breakfast nook here too.

You also entertain a lot?

Anjum: A little too much (laughs) . We love having people over and can easily cook for upto 40 or 50. We have a great flow of space from the inside to the outside right into the kitchen. Everyone knows we cook ourselves so our friends are in and out of the kitchen too.

You added on this lovely patio outside and developed the surrounding area as well.

apartment charm

Azam: Yes. The outside area is not technically ours, it is open to all the other residents, but we have developed it. I designed all the outside furniture and had it made myself.It’s a lovely space for entertaining and my grandchildren also play here when they visit. I added in the wooden animals for them.

We also have a little kitchen garden in the lawn area at the back. We have herbs, tomatoes and we had a bumper crop of karela (bitter gourd). And lots of other things.

Who is responsible for the interior decor ?

Anjum: That is mostly me. I have collected many things over the years, from travels, from family…  I am drawn to old things. But every piece has a story or a family connection, it’s all very personal.

This mirror with Om written on it is the first piece I ever bought in Karachi. All the carpets and kilims were given to me by my father, who had a carpet business, or my cousin who I was very close to.

apartment charm

Many of the copper and silver pieces belonged to my mother and mother-in-law and so on. I have given away many things to my children because I don’t have space now.

The pottery collection is all my daughter’s work. She is a ceramicist and lives in Hunza. You will see a lot of things from South Asia, especially Thailand where we spent many vacations.

The tapestry draped table  is actually a baby’s cradle used by nomadic people. I turned it upside down and covered the sides with fabric. The fish serving platter hanging on the wall is the first thing I bought with my husband after we got married. I would use it to make and serve sushi back in the day.

You will also find elephants everywhere. I love elephants!

The carpet on the wall is stunning.

apartment charm

Anjum: This is a very special piece which was given to me by my father. It is Persian and the beauty is that no two vase designs on it are the same.

And this gorgeous green marble-topped table?

Azam: I bought this from a  friend of mine who was moving back from Cambodia. It’s an antique and comes from a Geisha house. It was used as a massage table.

Your bedroom is very South Asian influenced.

Yes, I have many pieces from Thailand from the small chest to the Thai paandaan. And then there is the dramatic mirror in the bathroom. The hangers for my tapestries are also from Thailand.

I also have a connection with Bangladesh where I grew up and had my early schooling. Some of the hangers are from there and the blocks on the wall outside are from my block printing days when I ran a boutique called Jamdaani. 

apartment charm

There is a wonderful sense of community in these apartments.

Yes there is. We all look after the place collectively, we have common recreation spaces and it’s a very comfortable and peaceful place.

Photography by Naeema Kapadia