Why we built in Bolu: our dream home in the Switzerland of Turkey

Picture snow-capped mountains, dense forests and deep, cool lakes. Imagine hiking along a lush, green valley and seeing sheep grazing on alpine pastures.

You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in Switzerland, or possibly the French Alps. But these verdant pastures and lofty mountains are found in Bolu, an area of spectacular beauty just two hours from the relentless energy of Istanbul.

Lake Abant, Bolu, Turkey

Until recently, the bucolic region of Bolu was all but unknown to outsiders. But now, the area is starting to gain recognition - both as a beautiful and incredibly tranquil area, and as a place to build bespoke luxury villas.

With lower land costs than found in more built up locations, foreign buyers are increasingly turning to Bolu to create a dream home - and the ultimate escape from the world.

Yedigoller National Park

The MA family

The dream home recently designed by Property Turkey for the MA family, from Saudi Arabia, is a prime example of the kind of luxury villa you can build in Bolu.

Property Turkey director Cameron Deggin explains how the family of five discovered Bolu.

“This family - a couple with three children aged between 12 and 26 - wanted something a little different than most buyers in Turkey. While the south coast’s beaches and hot weather are huge draws for many of our clients when looking for Turkish real estate, the MA family wanted cooler climes.”

The family visited Istanbul, where they looked at a number of options in and outside the city, including Sapanca, Sakarya, Zekeriyakoy and Buyukcekmece.

“Nothing quite fit the bill,” says Deggin.

During their explorations around Istanbul, Deggin got to know the family, discovering the family shared a love of nature - and a desire for privacy.

“Istanbul is densely populated, which means nature and privacy are difficult to find - or comes with a very high price tag.”

He hit upon taking the family to Bolu, two hours from Istanbul. The area’s natural beauty, with its forests, mountains and lakes made an instant and lasting impression. “I had told the family Bolu was like a European alpine region, but by the time they left they argued it was even better than Switzerland or France.”

“And the rest,” Deggin says, “is history.”

Custom design, unique style

For privacy reasons we’re unable to show footage of the completed property. But the below video shows the home in its conceptual stages.

The 4800m2 plot is located in a rural location, surrounded by quiet pastures, with a stream creating a natural boundary at the bottom of the property.

Built with local timber and stone, every inch of the 463m2 villa was carefully crafted with the family’s wishes in mind. The large build, with its five bedrooms and six bathrooms including en suites, means ample space for family and their visitors. A new baby in the family was also considered, with a bespoke room adjoining one of the master bedrooms. The world-class kitchen is a room any top chef would be pleased to spend time in.

With the cooler weather in mind, Deggin and the family drew up plans for a winter garden and a large conservatory to make the most of the sun’s rays during the winter season. They also included a large fireplace in the living room.

The stunning garden is one of the property’s best features, Deggin says.

“If you’re a nature lover - and this whole family loves being outdoors so they just love it - this garden is fantastic. We developed natural green walls, landscaping that blends in with the surrounding forest views, and made use of the plot’s natural assets - existing trees and the stream at the bottom of the property.”

Other facilities include a sauna, private terraces, BBQ, gallery living room and additional kitchen.

Deggin says the villa cost $555,000 to build, estimating that a comparable villa outside Istanbul would be around three times that price.

Bolu, Turkey

An area of natural beauty

The designer villa is a short walk to the local village and not far from the beautiful Lake Abant, says Deggin, who adds that while the lake is a focal point in the region, Bolu is full of wonderful nature spots.

Some of the highlights of things to see and do include:

Skiing: during the winter Istanbulites flock to Bolu to visit the ski resorts in the area. The most well known is Kartalkaya, which has 12 runs of varying degrees of difficulty.

Laka Abant: the large freshwater lake sits at 1300 metres above sea level. Surrounded by dense forests, the lake is a striking area of natural beauty. Fauna enthusiasts can spot brown bears, three deer species, wild boar, red foxes and jackals in the surrounding forests.

Golcuck: the lake on the slopes of the Aladaglar mountains is a favourite picnic spot and favourite with hikers, who explore the trails around the lake.

Yedigoller National Park: also known as Seven Lakes National Park, this spectacular park north of Bolu City is home to seven small lakes and is loved by hikers and picnickers.

Winter in Bolu, Turkey

Designer home trend

Deggin says the trend for designer homes outside Turkey’s built-up areas is continuing to grow.

“People don’t want cookie-cutter homes - they want something that reflects their lifestyle and their individual style.”

However, unique homes in Turkey are still fairly rare, he adds. “These types of properties don’t tend to come on the market too often, so demand is high. We’ve had clients in the past design and build these homes and sell them on, but many are choosing to live in the properties, knowing that if they choose to sell at some point the resale value will be very favourable.”

If you’d like to know more about designing a home in Bolu, get in touch with Cameron Deggin

You can read more about Bolu here: Bolu City Guide and here: Uncovering Bolu's delights.

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