Living Rooms Occupied: Narratives on the Recontextualization of the "Museum-Salon" Practice in Modern Turkish Domesticity

Nasir E. B., Timur Ş., Gurel M. O.

HOME CULTURES, vol.16, no.1, pp.63-92, 2019 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 16 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/17406315.2019.1699739
  • Journal Name: HOME CULTURES
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.63-92
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


This article discusses the notion of "museum-salon" and the changes in its perception and practices in the context of Turkish middle-class home cultures. Many authors have discussed the meaning of a prestigious living room allocated for guests only and addressed the existence of this room as an isolated space, detached from the household's everyday routines. Constructing these rooms with Western-style furniture and objects has been tied to Turkish modernization and the attempts to create modern civic identities and lifestyles, especially following the founding of the Republic of Turkey. This study questioned the role of an iconic living room with unused displays as a means to modern living, arguing, in fact, that the museum-salon both sustained and negotiated traditional domestic practices. Interpretation of the qualitative data gained through fieldwork conducted in Istanbul contributes to the ongoing discussion in which utilization of the living room for everyday life was considered an objectification of modernity and an internalization of individuality. Through the rejection of the isolated living room through use and customization around notions of individuality and anti-communitarianism, it traced the changing local notions of modern living. The changes and differences are related to the idea of habitus, as discussed by Bourdieu (1984), rather than simply being viewed as generational preferences. Open living rooms that were subservient to everyday life now defined the modern habitus, whereas closed ones were associated with being traditional and local. It could be inferred that this is the result of a belated modernity in the context of Turkish living rooms as people cultivate themselves, satisfy their everyday needs, and use the largest space in their homes according to their autonomies.