Located conveniently on Zamalek’s Mohamed Anis St. (across from Zamalek Residence, formerly known as Safir Hotel), furniture accessory shop Alef is a bit like walking into a neglected room in your grandmother’s house. As you enter, a large cage with carved wooden canaries will be sure to catch your attention; the first sign that this is no ordinary shop.

Stocked with Egyptian, Islamic, Coptic and Arab-style handmade goods, there is little that Alef does not offer in a unique and stylized way. The shop is sure to keep you busy for a while, with furniture, fabrics and home accessories. They pride themselves on perfecting classic paintings and elaborate woodwork, making it the ideal place to pick up some colourful, artistic pieces.

Egyptian-style 'tableyas' painted with murals and others with traditional Islamic-style patterns come in different sizes. These can be hung on a wall or used as an actual table; you can also take your own picture and have it painted directly on the tableya.

Light fixtures include low hanging chandeliers and ceiling fixtures in both copper and glass. Sofas upholstered in Bukhara range from imported, hand-woven Bukhara to the more affordable printed version. Bukhara cushions, pouffes, curtains and tablecloths are also custom-made upon request.

There’s plenty to choose from in the way of wood and glass tables, goblets, vases, lamps – even classic copper doorknobs and curtain rods. Amid the variety of items to choose from, you could easily get lost in the multiple rooms in this place, or wander off into a period drama fantasy.

Painted tiles are also customisable, and they are especially attractive with their Islamic/Coptic-themed designs. These can be framed or glued directly onto a wall, depending on your preference. Look out for stained glass paintings and partitions, which are hardly noticeable in the brimming shop.

Wooden paravans with engravings and paintwork are a nice accessory to segment multi-functional spaces. Traditional Arab-style canopied beds can be adapted as sofas and can serve as stylistic fillers in large spaces.

A large selection of fabrics, including linen, sheer, upholstery cotton, thin cotton for curtains, chamois and moiré will leave you baffled; and if you’re looking to buy; take your time, as the selection of prints and materials is huge. Printing usually takes three days to one week and printed fabrics will cost you anywhere between 150LE and 260LE.