On the edge of the forest

‘It’s like living in a work of art,’ says Clive Minchom of his newly renovated home in Caesarea.

October 15, 2010 16:20
4 minute read.
The unobstructed vista

house view. (photo credit: Uriel Messa)

‘It’s like living in a work of art,’ says Clive Minchom of his newly renovated home in Caesarea. He describes the house, built 10 years ago in an older part of the seaside town, as “modern Bauhaus design.” With its simple straight lines and tall windows, one can see what he means.

“It has a wonderful sense of space and great proportions,” he says, “and of course the light is special, too.”

Minchom, who was born in England but lived in Canada for many years, made aliya three years ago and looked around for a place to start his new life. A very keen photographer, he traveled all over the country taking pictures and settled for Caesarea, as he felt it was the most suitable for his personal needs.

“I didn’t want to build, but I was happy to renovate,” he says.

Acquiring a new home was not the only aspect of his fresh start in life. He also married recently for the second time and his new wife, Sima, is a journalist who until recently worked for Yediot Aharonot. With only very basic Hebrew language skills and unfamiliarity with the design and decorating business here, he still managed to get the work done to a standard he is happy with.

“It took a lot of pointing and grunting,” he says with a smile.

What appealed to him most when he saw the house for the first time was the view from the back window of a veritable forest of eucalyptus trees stretching as far as the eye can see. He opens the sliding windows so one can step out into this magic world of perfumed greenery, the trees towering overhead.

“This is what makes it,” he says. “Out here you don’t hear the world.” And indeed the seclusion and peace are absolute.

He so loved the forest that he actually took away the back garden not to distract from the primal beauty of the trees and is secure in the knowledge that this extraordinary view can never be changed.

To furnish such a place with a conventional three-piece suite might have worked, but Minchom chose furniture from different periods which all blend together into an aesthetic whole. Some of the chairs and the coffee tables are copies of Frank Lloyd Wright designs, the dining table is a Charles Rennie Mackintosh imitation, while one of the patio tables is a genuine Isamu Noguchi design. “I believe you can mix the ornate and the simple,” he says, “as long as you have balance.”

So, blended in among these modern pieces are chairs from his childhood in England designed by royal designers Beresford and Hicks, and in the hall a very ornate 19th-century side table in bleached walnut on which a vase of fresh flowers always stands.

An important part of the renovation was to take up an entire floor of terra cotta tiles to replace them with shiny white oversize tiles that he feels unify the whole house.

“You don’t need expensive decoration on the wall when you have a tile like this,” he says. “It gives the feeling you have brought in the white sand of the Caesarea beach into the house.”

He plans to make one entire wall above the staircase into an art gallery, but for the moment many paintings are perched on the floor.

“My grandfather was in carpets,” he says, “and he used to hang them on the walls. So I figured if you can put carpets on walls, you can put pictures on the floor.”

The inner staircase is also a prominent design feature, and this is tiled with a white mottled Caesar stone that contrasts with the sandy offwhite of the floors. At the top of the stairs he built a landing rather than the bridge-like structure that was there before, and the bedrooms and bathrooms spiral off from here.

The bedrooms are decorated in cheerful welcoming colors, while one bathroom is a symphony of blue, red and green. He takes great pride in the fact that he chose all the color schemes himself without the benefit of a decorator.

Upstairs he opens one of the terraces around the house to show a different view of the forest below.

“There are seven balconies all together – it sometimes feels like being on a ship,” he says.

The house is at the end of a cul-de-sac in one of the first areas of Caesarea to be built, which, he tells me, is now considered one of the most upscale areas of the rapidly expanding town.

“The city made a conscious effort to rejuvenate the area,” he says. “They ripped up the entire infrastructure and renewed it so now it can support more building, which puts the value of the property up.”

Down in the basement is a whole self-contained apartment which opens onto a deck with yet another view of the forest. From one of the upper balconies the sea can be seen if not heard.

“For us, this place is paradise,” says the contented owner.

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