ranana salon 298.
(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
The well-stocked bar of this home in Ra'anana is the first thing one notices on walking in - which is fine with the owners, a young couple who made aliya only nine months ago.
Karen Clements, who was born in South Africa but lived in London with husband Robert, shares his appreciation of the finer points of drinking, and considers the bar not just a focal point for entertaining, but a way of creating a relaxed atmosphere.
"I'd say it's almost an ice-breaker," says the mother of four toddlers, aged five, four, three and two. "We entertain a great deal and sometimes, when I'm not quite finished with the preparations, Robert offers drinks and distracts the guests so they don't notice I'm not ready."
Robert is justly proud of his selection of drinks and can boast that he is able to offer between 80-100 different kinds of whiskey! The couple acquired the house before making aliya, and the renovating was all done long distance, together with English-born architect Rafi Rich, with many e-mails winging their way across the ocean until the end-result was achieved - a comfortable, attractive home with many unusual features.
Like many Ra'anana houses it's a two-home dwelling, but in this case it's divided horizontally, so they have the entire ground floor with most of the garden while the neighbors have the second floor.
Getting the old house to look as it does now was not simple, possibly because the previous owner had what they call a "concrete fetish."
"His bed had been built into solid concrete and it took the builder two days just to dismantle it," they say. Other concrete structures in the living room were utilized or built around, so that a dais for the television proved quite useful while on the other side a cupboard had to be built around the concrete. For the barbecue outside, however, it proved an asset.
The architect's plan was to have the inside and outside viewed almost as one unit, and to that end he used the same wide wooden parquet flooring for lounge and patio, and carried the semi-circular bar around to the outside for when the barbecue is in use.
Partly because of existing pillars and partly because they liked the look, the d cor is constructed from oval shapes. Since the pillars were there, they were turned into a feature by changing the shape to an oval which is repeated in the bar and in the eat-in kitchen.
An oval niche was built to separate the living room from the rest of the house and Rafi had this painted pale blue to contrast to the back wall of the lounge which is a pale terra cotta. The shelves of the niche contain a collection of Taiwanese glass sculptures, all perched on higher shelves away from curious little fingers, while the lower shelf is reserved for non-breakables.
The rest of the lounge is colored in a restful combination of biscuit and beige with touches of dark brown.
"I like neutral colors, I'm a very earthy person," says Karen. Robert, who works as a hedge fund manager, had been on a trip to China and brought back a four-panel painting which they love and hung in the living room of their new home. The colors of room and painting blend seamlessly together.
The main bedroom is decorated in similar earthy shades of yellow and pale coral with a dark wooden trunk which appears to have ended its perambulations and is now used for storing blankets. Just outside the bedroom they have planted an herbal garden and watch in awe as the basil and mint seem to grow before their eyes. The lawn was removed and replaced with stones for low maintenance gardening.
Rafi Rich, the son of an English father and a French mother, is known for his concerns about conservation, particularly in his hometown of Petah Tikva, and for putting into practice the most modern architectural ideas using ecologically friendly materials.
"The main theme in architecture today is healthy building," he says. "It means using sustainable materials, that is, materials that can renew themselves. In the Clements's house we used oak or pine, while the lighting is simple, not energy-consuming. We didn't use halogen anywhere."
To get really lit up in the Clements's household, there's always that incredible bar. Who needs electricity?
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