Double 'wow' in Caesarea

Take a peek into an immense home that doubles as an art lovers’ paradise.

Caesarea house 521 (photo credit: Uriel Messa)
Caesarea house 521
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
The owners of this huge house in Caesarea arrived there by chance. They had really intended to buy an old khan in Binyamina and turn it into a place where artists could stay and feel free to create. They are artlovers, and their home is testimony to this, with many paintings and sculptures dotted around. The idea didn’t work out, however, and when their lawyer took them to Caesarea and showed them this place, sitting on 2.5 dunams of land, they fell in love – with the town by the sea, the garden, and the huge space that allowed them to display many loved collections, antique furniture – and most of all, artworks.
The place didn’t look quite like it does now when they bought it seven years ago. The owner, who has several business interests, including growing seaweed for local consumption and export, explains that in the original house, the large living area was divided into two spaces separated by a low ceiling.
“It felt as though someone was sitting on my head,” he says.
The major change they made was to lift the ceiling, for which they had to bring in a 150-ton crane, and to add the striking decorative motif that embellishes the two sides of the vast room.
“It was designed by my art teacher, David Zindalovitch, and takes its inspiration from the trees out in the garden,” he tells me. Above the motif they added windows so the room is flooded with light.
Fir wood and some synthetic material were used for the whole construction, which is eye-catching in the extreme. That and the longest table I have ever seen in a private home contribute to a huge “wow” factor on entering this house.
The table is 5.5 meters closed and 7.5 m. when opened, and has 24 chairs around it.
“We got it in Canada,” he explains, “and we think it belonged to a Greek shipping magnate.”
But why so huge? It’s not as if the family is so big.
“I love to cook and entertain,” says the owner. “For me, cooking is like an art, engaging the five senses. And we also have many meetings here of the different organizations we belong to.”
On closer inspection, the table is beautiful as well as enormous – made of light oak with an ornate gold inlay around its circumference.
AROUND THE room, one notices some lovely furniture – an Art Nouveau sideboard with pink glass inserts and classic bronze decoration, a perfect little Biedermeier seating arrangement in rust shades, and a nest of tables, perfectly proportioned and signed by Galle. At the top of the stairs leading to the basement is a highly decorative and imposing antique Chinese lacquered cabinet.
There are also several glass display cases, one holding a collection of Roman glass, another of fine Italian ceramics.
The paintings and sculptures are either by well-known artists like Leo Ray or done by family members.
The kitchen has two separate sides – his side, which is like an industrial kitchen with lots of impressive equipment, and hers, which is more conventional. They like to be able to cook side by side. The island with tall chairs around it acts as a room separator.
The bedroom is where the wife – a Leo – keeps her large lion collection. It’s on the ground floor, and the blinds open automatically to reveal a jungle-like garden just outside the window – a lovely sight to see first thing in the morning. The warm wooden parquet floor and flowery Indian bedspread, armchairs, book shelves and display cabinets make the room especially inviting. In the adjoining bathroom, the free-standing fiberglass tub is on a raised dais, and the colors take their cue from the bright painting hanging above it on the textured walls.
Outside around the magnificent pool, two lions stand guard; they happen to have been there already and were not brought in by the lionizing owners. Also out here are several sculptures, a bar and even a covered home cinema.
In the basement is a beautifully tiled Turkish bath, as well as facilities for many other leisure activities.
The huge garden is a tropical paradise filled with luxuriant palms, ancient artifacts and a variety of sculptures and art works. Truly a magnificent home of a kind one does not encounter often.
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