Modern Living room apartment 311.
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
Having exhausted most of her savings when she bought a secondhand
60-square-meter apartment in Ramat Gan, the owner, a single nurse in a large Tel
Aviv teaching hospital, still felt she needed to invest in hiring a designer to
sort out her new living space. It was dark, poky and old-fashioned so she
decided that she would do a radical alteration and turned to Yaron Iftach
Ben-Gera to do the job.
She couldn’t have made a better choice, because
Ben-Gera sees it as a mission to save his clients money and seems to know every
outlet in the area where good furniture and fittings can be bought for a song.
The super-expensive designer boutiques around north Tel Aviv and Herzliya are
not for him. He scours the area to find the best bargains, discovering
little-known and inexpensive shops. If he has to travel to Rishon Lezion to get
cut-price tiles, he will. And if he wants a specific piece of furniture that’s
too pricey in the stores, he has it made.
He came to design after a career
in marketing and having studied theater, and he feels the combination of these
skills has helped him in his successful design business.
“There are a lot
of good designers in Israel today but they don’t know how to interact with the
client,” he says. “After years in selling I have learned to match the design to
the personality and I listen to the client to find out in which direction they
want to go.”
Ben-Gera and his client started with the floors, changing
the standard small beige tiles for large gray ones.
“I found them for a
quarter of the price that they cost in a fancy place,” Ben-Gera says proudly.
“It was near the Tel Aviv central bus station and they are exactly the same
quality as you might get in Ramat Hasharon, also made in Italy, not China, but
you don’t get a cup of cappuccino when you walk into the place.”
changing the floor he immediately created a feeling of space and carried it
through to the bathroom as well as the two bedrooms.
For the color scheme
of the kitchen he decided to keep the multi-colored tiles that were already in
place, as the owner liked them and had no budget to re-do this particular part
of the décor. So he added orange elements in a chair, a painting and a vase, and
chose to use the olive green of another tile for the water dispensing machine.
He shopped around for the Italian-made oven and found one in a beige color that
blended with the tiles, and again paid a quarter of the price that he would have
in a more up-market place. He created a bar that separates the kitchen from the
lounge and added glass inset doors to lighten the look.
The sofa was
copied from something they had seen in the Design Center.
“I took a
sketch to a furniture maker in Jaffa, chose a nice gray material that is very
fashionable now, and had it made for a fraction of the original price,” he
He created the entrance-way by building an illuminated niche at the
front door, adding a mirror to make the small space look larger and displaying
colorful items on the shelves. In the bathroom he changed very little as the
fittings were in good condition, just bringing in the new floor and adding a
cornice with hidden lighting.
In the bedroom the client wanted a built-in
wardrobe, and again Ben-Gera shopped around until he found a place in Rishon
that he felt did good work but again at a fraction of the cost of more
well-known furniture builders.
“I asked [the client] what things she
wanted to store in this wardrobe and had it built accordingly,” he said. “The
sliding doors were put in so as not to take up room, and we added glass to the
doors to again lighten the whole effect. We put a delicate wallpaper on the
walls and made the frame of the wardrobe and the headboard gray to match the
He opened up a storage cupboard next to the bedroom to create a
charming little reading corner with a chair and table. The owner was delighted
with the finished apartment and felt that in spite of the cutting of corners she
had received a home that reflects a certain elegance.
When Ben-Gera takes
on a project he throws himself into it with great enthusiasm, a feeling he also
communicates to the client.
“The secret is getting to know the person and
designing a home that will fit him,” he says. “‘Design your persona’ is the
concept that guides me.”