Renovated aparment that kept original Ottoman elements 521.
(photo credit: Shay Adam)
There are two types of Jerusalem Post Magazine readers, and the difference
between them has nothing to do with religion, politics, nationality or gender:
There are those who enjoy the “Homes” column, in which writer Gloria Deutsch
offers a look at the interior design of some of the country’s fancier abodes,
and there are those who do not. I am a firm fan. It’s a vicarious pleasure, but
I get joy from seeing the inner beauty of other people’s homes.
why I also like Open House events, such as the annual “Houses from Within”
project taking place in Tel Aviv- Jaffa this weekend. These include free tours
of usually private spaces, listed on the website (www.batim-il.org) as “designer
lofts, urban villas, unique synagogues, architecturally significant public
buildings, curious construction sites, plazas and gardens.”
who was brought up in Britain and spent most childhood summer vacations in
France, I admit that this might be lacking some of the cachet of, say, Windsor
Castle or the French palaces at Versailles or Fontainebleau. Nonetheless, open
houses like these open the mind. And I like seeing how the other “10 percent”
live locally. If someone with a beautiful home has a big enough heart to share
it for a while with others – on the house, as it were – then it can’t be a bad
thing. And a mezuza on the door adds a welcome touch.
For me, the perfect
home must be, well, homey. I subscribe to the Mark Twain school of thought
(which probably further divides the readership). Twain maintained: “A home
without a cat – and a well-fed, well-petted and properly revered cat – may be a
perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove title?” (Incidentally, my burglar
alarm greets me enthusiastically when I come home – enough to compensate for
having to deal with dog hair.) WHICH BRINGS me to one of the problems I have
with advertisements showing “model apartments” – I don’t trust pictures of model
apartments any more than I trust photos of clothing worn by fashion
A model apartment is for show. But show me an apartment after the
average family has moved in, complete with pets, and if it remains clean, white
and sparkling with everything exactly in its place, I would wonder what goes on
– if anything – behind the closed doors.
Just as models have to work very
hard to stay thin, someone has to work very hard at keeping a house perfect –
possibly too hard.
I once came across a cartoon of two women standing in
a hallway. The caricature hostess is saying: “Please excuse the mess,” and her
visitor asks: “Why do women always say that?” eliciting the little- uttered home
truth: “Because it’s easier than tidying up!” The sparkling nature of the
apartments shown in advertisements is not the only problem I have with them.
Having offended half the magazine readership, I’ll risk offending half the
I have noticed a trend in recent years for a
noncommittal look – not so much anything goes, as anywhere goes. There are a few
buildings that emphasize the sea view (oh, the joys of living in a Mediterranean
country), and some stress the only-in- Israel view of Jerusalem, but the
majority, for some reason, show no view whatsoever.
I can’t help but
think that all these well-designed apartments seem interchangeable (or perhaps
there is another oh-so-fashionable tower block blocking what would have been the
If you show me only one impeccably clean, white,
illustrative living room with no hint of the surroundings, I find myself
dwelling on the question of what makes it different from any other new
apartment? The places all look the same – as if they were dreamed up by some
ascetic interior designer who is planning an elegant but Spartan lifestyle for a
model family – a family whose members never call out: “Where did you put my
watch/book/shoes?”; never leave dishes in the sink or cups on the table; never
have visitors under the age of 30; and never actually kick off their shoes, sit
down and relax.
I HAVE not formally studied interior design, but you can
further divide readers into those who have reading material in the smallest room
in the house and those who don’t. My in-house newspaper rack includes several
home design catalogues and magazines.
Overall, I subscribe to the old but
still relevant commercial slogan for the Tambour paint company: “Tireh ma
shetzeva yachol la’asot!
” – “Look at what color can do!” And get personal:
There’s a place for Ikea, but there’s nothing exclusive about buying exclusively
there. If a home is a home and not a hotel room, surely it should contain
something with sentimental value – a piece of furniture from a grandparent, a
painting by a relative, an antique found at a flea market that had you itching
to buy it? In my humble opinion, you can’t beat books in the home, either – even
in the age of Kindle. There’s nothing like browsing somebody’s shelves to get an
idea of who they are (or who they would like to be).
Long live the
eclectic, lived-in look. Even if you don’t live in style, home comforts are