American Gothic

A new immigrant brings a taste of the old country to her spacious Ra'anana home.

By
October 18, 2007 11:29
3 minute read.
pool oct 19 upfront 88 224

pool oct 19 upfront 88 2. (photo credit: Eyal Izhar)

 
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Everything in this house, apart from the computer, is old, and everything has a story. The owner, a new immigrant from the US, transported her marvelous collection of antique furniture and objets d'art across the Atlantic and it took 360 cartons, help from friends and relatives and hours of time to resettle part of her possessions in Ra'anana. "I have so much stuff I couldn't bring everything," she says, "so these are the pieces I just couldn't live without." Wanting to relocate to be near her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, she looked for a house where it would be possible to add a small pool in the garden. "I always had a pool in the States, but there you can only use it for three months of the year," she says. "Here, well, it's almost a necessity." She uses it every day, for exercise and cooling off. The house, when she bought it, was "one big garbage dump" and it needed imagination to envisage it as it is today. "I knew from the configuration of the property that I could achieve what I wanted," she says. She has nothing but praise for the builder who carried out the transformation from garbage tip to extremely pretty house in hardly any time and who still comes by to do any repairs. "He did everything he said he would do, and now, two years later, I had a small leak and he's been back to fix it and will paint it later." Even getting all the necessary permits for the pool went smoothly, as did the building changes which included renovating the floor and knocking down a wall to make an open kitchen. "Everything proceeded without a hitch," she says. The house is painted in primrose yellow, and she had to fight with her contractor to get what she considers a pale shade. "I wanted a brighter yellow, but he just wouldn't agree," she sighs. Showing me around the living room with its wonderful antique furniture, she proudly tells the story attached to each remarkable piece and proves that more than money, you need luck to acquire things that would fetch a small fortune if put up for sale in a fancy auction house. "Some of these chairs I picked up off the sidewalk," she says. The whole sitting arrangement of the lounge is made up of chairs that come from different periods, some covered in chintz, others in geometric patterns. "I would never go and buy a suite of furniture," she says. "It's boring." A very beautiful cabinet at the end of the room nearest to the pool has exquisite carving and marquetry and contains her vintage Wedgwood collection. "I acquired it when I was 14," she says. "My parents were looking at a house to buy, and this piece of furniture was on the landing covered in a dust sheet. I told the owner that my parents might not buy the house, but I had to buy the piece." The woman, who was going through a messy divorce, said, "This monstrosity? You can take it." It was her husband's prized possession and her way at getting back at him. The present owner doesn't know for sure what it is worth, but it's certainly museum quality. Similarly a Georgian sideboard was being sold off by a company having a clearance. "I got it for $65," she says. The coffee table was bought for $5 from the Salvation Army. The dining room suite however is Queen Anne - and not reproduction, she tells me. The room she didn't invest too much in was the kitchen, only changing the door handles and the marble. "It was that or the pool," she says. On the way up to inspect the bedrooms, she points out another piece of furniture with a story, this time a shelf with ornate curved legs. "It was a table that belonged to an old man I used to bring food to. He had three children and each one got a piece of the table and I got the fourth piece." English mirrors and small chests are distributed around the house and up the staircase. The bedrooms are all furnished in colonial style with stacks of lacy cushions, quilting covers and cross-stitch samplers framed and hung on the walls. A transplanted American home - nothing Israeli in sight - but it all works perfectly. Do you feel you own one of Israel's most beautiful homes? Please e-mail: gloriadeutsch@gmail.com

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