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(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
The owners of this beautiful home in Herzliya started collecting antiques quite late in life. She had been an English teacher and he was an importer of health food.
"We used to travel together, to food exhibitions in Europe," the owner tells me, "and about twenty years ago we were invited into the home of a business acquaintance in Switzerland. We just stood there open-mouthed at the antiques, the beautiful things so elegantly displayed. And I liked the way everything had a story attached to it: how they acquired it, and where and why. Instead of the hard businessman we had known, he was a different person, softer and more human."
Very slowly, the couple started to acquire what they thought of as beautiful things. Only years later did they begin to learn about the value of what they were buying and to differentiate between the real and the fake.
Eventually they became knowledgeable enough to open their own antiques gallery, a fairly new venture in Tel Aviv called Collections. They've also become the exclusive local sellers for the Florence line of sculptures by noted Italian artist Guiseppe Armani. Several of these exquisite figurines are displayed around the house and, although I have not seen the shop, I would imagine it looks not unlike the house itself.
The couple's house was built 12 years ago, when their four children, now adults, were still at home and the owners were looking for both comfort and a place to showcase their acquisitions.
"If I had known I was going to have so many things, I wouldn't have put in so many windows," says the owner. "Every time I buy something new I wonder where I'm going to put it."
Nevertheless, they're sure they'll continue to buy. The lure of beautiful objects is irresistible.
"I'll just move things around," says the owner.
The tour of the house begins at its imposing entrance, which is furnished with an old inlaid piano from Germany on one side and an ornate table and mirror from Hungary on the other. Directly facing the door is a most unusual bronze sculpture, which is made to measure for the space and doubles as a set of shelves for displaying more art works. The sculpture looks like the branches of a tree, and the same artist also made the huge coffee table in the living room, which features an asymmetrical glass top perched on undulating bronze shapes.
The contemporary beige suite is covered with cushions. Some of them are very exotic, like one in the shape of a rose, and were acquired abroad. The collections of Meissen and Capo di Monte porcelain are mind-boggling.
A half-wall separates the dining room from the entrance. "I didn't want to have someone open the front door and see us eating," the owner explains. Further along in the same large room is a second, less formal seating area covered in black leather and facing the television screen.
The open kitchen is furnished with a central cooking island that has an extra small sink, while a door leads out to the garden and barbecue area. Outside, the swimming pool is surrounded by sculptures, and all the grass has been replaced by a patio.
The main bedroom and en suite bathroom occupy enough room for a small self-contained apartment - and there is in fact a sitting room included in the layout of the bedroom. The room's many windows are covered in a romantic pinkish beige fabric, while the main decorations are family photos.
The massive bathroom looks like something from a Hollywood movie, with a sunken Jacuzzi and beige marble everywhere.
For this couple, opening a store in Tel Aviv was not an easy decision. Although they wanted an antique store, the husband wondered if he would be able to part with the beautiful things he had painstakingly acquired over the years. Only after they acquired the rights to sell Guiseppe Armani figurines did they go ahead with the business. In a home where everything has been chosen for its aesthetic value, the figurines provide the perfect finishing touch.
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