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(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
Shoham, the community of 20,000 souls situated two and a half kilometers from Ben-Gurion Airport, is said to be one of the most popular yuppie destinations in Israel.
Patricia and Shay Avnon had the foresight to build their home there right at the outset, 12 years ago, when potential buyers were put off by the thought that airplanes landing and taking off might disturb them.
"Actually, it's a very quiet place," says Pat, who works as liaison to German-speaking countries at Tel Aviv University. "The planes don't bother us at all."
Pat had been a volunteer from Germany on Kibbutz Hulda when she met Shay and the couple decided to leave the kibbutz. Theirs was only the third house to be built in Shoham, and they have watched the rapid expansion of the town with great satisfaction.
Most of the early birds were in their 30s, and even today the town has few old people.
"We don't even have a cemetery yet," says Pat with a smile.
Before they picked the design of their house the Avnons knew exactly what they wanted.
They had seen their ideal house in another town and fell for the Mediterranean look, with brightly painted arched windows and light pouring in from every side.
"We both feel a strong connection to the sea and the sun," says Pat. Since their choice of a land-locked place was dictated by budget, they tried to recreate the feeling of being by the sea through choice of colors and other architectural elements.
Their architect Doron Segal understood their needs and created a home for the Avnons and their two daughters. The house has everything they wanted, including an entire space on the ground level which is practically without walls and certainly without any corridors - which they wanted to avoid at all costs.
They consider the massive staircase in the middle of the house to be a piece of art in its own right, one which makes a definite architectural statement. When she first saw it in its raw state, Pat was horrified and felt it had destroyed the room. The architect calmed her down, telling her it would look quite different once it was plastered and painted.
The Avnons love to entertain their friends, so the dining room was a very important part of the plan.
"I designed the table myself," says Pat. "It was important for us that it should be a round table and I ordered a huge piece cut from Hebron stone. It weighs 250 kilos, is 1.70 meters across and can easily seat 12 people. We had quite a job finding someone who was prepared to cut it in one piece and bring it into the house."
Hebron stone is used in many areas in the house. The kitchen counters are made of it as are the wide window sills, where it's possible to sit and look out at the pretty garden. In the entrance hall an old Singer sewing machine is topped with a slab of Hebron stone to make a striking hall table.
"We were determined to have only natural local materials in the house," says Pat. "You won't find any Italian marble here."
To embellish the spaces between the arched windows of the dining room, Pat had her brother, an art restorer, make one-of-a-kind gold-plated sculptures with sun or moon faces to hang on the walls. Although the walls look very thick to simulate a Moorish-style building, this is an optical illusion achieved by creating an artificial thickening of the inner and outer walls framing the windows. Over the dining room table, a striking Arte Luce flat light fitting hangs low.
The wood veneer kitchen is open to the rest of the house, as it was important for Pat not to be cut off from the rest of the family. The bright blue curved windows also feature here and a shelf surrounding the window has a collection of interesting objets d'art from around the world.
The cozy lounge has a sand-colored, L-shaped suite set around the fireplace with its practical gas fire. They like to sit here in the evenings by candlelight, look around and enjoy their surroundings.
Just in case they forget they came from a kibbutz, they have kept a brick-and-wood shelf construction they put together 20 years ago, and on this is perched the TV.
"It's a last reminder of the time we could only dream about having our own home one day," says Pat.
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