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'This is the best street in the area," says Yehudith Zion of the long, winding, tree-lined road in Shikun Dan on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, where she built her house two years ago. "I used to work in real estate and Erwin Eisenberg (Shaul's son) came to me and asked me to find him a house here. He didn't care what the house was like, he wanted the street."
The Zion house, where Yehudith lives with her husband David, a builder, was designed by the architectural firm of Eyal Louis and Orit Freedman, in close cooperation with Yehudith herself. Although the house seems large for two people, every room has a specific use and there is not a centimeter of wasted space. The children and grandchildren visit often, so live-in domestic help is necessary to keep the place spick and span.
The ultra-modern interior contrasts sharply with the rustic outside, with its small crowded garden and welcoming statues. Since the basement is at street level, the visitor climbs up a series of steps to reach the main entrance, which is at the side of the house.
The steps are paved with small bricks shipped from Europe, that once graced the walls of old houses there. The colors range from beige to green to brown and create an unusual approach, especially in view of the stunning modernistic interior beyond the front door.
"I have antiques, but they're strictly outside," says Yehudith, pointing out a 200-year-old olive tree, some Roman vases and a very old Belgian sun-dial.
The front door opens to reveal a small entrance and the whole living area spread out to the left, right and straight ahead. The enormous, circular stainless-steel mirror in the dining room is a real eye-catcher, and on closer examination one notices that it is standing on the floor rather than suspended on a wall. The dining-room table is actually made up of two very long and narrow tables pushed together, and light pours in from a skylight set in the extra-high ceiling and from the stylish light fittings hanging over the table.
To the right is the formal sitting room, furnished in shimmering silvery velvet with a multitude of cushions in contrasting shades. The coffee table stretches the length of the three-and-a-half-meter sofa, while bamboo cubes are used as occasional tables.
A corner of the room has been set aside for a massive plasma television screen, which can come out at an angle from the wall to be seen from many parts of the room.
Yehudith and David also enjoy sitting outside on the patio, looking at the waterfall tumbling over the green stucco wall and into the small pool. Two very comfortable white garden sofas make this a favorite place.
At the other end of the house, a large balcony overlooking the street is a popular place for entertaining visiting family. It's furnished in Tollman's banana leaf chairs and table, which are waterproof. The kitchen has bamboo cabinets, a massive American refrigerator and an open larder.
We take the elevator down to the basement, which has several different functions. The gym is located here, with a variety of machines and sinister-looking leather accoutrements which apparently are used for yoga. The home cinema is also in the basement, and movies can be viewed on the large white end wall, with comfortable white furniture to lounge in. There's also a bar constructed from 700 kg. of wood, and David likes to hold business meetings down here. A self-contained apartment for the live-in help, a security room and a sauna complete the basement area, which is accessible directly from the garden as well.
Back in the elevator, we ride up to the top floor which has two main bedrooms joined by a bridge, from which the lower floors can be seen. One bedroom also serves as a study with a computer, fax, and phone, and here an extra bathroom has been installed so David can shower in the morning without disturbing Yehudith. The master bedroom is all white with a parquet floor and falling leaves on the drapes. The bathroom has a shower with a Jacuzzi set in the wall which gives "an unbelievable massage," according to Yehudith.
Yehudit gives credit for the perfect finish of the house, the special paint work and smooth edges, to her husband's office manager Hava, as well as her architects.
"I didn't hang a picture without consulting with them first," she recalls.
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