levy home 248.88.
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
Dreamy colors, sunlight pouring in from high windows, the pool glittering outside under a canopy of bougainvillea - what a memory to take back with you to Paris and think about through dreary gray winters while you count the days until your next holiday in Israel and your dream home waiting for you in Herzliya Pituah.
This is how it is for Valerie and Stefan Levy, who live in France but come home with their four young children whenever they can.
Showing us around was Sigal Avital Gillon, the designer who, together with Valerie, transformed the old dark house into a palace of light and color. So many designers shy away from color, but Gillon had the courage of her convictions and introduced lilac and blue and what she calls wasabi green in abundance. Many of the color and design decisions were taken in exchanges of e-mails between the two women, with photos of wallpapers, lighting fixtures and furnishings flying back and forth through cyberspace. The result is a holiday home which is both practical and beautiful, with clean lines, plenty of imperceptible storage and a warm welcome whenever the family arrives.
The living room was planned so that the small but adequate pool (eight by three meters) could be glimpsed sparkling in the sun the minute anyone walked through the front door. But although many of the rooms had windows added to bring in light, in the living room a window was closed and a wall built instead, behind the lime-green couch covered in fat soft cushions.
"I wanted to create a cozy sitting corner," explains Gillon, "and removing the window made it much more intimate."
The new wall is papered in fascinating wallpaper which looks like shadows on a neutral background and is used to great effect in other parts of the house.
Two armchairs in striped blue and green complement the sofa and also pick up the variegated colors of chairs around the dining table, the soft blues, green and lilac repeating themselves in exactly matched glass ornaments. Two simple and solid rectangular coffee tables, close but not touching, complete the picture.
The clean, simple lines of the kitchen are entirely visible from the lounge, with neutral cupboards and chocolate-brown synthetic marble tops. One wall has been livened up by painting it the same wasabi green, with the painted caption "A Table" scrawled across it. I confess I found this odd until none other than my clever photographer Uriel pointed out that it is French for "Come and Eat!"
Upstairs we inspect all the bedrooms, one very boyish with a silhouette sticker of a man with a gun covering one white wall, another a small girl's room, very feminine with bright spots of turquoise around the room in the shape of filmy curtains, bed decorations, wall stencils and even an entire diagonal wall painted in the vivid color. The lamp shade consists of three shades featuring all the different colors prominent in the room.
However the most interesting bedroom is the one created for the 12-year-old out of what was once a roof. We climb up hefty planks of cherry wood to the second floor and are greeted by a delightful bed/sitting room custom-made for a young girl, with the same green armchair we have seen downstairs, enlivened with circular shaggy rugs in green and off-white.
The white lace-covered bed sits between the eaves of the roof, while in one corner, where the roof slopes right down, we have to bend down to 12-year-old heights to inspect the en-suite bathroom decorated in walls of brick with niches holding various toiletries.
In fact Gillon likes niches and puts them into many rooms.
"Putting in a niche is not an expensive change to make especially compared to the effect it makes," she says.
Pillars holding up the roof have been transformed by the simple expedient of painting them white and adding silver decorative stickers, a very inexpensive and simple way to upgrade a look.
Back down from the roof we look at the bathroom of the children's rooms, the walls covered in gray and brown granite with a variation of gray mosaic dots for the niches. For every door Valerie produced a beautiful shell, which was then mounted and stuck on the very smooth and elegant wooden doors painted in neutral shades.
When we step across from the children's wing to the master bedroom, Gillon points out the pane of glass which has been fitted to what was a half-wall between the two.
"It opens up the connection between the first and second floor and lets more light in from the three-story windows facing this bridge-like area. We also replaced the sectioned windows that had been here with clear glass for an uninterrupted view of the garden."
When I wondered how one cleaned these windows, she answered, "We have to do rappelling to get it clean" and I thought she was joking but no, it turns out there really is such a thing, window cleaners who rappel.
Finally we step outside to the garden where you can take your pick of gargantuan recliners, a sun bed or just laze in the pool which, although small, does the job. The bright blue and gray mosaic colors were carefully chosen to blend together, and the pool also has a Jacuzzi at one end.
Valerie, with whom I also exchanged e-mails, was delighted with the result of her unusual collaboration with Gillon and thinks long-distance design is not a bad idea.
"I think we made good choices because having the photos there, on the computer, enabled us to take our time deciding and to go back to a previous idea and reconsider it," she writes. "Working with Sigal was real teamwork, she gives great advice but doesn't impose her ideas, which is great because she lets the personality of the client come out and it means none of her houses ever looks like another."
And strange as it may seem, the family always feel sad when they have to go back to their 16th arrondissement apartment and leave their lovely Israeli home behind.
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