(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
Even "wow" - the ultimate compliment - doesn't cut it for this mansion in Kfar Shmaryahu. It is already clear from the outside that this house will be special. It looms up in splendid peach symmetry, towering over its garden and surrounded by forests, set apart from the old established roads of the village.
The owners, a young couple who lived in London for several years, acquired the plot about five years ago and built from scratch. After living in a typical English home in Hampstead, they wanted to build the antithesis of the closed and correct British architecture they had had until then, with every room separated behind its own door. The result: a mind-bogglingly beautiful home which also manages to break the record for bathrooms in this column. So far, the most we have had is eight, but in this house there are - wait for it - 10. Ten complete bathrooms - some with baths, some with showers and all with loos. No hopping from one foot to the other in this house.
They liked the plot because, in addition to being private land, it was square-shaped as opposed to rectangular and lent itself well to the design they had planned together with the architect, where the minute you walk in you see everything at a glance.
"As soon as you cross the threshold, you see the entire width of the house," says the owner. "You also see the depth of the land, and the entrance is aligned with the pool in the center of the back garden." Apart from the kitchen, which is set behind a wall to the left, and a small computer room and study at the extreme right, what you see is what you get - at least on the ground floor. Even the top of the kitchen wall has been sliced off to look more airy.
The entrance is made even more impressive by the fact that there is no ceiling above the front door, but a gallery, so they have what they call "double volume" on entering.
The wife insists that the house is easy to keep up because it's so uncluttered and "everything flows," although she admits it's becoming a bit too big for the small family. The husband likes the decor, which is almost minimalistic but not quite. Ornamentation is kept to a minimum, but there are huge bouquets of flowers everywhere. And the buttery color of the walls next to the stone Jura floor which is over the whole house makes for a warmth which might otherwise be missing.
The elegant seating area has two Kastiel rectangular coffee tables set side by side and a suite in a dark gold, textured fabric which came from England.
"We didn't want leather, and we like the fact that there is no stitching on the seats, which are very deep so you can be really comfortable," says the owner. To complete this part of the house, there is a shaggy off-white rug and an eye-catching glass sculpture which came from Venice.
The kitchen continues the buttery shade on the many cabinets as well as the walls, and a long refectory-style table is set in a diagonal line to match the room's shape. The owners felt that a small table would have looked wrong in the kitchen space. Next to the kitchen is another, a kind of scullery for the dirty work in order to keep the show kitchen clean. The adjacent dining room has curtains to make it cozier at night and a very pretty crystal light hanging against the wall.
Down the wide spiral staircase to the basement (although I could have taken the elevator), one finds a huge sitting room which is used as a home cinema and has special sound and light effects. Several other bedrooms and, of course, bathrooms, share the area with various machine rooms - one for the elevator, another for the under-floor heating and another for the water-pumping and softening system. All the blinds work automatically, and the house has a sophisticated sound and light system which, as the owner explains, "can do anything you want it to do at the push of a button."
Upstairs, noting the handmade metal railing that was built on-site, one enters the master bedroom, which looks out over a back garden with a wide wooden deck for sitting and enjoying the surrounding natural scenery.
All the furniture is dark wood, contrasting with the light parquet floor and the autumn tones of the bed, which is piled high with cushions. A curved wall behind the bed reveals a staircase that takes you up to another level, under the roof, and it's here that a private sauna is situated as well as a large Jacuzzi.
Outside, the heated pool has changing rooms, another hot tub and a barbeque area. The wavy sculpture in the garden was actually the template for their roof, made by the builder; they decided to use it as a work of art. Waste not, want not.
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