”I lived in a very beautiful large penthouse overlooking the sea until my husband died four years ago,” says Dr. Adina Tamir, whose apartment in Tel Aviv’s Palace Sheltered Housing project we visited recently.
“When I was left alone I had a big hole in my heart and I couldn’t stay in the penthouse – it was full of memories of the wonderful life we had together,” says the petite 80-year-old psychologist, who is well-known for creating Yad Le’adam, a nonprofit set up to help the wives and children of prisoners. “I decided that if I was going to move, it would be to sheltered housing as I felt I wasn’t getting any younger and I would have security in a place like this.”
After doing some research she picked the Palace, a project as luxurious as any five-star hotel, and speaks glowingly of the welcome accorded her in the place she chose for her new home.
“The aesthetic side very much appealed to me and the look of the place suits my taste, but it’s much more than that. The warmth and comfort level you find here are first-class,” says Tamir. “When you are thrown into the world alone everything changes and even doing the simple things becomes harder – you have to get used to a new reality.”
She chose one of the larger apartments, three rooms on the sixth floor (“I wanted much higher, but they were all taken,” she says) and began to look around for furnishings.
“I was opening a new chapter in my life and wanted to start from scratch, so I left most of my furniture behind in the penthouse, only bringing my glass display cabinets for my porcelain collection,” she says.
However, as we look around the apartment, it turns out she held on to much more than she originally thought. The crystal and bronze nest of tables bought in Chile years before, the Chinese silk rug and yellow easy chair in the study all came with her, as did most of the paintings.
The lounge was furnished with all white leather, a sofa and chair bought separately but blending well together. Black-and-white striped cushions break up the expanse of leather. White drapes frame the windows and on fine days she likes to sit on the small triangular balcony facing the street and watch the cars and people below.
The kitchen, too, is all white wood, with every convenience cleverly fitted into the small space. The corner cupboards have contraptions that can bring the shelves up and out so there’s no need to burrow around inside looking for a pan. The microwave is concealed behind a matching wooden door.
“When I first came three years ago I used to cook a lot but I became a bit lazy,” she says with a smile, “so now I go down to the dining room, where the food is excellent.”
The bedroom is furnished with her bed from home, the bed frame being made from interwoven wood veneer, and from here she has another view of Rehov Weizmann stretching into the distance. A long ottoman, built-in closets and a bathroom en suite complete this room.
Finally the small study with the computer set-up always in use is furnished in wine-dark wood and here more built-in cupboards provide plenty of storage.
The light fittings were carefully chosen to provide soft lighting around the apartment and many are crystal with a backing of beaten bronze. Above the large screen is a glass shelf to display more treasures.
As to the facilities available in the place itself, according to Tamir, there is never a dull moment. The staff is wondrously solicitous and there is always something to do during the day and plenty of evening activities too.
“We have lectures on every subject under the sun with the best speakers, including some of the people who are residents here; we can do workshops and learn all kinds of things from flower-arranging to bridge,” she says. “We have the best-equipped sports rooms and a great pool.”
The marketing manager, Irit Pasternak, also points out the large variety of medical services available with a clinic and doctor on call 24 hours a day.
Every afternoon a complimentary tea is served in the lounge where the residents can sit in the marvelously comfortable easy chairs and listen to a pianist playing background music while they sip their tea.
“We don’t do diets at the Palace,” says Pasternak. “Mainly though the tea is so people can get together and not be alone.”
I must confess to being fascinated by the décor which is quite super-luxurious and made me feel I was stepping into a Venetian palazzo with the carved stucco ceilings and the geometrically patterned marble floors, the rich floral and brightly colored carpets, the splendid one of a kind polished wooden furniture pieces and the wonderfully elegant table lamps.
Feeling somewhat at a loss to label this style, I contacted the architect, Yoram Barr of Tel Aviv, whose firm specializes in building for the elderly and who has designed many of the best-known chains of retirement homes in the country.
“It’s a style known as Ritz-Carlton,” he said, presumably with a
straight face. Elaborating slightly he explained that the look is
certainly meant to be regal, colorful and classic rather than modern
and is designed to appeal to the elderly people who are residents here.
For example the splendid ceilings are acoustic to absorb noise; the
sofas are attractively upholstered but built for older people, so
sitting on them doesn’t mean you sink right in.
Living at the Palace is one way of growing old gracefully.