Homes: A haven for owls

With a swimming pool outside the living room and a collection of over 400 owls, this Ra’anana apartment is certainly different.

Kitchen 370 (photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
Kitchen 370
(photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
With a swimming pool outside the living room and a collection of over 400 owls, this third-floor Ra’anana apartment is certainly different.
Upon entering the apartment, the first impression is one of comfort and luxury with many beautiful artifacts in view and antique furniture mingling with modern to create a warm and welcoming environment. Boring it definitely isn’t.
It belongs to an American couple who made aliya in 1969. She worked as a speech therapist and tells me her husband was a stockbroker for 20 years after being “in more businesses than you can count.”
They raised their four children here, all now married.
“We started out living in Savyon,” the owner says.
“It was like a village in those days and you could live in a cottage or a mansion, it didn’t matter.”
When the nouveaux riches started to move in and build what she considered monstrosities, they moved out and lived happily in Ramat Gan for years until deciding six years ago that for Shabbat observers Ra’anana had more to offer – especially as two of their children had already set up home there.
They had to do some complicated adjustments to acquire more living space than was originally included in the apartment, which had a huge balcony at the expense of the lounge. By incorporating the balcony into the living area and adding an extension which became the new balcony, they were able to have a reasonably sized lounge. One of the advantages was that light now floods into the room from what used to be the balcony.
There are two sitting areas in the lounge, both furnished in green. One is a green suede L-shaped unit and, on the other side, a couch and armchair upholstered in a striped green fabric.
“I wanted to bring in the green from outside, as I find it a calming color,” says the owner.
The striking coffee table came from the flat in Ramat Gan and, although she feels it is a bit large for the present room, the table, which was specially made for her, has pride of place.
“I bought two metal decorative grilles and gave them to a friend and said ‘do something with them,’” she explains.
The result is a two-level glass-and-wood table, the wood painted to imitate metal and the grilles set into the sides. Owls and flowers are perched on the table.
But then, the owls are everywhere – including in a special glass display cabinet at the entrance as well as scattered around the room and even outside on the balcony.
She doesn’t remember how she began to collect owls, but with the huge and varied collection she has, she won’t take just any old owl.
“It has to talk to me,” she says. “I have turned down owls if I feel I haven’t made a connection.”
Next to the open window, from which one can glimpse the six-meter-by-three-meter pool, stands a gilt antique cabinet that belonged to her parents. It is full of objects she used to enjoy looking at and playing with as a child and, since no one else in the family wanted it, she brought it over to Israel where it embellishes the living room. There are also several beautiful old lamps made of wrought iron and crystal.
The kitchen cabinets are cream Formica below and glass fronted above, and the island is made of bright red synthetic marble with an inset sparkle and a hob at one end. Tall red-and-chrome chairs surround the island. Next to the kitchen, placed by a window, she has a collection of orchids on their own specially made shelves, not quite flowering yet but looking robust and healthy.
The master bedroom was made by joining two smaller rooms together and is airy and spacious, with three windows allowing light to pour in. Behind the wooden bedhead is plenty of storage space, while on a balcony off the bedroom she is able to grow vegetables and herbs in pots perched around the walls.
The front balcony is like another sitting room, with its deck flooring and comfortable straw furniture, and the view over the rooftops of Ra’anana is pleasantly bucolic.
Plants and flowers in pots thrive out here in the sun and fresh air. From here the pool can be accessed via wooden steps hidden behind the vegetation.
The owner took up painting nearly 20 years ago and has made a studio for herself on the second floor. The walls are covered with her paintings, which vary in style from figurative to abstract but are invariably colorful. She tells me that she finds painting not just enjoyable but therapeutic.
She has exhibited with other artists but is aiming for a show of her own.
But strangely enough, I couldn’t see any paintings of owls.
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