A different side to Eilat

This home is five minutes from the town but in a quiet and secluded area

Home in Eilat (photo credit: courtesy)
Home in Eilat
(photo credit: courtesy)
Reuven Baranes and his wife, Shosh, moved to Eilat in 1980 from Beersheba.
He has a small building company, while Shosh runs a modest 21-room motel in the southern city.
The house, which he built himself with the help of an architect and interior designer, is partly a tribute to his Moroccan origins.
Although Baranes was born in Israel, his parents arrived here from the old country in the ’60s, and he has been there on visits. Something about the architectural style of his parents’ roots appealed to him, and one of the most striking elements in the white house, built in the prestigious new neighborhood of Shahamon, are the North African-style arches that permeate the home.
Even from the outside the house has an exotic look, with the arched entrance, the symmetrical palm trees in the front garden reflecting their fronds on the snowy white stonework, and the domed top that hints at something unexpected on the inside as well.
The lacy effect of the outside stonework also seems to fit in with the ornate motifs imported from Morocco, but Baranes assures me that every house in the area has the same fence, dictated by the municipality, for a uniform look in the neighborhood.
But while the house exudes an exotic air, in terms of modern living, it is built very much with convenience and practicality in mind. Walking in through the arched entrance, the hallway is lined on either side with built-in shelves made from solid oak, on which ornaments are displayed. Many are souvenirs of the old country – Moroccan coffee pots and engraved copper trays. Two openings on both sides lead to the bedrooms, while straight ahead is the kitchen eating area, furnished with a heavy wooden table and solid chairs that came from India.
Continuing the Moroccan theme, several arched niches are placed around the walls, with display vases of dried grass and other baubles.
One is immediately struck, on entering the house, by the height of the ceilings.
In the kitchen it is four-and-a-half meters, while the living area rejoices in a ceiling seven-and-a-half meters above the floor. The effect is nothing short of majestic. The Moroccan wrought iron chandelier hanging over the scene relieves the whiteness of walls and ceiling.
This is also the purpose of the off-white walls constructed with imported Belgian bricks, which add a different and interesting texture to the starkness.
The kitchen is made of white oven- baked wood and is cook- and worker- friendly, full of storage, countertops and an island that doubles as a breakfast bar and work surface. Anyone washing up at the kitchen sink has the option of watching the television, set into a wall unit on the left of the sink, or looking out at the magnificent view of the Red Mountains outside the window. High chairs around the island, covered in flowery cushions, make it an ideal place for an informal meal.
The built-in bar is an important part of the décor. On one side, Baranes keeps his wines in a special refrigerator built into the bar. He is a keen wine expert and belongs to a wine-tasting group in Eilat which has regular meetings. The bar itself is stocked with a fine collection of single malt and blended whiskeys.
“I bring a bottle home every time I travel,” he says with a smile. In the bar’s glass-fronted cabinet, one can see the home opposite it reflected, with the mountains beyond.
The Oriental theme continues in one of the bathrooms to the side of the house, which has a perfect small-domed ceiling. It is painted bright blue and has an impressive round light fitting, in black vitrage, suspended from it.
Their daughter’s room is prettily furnished, with white drapes and flowery bed linen. She is 21, has finished her army service and is now studying for psychometric exams with a view toward studying medicine.
The Baranes family loves the area, which is five minutes from the town but quiet and secluded.
“We don’t have any traffic jams here,” he says. It’s still Eilat, but without the noise, tourists and commercialism that characterize the holiday town.