Life by design

Liz and Brian Harris left London for Herzliya Pituah - and found an unexpected calling in interior design.

interior design 311 (photo credit: Uriel Messa)
interior design 311
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
When Liz Harris made aliya five years ago with her husband, Brian, little did she dream that within a few short years she would have opened her own interior design business, Liz Interiors. In England, where they came from, she had worked in rental property and jewelry; design had been something she dabbled in, mainly just for herself.
Having decorated their new home in Herzliya Pituah alone, she did not even realize that she had an exceptional flair for design until visitors began to rave about it, and several asked her to help decorate their homes, too.
“I had one girlfriend who wanted a bigger holiday home here, but she would only get one on condition that I do it up for her,” says Harris. She now has a fullfledged business going together with Brian, who is in charge of project management, mostly beautifying holiday homes for frequent visitors from abroad.
When they left their home in England, they had already downsized to an apartment in St. John’s Wood. Their four children were living all over the world, although none were in Israel, and they knew they needed space for visitors.
“I also didn’t want the responsibility of a house with a pool,” says Liz Harris. The perfect answer presented itself in the form of Rosmarin Court, a beautiful development in the seaside town with self-contained apartments surrounding a pool, each unit having its own private garden. Designed by architect Ram Carmi, the development has 16 units contained in a walled courtyard, and the Harrises have an end one, meaning it is semi-detached – an added attraction.
Having a flair was clearly not going to be enough for someone new to the country to start a decorating business, and Liz Harris was the first to realize this. “I had no idea where to go for bathroom fittings, floor tiles, ceramics, woodwork – all the places I needed to be familiar with,” she says. “Luckily I had a young pair of architects whom I had met and befriended in London, Tamar and Oshri Yaniv, and I contacted them. They took me to all the right places and introduced me to the whole business of decorating in Israel.”
Entering the home, one is struck immediately by the light and airy feel of the place and the gentle and calming color schemes that contrast so completely with the heat outside. It is also clear from this home that mixing contemporary and antique is more than possible; the talent lies in knowing where to place things.
The lounge is separated from the back patio and garden by glass windows, creating one huge space unified by the colors and concept.
“My choice of green fabric for the chairs was not only because of the restful design but also because I wanted to bring the garden into the house,” explains Harris. “When I open the doors, you get the feeling of being in the garden even indoors.”
Having the same travertine floor in and out adds to the feeling of unity between the two rooms.
She finds it strange that Israelis close up and make everything dark. I explained that this was a throwback to the days before air-conditioning, when the only way to survive in a suffocating hamsin (heat wave) was to close all the blinds and cool off in the dark.
Coming from London, most people nowadays want to let in the elements and enjoy the marvelous light we have here, unadulterated by smog and pollution, especially on the coast.
“When we bought the apartment, there was a ficus growing right up to the house, making a tunnel and blotting out the light,” says Liz. “I had it trimmed down and opened up the whole living room.”
The dining room table, which can seat 16, was made for her after she saw a similar, smaller one in a showroom nearby. Over it hangs a sensational Spanish wrought-iron light fitting, also bought here. Murano glass vases stand on the highly polished table.
In the main sitting area around a square wood-and-glass coffee table, she has placed several old pieces that blend seamlessly with the contemporary custom- made suite upholstered in a textured cream material. Two Art Deco chairs and a side table stand out. Slats in the wall between lounge and kitchen add to the feeling of lightness.
Another small sitting area was created for watching television, but the set is discreetly hidden behind a sliding door in the half-wall separating the area from the dining room – a nice touch.
The kitchen was completely renovated with new cupboards in soothing duck-egg blue, although the original shape was left as it was. Off the kitchen is a small patio for eating breakfast.
The master bedroom is in soft gray and white with accents of silver dictated by the round mirror, also bought here. A gold chair was painted silver to match the other accessories, while on a wall opposite one can glimpse an Anna Ticho print, just visible in the mirror.
The main bathroom has a Philippe Starck imitation bathtub, but I am told the mirror is authentic. Soft gray carpet covers the whole of the upstairs. Another bathroom is covered in narrow black slate tiles on walls and floor and has the added attraction of a sit-down shower.
Several smaller rooms were prepared for the all-important visits of children and grandchildren, to which the Harrises look forward enthusiastically, even if it means taking time off from their newly discovered interest in designing.
Truly, for them, coming to live in Israel has been a new beginning in more senses than one.
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