Building on an existing layout, a dream of simple pleasures and minimalist style comes to fruition.

Dining room (photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
Dining room
(photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
‘South Africans love to have a logical layout to their homes,” says the young woman who owns this home in Ra’anana. She moved here from New York with her Israeli husband a few years ago, and they now have two small children. The couple had met as students, married and after a few years decided that they wanted to make their home in Israel.
They looked at many houses as they wanted something already standing instead of having the hassle of building from scratch.
“There were plenty of houses on the market,” says the owner, “but more often than not they were huge buildings with sprawling basements and several floors.
“I wanted something more compact, and as far as I was concerned a basement just meant more to clean,” says the owner.
When they saw this house they felt they could turn it into what they wanted, although a transformation was needed.
“We fell in love with the pool and the garden,” she says. “As for the logical layout, we knew we could achieve it if we got the right designer.”
It turned out the family knew fellow South African Selwyn Elkin and it was to him they turned to create their dream home. Says the owner, “Many years ago Selwyn had a curtain business in South Africa and my father had bought from him. He was sure Selwyn would be the right person to do the job. ‘He speaks your language’ he told me.”
In any case she had heard many recommendations.
“Everyone in Ra’anana raves about him,” she says.
So Elkin was retained to transform the old Eighties-built house, with awkward curved walls and non-logical layout, into the lovely convenient home it is today.
The basic color scheme chosen was a tranquil gray and white. To achieve the concrete look of the floors a granite porcelain tile was put down to replace the old standard Israeli tiles.
Outside, the Spanish plaster was removed and the walls painted in white and battleship gray, with new white window frames and shutters. The inside is painted a lighter gray to blend in with the concrete-look floor while the staircase to the second floor is made from a dark gray natural stone. For the bedroom level the floor is made of laminated parquet in a gray wash shade.
“Then we both realized it needed some color as the overall look was rather monotone,” says the owner.
To add some life they followed Elkin’s suggestion of a vivid purple sofa in the living room with patterned Missoni cushions scattered around to relieve the large swathe of purple and bring contrasting colors.
The lounge was completed with two easy chairs upholstered in a gun-metal gray sateen fabric. Two tables were custom- made in a simple but very effective design – plate glass rectangles perched on triangular wooden bases.
A cream and gray shaggy rug brings some added warmth to the overall picture.
The dining room is separated by a half wall.
“It’s a supporting wall so we couldn’t take it away altogether,” says the owner, “but we shaved it on either side to open it up as much as possible.”
The taupe dining chairs came from their previous home in New York.
“We couldn’t buy everything new at this point,” says the owner.
Pretty cyclamen plants perched on the dividing wall bring a touch of live color and tone in with the expanse of purple in the next room. The finishing touch is a painting by South African artist Pieter van der Westhuizen above the dining table.
The major structural change was in the kitchen and playroom area.
“For me the kitchen is the center of the home, and, for some reason, in the original plan it looked on to the pool while the play area was inside,” says the owner.
“We reversed it, so now the playroom leads to the outside and the kitchen is much more central.”
They surrounded the pool area with a fence and added an awning and the goal is to eventually build an outside deck, but because of the expense, the couple will wait.
The sunny, white kitchen is made to allow in lots of light, with white glass cabinets mixed with stainless steel and plenty of storage for all important tidiness. The central island is something the owner always dreamed of having. Work tops and the kitchen table are made of white Caesar stone with a slightly mottled effect.
Perspex chairs add to the general lightness of the area.
The master bedroom continues the gray and white theme with a dark gray quilted headboard in mock leather.
The gray wood bedside tables presented a real challenge to the carpenter as the walls of the bedroom are curved, but he managed to build into the round for a snug fit. More Missoni cushions brighten up the neutral shades.
Selwyn Elkin is more than satisfied with the results of his vision.
“I knew from the start that this would be an enormous challenge to transform this rather ugly duckling into a beautiful white and gray swan,” he says.
No one can doubt that he rose to the challenge with extraordinary success.