Home as Gallery

Making a creative home in Israel.

Interior design (photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
Interior design
(photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
Ya’akov Ghindes, who lives in this garden apartment with his wife, Nurit, spent his working life in the Israel Police, reaching the rank of superintendent in his Jerusalem computer department.
But much of his leisure time over the past 19 years has been devoted to his painting. Indeed, when Ghindes worked at national police headquarters, he had an exhibition at the Jerusalem Theater.
Now that he is retired at age 50, he can use the art studio in the basement of his Shikun Dan home to do the painting he loves best.
“We bought this apartment [in a Tel Aviv suburb] eight years ago, and especially loved that it is a garden apartment, with a very secluded balcony,” he says.
Situated at the top of a six-story building, it has all the necessary living space a retired couple could need, plus the 100-square-meter studio, crammed with furniture and rugs, at a lower level – where Ghindes can create his at - tractive figurative paintings, which hang on the walls of the apartment.
He is not just a painter but obviously very good with his hands, having designed several pieces of furniture and made some of the lamps himself.
“I inherited my artistic streak from my late grandfather,” he says. “He was a silversmith who left Odessa for Egypt as a young man, and he used to make jewelry for the king of Egypt.
He came to Israel in 1949 and I used to watch him working in his studio in Tel Aviv.”
Ghindes, who began painting at age 10, feels his grandfather was an inspiration to him – in addition to having bequeathed him his artistic genes.
The lounge, connected to the studio by a staircase in the corner, is decorated in warm tones, enhanced by the many colorful paint - ings lining the walls. The couch is off-white with red and floral cushions, and the two easy chairs are covered in a bronze suede material, with the same floral cushions linking the two seating arrangements.
The mahogany coffee table stands on a huge 7 x 3 meter Persian rug, which has been in Nu - rit’s family for generations, and the room has a warm and hospitable feel to it.
The dining room, too, is exceptionally pretty – with the large bamboo table topped with silk runners brought from China, and a beautiful silk flower arrangement in red, white and green set in a boat-like container.
The cluster of overhead spherical lights painted in gold adds to the general lightness of the scene, and tone in with the various picture frames as well as the leather chairs.
The kitchen island, which also acts as a room divider separating the living area, is topped with Canadian oak and has storage on both sides. More of Ghindes’s paintings line the walls, but the most unusual decorative feature is a row of painted ostrich eggs on top of the cabinets.
“A friend of mine used to be a partner in an ostrich farm and he gave me the eggs, already clean and ready to paint,” he explains. “I painted faces on them in bright colors and made stands from bamboo, which I filled with concrete to ensure they stay steady.”
Several display cabinets were designed by Ghindes and made for him in China. He favors a Japanese look of clean lines and dark brown polished wood. On one of these stands one of his homemade lamps, constructed from a vase with a glass shade. In the background are many more of his nature pictures – which, he says, he paints from memory.
The balcony is a favorite corner of the apartment and though surrounded by buildings, is secluded thanks to a bamboo fence.
At the entrance stands a gong from Thailand that Ghindes has turned into a light. The floor is parquet while the raffia furniture, which is completely waterproof, is in a light beige shade, offset by the bright green of the upholstery. Trees flourish in pots, providing privacy and shade; when the sun really blazes down, a large white umbrella gives extra shade.
Nurit has been witness to her husband’s artistic development over the many years they have known each other, and sees in his paintings a kind of expression of her personality.
“He’s very quiet and self-effacing,” she says, “but his paintings are full of color and life. I feel that in some way, his colors are my colors.”