A jewel in Petah Tikva

The interior is unified by dark wood, has plenty of room for entertaining and is jaw-droppingly beautiful.

house 521 (photo credit: Uriel Messa)
house 521
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
He’s a lawyer with an office in Tel Aviv; she works in public relations and fund-raising for a university; they are a young religious couple who live with their three children in this stunning home in Bat Ganim, a leafy neighborhood in Petah Tikva, not far from Beilinson Medical Center and the thundering traffic of the highway to Tel Aviv.
Here, in a quiet cul-de-sac, several religious families have built splendid homes, and the owners of this house love the community they have chosen.
“It’s the jewel in the crown of Petah Tikva,” says the wife. “I grew up here when there was nothing but orchards and it was considered a dump. Now many fine people have moved in, the schools are good and there’s a community feeling.”
They bought 600 square meters of land some years ago and looked around at many houses to try and decide on a style that would suit them. They chose architect Zalman Perry to design the house and the interior, and the husband came every day to watch the progress of the building.
“It was his baby,” says the wife.
The overall impression is of space, minimalism and a hefty “wow” factor when one enters the impressive downstairs area by the front door. You can take in the whole gorgeous design at a glance – the dining-room, lounge, back garden, pool and staircase make an instant impact on the eye. Only after that first look does one start to consider what special parts have gone into making this stunning whole.
The first thing you notice is that the woodwork in the whole vast area is the same dark brown venga, with the cupboards finished in a ripple effect created by horizontal lines of curved wood. This immediately unifies the entrance and the living room.
The entrance wall is lined with a large cupboard, a useful place for the children to put their coats, schoolbags and other items. This is the way the owner ensures that the place stays in its pristine state all day, without a hint of clutter or untidiness.
A large guest bathroom placed immediately at the entrance is tiled in small mosaics.
Straight ahead is the all-important dining room, where Shabbat meals for family and friends are always taken. The huge glass-topped table is usually big enough, but if necessary there is plenty of room to add another table for more guests.
The lighting is particularly interesting in this part of the room with two abstract paintings that also act as wall lights, and a hanging fixture of many narrow, vertical lights suspended like a mobile above the table.
Between the lounge and dining room stands another ripple-effect divider and a specially made glass-fronted cabinet that displays many Judaica items, adding to the already strong sense that this is indeed a traditional Jewish home. The lounge is sparsely furnished with two long, cream sofas facing each other across two wood and aluminum coffee tables and another ripple-effect sideboard.
The back garden and pool beckon invitingly through the mainly glass walls of this part of the house. For the architect, it was important to place the pool at the side of the house so as to leave the back garden free for the patio and the flower beds.
“The pool becomes an aesthetic feature visible both before one enters the house and from inside, and because it is placed where it is, we were able to use the length of the side to make it longer,” he says.
The patio is furnished with comfortable, patriotically blueand- white upholstered easy chairs of beige straw perched on a wooden deck.
WITH AN option of checking out the upstairs by elevator, we opt instead for the magnificent spiral staircase, which takes us up to the bedroom floor. The wife points out the metallic dark gray finish of the banisters, which was done by a car paint shop and not a conventional painter.
“They sprayed the whole thing with car paint and had to build a tent around it before they began the work so the walls wouldn’t become stained,” explains the owner.
The second floor is divided into two wings, with the children’s rooms on one side and the parents’ suite on the other. The main bedroom is furnished in the same dark venga as downstairs and has a faintly oriental look emphasized by the rice-paper Japanese sliding doors, which open to reveal a massive adjoining bathroom.
Finally, downstairs again, we inspect the pinkish-beige eat-in kitchen with its two sinks and built-in coffee machine. The family room is also here, while a small patio off the kitchen is instantly available should anyone feel like having a meal outdoors or simply stepping across the small threshold to take their coffee outside.
For Perry, this was one of the most important factors in designing the house.
“The placing of the front garden a step away from the kitchen and family room was so that it is effortless to go outside and eat. My definition of success is that if I’ve made it easy for them to eat outside, I’ve succeeded.”
Although the whole of the family area is less photogenic, the architect maintains that this is the most functional area of the house.
“For me, my basic aim is to build a house which people can live in correctly, that is, to be functional with minimum effort.”
And, he might have added, to create a look that is jaw-droppingly beautiful.

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