A plethora of pots

After returning from a few years in Australia, the owners reclaimed the house they had rented out and turned it into a work of art.

Living room 370 (photo credit: courtesy)
Living room 370
(photo credit: courtesy)
Contractor Philip Symon subtitles his business “The Perfectionist,” and the same close attention to detail he gives his renovations is evident in the house he shares with his wife and three children in Tzur Yigal, near Kochav Yair.
He arrived in Israel as a teenager from South Africa, did his army service in the paratroopers and studied at the Hebrew University. Soon after graduating, he spotted a niche in the building market and began importing cornices to Israel, putting them in hotels, office blocks and private homes until people got so used to them that a wall never looked finished unless it had a cornice.
“I did that for 15 years,” recounts Symon, known to family and friends as Pip, “and eventually I got into renovations and building.”
In 2000, the family went to spend some time in Australia. He acquired official recognition for his building talents while Down Under, and the family returned to Israel in 2006, reclaiming the house they had rented out while away.
“It was left in the most terrible state,” he recalls, “so basically we gutted it and started from scratch.”
Before going to Australia, they had added a second floor to the small 70-square-meter house, making it a roomy 180 square meters built on about a 10th of an acre of land.
The old floor tiles were ripped up and a new parquet floor put down all over the house.
Symon’s wife has a penchant for pots and has been collecting them and other ethnic artworks for the 25 years the couple has been married.
The super-modern kitchen they installed included specially built niches to display the pots.
“The black-and-white-striped pot is from Australia and is autographed by an Aborigine artist,” he explains. “My wife looked all over Australia for interesting pieces.”
The other specimens are made of Zimbabwe soapstone, and many of them represent faces.
Other artworks include wooden sculptures made by Symon’s late father, who was an architect. A dividing wall between the kitchen and the hall has been lowered to display one of the pieces.
Just off the kitchen is a recreation room with one wall covered in imported Belgian bricks.
“They take apart these old buildings in Europe and cut the bricks in half, and then they are brought over here to be constructed as artistic walls in Israeli homes,” he says. “We were looking for a unique feature which would blend with wood and be a backdrop for palm plants, and we liked the idea of recycling something from abroad.”
The grouting used for these bricks is the same as mortar mix used for outdoor bricklaying, and the effect is deliberately rough.
They also use the area as a serving space when they entertain large numbers of people.
“She’s very organized,” says Symon of his wife, who has a doctorate and is an English teacher.
From the understated living room, the family can look out at the surrounding beauties of nature and the backdrop of hills to the town, which has no high-rises.
“It’s like the inside and out blend together,” he says.
The coffee table was found in an Australian flea market and was sanded down and returned to the natural wood. An antique Davenport desk stands at the side of the sofa, something he inherited from his mother. All the artwork is Israeli, some original oil paintings and some Yosl Bergner lithographs.
A deck outside the lounge leads down to a natural stone patio with rattan furniture – a great place to chill out with a glass of wine, he assures me. More pots of various sizes and shapes embellish the outside, too.
The approach to the house is also by wooden deck.
“I’m very conscious of how important it is to save water,” he says, “so we have only a very small patch of lawn.”
Upstairs, some of the rooms are built into the roof, which means the tops of the doors have to be angled, as in the master bedroom.
The family retreat for watching television and the computer station are located on a landing leading up to the bedrooms. The wooden staircase matches the parquet floor, and another batch of Belgian bricks covers the half-wall going up the stairs to the second floor. It makes a suitable background for yet another large and impressive pot.