Elegance in retirement

After moving from Belgium to Ahuzat Poleg, Jacob Fischler has almost everything he could possibly want.

Elegance in retirement-521 (photo credit: Uriel Messa)
Elegance in retirement-521
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men,’ as the poet Robert Burns said, “gang aft agley.”
Golda and Jacob Fischler bought in the retirement village in Ahuzat Poleg a year ago. They planned to spend six months here, and to divide up the rest of the year between their home in Antwerp and an apartment on the Côte d’Azur.
To design their dream home in Israel, they took young American-born Romy Black to create a modern look, far removed from the European opulence of their Belgian home, and they were delighted with the sleek, contemporary apartment she created for them.
After spending a few months together in 2010, they returned to Antwerp for Rosh Hashana. Golda Fischler, who was 85, became ill and died, and Jacob was left without his life partner.
“We were together for 66 years,” he says, his blue eyes overflowing with sadness.
“We never had a quarrel, and she was the best wife a man could have.”
Although now left alone, he is glad he picked his home in Ahuzat Poleg.
The gated community offers sheltered living in one of its 270 small houses, complete with a garden, a patio and a balcony upstairs that looks over the surrounding countryside of Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak, where the retirement home is situated, a short drive from Netanya.
A resident receives one of the small, 100- square-meter houses, which are all identical, and is free to decorate it any way he wants, including changing the floor tiles to something more suited to his taste.
Black, whom they found through a friend of their niece, is an experienced designer with a definite preference for the streamlined contemporary look.
“I wanted to bring in materials that would look elegant, like the marble in the bathroom and the polished stone on the floor – not to produce a crazy young look, as that would have been inappropriate, but yet to convey a modern, up-to-date and yet rich style,” she says. “To achieve this, I concentrated on natural materials and stuck with a cream and black color scheme, which always looks elegant, yet is not cold.”
They decided to buy all the furnishing new in Israel rather than bring things from the Belgian home, as many of the other Antwerp people living in Ahuzat Poleg did. Fischler has at least 15 other couples from Belgium living nearby, which helps to make him feel more at home.
The lounge, dining room and kitchen occupy a large space on the ground floor without any separating walls, and Black decided to link them together by choosing identically finished furniture for all three so the shiny black glass and highly polished cream wood finish can be seen in all the separate sections of the room. The sitting area has two two-seater cream sofas around a black-and-cream coffee table which can easily convert into a regular table. The television is perched on a similarly colored sideboard containing shelves for the allimportant family photos, while the kitchen and dining-room echo the black, cream and glass motif.
As yet, there are no paintings, but Fischler has a plan that will at once decorate the blank stretches of wall and pay tribute to his wife.
“She loved to wear scarves,” he tells me, and produces four magnificent Hermes silk scarves lovingly wrapped in white tissue paper. He drapes them over one of the sofas.
“I’m going to have them framed and hang them as pictures,” he says.
Black points out how every corner of the small apartment is used for storage, specifically the area under the stairs, which houses all kinds of household needs, and also the kitchen counters, topped with black synthetic marble, with cupboards fitting snugly underneath accessible from the dining area.
The patio off the lounge has been turned into a secluded private garden, and the whole area is encased in ipe wood on both floor and walls. It is a hard-wearing but warm, dark brown wood which acts as a backdrop to the blooming flower boxes and the wisteria just beginning to peek out around the doorway.
The furniture on the patio is particularly attractive and consists of a round table that has been hand-finished with a mosaic, accompanied by straw chairs and recliners.
Black points out the low-voltage lighting on the staircase, which is economical enough to leave on all night if necessary. The main bedroom is also decorated in the cream and black of downstairs, but in the adjacent bathroom, Black has introduced a gray slate floor for variety and white marble walls.
A second bedroom was enlarged by using some of the sloping roof area to contain the bed and create a bed/sitting room in case livein help is needed in the future.
“I have everything I could possibly want here,” Fischler says. “There are doctors, nurses, a rich community life, and the children and grandchildren often come to visit and use the pool.”
The interview ended rather abruptly, as he didn’t want to be late for a massage he had booked earlier. It seems that even in a retirement home, one can be perpetually busy.