Flexible in Netanya

Designer Nicole Lehrer Nakash creates a home without doors for a client who likes open space – and a constant view of the sea.

Netanya homes (photo credit: Uriel Messa)
Netanya homes
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
‘I call this my 007 project,” says designer Nicole Lehrer Nakash, who came here from England at the age of 12 with her parents. “It’s full of hidden compartments and sliding doors that conceal whole rooms.”
The owner is a single woman from the United States who has lived here for 30 years. She has worked all her life in hi-tech and was living in the heart of Tel Aviv – what Nakash calls a “high-volume lifestyle.”
“She decided she wanted the serenity of seeing the ocean in her face every day and found a very old apartment in Netanya which she could adapt to her needs,” explains the designer.
The two-room, 90-square-meter apartment in the 40-yearold building had a stunning, uninterrupted view of the sea.
Nicole was brought in to create the perfect home for her client, who needed two bedrooms – one for herself, and one for when her elderly mother came to visit from the States – and two bathrooms.
Apart from that, the small space needed to provide an eat-in kitchen, a separate dining room – as the owner loves to entertain – a lounge and a study. And it was not to have any doors.
“She hates doors,” says the designer. “The main demand was for space, space, space.”
The designer viewed the mission as a challenge and was determined to achieve the exact look her client wanted. They took out all the inner walls and started again.
A brick-covered wall was built to separate the lounge from the entrance; when more privacy is needed, sliding wood floor-to-ceiling panels can separate the two areas. The same white bricks cover a pillar dividing the window area. At one side, she built a long window seat, which is a pleasant reading corner and doubles as storage for large items like suitcases. A mirror on the end wall makes the area look even bigger.
This is also the area where the home office and computer are located, so when she is working she has a constant view of the sea. But with the help of a guillotine roll-down mechanism, the whole area can be hidden at the switch of a button.
On the other side, she has installed what looks like a simple table but which has a built-in mechanism that opens the piece up to seat 12 people. Underneath are stored two box-like cubicles, which are the seats, and another seven are stored around the apartment – six under a large wall unit and one by the window.
The upholstery of the seats matches the cushions scattered around the neutral sofa and panels on the wall unit.
“We used plum purple, red sunset and mustard green,” says the designer. “When I went shopping for the textiles, I took my color palette with me to get the exact shades.”
She points out the light gray sofa as “a new concept in sitting and entertaining.”
“You can separate the four parts, so it’s completely flexible and functional,” she explains. “It can be laid-back and leisurely like a chaise longue, or if she wants a more formal look, she can put one sofa opposite the other in a more conventional way.”
The pouffe can double as a coffee table just by using it as a base for a large tray.
The wall unit was constructed both for storage of loved memorabilia and to display carved wooden artifacts, many made by the owner’s father, who was a gifted craftsman. For watching television, she has a projector hidden in a cupboard, which transmits to a plain white wall – the reverse side of the brick pillar.
The main bedroom has a sliding glass and wood door, so even from the bed, the owner can look at and even hear the sea. The cleverly designed headboard doubles as storage space.
The all-white kitchen fits snugly into a corner, and the island doubles as an eat-in area. Iron and wicker high chairs, two striking, low-hanging brass lamps and a gorgeous flower arrangement complete the look.
Space was also found for two bathrooms, and the main one has an unusual combination of textures, with a slate brick wall, pebbles around the shower and a built-in shelf.
“Flexibility is the name of the game,” says Nakash, who clearly remembers all the problems her parents faced building their home back in the ’70s when they made aliya.
“I try to give a service that didn’t exist in those days and help people to create their dream homes without hassle,” says the designer.
She is also adamant that every time she has something made by an Israeli craftsman rather than buying imported furniture, she is contributing to an Israeli’s income, which appeals to her heart-felt Zionism.
“I love my work,” she says, “turning the desires and lifestyles of my clients from dream to reality in this wonderful country.”