Homes: Cats, dogs and jars

A Palladian-style home with an abundance of pets and pots.

Savyon521 (photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
(photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
How do you define an animal lover? Perhaps it’s someone who lets seven cats and seven dogs wander around her magnificent home as though they owned the place – which they do. But they know to keep out of the way when necessary, finding places to sequester themselves while their owner, Fini Regenbogen showed us around her Savyon home.
Regenbogen explained, almost apologetically, that this house, which she moved into 11 years ago with her late husband, Prof. Lucian Regenbogen, is rather small compared to their previous abode in Savyon. The mind boggles.
They came to Israel in 1967 from Romania and Prof. Regenbogen worked for many years as the head of ophthalmology at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. He wrote several books, including one on Napoleon – not so much a biography as a collection of aphorisms and sayings attributed to the man. Called Napoleon a dit (Napoleon said), the book rests on one of the decorative tables in the salon while the display shelves at the side hold Napoleon memorabilia. Another of his books, A Dictionary of Jewish Painters, was published in 2004.
The house, which the owner describes as Palladian style, was ready to move into and needed very little in the way of renovation other than a fresh coat of paint. In a town that boasts some incredible homes, this one is distinctive for the classical symmetry of the living quarters, with its two pillars defining the beginning of the lounge and the end of the hallway.
The hall itself is quite sparse, but the lounge is a cornucopia of magnificent artifacts, old and new, Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces coexisting together in perfect harmony. The owners clearly have a passion for pots, and the house they acquired already had the perfect built-in display shelves to show off their collection. Everywhere you look there are pots and jars and vases.
Outside by the pool, in the kitchen and lining the lounge are terra-cotta pots, antique stone pots, modern streamlined pots, and many other beautiful things in silver and pewter.
The eye is also drawn to two other outstanding features in the lounge. One is the massive wooden mirror leaning against a wall and perched on piles of magazines; the other is the beautiful chandelier made of glass flowers and leaves in autumnal shades of orange and green.
The house is a bungalow and, while the living quarters dominate, there are some equally attractive rooms to left and right of the entrance. The professor’s study, furnished with a lovely old mahogany desk and leather chair, is crammed from floor to ceiling with hundreds of well-thumbed books, with just as many volumes on the arts and humanities as there are on medicine.
He was clearly that rare creature – a highly cultured doctor.
The kitchen and family room are open-plan, a bright and welcoming place with accents of yellow, turquoise and orange – and many more jugs and pots displayed on the kitchen shelves. The main bedroom is also colorful, with a highly polished parquet floor, a cheerful blue-and-red rug and a vase of silk poppies. A very pretty bathroom is next, full of potted palms and looking like a conservatory.
But perhaps the most exciting part of this house is the outside, with its splendid patio draped in white linen curtains to protect from the sun at certain times of the day.
“I have to have an outside because of the animals,” says Regenbogen. All the strays of the neighborhood gravitate to this home. Back in her home in Bucharest she has 10 more, and it is no surprise to hear that she has volunteered for the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for years.
The patio is furnished like an extra living room, with comfortable sofas and coffee tables displaying more objects. Several stone decorations, some very old and originating in the Far East, decorate this part of the house. And finally, the four-meter pool is visible from the house, glinting temptingly in the hot sun.
The animals, fortunately, have found themselves some shade and are nowhere to be seen.