Homes: Rustic Warmth

Tel Aviv professionals enjoy life in the country in Nirit.

Nirit home 521 (photo credit: Uriel Messa)
Nirit home 521
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
The young professional couple with a twoand- a-half-year-old child whose house this is knew exactly the look they wanted when they began to build in Nirit, a tranquil small town five minutes’ drive from Kfar Saba. It had to be spacious, not crammed with ornaments and convey a sense of harmony, but without being minimalist or too stark and cold.
They turned to interior designer Liat Harel, who came up with exactly the look they had been dreaming about. She has a background in fashion design which she studied, but always felt it wasn’t what she really wanted to do.
“I used to design interiors for friends and family just for fun, and everyone said I should do it professionally,” says Harel.
For the last eight years this is what she has been doing and when the young couple encountered her, they discovered they had the same thoughts and outlook, making for a harmonious collaboration.
The overall look is “country-lite,” Harel explains: Lots of rustic and chunky furniture, rough-textured walls, different spaces and functions blending seamlessly together, so almost the whole of the downstairs is actually one large space divided by the different uses of each part but united by the rustic style. Another small room serves as a television den and playroom, keeping the lounge tidy and toy-free.
The dominant feature in the lounge is actually the staircase which leads to the second floor and draws the eye up to the inordinately high ceiling, about eight and a half meters above the floor, which is beamed and pointed. The beams are painted in a warm brown, the same color as the treads of the stairs, in contrast to the cream walls.
“We decided to paint the banister in a light shade,” explains Harel. “We wanted it to be a part of the space, and not be the usual dark contrasting color which would have made the stairs themselves less obvious.”
The high pointed ceiling could have presented a problem as Harel explained.
“When we build with a roof like this, the point is a dominant element. I wanted to make it not sit in the middle but to move it to the side so that anyone sitting in the lounge and looking up would not be overwhelmed by it, but would look up at the softer side of the point.”
Heating and air-conditioning of a huge space like this also presented problems, and an unusual approach was used with circular outlets placed around the walls which help to move the air around.
On really hot days, the window on the halfway point up the stairs is opened and all the hot air just pours out.
Another problem with very high walls, Harel points out, is that there are huge expanses of wall to fill. Too high for a picture, which anyway the owners did not want, she solved the problem by using a thick-textured plaster in a slightly different shade from that of the rest of the wall, and in some cases by adding an extra thickness of wall, held in place by screws to vary the boring smoothness of it. Another solution was adding a white brick wall, the same as the one on the porch, which also brings a unifying factor to the outside and interior.
The lounge has an uncluttered yet calm feel, due to the soothing color scheme of the furnishings – a two-seater couch in mocha latte, and another in pale aquamarine with cushions in the same shades bringing it all together. The wall-hung screen does away with the need for wires and plugs. The wall halfway up the stairs is covered in paintings relieving the starkness of the high walls.
The kitchen has a special feature which Harel is keen to point out – an eye-level dishwasher so that the wife, who is tall, does not have to bend over to load it. It’s an idea even shorter people could copy. The white cupboards are oven-sealed painted MDF and the huge butcher block work counter doubles as an eating island.
Because there wasn’t too much room on the marble counters she created a corner for the water machine with the coffee machine and the small wine storage area all together. Frosted decorative glass is used in some of the kitchen cabinets to convey that old-fashioned country kitchen look they wanted, and the choice of light fittings and other items like the glass-covered fruit bowl and period cookie jar on a stand all blend together to create the rustic warmth they were looking for.
“We hunted in flea markets and specialist home stores for the kind of accessories we needed for our country look,” says Harel.
The look is consistent, even in the downstairs bathroom with its reproduction stone floor, stone sink and old-style brass tap.
The outside patio remains faithful to the theme with the same green and blue cushions as in the lounge on a wooden bench next to the heavy oak door. The polished deck extends over the garage and is a great place to sit and survey the neighboring rooftops or as a play space for the toddler.
Coming home from their high-powered Tel Aviv jobs – she is a lawyer and he is in hi-tech – it’s the ideal place to unwind from the pressures of work.
Do you feel you own one of Israel’s most beautiful homes? Please e-mail: