Homes: Size doesn’t matter

60 square meters doesn’t sound like a lot, but it works for the owner of this artsy Jaffa apartment.

Home 521 (photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
Home 521
(photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
‘My own little piece of paradise” is how Hagar Rehavi describes the small back garden of her 60-square-meter ground floor apartment in Jaffa’s artists’ quarter.
For a home that contains all the necessary living rooms – a lounge, bedroom, kitchen and dining area – plus a shop in the front from which she sells her hand-made silver and gold jewelry, plus a studio where she works, 60 meters doesn’t sound like a lot.
“I don’t need any more,” says the Jerusalem-born silversmith who acquired the house and set up shop here about 20 years ago. “Here I have everything I need.”
With a Yemenite father and a Romanian mother, she inherited artistic genes from both sides of her family. She also inherited many of the tools used by her grandfather, who came long before the large Yemenite aliya of the ’50s and was also a silversmith. He was in the first graduating class of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design.
“Some of this equipment is 100 years old,” she says. The “studio” consists of a work bench, a comfortable chair and a wall unit to hold all her tools and is conveniently located next to the small kitchen. The well-used machinery her grandfather used is an inspiration but also has a distinctly practical purpose.
Ever since she was a girl, Rehavi wanted to create jewelry and she qualified in a technical college before setting up in business. She is comfortable working in all styles and uses a combination of metal and semiprecious stones in her work.
At the entrance to the house is her shop, with her beautiful jewelry originally displayed in huge ceramic pots topped with glass, often decorated with a piece of driftwood or large, smooth pebbles picked up at the nearby beach.
The living quarters are a half-floor down and here she has let her imagination run wild with wall hangings, blankets, pillows and rugs all suggesting a strong Eastern influence. It is no surprise to hear that after her studies and army service she spent a year traveling in India.
“I was particularly interested in how they worked with silver,” she says, “and I saw how they do amazing work with hardly any tools.”
She also inherited a love of old things from her late mother, who used to collect examples of interesting or ethnic embroidery, hunting for them in markets around Israel. The bedroom and lounge are both very colorful with a few antique pieces of furniture and a great deal of clutter. Minimalistic it is not. To contribute to the Bohemian atmosphere, she says she lights patchouli candles every day.
The back balcony is where she relaxes after a hard day of working and selling. It is small but lush with healthy greenery she cares for herself, and she has put down some colorful tiles to brighten up the stone floor and has ceramic birds and a large clay turtle for company. There is just enough room for a small wrought-iron table and chair, and the back stone wall provides the privacy she needs.
The front door, however, is always open.
“If I want to sell, I have to leave it open,” she says. “And if I want privacy – well, I close it.”
Her work is popular with Israelis and tourists and she has been invited to exhibit in Germany and Switzerland. Besides her one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry, she also makes small gifts like bookmarks, letteropeners and mezuza cases.
Rehavi’s home makes one realize that a large space is not important if one has talent, creativity and the right attitude.