Living color

The owners of this residence decided they wanted their decor to have a Moroccan touch and reflect the hues nature has to offer.

Interior design 521 (photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
Interior design 521
(photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
‘The great thing about the owners of this apartment is that they weren’t afraid to use plenty of color,’ says Nicole Lehrer Nakash, a young designer whose made aliya from England with her parents when she was 11. “Most people prefer to play it safe when choosing their décor, but here it was such fun to be able to express oneself without having to worry about keeping it monochrome.”
The owners are a young couple who live in London and wanted a holiday home in Netanya for school vacations, and also so their older children learning in yeshivot in Jerusalem would have a place to go for Shabbat.
The wife is herself artistic, and the chemistry between her and Lehrer Nakash was instantly good. The designer was recommended to them by friends, and the plan was to design the look of the apartment together.
The view of the sea from the lounge windows – the apartment is in one of the older blocks on Netanya’s sea front – is awe-inspiring. But it’s also an inspiration of creativity: The colorful collection of cushions spread on the orange sofa is a literal attempt to recreate the gorgeous sunsets that appear every evening on the distant horizon.
Both the orange sofa and the beige one opposite it were designed by Lehrer Nakash and are completely modular, so they can be moved around and arranged in different combinations. They also convert into beds when the children arrive with friends for the weekend.
The different shades of orange and red, with touches of purple matching the sunset, are reflected in the abstract oil painting on the wall above the rich collection of cushions.
THE OWNERS also wanted a Moroccan touch to their décor, and this is evident in the choices of color and fabrics, especially the striped ones, and in the exotic floor tiles that go from the end of the kitchen up to the window overlooking the sea.
“This was a huge project in itself, getting the tiles down the right way. I supervised the whole thing, and it was complicated, as there were so many sets and color schemes,” says the designer.
“Carrying it on to the ceiling was very tricky, but we did it, and I think it’s very effective.”
Another challenge was to adapt the shape of the apartment – long and thin, with bedrooms branching off a corridor – to give it less of an institutional feel. She did this by creating niches with LED lighting that could be left on all day and night, creating a warmer atmosphere.
Another original idea was to construct a diagonal wall across part of the corridor to make it less office-like. Several other strong color factors were added – a bobble picture in two shades of blue, a cherry-colored papier mâché light shade, and an exotic plastic orchid in bright purple and orange that greets one at the door.
While plastic flowers are not everyone’s cup of tea, Lehrer Nakash feels that in this case, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages – after all, there is no one there to water plants much of the time, and environmentally it is a positive thing. And there is no denying it gives a good jolt of color where it is most needed.
Every inch of the apartment is used, so it is no surprise to find a computer corner halfway down the corridor built into an opening, and another space used for a washer and dryer.
The main bedroom continues the Moroccan theme, with a gray headboard and striped cover reminiscent of the hooded djellaba and red tassels on the suspended side lights. Two multicolored prints on canvas over the bed add to the exotic flavor.
The two bathrooms have also been designed with a daring disregard for conventional shapes and colors. The larger one has walls covered in a dark gray-patterned tile which sets off the white floor and fittings to perfection. Anyone taking a bath here can watch a pop-up video at the end of the tub at the same time.
The second bathroom is tiled in bright lime green and boasts a huge and ornate gilt mirror over the modern sink perched on the glass top.
Lehrer Nakash feels that her job is to be more than just a designer.
She remembers when her parents made aliya and the problems they had buying and decorating a home, a project that ran anything but smoothly and took far longer than it should have.
“I feel I have a kind of shlihut [mission] to help people have a good experience of acquiring a home here,” she says. “It actually affects people’s lives to make a home-buying experience here a positive one. And when they go back home, to England or France, or wherever, they know they have someone here whom they can trust and who will take care of their interests.”