Retiring to Ra'anana

Choosing a master designer adept for your new home is a good idea, if you’re planning on bringing your large American furniture.

House in Ra'anana 311 (photo credit: Uriel Messa)
House in Ra'anana 311
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
Managing space is always one of the biggest challenges an interior designer faces. In this Ra’anana apartment an older couple who retired here to be near their daughter left a large house in Florida and had to part with much of their furniture – and be able to fit in what they kept without having a crowded look.
Says the owner, Gloria Harris, “I didn’t want to stuff everything in just because I had it. It was hard but we had to get rid of a lot.”
Fortunately the designer they chose, Selwyn Elkin, is a master at handling space.
Although he has been employed for years by the country’s rich and famous to turn their mansions into attractive living spaces, he is happy to turn his hand to much more modest abodes, where the challenge is greater.
“The problem here was that the original apartment had a massive staircase right in the middle of the living room to go up to the second floor,” explains Elkin. “I had to find a way to remove it to be able to fit in even the minimum of furniture that came from Florida.”
He solved the problem creatively by installing a hidden elevator between the two floors, removing the staircase and instantly gaining almost an entire room to play around with. It is situated in such a way that on entering it can’t be seen, and the newly released space was enough for an entire dining room and a guest cloakroom, with the workings of the elevator hidden in a discreet cupboard in the bathroom.
Selecting what to bring and what to leave was accomplished with the help of exchanges of e-mails in which Gloria photographed her furniture and Elkin decided what would fit in and what had to go.
The master bedroom suite was created from four small rooms and a corridor, so was easily spacious enough for the large fourposter bed they already had. Because of the dominance of wood in the bed, the built-in cupboards were painted in the same birch white as the walls, and in the space he was able to create an office and reading room for Stewart, Gloria’s husband, and two bathrooms, one for him and one for her.
On the entire floor he installed laminated wood to cover the badly laid granite tiles that had been put in by the builder.
“When I suggested laminate and not real wood everyone was horrified, but I said they should just leave it to me,” says Elkin who has been working in the field of interior design here for more than 30 years since making aliya from South Africa.
“I chose the best quality laminate at half the cost of real wood and now that it’s laid not a single person can tell that it’s not real.”
And he’s right. It really is a beautiful floor and has the advantage of no scratches and no maintenance.
The apartment is on the 14th floor of a new development at the edge of Ra’anana and the view from the lounge window is stunning. Even eight kilometers inland, the sea of Herzliya and Netanya is clearly visible.
“I fell in love with the view the minute I saw the apartment,” says the owner.
In a balcony off the lounge, which can double as a succa, the view curves round to the east, while on another huge balcony on the other side is another incredible view, this time of Tel Aviv.
THE LOUNGE has a floral motif in the cushions and the carpet so they blend well with two striking chairs in a pale wood, which are carved to look like leaves. The metal-andglass coffee table also made the long journey from Florida, but the wall unit was made here of dark wood to match the floor, with painted panels in the same white as the walls to lighten the look. Some of her favorite items from a teapot collection are displayed, while over the whole scene hangs a huge and wonderful Perspex light fixture acquired in Tel Aviv. Another superb light fixture, this one brought from the States, is centered over the dining table. Valances in an off-white linen to match the walls hide the workings of the shutters.
The kitchen is big enough for the Orthodox couple to have two sinks, two dishwashers, a very large refrigerator, many drawers and even a walk-in pantry hidden behind a secret door. A busy working corner of the kitchen is camouflaged with a beautiful hand-carved colorful screen.
The cabinets are made of oak veneer, not laminated, to match the floor, and the integrated handles are made of stainless steel which blend with all the electrical appliances on the other side of the kitchen. Decorative glass in a steel color and stainless steel baseboards tie the whole effect together, while a flowery carpet softens the clinical look.
Elkin points out another unusual feature, an extra-wide front door into the apartment created by removing the customary glass bricks down the side, which makes leaving and entering more convenient and was very helpful when bringing in the large American furniture.
Gloria Harris had previously renovated many homes and was no newcomer to the business of redecorating. When the job was finished, Elkin received an e-mail which said, “Selwyn, this is the most beautiful of all my previous homes.” Needless to say, the designer was as delighted as the owners with the finished home.