Shoestring paradise

A young couple with three small kids encourage play in a chic flat in Ra’anana.

Raanana apt 521 (photo credit: Uriel Messa)
Raanana apt 521
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
‘Why do you always show us such luxurious homes?’ is a complaint I hear often from friends and acquaintances.
“Just occasionally show us how the not-fabulously-rich live as well.”
With this admonition in mind, we visited the home of a young couple with three small children to find out how you get to live in an attractively designed apartment without breaking the bank. Part of the secret, we discovered, is to put down a solid and aesthetic base and plan for the future.
Tammy and Ronen live in a top-floor apartment with a small garden in a pleasant part of Ra’anana near the Open University campus. She is a psychologist working outside the home, while he is an urban planner, a graduate of the Technion, who has a job with Better Place, the electric car venture company which seems to have a glittering future.
They decided to move to Ra’anana from Givatayim to acquire more space than the four rooms they already had.
“We couldn’t afford anything bigger in Givatayim, so began to look at towns further out and found we could manage to buy in Ra’anana – just about,” says Tammy.
With so much of their resources used for the purchase of the apartment, there wasn’t too much left over for renovation, but they decided they could not leave the 13-year-old construction as it was, as their main aim was to free up space and replace what they felt had been the almost choking closeness of their previous home.
“I especially wanted the shared public spaces to be more open so the children could play together in the lounge and not feel claustrophobic,” says Tammy.
She turned to her friend, designer Sigal Gillon, who came up with some creative ideas to open up the space and make it look less cold in the absence of furniture and ornaments which will, they hope, come later.
The entire public space was opened up and walls taken away to increase the available space. An important point for both women was to provide large amounts of storage space, as they were seeking the uncluttered look. Tammy is clearly a person who likes clean lines and not too much ornamentation, and for her the beauty of a room lies in its tidiness as much as anything. To achieve that, in a living room where the children are not just allowed, but encouraged, to play, the answer was large storage drawers under the television to hide away all those electronic toys and games children love.
The open niches on either side will be there for tasteful ornaments they hope to acquire.
For the moment only a Beitili figure surveys the scene and the view of the deck and garden offers some visual softness.
The main wall behind the television is papered in a striking wallpaper with a mixture of textures and whorls which Tammy feels is a welcome addition to the room, even providing a slight wow factor.
“We’re thinking of adding another chair to match the gray sofa, but I’m a little concerned about closing up the space.” she says.
Moving out of the lounge one discovers a one-and-a-half-meter niche for books along the corridor connecting the living area to the bedrooms, and this wall also has interesting rough plaster which draws the eye. A computer corner was created out of what had been a toilet and this is one of the busiest corners of the house.
“Before I used to work on the kitchen table,” confesses Tammy, “so having a home for the computer was essential for me. The children use it too and I prefer to keep an eye on them and not to have computers in their bedrooms.”
The kitchen has another interesting wall covered in a very thick outside plaster in a creamy beige shade, and a butcher- block work surface which also doubles as a breakfast bar.
Gillon, the designer, also found creative solutions for adding touches to the children’s bedrooms which were done on a shoestring. Stickers of soccer players or flowers were simply added to walls to brighten up a room and create a focus without spending huge sums of money. The children’s bathroom has a red-and-white mosaic wall, which adds a cheerful note.
In the master bedroom, the bathroom en suite is separated by a wall which does not go right to the ceiling, and is papered in unusual wallpaper, a shiny white satin embossed with random Italian words, all to give the illusion of space. The floor of the whole apartment is finished in a granite porcelain large gray tile which serves as a neat background for the different rooms.
“Although we were limited price-wise, we didn’t always choose the cheapest quality, not in the floor and not in the carpentry, which was also in the middle price range,” says Tammy. ‘But we did do an awful lot of shopping around and price comparisons.”
For the time being they are happy the way things are. “I like the clean look,” says Tammy, “and eventually the house will fill up.”
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