The making of a bachelor pad in Tel Aviv

Sometimes the most unusual designs come from mom.

A renovated Israeli apartment (photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
A renovated Israeli apartment
(photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
As a hard-working senior eye surgeon at Ichilov Hospital, Michael Regenbogen had no spare time to decorate his Tel Aviv apartment, which badly needed a face-lift.
Luckily for him, his mother, Fini, was happy to undertake the job. She lives in a magnificent home in Savyon which she shared for many years with Michael’s late father, Dr. Lucien Regenbogen, also an ophthalmologist and professor of surgery. For Fini, a three-room apartment in Tel Aviv was small potatoes.
The old building has been standing some 50 years in the cultural heart of Tel Aviv. Fini’s first act was to do away with the two balconies, which at one time were de rigueur in the steamy White City, as the only place to go to escape the oppressive summer heat.
Air conditioners were far from ubiquitous back then, and everyone needed their balconies.
Fini saw them as a good way to add extra space to the 90-square-meter apartment, and she incorporated them – one into the bedroom, the second into the living room.
Occasionally consulting with her son as to his likes and dislikes, they settled for parquet flooring and the use of bricks on the walls for an overall rustic effect.
The bricks are the kind used in demolished European buildings and shipped to Israel for a new lease on life in trendy young apartments. They are laid together with generous amounts of concrete to produce a rough effect, and make an interesting backdrop for the unusual furniture and fittings which are placed around the walls.
At one side of the living room, the brick wall makes a perfect foil for the beautiful Perspex table brought from France many years before. On it, Fini placed a large Buddha acquired in the Jaffa flea market, and a selection of her many blue pots, with one holding a huge white flower.
The round mirror of ornate metalwork was acquired in Israel, while the umbrella stand had been in the family for years and originally came from Europe.
An “ancient” urn stands in one corner holding realistic- looking leaves. Two retro armchairs upholstered in offwhite face the matching two-seater sofa, which is placed in the reclaimed balcony. More old pots and a smaller Buddha on a stand enliven this relaxing corner, enhanced by the Roman curtains operated at the touch of a button.
The solid wood coffee table can open up and double in size, while the television screen on the wall can be moved out to change the angle.
The bedroom looks out at a wild, jungle-like garden reminiscent of a Henri Rousseau painting, a wonderful sight to wake up to each morning. The erstwhile balcony is wellused, with a television screen, an armchair, the computer corner and the music system.
The black-and-white bathroom is ultra-modern, but with a patterned retro tile recalling the period when the original bathroom was built. Outside the bathroom is a sculpture on a stand and a painting of a Paris street scene.
The kitchen is situated next to the living room, and is the place to display some of the collection of old bottles acquired over the years – including the striking blue soda bottles perched on the kitchen cabinets. On one side of the kitchen, the doctor keeps his bar, next to a wall barometer that fits perfectly onto the wall of the ex-balcony.
It’s a very compact apartment, easy to run, with all the necessities of everyday life close at hand. Indeed, Regenbogen has his mother, Fini, to thank for his smoothly running and very attractive home.