Homes: A labor of love

Homeowners with even a modest budget can create a living space that is comfortable and practical.

Dining room furniture 521 (photo credit: Uriel Messa)
Dining room furniture 521
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
As an architect and interior designer, Marla Haber-Goldstein, who made aliya from Canada 28 years ago, has worked on some magnificent homes for her clients.
When it came to creating her own home, she did not have access to an unlimited budget like some of her clients do, and had to work within the budget of an average family with three grown children.
Haber-Goldstein is well-known in Jerusalem circles, but her husband Avi even more so – he is the repairman all the American immigrants call when anything goes wrong with their big imported appliances.
When they acquired their four-room apartment in Talpiot three years ago, they were delighted to find something that was crying out to be renovated.
“We found the ideal place, a first-floor apartment in a standard building which had been constructed in the Sixties,” she says. “It had eight apartments and we were able to acquire a small extra room in the basement, which we use as an office.”
With her many years of experience in renovation, the new home presented a challenge even for Haber- Goldstein’s seasoned eye.
“It had small, dark rooms and a lot of little spaces cut up,” she says. “There was a feeling of being caged in.”
The first step was to remove some of the interior walls; once that was done, the high ceilings showed to better advantage. One wall got knocked down unintentionally and she immediately saw the potential, turning the wall leading into the sitting area into an elegantly curved separation.
“I worked together with the contractor. We took a regular flexible pipe and tried out different shapes until we created the most attractive curve we could,” she says. “It also complemented the ceiling curve of the entrance hall.”
For the living room she utilized the blue and white sofas she already had and added two neutral, off-white easy chairs. The floor in the lounge is made of polished Halila stone. The big innovation was the built-in wall unit containing the television, designed to hold a huge variety of things: an aquarium, wine bottles, loudspeakers, family photos, all topped off with an antique Singer sewing machine perched at the top.
The lower cupboards are made of stained walnut veneer while the upper units are in shades of cream and deeper beige.
The solid dining room furniture is made of African walnut and the floor is created from different shades of polished beige tiles with a dark brown frame that simulates the look a carpet. An old Ikea glass cabinet blends into the scene.
The kitchen was redone and Haber- Goldstein is very happy with the large amount of counter space and the bleached oak wood veneer of the cabinets.
“We kept the backsplash very simple as there’s so much going on in the granite counter space,” she says.
There is plenty of room for her very large American oven, an eat-in table-and-chairs arrangement and lots of storage.
As could be expected from an electrician’s home, the lighting is quite complex.
“We have four different kinds of lighting in the apartment,” she says. In the entrance is a fluorescent ceiling light, as the window doesn’t give enough natural light. Spotlights in the ceiling are placed strategically, while in the kitchen, undercabinet lights create a warm look. Finally, regular light fittings hang over the diningroom table.
“The whole apartment is very comfortable and lived in,” says Haber-Goldstein.“The colors provide warmth and the layout is very practical.”
It may not be luxurious in the way that some of her creations for clients are, but it is definitely a labor of love.