A venerable villa

This Herzliya home is rich with ethnic treasures of the Orient.

rugs real 298 (photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
rugs real 298
(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
Before finally settling down in Herzliya, Eve had traveled the world with her husband and acquired an astonishing collection of exotic artifacts. They needed a house which would accommodate their treasures but which would also be a comfortable home to live in. "I took the architect, Pazit Sella, to see all the stuff in the apartment we were renting while waiting to build and I told her I needed a home to display everything," recalls Eve. "I told her I didn't want anything fancy which would detract from the collections. I wanted clean lines with very little embellishment and long open spaces so everything could be seen at a glance." The architect found the request unusual but came up with a design which was perfect for the purpose of the owners. The home has many alcoves to house the different collections, while the windows have been kept to a minimum to allow more wall space for placing cabinets and for hanging unusual fabrics. It is situated in the rustic outskirts of Herzliya, close to the airport, in what was an area of small houses thrown together to house new immigrants in the '50s. The old house was knocked down and a three-story villa constructed in its stead. Having lived at various times in Bangkok, Tunis and Cairo, the couple had plenty of opportunity to indulge their love of travel to exotic places and interest in ethnic art of all different kinds. The lounge is the most conventional of the rooms in the sense that it has a three-piece, Western style suite - but even this was made in Tunis. What look like two French rococo side tables are made-in-Egypt reproductions. One of Eve's favorite pieces also graces the living room - a large coffee table whose base is actually a Burmese h displays some of the smaller items from the collections. The long dining table is covered in an old piece of fabric from India - probably a bedspread, thinks Eve, and it is embroidered with the small mirrors common in Indian textiles. "I collect fabrics," says Eve, "especially veils." She points to some of the richly embroidered pieces of cloth and clothing hanging around on furniture or framed on the walls. In fact, there aren't many surfaces left uncovered, either on the furniture or on the tiled floor, which is covered with rugs from places as diverse as Beijing to Damascus. She points out a corner stand holding Chinese puppets wearing baby hats which she says are over 100 years old. Although many of the things are antiques, it is not age but beauty that attracts her to the item in the first place. "To me it doesn't matter how old a thing is, I buy something if I like it," says Eve. "You only have to look at some of these things to see the wonderful workmanship of these hand-made items." Because the house was planned with an uninterrupted view throughout the length of it, the various hangings have been distributed in such a way that all the fabric hangings can be seen from one direction, and all the wooden carvings from the other direction. Chinese lacquer cabinets, Burmese "kalagas" (padded fabric pictures), Thai dragon-encrusted jars and Korean cupboards are just some of the parts of this international collection of curiosities. But even in such a house, a normal kitchen is necessary, and this one is fully equipped with every modern convenience. Blue and white tiles brought from Tunisia covering most of the walls give an oriental flavor, aided by the sparkly, royal blue synthetic marble and the all-black refrigerator. Down in the basement is a fully-functional guest room done in Beduin tent style complete with rugs, a Beduin wedding veil and a narghile in the corner. In another part of the basement a Jewish wedding veil from Djerba is displayed, and Eve points out the candelabra and Magen David embroidery on it. The rich embroidery of the Siwa region illuminates many fabrics and hangings. The main bedroom has an Indian bedcover, a Tunisian rocking chair and appliqu pictures by Egyptian artist Farag Mahmoud on the walls. From the bedroom one can step onto a large balcony with a splendid view of the Herzliya countryside and of the incipient garden, decorated with more Tunisian tiles. Back downstairs, a large Buddha presides over the house and has an incense stick lit in his honor every day. "I brought him from Thailand," explains Eve. "Normally they don't let these things out of the country, but the official saw I was respecting it so he allowed me to take it."