Beautiful and smart

Everything in this moshav home - electricity, blinds, TV and stereo volume - can be operated by a single remote control.

living room 1 88 248 (photo credit: Uriel Messa)
living room 1 88 248
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
This splendid house is home to Barry Omsky and his two children, his partner Kate and her two children, three dogs who sleep in the garage and a cat that always seems to go missing. And while it is quite stunningly beautiful, it's also extremely smart (or, as we Brits say, clever). Everything - electricity, blinds, music from the different loudspeakers and the televisions in most rooms - can be controlled at the push of a button by a central handheld remote. Any part of the grounds can be viewed at all times on one of the many screens. "It's basically 'toys for boys,'" says Barry who came here from South Africa with his parents in 1977 as a 15-year-old. As an adult he lived for many years in Belgium and when he returned in 2001 with his then wife, he wanted a large plot of land to build his dream house. "Only small plots were available in Ra'anana, but in nearby Moshav Givat Chen I found this plot of two and a half dunams and decided it was exactly what I was looking for," he says. He engaged architect Nurit Katsraginsky to design the ultramodern mansion, and she came up with many original ideas to create this very special place. The approach to the house is through a tended front garden with a double garage and plenty of parking space for visiting friends. The front door opens onto an entrance hall with the vista of the whole ground floor spread out before one, no unnecessary walls blocking the view right through to the huge back garden and pool. The owners were very sure of one thing - they wanted an atrium with flowing water at the center of the house, and this can be seen through sliding glass doors to the left and facing the very contemporary kitchen which goes off to the right. In fact the whole house is built around the indoor patio/garden. From the black basalt stone wall a constant trickle of water falls to a goldfish pond below, and the sound is at once soothing and sensuous. Barry points out many unusual architectural features - the hanging ceilings where a gap is left between the wall and the ceiling, the unusual height of the ceilings themselves, the way the aluminum panels around the wall next to the floor are inset and flush with the wall rather than in relief. "You won't see any door frames," he says. "The doors are set straight into the walls. It makes for a more uncluttered, smooth look." The first stop on our tour of the house is the cloakroom immediately to the right with what looks like a double-sized wide toilet and an ultramodern sink in which the water from the taps lands on a horizontal ceramic plane rather than the more conservative convex bowl. A blue slate wall leads to the very contemporary kitchen fitted out with mottled brown synthetic marble and stainless steel. He points out that there are no handles on the many drawers and cupboards to give the kitchen the streamlined look he wanted. The dining room has a more classic look and is furnished with a solid cherry table which came from Belgium and matching chairs covered in white linen. He had the sideboard made to match the table by one of the three carpenters employed in the building of the house. The lounge, which looks onto the vast back garden with its large pool and freshly planted fruit trees, is furnished with different colored sofas around a coffee table made of coconut shells with a variety of patterned cushions for a cheerful look. On the wall, the plasma screen sits above a supercontemporary gas log fire enclosed in glass. He shows me some of the bedrooms - his son's room, which has a ladder going up to the sleeping loft and the option of a fireman's pole for sliding down. One room is fitted with a four-poster bed draped in red chiffon. Needless to say the entire house has endless cupboard space to keep the clutter to a minimum. The master suite has a red and gold color scheme, a fireplace with hot stones and a Le Corbusier chaise longue for sitting and viewing the surrounding scenery. Light flows in from all sides but can easily be blacked out with remote-controlled blinds. The huge en-suite bathroom resembles an altar, with its sunken rectangular bath set into gray and white mosaic and surrounded by gray marble. Another supersized toilet like the one in the hall is fitted here too. Down in the basement is a complete games room with snooker table, a fully equipped gym that would not shame a sports club and even a working pinball machine. Also down here are a laundry room, a computer room and a library with suitable black leather sofas for sitting and reading or, of course, watching television. Outside in the garden is a fully equipped kitchen and the patio is furnished with wooden garden furniture and outdoor heaters for chilly nights. Barry often allows his beautiful home to be used for charity events and makes sure his guests are as comfortable as possible. Having invested so much time and effort in building the house, it appears that now he is planning to sell it and begin all over again. I asked him, finally, how many toilets there are in the house as I am always looking for that extra large number which will break the record for this column, which stood at eight. He thought for a minute and then said, to my joy, "Nine, although one is not in use at the moment." Never mind that, on the loo front (and many others) I proclaim this house the winner. Do you feel you own one of Israel's most beautiful homes? Please e-mail: