Budget makeover

'You can work miracles with plasterboard,' says this architect homeowner.

living room 88 224 (photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
living room 88 224
(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
Thirty years ago when the houses around the northern end of Ra'anana were built, they were the last word in desirability for home buyers without endless resources. Slightly more expensive than an apartment, they offered the possibility of owning a small piece of land and a private home. Even though they were basically terraced houses, all joined together, they still offered more privacy and independence than an apartment. Years have gone by and undreamed-of luxury homes have appeared in every possible architectural style. So what do you do if you own one of these small dark houses and want to upgrade it? It helps if you are an architect, like Ida Kollman, who acquired her house 15 years ago. Having studied at the Technion for five years, and worked extensively designing homes for others, she felt the time had come to use her expertise to improve her own property. Working within a tight budget, she has managed to give her home a face-lift with minimum expenditure using plasterboard to lower ceilings, change the proportions of rooms and create attractive niches. The choice of a rich buttermilk shade of paint for the walls, inexpensive ornaments and light fittings used imaginatively, and a complete makeover of the basic original kitchen have all helped to produce the attractive result - a contemporary look with minimal expense. "When I decided to tackle the house and improve it I faced many obstacles," says Kollman, who was born in Russia and came here as a teenager. "It's much easier to start from scratch than to take an old building and modernize it. But you can work miracles with plasterboard." In the entrance hall, the walls had been covered in a thick, white textured paint which made it look clinical. By doing away with this and enlarging the entrance by one and a half meters, she immediately opened up the dark, claustrophobic approach to the house. To the steel front door she added a decorative wood surface, which had the advantage of looking more aesthetic, and distinguished it from all the other steel doors. with their identical patterns. The fuse box, now inside the house, was hidden behind white painted doors Using what had been wasted space at the entrance, she created a guest bathroom, complete with folding shower doors and even a bidet without sacrificing any of the living space. To mark off the division between the lounge and the kitchen/dining corner, she added a pillar, also made of plaster to match the supporting column already standing, and added more plasterboard to the top of the wall which prevents the feeling of empty space from taking over. Into this space she added a wooden flying seagull which can flap its wings, creating good energies, apparently. The diagonal wall with its illuminated niches was added to create the special atmosphere she wanted in the lounge bringing a warmth generated by the use of spotlights on the two figures she has placed there. In other niches she has used the light fittings imaginatively, turning them upside down to spotlight plants and ornaments. In the dining corner, the smoked glass, of the window was exchanged for clear glass allowing light to come in and the pretty front garden to be visible. The kitchen kept its original basic design which used a wood-grain marble and wooden cabinet doors, but the insides of all the cabinets were changed to make them much more user-friendly, with metal inserts which slide out effortlessly and even a drawer added to all the space left above the corner carousel. She now has plans to tackle the bedrooms using the same principles, and knows more or less what she wants to produce upstairs as soon as she feels the time is right. An old aunt who came to visit after arriving recently from Russia told Ida that her grandfather had been a builder - a fact she didn't know - and that she had clearly inherited his genes. "Interior design is a little like a melody," she says. "You hear the notes and you have to turn it into music." Do you feel you own one of Israel's most beautiful homes? Please e-mail: [email protected]