Shoshana fulfilled a 20-year-old dream when she bought an apartment in Netanya
, where she planned to divide her time between her home in Portland, Oregon
, and Israel
But the dream quickly turned to a nightmare as she began restoring the 30-year-old apartment and found herself being ripped off by a succession of unscrupulous workmen.
"I thought I could do it myself," she recalls. "I dealt with property management in Oregon and I used to do all the refurbishing myself. But here I didn't understand the different materials that are used in building."
She reckons she was taken for about $20,000. Then one day her luck changed. She picked up The Jerusalem Post and read an article I had written about how my kitchen and entrance hall had been transformed by Jonathan David, a young American designer.
"My friends had told me I must find myself a designer. I'm a devoted reader of the Post and when I saw this article, it was like a message. I called him and he took control. If not for him I'm sure I wouldn't be here."
The apartment, although old, has the distinct advantage of being not just near, but right on the sea.
"You can't get any closer and no one can ever build in front," says Shoshana. Jonathan made the most of the proximity to the water, arranging furniture in such a way that the sea is visible from many angles. He is a devotee of bright colors - I should know, I have a kitchen somewhere between crimson and scarlet - and the color schemes in this apartment are part of its charm.
Friends were able to recommend an honest builder and Jonathan oversaw the work, including knocking down walls and re-shaping rooms.
"He was here 24/7," says Shoshana. "He wouldn't let them put down a stone without being there to see everything was done properly. Also, although it looks so rich and warm, it was done quite cheaply. Much of the furniture came from Ikea
and was painted to fit in with the basic color schemes."
In the lounge, one of the two green-beige sofas was positioned against a corner rather than directly on the wall. Behind it a dark green plant is placed to fill in the corner.
"The idea was to allow me to be able to watch television and see the sea at the same time," explains Shoshana. The pale blue of the walls contrasts with the rough, sandy, different-sized tiles. Cornices around all the ceilings give a finished look.
The rug was designed by Jonathan and made by a firm in Tel Aviv
, and all the cushions were made to match the rug (and, to some extent, Bluma the dog). The Ikea corner unit was painted white and many of the accessories, like the pewter candles on the orange-painted coffee table, came from Ikea as well.
Several items of wooden furniture were commissioned and made according to the simple Shaker look that Shoshana likes. The dining room table and chairs plus two other occasional tables were all made to measure, as was the vanity in the bathroom.
An opening from the kitchen to the dining room is practical and the colors between the two rooms all blend beautifully. The wall was built with a clipped 45 degree corner, making it less sharp, and this theme is repeated in the dining table and the wall table in the same room. Thanks to the large opening, Shoshana is able to have her morning coffee with a view of the sea.
Most of the lighting was custom-made except for the Tiffany lamp over the dining table, which was ordered on-line. A decorative wrought-iron motif was placed above the entrance to the corridor leading to the bedrooms.
The kitchen was once a drab black and white '80s style without personality.
"We picked a pretty fabric for the curtains and Jonathan painted some of the drawers to pick out the colors in the material, yellow, blue and brick. Then he put some matching plates in these colors on the wall. He removed the upper cabinet doors along one wall and replaced the shelves with glass, so I have a great display area there. He wanted the handles to be in the same brick color, and when he couldn't find the right shade, he painted them himself, all 52 of them!"
The bedroom color scheme derived from the curtain fabric, which Shoshana picked herself on a visit to Oregon. The matching satin-finish blue valance and small striped cushions were made here, and the fabric of the cushions is repeated in the small study adjoining the bedroom.
The bathrooms are her pride and joy. The green floral curtains in the main bathroom were the starting point for green tiles and matching towels, while in the guest bathroom the colors veer to yellow and red.
Shoshana sees this as her first home now.
"I never dreamed I would have such a fabulous apartment in Israel," she says.