Downsizing from a dream house

A widow says goodbye to the spacious apartment she shared with her husband. (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
'We raised our three children in a relatively small house in Ramat Hasharon and, when we moved to the apartment in Ra'anana, we had all that space just for the two of us," says Ruth. Regretfully, after 10 happy years in these beautiful surroundings, Ruth, recently widowed, has decided it's just too huge for her alone and is moving on. The apartment is on a quiet street in Ra'anana, but, emphasizes Ruth, very close to the center and within walking distance of the library, shops, supermarkets and concerts. Because they bought it in the last stages of building, the owners were able to make changes to the inside which suited their lifestyle. They were able to turn two of the bedrooms into offices, adjust the lounge/dining room and put in walls of cupboards to allow maximum storage. On the second floor, a completely self-contained apartment for guests includes a kitchen with a refrigerator, cooker and a shower/bathroom. Anyone staying in the apartment only has to press a button for the electrically operated blinds to open and allow access to the magnificent roof garden, blooming with fruit trees and colorful bougainvillea and geraniums, even in the winter. For guests and family staying there, it was, she says, "pure indulgence." "I don't go up there much nowadays," says Ruth, "but when we first moved in we used it a lot for entertaining." In fact, she has no need to climb the stairs at all, as everything is on one level. The open plan means that the view across the gardens below is visible from every part of the living space including the kitchen. "We were very lucky to find a building with such wonderful views," says Ruth. "Most apartment dwellers look out at other apartments, but because these are garden flats below we can enjoy the garden, too." The wood and white kitchen has a butcher block table which doubles as a work space and is divided from the dining corner by a counter. Above this dangle the healthiest looking philodendron plants I have ever seen, creating a green half-curtain over the two rooms. The secret, I am told, is not just a green thumb, but a lavish use of liquid fertilizer. Because her late husband worked with Danish interiors at one point, the eating corner is furnished with a pine table and chairs from that establishment. A Danish modern lamp hangs above. The living room was enlarged by "borrowing" space from what had been a small bedroom, and this allowed for a wall of built-in units on one side. The square sitting area owes much of its attractiveness to Ikea, with cushions and shaggy white rugs from there, proving that the Swedish imports are not exclusively for the young and penurious. The apartment owes much of its perfect stream-lined appearance to the judicious placement of storage cupboards wherever it was possible to put them. On the other side of the lounge, in the corridor leading to the bedroom and bathroom, stands a complete wall of closets. Under the staircase a large cupboard was built to house suitcases, tools, the vacuum cleaner and a stepladder. "It's a bit like the broom cupboard we used to have in England, before we made aliya," says Ruth. The guest bathroom takes its cheerful color scheme of primary colors from the Danish artist's print which is hanging there, and red, yellow and blue towels are hung artfully to tone in with the picture. The master bedroom has a blue and white color scheme, carried on into the en suite bathroom, while a corner niche with its own window seems just the place to keep the treadmill, where one can exercise and look out at the view. The pale blue fitted carpet makes the room especially warm and cozy. The security room is also used as a studio for Ruth, who likes to dabble in painting and many of whose attractive canvasses are displayed on the walls. Finally Ruth shows me one of her favorite areas of the apartment, the triangular balcony just off the sitting room with more luxuriant plants and a wonderful, uninterrupted view of trees and sky. "This is probably the part I'll miss most," she says.