Home by the sea

When in Israel, this London family stays at a designer apartment on the coast.

home by the sea 88 (photo credit: )
home by the sea 88
(photo credit: )
'Please don't call it a holiday apartment," say the British owners of this Netanya pied-a-terre. "We see it as our second home in Israel." They and their extended family spend many months of the year here, and have put a great deal of thought and effort into turning the apartment into what is a beautiful home by any standards. The high-rise building on the sea front has been standing for 30 years, but is still very much in demand. "These apartments are snapped up the minute one becomes available," said the owner. "Many of the other residents are like us - Brits or South Africans - who come and go. Very few Israelis live here. One of the reasons it is so popular is because of the good size of the rooms, much larger than are being built today." So how do you design and furnish an old apartment to make it look like this one, when you live and work in London? One answer is to make a call to Zippy and Alisa Interiors, a partnership of two women who studied design at the Tel Aviv Art School and decided to go into business together. Zippy Bakst is from England, and Alisa Cohen is Israeli, and they have made a specialty of creating second homes for non-residents, mainly in Jerusalem and Netanya. "We have never advertised," says Zippy. "We just go from one job to the next by recommendation." While it is not the easiest work to arrange logistically, they seem to get it right every time. At the first meeting the two designers question their clients to find out what style and materials they would like. "We produce our design and suggestions and once it's been agreed by the client we go ahead and do the work, even when they are no longer here," explains Zippy. "They might pop in every so often to check up on progress or choose some tiles, but very often they leave it all to us." The designers have their own team of workers and all the woodwork is custom-made, including the kitchens and most of the furniture. The owners of this apartment are very satisfied with the outcome of all their deliberations. "They sat with us and we told them what we wanted," says the owner, who works at the Imperial War Museum in London teaching about the Holocaust to school parties. "They took us around the stores and showed us what was available. We wanted a natural look with dark wood furniture and decided to keep it simple." Unlike their London home, with its fitted rugs and sumptuous drapes, here the emphasis is on clean lines and absolutely no clutter. There are a few paintings and some dried flower decorations, but who needs artificial ornamentation when you can sit in your Le Corbusier chaise longe - there are two of them - and gaze out at the uninterrupted expanse of blue Mediterranean beneath your window? "We went for a natural look which is very relaxing," says the owner. "We liked the color combinations - the nutmeg shade of the settee toning with the rough sand shade of the floor, the chocolate brown leather and tweedy cushions." For the dining area, they had a table made which is a complete square and seats two people at each side. "It's very sociable," says the owner with a smile. "No one sits at the head of the table." The kitchen is nicer than the one she has in her London home, according to the owner. "It's the easiest kitchen I ever had to do," she says. She was shown a sample of the dark wood and, on one of her visits here, was taken to the shops to pick out the granite for the counters and the handles. She left the design of the kitchen to Zippy and Alisa, who had plenty of space to play with for the large, stainless-steel refrigerator and oven, as they had done away with the service balcony. To break up the effect of the dark wood they put blue frosted glass in the doors and on the table top. Besides making all the doors, the designers also made the kitchen and bathroom cabinets and the bed frame in the master bedroom. "Because these apartments are often left empty it's best to keep them free of knick-knacks, although they are often serviced," says Zippy. "The floors are always tiled or covered in parquet. Absolutely no one wants carpets - not even the French." Do you feel you own one of Israel'smost beautiful homes? Please e-mail gloriadeutsch@gmail.com.