Honor thy parents

A dutiful daughter designs a seaside pied-a-terre for her elderly folks.

pool may 11 2007 298 88 (photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
pool may 11 2007 298 88
(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
In this Herzliya holiday apartment whose owners live much of the time in Europe, nothing is quite what it seems. The parquet floor is actually ceramic; the raffia chairs in the dining corner are plastic; the painting in three panels on the gallery wall is embroidery; and the heavy wooden front door is made of steel. Showing me around was the daughter of the owners, who is an interior designer. "My parents are quite elderly and when they come over, they spend quite a long time here, so I wanted to make it comfortable and for the apartment to have every convenience, but at the same time I didn't want it to be cluttered with all sorts of decorations. The aim was to keep it simple but attractive." The house is part of a complex which was built more than 30 years ago aiming for just the same sort of people who own this apartment - tourists who wanted a pied-a-terre next to the sea instead of having to book into expensive hotels for each visit. The communal pool set in the center of the housing complex surrounded by well-kept gardens is available to all the residents. The apartment had not been renovated since it was acquired in the 1970s and the owners' daughter had carte blanche to make it more parent-friendly. She decided to start with the kitchen, which was still the original builder's offering. She enlarged the window looking on to the front garden and put in brand-new cabinets in a very light wood, which was painted in a wash to allow the grain to show through. Many cabinets were needed to house the milk and meat dishes for every day plus a separate cupboard for the Pessah dishes. Even though the dining area looks small, the family often holds a Seder there and the table expands to seat 14. The counter tops are also in a light synthetic marble, and the brass handles with a Delft-like inset are especially attractive. A corridor lined with cupboards which leads into the sitting area makes use of limited space, while the obligatory shelter doubles as a guest bathroom. The sitting room looks out onto the communal garden and has a large patio facing the pool. Keeping it simple and soothing meant a color scheme of dusty blue for the sofas and beige drapes across the wall-length windows, with accents of gold and dark blue in the scattered cushions. The "parquet" floor, in a warm light brown shade, is quite convincing, and one has to bend down to check that it really is ceramic not wood. The advantage is that it can be washed and doesn't show any scuff marks. Dominating the living area viewed from the French window is a three-panel picture which was acquired 30 years ago but has a timeless charm. It was made to order for the owners, who wanted an appliqu picture with plenty of color in it. The artist came up with the idea of a bottle spilling out colors, and the picture is executed in many different materials including velvet, silk and cotton and is a focal point for the whole room. The room also contains an antique natural wood display cabinet brought from Europe and a Charles Eames chair and pouffe. Another attractive architectural feature is the black marble staircase leading to the bedrooms. The stairs are actually long blocks of marble that go through the wall to the adjoining apartment making them extremely stable. As her mother is in her late 70s and her father in his 80s, the designer added a metal bar as well as the existing banisters. The gallery, which was once a bedroom, is used for storage, and a new bedroom was created on the second floor directly under the roof. An oddly shaped wardrobe was built in to accommodate the sloping roof and a large ceiling fan hangs over the double bed. The room has its own en suite bathroom and there are several other bedrooms for when the extended family gets together. All in all, within the limits of a holiday apartment, the place can be considered a real home away from home. Do you feel you own one of Israel's most beautiful homes? Please e-mail: gloriadeutsch@gmail.com