Just ducky

How to renovate the empty nest.

living room 88 298 (photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
living room 88 298
(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
What does a couple do when all the children have finally left the large family apartment, they're turning 60 and suddenly there are masses of unused space? They could downsize, as many people do. Or they could just reorganize, as this couple did, to maximize their comfort without the upheaval of moving. They moved into the apartment when it was built, 10 years ago, to be near the husband's work in Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba. They liked the layout and kept the walls to a minimum to give the place an airy feel. "If you see a wall at all, it's because it has a supporting pillar," explains the owner. Also, the entire apartment has only three doors and they are all made of glass - one in the bedroom suite, which they knocked together out of three separate rooms, one in the guest bathroom and one in the security room. The first thing one notices on entering the ground-floor apartment is the sweep of lounge which continues out to a very pretty garden balcony, making one continuous living space. They opted not to put down any grass, as the neighbors did, making the whole garden low maintenance. Through the huge French window, the garden is all visible, far more attractive than any curtain would be. A covered Jacuzzi is in one corner and a metal frame over the sitting area is hidden by a passiflora tree in full bloom. The overall color scheme in the house is dominated by the color of the kitchen cupboards, a warm peach, baked to a high shine. Almost everything else is matched up to that. The owner designed everything herself. "I don't believe in using an interior designer," she says. "I'm the one who has to live here, so it must be my taste." She is not bothered that the working kitchen is in full view of the living room. "I don't want to feel disconnected from the rest of the family when they come to visit, if I'm preparing food," she explains. "No, I don't care if there's a bit of a mess when I'm cooking, it gives a warmer atmosphere." For formal meals, when children and grandchildren turn up, the peach-painted dining room table is opened up and set at a slight diagonal to fit in. On the table when not in use, she keeps tall glass vases with floating peach candles and matching porcelain ornaments. A tall glass cabinet contains all the family glassware, neatly lined up. For a breakfast bar, they put a semicircular glass table set against the only wall in the living area, also chosen with care so as not to look heavy and solid. In the corner of the living room she envisaged a little sitting corner, European-style, and found a standard lamp and cane chairs to match up with the kitchen. The actual lounge is furnished in a comfy suite in a neutral shade which she liked for its peachy-beige wooden frame. She has two major collections, kept in specially built glass cabinets at either end of the room. One contains her collection of 600 ducks which she began in 1989, and the other a collection of egg-cups, after she'd become tired of the ducks. Almost everything was acquired in flea markets, and while there is nothing very old or valuable, the sheer numbers make both collections impressive. In another corner she has a mountain of wine corks displayed in a specially built glass cabinet. The master suite was completely opened up, a small bedroom and a service balcony added to it so that the whole area is like a self-contained small apartment. "We got rid of the bath altogether," says the owner. "In the 10 years I lived in the apartment the way it was, I never once took a bath, only a shower. If I really want to spoil myself, I'll have a Jacuzzi." The small bedroom which was added to the suite now doubles as a study for the husband and a gym with a treadmill. "I believe I did the right thing to prepare the apartment in this way," says the owner. "For a couple in their 60s it has to be easy to clean and move around in." With no carpets at all on the parquet, and no obstacles lying around, she feels she has made the home attractive, comfortable and safe. Do you feel you own one of Israel's most beautiful homes? Please e-mail: gloriadeutsch@gmail.com.