Kitsch patrol

You never know who or what you'll bump into in this Ra'anana home.

Two reactions competed with each other when Gali opened the door to her Ra'anana home. The first was a sharp intake of breath at the unexpected beauty of it; the outside gives only a hint of the splendor within. The second is a rush of happiness. You just can't help smiling when you step inside. This is a happy home, bright and cheerful, full of light and color. And yes, there is kitsch, plenty of it. Gali is the first to admit it. But far from being ashamed, she not only loves it but thinks of it as an art form. "Kitsch is just as much a trend in art as cubism and impressionism were," says the divorced mother of three, who earns her living playing accordion and teaching drama to kindergarten children. "You can like it or hate it. The secret of successful kitsch is not to overdo it. You have to know when to stop." So when she saw two statues a waitress and a chef that she thought really suited a particular corner, the one leading to the kitchen which itself is full of cooking "people," she removed what had been there before to make room for them. "The house is always on the move either I add things or move them around." But sometimes she decides a particular corner is complete as it is. Next to the kitchen she has a set of shelves displaying her collection of fantasy teapots. "It's full, so I won't buy any more," she says. "I wouldn't want to put them somewhere else." Each corner is the result of much thought. "It's all been planned and there's a lot of humor in it," she says. "You have to look closely and examine each scene to discover what's in it. Friends come in and look at a particular corner and they ask if I've added something new. I tell them it's been there for years and they just never noticed it. It makes the home interesting." The front door opens onto an entrance with real palm trees on either side. The wide marble staircase curves majestically around and out of sight while the eye takes in the pretty details of the hallway antique dolls dressed in lace, sitting in their carriages, a tall disc-holder on which is perched an art deco head sporting a wreath of artificial flowers and a pebbled floor with artificial palms growing out of it. "I change the palms every six months or so," says Gali. "It's no different from buying flowers to bring in the house and throwing them out when they die." To the right on entering is her Moroccan corner, a nod to her roots, with low seats upholstered in a rich maroon material, luxurious drapes and all the brass accoutrements of traditional mint tea. This is where she can sit, watch television and glimpse the rest of the house through the arched entrance. The mirror fits in well, although it is Austrian. "I have furniture from all over the world," says Gali. Between the kitchen and sitting room stands an old wooden dresser from Provence. The dining room chairs come from Mexico and are all hand-painted in pastel shades. There are even a few English antiques and the living room is decorated in a pretty chintz. At the top of the stairs a whole area is reserved for another sitting room and television area. A computer corner looks out over the back garden with its pool, at the end of which Marilyn Monroe and Al Capone (or at least their life-sized alter egos) sit and chat. Three enormous paper flowers sit in tall glass vases at the top of the staircase while healthy looking philodendron hangs over the stairs. "I've just renewed these so they don't hang too low at the moment," explains Gali. The main bedroom is a romantic dream of cream lace over a four-poster bed, lace cushions, dolls and bouquets of paper flowers. Out in the garden Gali shows me her exotic fruit trees and herbs. The summer house is like a Beduin tent with white drapes held up by a wrought iron support, decorated with bunches of grapes. Peeping through the undergrowth are several of Snow White's seven dwarfs, just about visible in the garden, where even a cyclamen can be seen blooming in the August heat. The hardy spring flower is proof, if any more were needed, that this is a fun place to be.