Mystery manor

A ‘city/country look’ in Ramat Hasharon.

RamatHasharonMysteryManor311b (photo credit: Uriel Messa)
(photo credit: Uriel Messa)
There is something faintly mysterious about this home in Ramat Hasharon. With a high stone wall on the street, an unusual mailbox on the outside and a heavy iron gate, the approach is a fairly narrow stone staircase winding its way up to a tiled porch and a heavy oak door, slightly ajar.
Even after one explores what is behind the door, one enters a small dark hallway and there is still another staircase to climb to reach the second floor, the main part of the house.
Then arriving at the top of the stairs, one is confronted with a magnificent lounge dominated by four oriental sculptures regally placed before the open balcony. At a single glance, one can take in the whole living space – lounge, dining room and kitchen with a shaded pergola beyond.
“It’s what I call the ‘city/country’ look,” says the designer, Sisi Ziv, who built the house from scratch for a Tel Aviv lawyer, his wife and two grown children. “My brief was to create a modified country look with a very big and impressive living room.”
Ziv lives in Re’ut and the clients had seen her work there and liked it. They wanted the old country look, but not quite as old or as rural as the one they had seen.
As it turned out, the kitchen evolved into a hi-tech look, with its streamlined aluminum cabinets and shiny finish, although that was not the original intention. “We decided on a white floor, so we needed some kind of different wall surface to relieve the all-white walls, which would have been cold and clinical,” says Ziv.
The answer was two long brick panels on either side of the large window to the balcony, which not only broke up the white walls but also introduced a warm gray color to be repeated in the coffee table and the suite.
The sofas, set at right angles to each other, were old and from the previous home, an apartment in Herzliya. They simply had them re-covered in the same gray as the bricks. Some textured beige and gold pillows as well the same dark gray fabric of the sofas, plus two mustard-yellow leather armchairs, make up the finished look, and a Kadishman painting on the wall looks down over the whole scene. A twig-like light fixture hangs over the center, adding another out-of-the-ordinary touch.
But dominating it all are the four statues which, as well as being eye-catching and adding a touch of gold, also contribute to the mysterious feel of the place which we sensed at the beginning. Expecting to hear that they had been brought as souvenirs from some exotic Far East sojourn, it turns out they were acquired in one of the furniture design stores in Tel Aviv.
The heavy oak dining table is surrounded by comfortable chairs upholstered in light gray grosgrain material. Above the elevator two metal lizards sprawl across the wall, while in the kitchen a niche has been built specially to display a carved wooden horse collection. One of the kitchen walls is painted mustard yellow, picking up the shade of the armchairs.
The secluded balcony, which is glimpsed through the lounge windows, is furnished with a very comfortable three-piece bamboo suite. As it faces west, it has a lot of sun from 2 p.m., so the wood and straw covering brings much-needed shade, as do the many plants growing in boxes.
Still on the same floor, it is time to inspect the bedrooms and bathrooms. Ziv has made great use of textured finishes on the walls rather than a sleek shiny look.
“It’s a mixture of plaster and pigment,” she explains. “I like contrasts and this material gives a rough finish and is especially good in bathrooms where all the fittings are made of smooth porcelain.”
It is particularly striking in the main bathroom with the slightly distressed white glass-fronted cabinets, filled with lace-trimmed baskets and towels, and the large white mirror all contrasting with the rough textured beige walls. Elegant ceramic and bronze handles give the perfect finish.
The master bedroom is large enough to contain a sitting area next to the window, with a window seat made of the same bricks as in the lounge and a black leather easy chair where the owners love to sit and read or watch television. The heavy bed was designed for them and made with a quilted headboard.
Particularly attractive are the bedside lights, which are in a flower shape to match the central light fixture and hang from long metal rods on either side of the bed. Orchids, some real, some artificial, although it is hard to tell which is which, stand on either side of the window, as well as some votive candles continuing the mysterious Eastern theme. The floor is dark brown parquet covered in a thick off white rug.
On the top floor is another garden, complete with Jacuzzi, barbecue and a dining table and chairs. It feels more like a garden than a roof, which is what the owners wanted. In the parquet floor they have set flower beds with violets peeping out from the pebbled surfaces to create a more rustic look. High fencing and window boxes around this balcony also blot out the ugly surrounding rooftops and give complete privacy.
Out in the street once more, one can look back at the house, quite unassuming on the outside, and realize how well it keeps its secrets.