Oasis of justice

A little gem of a pied-a-terre in Neveh Tzedek, one of Tel Aviv's most fashionable areas.

livingrom oasis 88 298 (photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
livingrom oasis 88 298
(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
'We wanted a pied-a-terre here in Israel as we visit so often," says Irith Browdy of her little gem of an apartment in Neveh Tzedek. Together with her husband Roger and friends Sheridan and Dana Neimark, they hunted around Tel Aviv and looked for a suitable place for two years. "Every time we walked around our feet brought us back to this area," says Irith. The now very fashionable Neveh Tzedek (oasis of justice) was built beginning in 1887 by the Chelouche family, to be joined later by other well known founding fathers, and was the first Jewish neighborhood outside Jaffa. For years run-down and decrepit, its old buildings have undergone face-lifts and its infrastructure has been tended to, so that now it is one of the most desirable real-estate addresses in the country. The area somehow manages to be cool and arty, while still maintaining its old-world charm. "We didn't even realize how desirable it was until we started to live here." Browdy says. "All we wanted was to see the sea and the rest of it - the artistic atmosphere, the boutiques - are all bonus." Since the apartment consists of two floors added to an existing building, see the sea is what they do - as well as the rooftops of the surrounding yuppie developments. The original building dates from 1926 and is officially conserved by the Tel Aviv Municipality. Its decorative fa ade makes for an attractive entrance and the promise of good things to come. The apartment itself is a pretty manifestation of the owners' dream of a permanent home in Israel, always ready for the frequent visits that Roger, a patent lawyer, often makes here. Irith is a ballet dancer turned artist and was given a free hand by the other owners to decorate as she saw fit. The bright red floor tiles strike the visitor immediately on setting foot in the small apartment. "I love red, I think it's cozy. It makes the room warm and to me it's soothing to the eye," she says. The color combinations are daring and perhaps only an artist could have the self-confidence to pull it off. For instance, dividing the small kitchen from the living room is a purple colored free-standing wall, the front of which has a niche to house the refrigerator. "This kitchen is about a 10th of the size of my kitchen in Washington D.C., but I have everything I need," she says. Both the master and guest bedrooms are decorated in bright color combinations and the beds in both rooms covered in vivid throws. The green suite in the salon was acquired here, as were the grey satin curtains with the gold accents draped romantically across a window. All the flower arrangements are artificial. "I love flowers and I'm not here much of the time to take care of them, but when I walk in I want to see something blooming," she says. A very unusual feature is the bridge-like gallery running across the living space, and surrounded by a railing. It's purely for display, and the best place to view the Middle Eastern-style sitting room she has created is half way up the narrow spiral staircase. "I put it there as the ceiling is high and I didn't want it to look like an expanse of dark space," Irith explains. The security room doubles as a guest bedroom, and the heavy door was painted by the owner to disguise its true purpose. A small breakfast balcony off the lounge has a marvelous view of the sea and the neighborhood, and she points out that even the security bars have been painted the bright red of the floor tiles. The whole effect is of an attractive feature in its own right, almost a work of art. Finally she takes me up the second flight of stairs to the top floor, which is a large balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. "This is my biggest love," she says with a smile. "I made it look like a French bistro with mosaic-topped iron leg tables" Low-maintenance cactus in planters line the walls and even the shutters, though made of metal and needed for security, have a French country look. It's a favorite place for entertaining friends and the 22 stairs don't seem to bother the Browdys, thanks to the happy corner they have created once they reach the top. Do you feel you own one of Israel's most beautiful homes? Please e-mail: gloriadeutsch@gmail.com.