One long holiday

For these owners, waking every morning to their lovely garden view is like living in a bed-and-breakfast.

home ext 224 (photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
home ext 224
(photo credit: Eyal Izhar)
The Formans are a talented young couple who have created a veritable Garden of Eden for a client in Kiryat Ono. Robin, an English-born gardener extraordinary to the discerning wealthy, and his wife, Ofira, Israeli-born interior designer, got their heads together to produce this dream home for client Etty B., who found them through the Yellow Pages and with whom she and her husband have since become firm friends. "We acquired the land about 10 years ago and had a lot of trouble with neighbors who delayed our building the house for five years and caused many legal disputes. But eventually, after I had a serious illness, we were able to go ahead and build. I had three important criteria - it had to be first comfortable, second beautiful and third original." Being a family that entertains a great deal, they wanted a place that would be welcoming for friends who just drop in at any time, or for the many formal parties they throw. At the same time, they wanted a bedroom on the ground floor, so that Etty would never need to climb the stairs unless she wanted to; and they wanted a different look from the conventional, modern streamlined home, with something leaning more toward the country style but able to accommodate their penchant for antique furniture and silk flower arrangements. Ofira came up with a Provence-like design, while outside Robin created a magnificent garden with three gurgling water features, his trademark English-style herbaceous borders and a complete herb and vegetable garden. "We decided to use only natural materials, like stone on the floors and brick for the fireplace," explains Ofira. "The windows all have Belgian profiles, but with curved lines which soften the look, and the diamond-shaped stained glass inset in different colors is on all the windows in the house." The addition of wide cushioned window seats in many places adds to the cozy country feel. Around both the house and the garden are many sitting areas for the frequent visitors and parties. "We have friends we've known since childhood, and I want everyone to feel completely at home here," says the ebullient Etty. The kitchen even has a self-service coffee corner providing cappuccinos on tap. The open kitchen has tons of cabinets and drawers in a pretty distressed cream finish and solid wooden work tops. Just outside the back door a herb garden flourishes, with healthy looking aubergines, squash and tomatoes blooming next to them. Much of the furniture was chosen by Ofira and Etty together, and many pieces were built to order, so until they were finished Etty had no idea how they would look but trusted Ofira's judgment completely. All the soft furnishings and curtains were selected by Ofira. The owners, however, did own several interesting antique pieces and these were incorporated into the design. Out in the garden a wooden bar, which was originally a watch display case, catches the eye. "It's great for parties," says Etty, "and in the winter we cover it with a tarpaulin." Coming in through the heavy wooden door, one is greeted by a huge antique mirror and side table, decorated with red silk roses. Behind this impeccable entrance is the pinat balagan, a place to throw coats, keys and shopping so as not to spoil the entrance. The dining room is especially beautiful. Created from a patio, it is covered with a removable awning and has an ethereal quality with the brocade-covered chairs and table, and a whimsical polished log used as shelves for fairies and other legendary creatures. Over the half wall on one side hang plants from a balcony above. The solid oak square table opens up to four meters into the lounge. The master bedroom looks onto the side and front gardens and the first sight Etty sees on waking is the lovely garden with its archway mural painted with poplars and a cockerel. The shutters have been set to open at the time she wants to wake up. The bed is high and very comfortable with drawers underneath for storage. "I love the dreamy look of the drapes, the parquet floor and wood beams - it's like sleeping in a bed-and-breakfast in Galilee" says Etty. Do you feel you own one of Israel's most beautiful homes? Please e-mail: [email protected]