The dream team

A fusion of styles suits this family of six in Ra'anana perfectly.

With an interior designer from South Africa, an architect from the United States and a very involved American owner with definite ideas of her own, this beautiful home in Ra'anana fuses traditional and modern sensibilities. Whenever I get a call from my good friend, renowned designer Selwyn Elkin, I know I'm going to see something exceptional. And as usual, this home, renovated completely for a young couple with four boys ages four through 17, does not disappoint. Elkin, along with architect Shari Mendes and the owner, Jonine, took on this 20-year-old house and changed it completely - inside and out. "Coming from the United States, it's very difficult to find the sort of home we're used to. Our tastes are different from Israelis, and usually so are our requirements. We often have relatives coming to stay, lots of kids and we don't go for modern and minimalist - we like the lived-in look," says Jonine. She also points out that immigrants are afraid to build something from scratch, being unfamiliar with construction procedures in this country. As a result of her own experience, Jonine has joined forces with Elkin and Mendes to build two more homes in Ra'anana with an eye towards the new immigrant market, offering many of the same features she has used in her own home. While Mendes oversaw the structural elements, like doors, windows and room dividers, Elkin turned his attention to the details, like materials and color. "We found this marble we liked very much and used it as our starting point," he says of the pinky orange marble that was used for the floors in the entrance, the dining room and kitchen, which all form one unit. The walls are painted in a buttery cream color, very bright and light-reflecting but also warm and rich. Two steps lead down to the lounge and on either side are rounded pillars. One is a necessary structural feature, a steel pillar covered in cladding and painted white, the second is a hollow replica, put there purely for decoration. "At first I thought they were too formal, but now I love the look," says Jonine. BOOKSHELVES FILL the niches on either side of the fireplace; the cherry wood looks especially good against the butter walls. The realistic looking logs actually belong to what is in fact a gas fire in the fireplace. "In the winter it gives us something to focus on and when I turn it on, the house is warm as toast in minutes," says Jonine. She chose the various fabrics in the lounge and had the couches custom made. A coral pink color scheme unifies the various shades and textures of the cushions scattered about. Built-in storage cupboards were painted the same shade, so they blend seamlessly into the decor. "I have a service for 50 stored here and everything is at my fingertips," says Jonine. The same technique has been used in the entrance hall, where a large double cupboard lines one wall. "It helps me to keep the house tidy as I can just throw things in there," says Jonine. The kitchen and dining room run in one line across the back of the house, looking out over a pretty back garden. Each of the wide window sills in the kitchen is decorated with a single ornament, a magnificent ceramic rooster from Italy. "I had to use self-restraint and not fill the spaces up with knick-knacks," says Jonine. Somehow the kitchen has managed to accommodate two ovens, two refrigerators, two dishwashers and two sinks. Everything has been set into walls to keep the lines clean. There's even a roomy pantry concealed in one of the corners. The oak dining table was bought at an auction house here and can comfortably seat 14. Jonine found the perfect chairs to go around it - they are light, narrow and can be easily cleaned. An unusual light fitting, dangling crystal drops alternating with modern glass cubes, hangs above the table. "You can see it twinkling from the street," says Jonine. Open glass shelves separate the lounge and dining rooms. All the decorative items are also functional and underneath, more storage contains the Pessah dishes. Fifty-four people enjoyed the Seder in this house last year. The owners entertain often, so convenience is a top priority. The basement is painted in Inca red with a thick turquoise carpet, a perfect haven of toys and settees, where the younger family members can hang out. The master bedroom, half a flight up, has a romantic balcony, and an enormous bathroom with a rose-patterned rug under the side-by-side sinks. If this home is any indication, fusion design works. Do you feel you own one of Israel's most beautiful homes? Please e-mail