Colored tiles leading from the gate to the home's entryway
Outdoor dining area
Mosaic tile backsplash behind the stove
Soaking tub with mosaic tile
Wooden vanity in bathroom
Blue tile design
Tel Baruch Residence
Photography: Jonathan Bloom
"We want our new house to remind us of the house we had in Neve-Tsedek (the first neighborhood outside of Jaffa, built over a hundred and twenty years ago), with Arabian style arched windows, thick walls and colorful plaster", the clients explained. Also, the house must be quite large, modern, and naturally lit, the yard well planned with areas for dining, playing and for planting a fruit tree and herb garden. "The garden is just as important to us as the house!" they emphasized. They wanted us to turn an unremarkable house in a quiet northern neighborhood of Tel-Aviv into a house with a flavor of old and eclectic Tel-Aviv, back in the days when the city was just a small neighborhood.
One of the most challenging aspects in designing a private house is suiting the style and atmosphere of the house to its residents and their expectations for the house, and doing this while keeping in mind that sometimes the future residents don't know yet what their 'style' exactly is.
As Israeli Architects, We have our own convictions and truths that we feel we must incorporate into our designs, such as clarity of plan, and the suiting of the house to its surroundings... When designing in Tel-Aviv, we ask time and time again, what exactly is a Tel-Aviv house? And how much influence should the past styles of Tel-Aviv have on new or renovated buildings?
In this project, we had to find out how to fulfill the client's yearnings, without borrowing too heavily from the past. We had to avoid the pitfall of kitschy solutions, and design a design that we hoped would stand the test of time and the test of our ever changing personal tastes and styles.
The house that was chosen was built in the 70's, and hadn't changed much since then. You could describe it as being a bit dark and dank. It would be undergoing a massive renovation - all of the layers would have to be removed in order to reveal the 'naked' concrete framework of the house, which could allow the house to be redone anew, from basement to roof. Furthermore, additional areas were to be added: on the ground floor, on the top floor, and a new garage for 2 vehicles would have to be built.
The clients did in fact like the way the original house was divided, utilizing half stories for each separate area and function. A half floor from the basement to the living area, a half floor from the living area to the children's bedrooms and... We continued with this model and added another half story on top, making it the new master bedroom suite.
Unnecessary elements of the house were removed, like protruding window casings, a concrete awning and a large concrete balcony, some of these for reasons other than asthetic– they had been built well past the permitted building lines.
The garden went through extensive changes as well. The front of the house faces west which is usually too sunny in the evening, and so in order to protect the large new windows of the living room and dining area, a great pergola was erected, keeping out sun and storm and defining the outdoor living space. Old overgrown trees which formed a dusty barrier between the house and its neighbors, and blocked out sunlight and air, were taken down (with the approval of the city agronomist) in order to plant new fruit bearing ones in their place.
The kitchen became an open space (marked only by a low wall and a square of recessed lighting in the ceiling). It now has views and access to both the front and the back yards.
The basement which received new windows and a new stairwell connecting it to the back yard became the "fun" room of the house. It contains a play area, movie-room, workspace and library.
The new floor, added at the very top of the house, could be called "the white floor". It holds the Master bedroom, a spacious walk in closet and large bathroom for the parents. Everything on this floor (parquet and ceramic flooring, furniture, curtains, and lighting fixtures) was chosen in either white or cream color. "We want this floor to be just like the house we loved in the movie 'Something's Gotta Give' ", was the client's request (to be sure, we went and saw the movie, in order to learn and comply).
Our goals for the design of the house besides fulfilling functional and programmatic needs, were-
1/Achieving clean and simple spaces full of light and air. This was done by removing partitions, and clearing away unnecessary elements.
2/ Creating unity and harmony throughout the whole house. We made sure to use the same materials all over, the same type of wood, the same ceramics and even the same knobs for the furniture.
3/ Infusing the house with the aroma and style of old Tel-Aviv. For this we used color, texture and ornament, but we did so sparingly and with care.
Ultimately, the real challenge came down to finding the right dosage for the different desires and wishes, while determining the style that would best suit the clients: The right dosage between old and new, between purity and colorfulness, between restraint and eclecticism.
About the materials and suppliers-
Stone: the ground floor indoors and out is paved with red, orange and yellow Travertine from Turkey, which was cut in small sizes ('Mercaz Hashaish' – Kiryat Arieh).
Windows, gates, ironwork: are made of iron and painted brown ('Arteferro').
Wooden flooring and stairs: are in natural European oak ('Parqueteam', Ramat-Hasharon).
Mineral Plaster: on the outside of the house is pressed 'Vega' ('Nirlat')
Carpentry: kitchen, bathrooms and closets are also of natural oak and hand painted ('Nordau' Carpenters, Netanya).
The general contractor: 'Shtichmus', Tel-Aviv
In this house we also did most of the interior design, and that included choosing the furniture, curtains, upholstery, and lighting fixtures. This was done together and in complete collaboration with the owners. Items chosen were matched with the colors of the house and in tune with the feeling and the atmosphere that we wanted to create, an atmosphere that the owners themselves generated with their character and lifestyle:
"A house that is warm, inviting and full of life, a place where children play, guests dine, and people who enter want to stay."