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Photographer: Amit Gosher

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"Their home is so beautiful and welcoming; they have great taste, and the atmosphere was just so pleasant. They played music for us on their sound system. We're afraid that if we do anything with this apartment we might ruin the magic..." These were the impressions of Ofer and Avital as they came back from their first meeting with the homeowners of this Beit HaKerem, Jerusalem apartment.

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Original Plan

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XS Plan

During the same visit, the homeowners also clearly stated that they did not want a "Tel Aviv-like apartment". After investigating their image of a "Tel Aviv-like apartment" it turned out that they meant they didn't want a lifeless apartment with no character. They were after a timeless home that is unaffected by fads.

Much of the work in this project involved showcasing the family's meaningful belongings: works of art, furniture, light fixtures, and vintage items. This dictated the program for the home, with a clear goal: do no harm.

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Some of the family's art works.

Our work focused on preserving the charm and grace of the apartment, while setting up a framework for the family's distinct personality. That's why we started off by listing all the items to which they were emotionally attached. These items served as building blocks at all stages of the project. In doing this, we followed the concept that modern design that takes in 40-year-old items will still be relevant for the next 40 years, if not longer.

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The homeowners wanted the design to bring in a local Jerusalem spirit.

They mentioned Jerusalem-based architect and researcher David Kruyanker. Kruyanker spoke of "the three flavors of Jerusalem" - Palestinian embroidery, Armenian tiles, and Hebron glass. We wanted to integrate hints of these three elements as subtle motifs in the home.

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Therefore, Armenian tiles were added here and there, such as in the integral kitchen doorknobs and on the coffee counter facing the Jerusalem view.

Tiles for the countertop were individually selected by the family, and tiles for the drawers were made to order. They were hand-painted as per our design. 

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Palestinian embroidery was added in the seating cushions (bought in the Old City market).

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Blue Hebron glass was added in the form of an understated bottle collection placed between the bookshelves.

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The Jerusalem texture comes out through the brick wall which we chose to leave as-is and in pictures of Jerusalem landscapes which decorate the walls.

In addition, the homeowners have a respectable liquor collection which they wanted to showcase. Indeed, the black bar cabinet stands out, with its semi-transparent front giving away its content.

Since it is placed in the dining and entertaining area, every meal can be complemented with an appropriate drink without too much fuss. 

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Since we're using a bench instead of chairs, why not add storage space underneath and benefit from an additional use of the same space.

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The Benefits of Living In Before Renovating

Homeowners can teach architects a thing or two ;)

We diligently visit the site of every project, study it, its environment and its potential. But no visit, thorough as it may be, can measure up to the experience of living in the home for an extended period of time. This family has been living here for several years and could tell us exactly where and when the sunlight comes in, or how beautifully lush the tree out the window would be come spring. Well, during our wintertime visit it looked completely bare. 

Using this information, we decided to place a counter that would serve the homeowners' morning ritual: a place to have a cup of coffee, read the newspaper, and sit with the dogs who have clearly chosen this spot as their favorite

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Before

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After

The solarium windows, while beautifully exuding Jerusalem character, were replaced since they did not allow the green view to be taken in with just one look.

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Not an inch to spare: kitchen cabinets reach all the way up to the ceiling, creating space for long-term storage.

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Main organizing element.

Bookcase, multimedia console, bedroom doors, home office window, wine cellar, dining room...

This piece of furniture combines white carpentry work, black metal, and reinforced glass. Mixing old and new, open and closed spaces. 

All these elements work together to create a blank canvas for changes over time, conveying simplicity, openness, and airiness. 

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This piece of furniture combines multiple textures, such as the fine lines on the back of the bench, the reinforced glass, the smooth carpentry, and the metalwork.

A poem by Israeli poet Yehuda Amihai is etched on the side of the kitchen cabinet, requested by the husband as a surprise for his wife. The etched text blends subtly into the material. Almost like a secret message picked up only by those who know to look for it.

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Metal doors with magnetic latches and translucent glass lead into the private area of the home.

Unlike separately-purchased doorknobs which sometimes feel like a prosthetic attached to the door, this doorknob was designed as part of the metal work. 

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In this project we wanted to fit existing, old, traditional elements into the new design in order to give the family a sense of familiarity. Other than the wood and metal works, all the furniture in the picture was owned by the homeowners before the renovation. Much of the home's character, which captivated us on our first visit, comes into view here. This really was our primary goal.

Some of the original lighting fixtures were just relocated around the home.

The family owns a vintage sound system (with a valve amplifier!) which was very dear to them. We wanted to bring out its unique aesthetic. An audio expert advised us on how to obtain an optimal size, height, and direction for the speaker boxes. We shortened the legs of the sound system case, which were too long to our liking. 

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A Non-Room

A room which had previously accommodated the daughter who had left home (but who still comes back for overnight visits) was converted into a small, de-cluttered, multi-purpose space, with a desk and a guest bed.  We used a light partition instead of a wall. The metal facade allows the residents to choose between their need for privacy and their desire to enjoy a sense of togetherness in the public space.

Empty movement in this apartment is minimal and functional. The metal door in the central element leads into the bedrooms and bathrooms.

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Along the sides are cabinets for all the things which, in the absence of proper planning, end up in the shower or kitchen: mops, brooms, bucket, and these specific homeowners' passion: paper towels :)

The other side of the organizing element in the public space is the the master bedroom closet.

Thanks to the initial interview (and the open-doors meeting) we knew that these dwellers preferred folding to hanging. That's why much of the closet was designed with shallow shelves, with room for hanging in the back.

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The small balcony floor tiles seemed related to the rest of the home and the homeowners loved them, so we Bespoke bed. The rest, including the original painting by Israeli artist Kadishman, was owned by the dwellers before the renovation.decided to leave it unchanged.

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Another bedroom is occupied by their son, a soldier who still lives at home. This is a functional space with a designated spot for everything. Here we combined custom-made carpentry with a desk that was bought separately.

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Another bedroom is occupied by their son, a soldier who still lives at home. This is a functional space with a designated spot for everything. Here we combined custom-made carpentry with a desk that was bought separately.

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Space for the washer and dryer is located opposite this cabinet.

There, too, the mesh front hides the machines from sight but also allows the heat which they produce to come out without needing an electric vent.

Since we wanted to create a consisted language, and also because this project has enough variety and original ideas, we designed the other bathroom with language and materials similar to those used in the master bathroom.