Designing an Apartment in Central Tel Aviv

A new project on the site

An amazing young couple and Ginger (A cat who is actually some kind of an urban tiger), came to me so that I will plan and design a small, old apartment in a perfect spot in Tel Aviv’s center.

Nothing is more joyful than the joy of tearing down and completely striping an apartment in order to rebuild and redesign it as new. The challenge was the maximal use of 73 m2 in order to create a spacious functional space. The old apartment, like most 60 years old apartment in Tel Aviv, had an unnecessary large attic, a dungeon-like ventilated kitchen, a wasteful hall and a wide frontal balcony closed with old shades which blocked both light and air.

Living space is the greatest luxury of our time. With real estate prices which just keep skyrocketing we can see how reality changes and how the standard size of apartments and building lots keep shrinking. Standard building lots went down from 500 m2 to 330 m2 and now days standing around 250 m2 and even less. If the standard size of a room in the 70s was 12 m2 today I see apartments with room of around 8-9 m2. All of this requires special attention design-wise, and careful attention to the challenges presented when designing small spaces, a careful attention for details and designing solutions that won’t harm the quality of both life and space.

“For most people, living space means ‘enough space’, that it, a space in which you can place things and do things, but the worth of this expensive commodity isn’t measured in quantity alone. Our attraction to certain spaces and not for others is connected to ambiguous concepts such as proportion, balance and individual characteristics, rather than movement spaces which provide certain amount of squared meters. The quality of the living space may be hard to express in words, but it takes a critical role in our enjoyment of said spaces”

Terence Conran

Despite the relatively narrow width of the living room, 2.90 m, it feels open and spacious because it is placed on a long straight line from the main door to the large glass windows. The permanent furniture is sunk into the wall in order to keep as much open space as possible with minimal noise or mess. The owners of the house found it important that there will be various different living zones but with equal hierarchy, they didn’t want to make the living room smaller for the sake of the study, because they saw it as an additional living space.

The ship pictures placed above the rocking chair where taken by the talented owner of the house. I picked up from there and designed the rest of the space with a naval theme in mind. Two classical vintages, graphical posters of ships, where placed above the couch, with linen pillows by BIGGIE  BEST and a soft TV blanket in red, blue and white, A beautiful woolen carpet from Josephone and a rocking chair from Vintage which I found hard to leave behind.

Two columns in the center of the space were hid inside the wall between the two rooms. The use of the double wall that was created is three dimensional, since on the side of the living room a long cabinet and an additional library were sunk into it, and on the side of the study it was used for a wide niche next to the desk, for the printer and other office accessories.

The study, like the rest of the house, was painted using the high quality paints of  Ralph Lorraine. In the study, a deep rich blue color was chosen, with a semi-shiny finish to it, against which the white furniture is prominent. A woolen carpet in shades of yellow from Josephone, a perfect pillow from BIGGIE  BEST and the yellow foot-rest from Vintage complete the look of the room. Dark hues don’t have to be sad…

The beginning of every designing project is the prioritizing process, creating a hierarchy between the different functional needs and wishes. When designing small spaces, this process is even more critical, or else you might end up in a “grasp all, lose all” situation. I usually recommend my clients to step out of the usual designs and I try to understand how they truly live and use their living environment, or how they really want to live. For example, a dining room is a waste of space in a small house if most meals are eaten on a counter. It is at least 9­ m2 which are used not more than one hour per week… and most of the times are a messy area of bags. Because the clients are a young couple, giving up on the dining area gives us more space for the other rooms.

In the entrance, the lowered ceiling was used for storage with a small door from the bedroom, and in front of the kitchen a long closet in the color of the wall behind it was used for the storage of coats, shoes, cleaning utensils and working tools, and in its upper part there is a bookshelf. The owners have 18 meters worth of books, which received an honorable space without clogging the room.

Because the kitchen is placed in the middle of the house, it required good ventilation. In contrast to most exhaust hoods used in kitchens in Israel, which are usually not much more than decorations because they use coal-based filters which no one bothers to change from time to time, the exhaust hood here is connected to a strong ventilator that sucks the air from above the stove out of the house through the lowered ceiling of the bathroom.

Giving up on a spare restroom gives enough space to create a spacious double-door bathroom. One door connects it to the bedroom and the other to the living room for guests, with the option of locking both doors when needed. In addition, we didn’t compromised on the size of the shower itself, and the spacious and enjoyable shower is 90 on 150 sm in size, but can be folded in to allow for easier movement in the room.

Concrete tiles from  Noga Tiles in grey and blue add visual richness.

In order to use most of the available space I made sure not use passages such as hallways. In the small space between the shower and the study there is a modest cabinet for the washing machine, with a sandbox for Ginger the cat at its base, together with a ventilation window.

Compared to the size of the apartment, the bedroom is large and spacious, so that in the future in case the family will grow, it can easily contain the study as well.

    The wonderful pictures were taken by  Aviv Kurt.