Tamar Harow
Interior Designer & Project Manager

Rooms To Go

Your new home in Israel, can be beautiful and functional. Photo Credit: Ingrid Muller

You are making Aliyah and can’t wait to move into your first home in Israel! What exactly will that home look like? What treasured—or even just comfortable—objects do you bring with you so that your new house feels warm and familiar? Homes in Israel are designed very differently from houses in the US or Europe. They are built to adapt to Middle Eastern weather, and of course, prevailing culture. Let’s talk about how to put your new home together in Israel so that you can incorporate beloved reminders while still adhering to the practicality of being in Israel.

Space and storage are valuable real estate in Israeli homes. Once you’ve figured out if the furniture will fit, make sure it is an efficient use of space. Bulky furniture, dark and heavy wood, or thick frames will make the room feel smaller and darker. Keep in mind that big, grand furniture will take up valuable living space and won’t feel proportionate to the scale of an Israeli home.  Be selective in what you bring. Unless something has significant sentimental value, leave it behind.

Kitchen

Israeli kitchens often have limited storage. Pay attention to the kitchen items you use on a regular basis. Only bring what you really use. If you are moving into a newly renovated home, then your kitchen drawers will probably have utensil dividers. If it is a rental or a second hand purchase, consider bringing drawer dividers with you to get you started.

Israeli and European ovens are smaller than US ovens. Unless you know in advance that you will have a US size oven, it is better to bring smaller sized cookie sheets and pans that will fit in your oven. You don’t want to waste valuable space storing things you can’t use.

Small kitchen appliances can be bought in Israel and it is much more convenient in the long run to work with items that match the local voltage standards. Start by purchasing basic appliances when you arrive. Gradually add new items as you need them, provided you have room to store them.

Dining Room

Consider purchasing an expandable dining room table that stores its own leaves. This way, when you are not entertaining, the table stays closed and takes up less space.

Whether dining rooms chair will compliment your space really depends on their size and height. Chairs that are wide, with arms and high backs, will take up a lot of room and make the space feel crowded.  Look for chairs that are narrow with lower backs to create the illusion of more space. Ideally, bring the amount of chairs that fit around the table when it is closed. Extra chairs can be stored in bedrooms as desk chairs, if necessary.  If you decide not to bring your chairs, consider bring one or two as arm chairs for the living room.

A single dining room chair in the living room provides additional seating, and allows you to keep furniture close to your heart. Photo Credit: Ingrid Muller

If you are considering bringing a breakfront or china closet, make sure there is room for it, and that the amount of space it takes up is justified by the storage it provides.

Living Room

Depending on your couch size, it is considering buying a couch in Israel. Large, bulky recliners are perfect for naps, but don’t always fit in an Israeli living room. Look for couches that have slim frames and allow for maximum seating. Consider bringing your throw pillows, blankets to provide a touch of home and familiarity.

An area rug is a great thing to bring with you. They play an important role in defining the areas between a Living Room and Dining Room. Additionally, Israel has cold stone floors, so a rug is great for the winter.  Best to select the size of the rug once you have finalized the furniture layout. Ideally you want the rug to sit a bit under the couch legs.

Bedroom

Israeli beds have a slightly different shape than American beds. They are made to fit the scale of Israeli bedrooms. If you prefer to bring beds with you, choose beds that don’t have bulky a frame or large headboards. Additionally, beds with storage are a great asset for storing off season bedding and linens.

It goes without saying that Israeli linens are made to fit Israeli beds. Keep this in mind when deciding to bring beds as the linens available to purchase in Israel may not fit your beds.

Do your homework and check what type of space exists for storage options in each bedroom. Decide ahead of time which bedroom will get which furniture based on space and need. There are plenty of closet options ranging at different price points. Once you arrive, you can purchase storage units that fit your space.

Outdoors

Often your outdoor space can provide additional storage areas for things like folding chairs, off season clothing, etc. Keter sells reasonably priced storage units that are a great solution for homes lacking sufficient indoor storage space.

If your new home has a balcony or garden, consider bringing outdoor furniture with you. There are options to purchase outdoor furniture in Israel. Prices, selection and quality, however, may be better in America.

Miscellaneous

Collapsible laundry baskets and storage bins make it easy to store many of them and allow for more space to store other things.

Look for multipurpose pieces. Furniture that serves multiple functions in one are great assets in smaller homes. Coffee tables that double as a seat and storage. Nesting side tables.  Benches that lift up and have storage.

You’d be surprised how much can be stored in a shoe cabinet. They take up minimal space (10-12 cm) and can store a whole lot. When placed strategically, they can be just what you are looking for storage.

Here a shoe cabinet is being used for a candle lighting space. The storage beneath is perfect for various items used at the Shabbat table. Photo Credit: Ingrid Muller

Throughout the decision making process, remember keep things that are a part of who you are. When making Aliyah, so much of your identity and daily comforts change. Your home should be your safe haven, where you feel grounded and relaxed. It is important to bring things with you that remind you of where you come from and who you are. Making Aliyah is a new chapter in your life, but it is also the continuation of your story. When so much is new and foreign to you, having items that are familiar in your new home will help you and your family feel more grounded.

Want more information about what to bring with you? Check out: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/what-to-bring-with-you-when-making-aliyah/

About the Author
Tamar Harow is the lead Interior Designer at Elevate Designs by Tamar, an Interior Design firm specializing in commercial and home design, based in Modiin Maccabim Reut. Her background in Communications and Marketing give her a unique approach to Interior Design. Tamar made Aliyah with her family as a teenager over 20 years ago, from Miami, Florida. She attributes her successful Aliyah to immersing herself into Israeli society from the day one. Tamar’s second year of National Service was a Bat Sherut in Boca Raton, Florida where she taught Israel studies and shared her love for Israel. She received her BA from Bar Ilan University, in Political Science and Communications. After working in the field for a number of years, she returned to her lifelong passion and got certified as an Interior Designer. Her experience navigating through the Israeli systems since she was a teen Olah Chadasha, inspires her to always to help other Olim. Today Tamar resides in Modiin Macccabim Reut, with her husband and 4 children.
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