Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Home Improvements

Since we rent our house, there are only so many home improvements we can do, but, in the Pesach spirit (as it is THE home improvement time here) here are a few little things we've done recently that have definitely improved things.

Israeli homes have no built-in closets.  This means that there is no coat closet close near the front door.  For many people, I would hazard to guess, this means that, like us, all sorts of non-closet-like places become repositories for coats, sweaters, backpacks and hats.  In our case, the main place was the sofa, which was esthetically unappealing as well as being uncomfortable when we wanted to sit on the sofa.....We chose to improve our "hallway to nowhere"--a dead-end tiny hallway alongside the staircase that has a deeply sloping ceiling giving about two feet of usable space before you have to duck and then crawl.  Our suitcases are tucked in the part that requires crawling and now we have hooks on the more usable part that give us, hurray, a place to actually store coats and backpacks. (By the way, walls here are concrete, and we had to hire a handyman to do this simple thing!)

A closet here does not even really have the same connotation as in the US.  While you can buy a vertical wardrobe with a hanging bar and that's it, most closets here have shelves and drawers, as closets here generally negate the need for a dresser.  Or, as an Israeli friend in the US once said to me, "I don't understand the closets in this country with just a bar and nothing else--what, I own so many ballgowns?!"

We had purchased freestanding wardrobes for Penina and Ilana, and Chana has a spiffy built-in system based on an idea from Auntie Kim, but what about us?!  Our room had an inlet that was made for a closet, but, thinking we would be moving shortly, we thought it didn't make sense to buy something that fit the space there, but perhaps wouldn't fit our next home.  So we spent 2.5 years in a room with a lovely assortment of plastic bins, a few moving boxes and a $20 hanging rack.  The master bedroom was definitely the weak link in terms of storage.  Until we upgraded a few weeks ago, and bought a five door closet (that's how closets are sold here--by the door!) with two hanging areas (ooh--his and hers!), shelves and even shoe drawers on the bottom.  I can't believe how nice our room looks without all those boxes in it!

Our last home improvement has been everyone's favorite.  We bought a "water bar", which offers instantaneous cold, room temperature or hot water. 

There is even Shabbat mode, so we don't have to put out a hot water urn (as long as we remember to push the button to change it into Shabbat mode.....Oops.  Sorry about that lack-of-coffee last week, Honey....).

 This spiffy gadget also means that the top shelf of our refrigerator is now much more spacious, as half of it was formerly taken up by an assortment of Brita filter pitchers, glass bottles and everyone's water bottles (once, a friend of Penina's walked from her house three houses away--at night, when it was cool--and brought her water bottle.  I laughed and told her she didn't need to do that, as we have water at our house (!) and she told me that it had been ingrained into her since she was young to NEVER leave home without a water bottle).

It seems that the neighbors are planning to put their house on the market, since they are also doing some home improvements.  They have converted what was once a bedroom back into its former state as their garage.  The neighbors next door to them did the same when they sold their house, as the conversion to a bedroom was not legal.  So we woke up one morning to workers with sledgehammers tearing the wall down.  Shortly thereafter, the new neighbors moved in and--surprise--we woke up to workers putting a wall up so that the garage could go back to being a bedroom.

the walls are left painted and they even left the hanging light up.  In case the car, you know, wants a fancy parking spot....

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