Though worlds away, one small condo in the heart of Tel Aviv effortlessly mimics the exact vibrance and colorful attitude found on the other side of the planet in Mexico City. When interior designer Yael Jacobs first learned that her clients were enchanted by the places and spaces shown in the 2002 film Frida (a dramatic biopic outlining famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s life and career), one bold hue immediately came to mind: blue.
“The owner had been dreaming of living in a house painted in Frida’s Blue,” Jacobs tells Domino. “Another inspiration for the complete color scheme was Majorelle Garden in Marrakech.”
Incorporating a strong color palette without overwhelming the 1,300-square-foot condo wasn’t Jacobs’s only challenge when it came to redesigning the fairly tiny flat. The designer was also faced with creating a bonus outdoor space and restructuring the layout of the home to ensure there was enough floor room for one of the home’s residents to easily navigate the space by wheelchair. Additionally, shelving proved to be a major must-have, given the couple’s impressive collection of design books, ceramics, and other treasured collectibles.
“The first step in approaching the new layout of the flat, was to open the entrance to be wider and more inviting,” she says. “I decided to transfer the kitchen from the center of the space to a corner overlooking the green square.”
An ode to Kahlo’s cobalt blue abode, La Casa Azul, the kitchen now doubles as a natural divider between the dining area and the main living room. Jacobs used the low-sitting windows in the kitchen as a tool for determining the height of the furniture in the rest of the home, as well as the custom shelving units.
“The secret is in choosing the right tone of color and to tone it down with elements that surround it,” explains Jacobs. The wooden door handles, yellow shelving unit, and grey countertop help bring balance to the vibrant cooking space.
One peek inside this light-filled living room and you know it’s personal. Ceramics of all shapes and sizes, woven accessories, and other worldly knick-knacks give new meaning to every nook and surface. Wanting to avoid a “museum-like” or “busy” display, Jacobs knew she needed to carve out dedicated space for all their belongings, so she added a tall built-in nook in the living room to house the pair’s countless books and added a sunny yellow shelving unit in the dining area for exhibiting their smaller ornaments and spare kitchenware.
But of all the precious pieces in the home, it’s the enormous wood coffee table that ties the room together. “It was built by her late father and used to be the dining table for the family in her childhood home and transformed into a coffee table when her father shortened its legs years ago. The home owner inherited it and it has been an emotional and spatial anchor in the arrangement of her living room ever since,” says Jacobs.
Though gaudy purple velvet curtains and waterfall wallpaper in the bedroom were just a few original design details to go when she first took on the project, a glamorous chandelier once relegated to the living room stayed. “We knew from the beginning that we were going to keep the chandelier and find a place for it in the new design,” she says.
The statement lighting now functions as a playful counterpoint to the duo’s more casual furnishings.
As she moved down the hallway, Jacobs parted ways with the powerful hues she had used in the kitchen and dining space, opting for a more subdued palette instead. “As big of a fan as I am of bright colors and having fun with the space, I feel that the bedroom should be more romantic and calm so that the tenants can rest properly and refuel,” she says.
Blush pinks, blue-grays, and small bursts of wallpaper kept the home’s more private areas feeling quiet and serene. But, of course, color wasn’t her only priority.
“I had to take the wheelchair under consideration when defining the width of the hallway,” says the designer. “All the room openings were widened, and in the bedroom and master bathroom sliding doors were installed to make entering the room more easy.”
Case in point: Art, style, and decor mean nothing if a home doesn’t meet its basic, functional needs.
“As brave as I am with using colors in my design, I’m happy to see everything coming together and working together. I am happy to see that my client’s dreams came true and that they are super happy with the space they now call home,” she adds.
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