Budget Breakdown: A Gloomy Apartment in Israel Does a Full 180 for $115K
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Budget Breakdown: A Gloomy Apartment in Israel Does a Full 180 for $115K

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By Stephen Zacks / Photos by Gidon Levin
Architect Michael Peled completely flips the layout of an apartment in Haifa to take advantage of treetop views.

Architect Michael Peled surveyed the apartment of his client, a young mother, and saw something she hadn’t noticed. She had purchased a second-story flat in the Carmelia area of Haifa, Israel, with help from her parents. Perched on a hillside, it had a small enclosed room in the back with corner windows that peered over the Mediterranean. The laundry room at the end of a long hallway had another wide exposure hidden behind rain glass windows.

Kitchen Cabinets & Carpentry
Kitchen Countertop
Shower & Mirrors
Closets & Carpentry

Grand Total: $114,975

The office is tucked in a private space past the kitchen, with the plumbing routed beneath the raised floor.

"I said to them, ‘You must turn it all around to face the view,’" Peled says. "I told them, ‘I know it’s a really limited budget for this project, but the main effort needs to be to open all the crucial spaces in the apartment to that beautiful view.’" 

Before: Bathroom/Laundry Room 

The former bathroom and laundry room hid the best view behind rain glass windows. 

After: Dining Room

The dining room now looks out on treetops and has abundant natural light. 

Peled flipped the floor plan, knocking out the walls in the back half of the apartment. He replaced the opaque windows in the former laundry room with wall-to-wall triple windows, turning it into an open dining area graced by green treetops. The small corner room became an open-plan living room with corner windows overlooking the sea. The three bedrooms shifted to the other half of the space, strategically located to allow for a possible future extension for an additional bedroom. 

Before: Hallway

The client especially wanted to get rid of the narrow hallway.

After: Kitchen  

The kitchen replaced a former hallway with custom-designed MDF cabinetry and an island topped with quartz.

The retrofitted layout extends natural light from the dining and living rooms to the kitchen, which is inserted in the former hallway along a new wall of seamless custom white cabinetry—all fabricated with MDF to reduce costs—and fitted appliances. 

A quartz-topped island integrates an electric cooktop, cabinets, a sink, and a TV niche facing the living room. "She really hated that long narrow corridor, and that was one of the [reasons] she wasn’t so sure about [buying] the apartment or not," Peled says. The drastic flip of the layout eliminated the need for that awkward hallway.

Before: Balcony

The enclosed balcony became integrated with the master bedroom.

After: Master Bedroom and Bath

The master bedroom extends into the former enclosed balcony with a wall of built-in, custom cabinets.

The en suite master bath slips behind the kitchen, and features gray ceramic tiled floors used throughout the apartment.

A former enclosed balcony is claimed by the master bedroom, giving the room a generous wall of daylight. Another wall of white custom cabinetry has been inserted for closets. An en suite bathroom with a glass shower and custom vanity connects to the rerouted plumbing. As elsewhere, the floors in the bathroom are matte-gray, ceramic tile.

Most of the walls came out to reconfigure the layout, opening up views of the sea to the living spaces.

Altogether it was a four-month construction process on a conservative budget. Most of the costs went to general construction, followed by the windows and cabinetry, transforming a 1960s apartment into what looks like a newly constructed condo. Like any perfectionist architect, Peled only regrets small details like the electric sun shades that couldn’t be hidden in the walls, as he would have done in a new building. 

"It’s a really simple and not extravagant project, but what makes it so wonderful for me is the big change that occurred—and the great appreciation I had from the owner," Peled says. "She was really grateful because she didn’t even realize what she had in her hands, and she is now living in a place with light, with a lot of green, and with big windows facing a really nice view."

Before (right) and after (left) floor plans show the flipping of the programs between the two halves of the unit.

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