Before I post this, I should say that Israel has fabulous designers and lots of Israeli apartments are gorgeous. At its best, Israeli style involves cool tile floors, white walls, textured carpets, modern lines, colorful ceramics, etc. But there's a certain trend in Israeli design that my husband and I call "Isra-fab."
I have to admit that I am sometimes drawn to Isra-fab myself... I was about to buy plates edged with fake gold for Passover when my husband's cousin pulled me aside and explained Isra-Fab to me. During our apartment search, we knew to be worried if a seller would describe an apartment as "ya-fe-fiyah"-- sooo pretty! An example of ya-fe-fiyah: we even visited a penthouse in Kiryat Motzkin in which the entire apartment was tiled in blue, red, and gold screen-printed floors. "Ya-fe-fiyah" basically splatters the Israeli epidemic of ADD all over otherwise nice apartments.
To transform your house into Isra-Fab, take note of these pointers (illustrated by pictures from www.yad2.co.il, the Israeli Craigslist):
Tip #1: The more baroque, the better!
Maybe this is because we live in a country without much actual antique furniture (that whole peopled-by-refugees thing meant that most people's grandparents barely brought a suitcase with them, let alone family heirlooms). Whatever the reason, Isra-fab style demands as much fake-ornate detailing as possible.
Tip #2: Buy mass-produced artwork in 70s-esque colors.
Ok, the artwork above isn't all that bad, and this wouldn't even make it on the list did not almost every apartment in Israel contain this identical "artwork."
A bonus point if the edges of the artwork are decorated with crackle paint. Double bonus points if the artwork is African-inspired and involves silhouetted figures. Triple bonus points if the painting involves glitter.
Tip #3: Real wood is curved! (And honey-colored!)
This cabinet is Isra-fab in so many ways. The honey-toned wood! The excess glass! The odd curves! Yafefiyah!
Tip #4: Simple curtains? Boooring. Go for creative draping.
I especially love the bit of red polyester curtain that hangs from the left side of each window frame.
Tip #5: If you can't go baroque, go Greek!
Or Roman. And I always get ionic and doric columns confused. The thing that makes this column plant stand especially Isra-fab? It's actually plaster.
Tip #6: Everything is better if it is shiny and gold. With sparkles.
Bonus points if said item involves crackle paint. Double bonus points if it is, in fact, a sign to go on the door of the bathroom.
Remember, if an Israeli tells you something is "ya-fey-fi-yah," be afraid... be very afraid.