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A Family Rental With Real Heart

Homes

Every home we feature is filled with love, life and family. But for interior designer Sara Levitas and her husband Noam Sendor – a community Rabbi, high school teacher, jazz singer and writer – a deep connection to home is a central part of their faith, providing sanctuary, enrichment and focus.

We take a tour of Sara and Noam’s richly layered rental in Caulfield, which they share with Ohri (10), Ranya (8) and Tsofia (6) and the family pooch, a Lagotto Romagnolo named Tsuki.

17th April, 2019

Inside the Caulfield home of interior designer Sara Levitas, her husband Noam and their children Ohri (10), Ranya (8) and Tsofia (6). Ethnicraft Sofa from Open Room. Rug from Ferm Living. Mid-century chair given to us by a travelling friend (reupholstered in wool Laine fabric). Hay split side table from DesignStuff, Ethnicraft oak shelving unit from Clickon Furniture, white terrazzo planter from West Elm. Floor lamp by Moda Piera. Ethnicraft Dining table from Open Room, Ton dining chairs from Huset. No.213 wall lamp by La Lampe Gras from Open Room. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘Noam somehow has managed to keep our forest of plants alive year after year. He’s got a serious watering schedule and we’ve even had plant sitters when we go away on holiday,’ Sara explains of the story behind those impressive house plants! Australian made timber storage unit bought in an Op Shop. Black and yellow plastic planters from Mr. Kitly. Mustard yellow planter from Lightly. Black tripod planter from House of Orange. Vase by Oh Hey Grace and cactus in planter bought at Cool Cactus in Malvern. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Sara, Noam, Ohri, Ranya, Tsofia and Tsuki the Lagotto in the informal living space. Mid-century chair reupholstered in a wool Laine fabric. Green storage unit from Ikea. Half moon mirror by Sarah Ellison. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Left: Holy books, cookbooks, novels, children’s books and toys line this handmade bookshelf made by the previous tenants and together serve as the main focus of the home. Right: This painting that sparks many great conversations around the dinner table was painted by Sara’s father, Boris Levitas, and depicts a mystical Hasidic concept of nullifying one’s ego—or whatever you happen to think it says at that moment! Sara’s father was a Russian refusenik in the 70s, who through a miraculous journey found religious Judaism and escaped to Israel, inspiring his art and the life he lives. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

View from the formal living room into a home office. Artwork on the far wall by Sara and Noam’s dear friend, avant-garde , rtist and Hebrew scribe, Tunni Kraus. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘Tsuki is one of those dogs that just follows you around the house!’, says Sara. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Sefarim—holy Jewish books, both legal and esoteric, ancient and contemporary, that we look to for inspiration and guidance.’ Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Sara loves to collect vases and ceramics. Both pieces featured here are from Los Objetos Decorativos. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The home office. Finnish timber desk from Grandfather’s Axe. Twin Artworks by Noam’s talented cousin Meirav Ong, bench seat and chairs from TON.

Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The formal living room. Black corduroy sofa, glass coffee table and Finnish leather armchairs given to Sara and Noam by friends when they moved to this house. Bench seat by Dowel Jones. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

A corner of the living room. ‘The rubber plant and its friends thrive in the plentiful sunlight let in through the heritage lead-trimmed windows,’ says Sara. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Still-life artwork by Noam’s grandmother Renee Sendor. The artwork from her over-flowing creativity covered every inch of her Queens, NY home and Sara and Noam were lucky to bring some of them along when they moved to Australia. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Left: Girls’ bedroom. Linen curtains from IKEA. Linen bed sheets from H&M and Jardan. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli. Right: Master bedroom. Framed pen-drawings by Bill Meyer. Custom bedhead in Laine fabric by Clifton Upholstery. Australian-made timber side tables from an Op Shop. IKEA glass table lamps. Bed linen from INBED, Sheridan and Jardan.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 17th April 2019

‘In the Jewish faith, the family home is very much the centre of everything we do’ – Sara Levitas.

Interior designer Sara Levitas and multi talented husband Noam (community Rabbi, high school teacher, jazz singer and writer) were looking for a rental in Caulfield, with a particular eye on heritage-style homes. Sara explains ‘finding the perfect place for us was a bit of a challenge, especially because we were looking for a single dwelling rental, in a very specific area. Luckily we found this just in time!’

As an interior designer, Sara explains that she understands people’s hesitancy in investing time and energy personalising a rental, but she believes ‘our home environment is so much part of who we are, and it’s important to invest emotionally into a space, to make it truly your own.’

The couple were attracted to the Californian bungalow style home, particularly the ceiling roses, ornate windows and dark timber floorings. Against this heritage backdrop, Sara has introduced an eclectic collection of art, MANY plants, and a mix of op shop, inherited and contemporary furniture. She explains ‘I love shopping locally’ and cites Open Room, Jardan, Designstuff and Ivy Muse as go to places. Although Sara also acknowledges that ‘no home would be complete without a couple of standard IKEA pieces to round everything off!’

The colourful and cosy house is described by Sara as a ‘whimsical cross between farmhouse, mid-century and Scandinavian…maybe!’ Favourite items include the plants she buys and Noam waters, the artwork in the living area her aeronautical engineer and Hasidic folk painter father created, and the special Moda Piera floor lamp. With three energetic kids, having these beautiful objects might sound a little precarious, but Sara emphasises that ‘the trick is teaching our children to take care of what we have. This does involve strict rules about no ball playing in the living area!’

Sara and Noam’s vibrant and verdant home is located close to the kids school, and their own synagogue, and this connection to community is integral to their family. Sara explains ‘In the Jewish faith, the family home is very much the centre of everything we do. It goes beyond, however, the large lavish meals shared with friends and community on the weekly Shabbat and many festivals, or the life lessons shared on the couch over a cup of tea with our children, gleaned from the ancient books that line our walls. It is truly about creating a serene sanctuary in the midst of an often turbulent world.’ She concludes, ‘Our hope is that the aesthetic choices we make in the home are not merely superficial niceties designed to impress or flaunt, but rather, conscious decisions that contribute to the creation of a peaceful, inspired and inspiring environment, that enriches not just our lives, but the lives of whoever steps inside.’

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net