Monday, August 02, 2010

Personality...To the Max

I just bought an old copy of the 1979 book Architectural Digest International Interiors and have found reading it a pleasant respite from being outside in this heat. When the heat index is 110 degrees, you might think that the homes that caught my eye were the cool, minimalist ones in places like Costa de Careyes, Mexico or the hills of Greece. But, no. I found myself spending more time looking at the formal, maximalist homes like this apartment in Montreal. It may seem a heavy, even odd, choice during the dog days of summer, but I find it anything but.

Owned by decorator Jack Leiby and his wife Tibby, the ten room apartment at The Chateau showcased the couple's extensive collections. Jack preferred Chinoiserie and African artifacts while Tibby collected contemporary art (including works by Calder and Vasarely) and porcelain. Perhaps it was a challenge to meld these disparate collections, but it looks as though the merger was successful. The rooms are rather formal and grand, but they're not stiff. And what's most important is that they have personality. Remember when homes had personality? When homeowners weren't afraid to buy and display things that had meaning to them? Unfortunately, the trend towards replicating hotels and showroom floors in one's home has stripped homes of any personality. That was certainly not the case here, and I think ultimately this is why this home spoke to me. You look at these pictures and think "Jack and Tibby Leiby must have been one interesting couple." And you know, I really bet that they were.

The image at top shows the Entrance Hall of the Leiby apartment. The walls were covered in bronze mirror (something that you don't see often in today's interiors, although it could be an interesting alternative to plain mirror) with faux marbre trim. The Louis XVI Chinese figures and Ch'ien Lung pagodas attest to Mr. Leiby's love of Chinoiserie.

In the formal living room, a Venetian garden chandelier hangs over a panel skirted octagonal table. A boldly printed fabric was used for curtains, shades, and upholstery. The walls and ceiling were lacquered in what looks like a berry color.

Another view of the living room. Contemporary pictures coexisted peacefully with antiques like the twelve-panel Ch'ien Lung screen.

The dining room was not quite as eclectic as the rest of the apartment. Here, Tibby Leiby's 1820s Spode dinner service holds court amongst 18th c. English stemware and Irish silver.

If you didn't know better, you might think this room was decorated by David Hicks, although I don't think Hicks would have used a floral chintz for the bedspread and curtain trim. I bet that this room felt awfully cozy at night.

(All images from Architectural Digest International Interiors, Robert Fisher photographer)


  1. I would, quite happily, give up entire condo and live very thankfully in that entrance hall! It's definitely a room where, no matter how much you age, life would always be glamorous and beautiful!

    ... and dark mirrors never hurt either!

  2. I know the minimalists will be seeking tranquilizers after looking at this room, but I say bravo. Design your own world and make yourself happy. This says to me they know who they are, what they like, prefer magic over realism and have the confidence to live their visions. I agree and I applaud.

  3. Fearlessly breathtaking. Tony Duquette meets David Hicks.

  4. I too love looking at rooms with personality ....and these certainly have that! Thank you for posting these-Great job!

  5. So beautiful, and so close to the work of David Hicks who happens to be one of my favorite designers.
    Teresa (Splendid Sass)

  6. Great find! That bedroom is over the top. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the bed-posts look like brushed steel or something similar - a modern twist I guess? I totally agree about rooms' personality. I never understood why minimalism usually strips interiors of their personality. Done right, in my opinion, it could highlight the quirky pieces and give the room more character.
    Thanks for posting these great pic's!

  7. OMG, I could move right in: Those are just gorgeous! I miss the old AD, hopefully under new direction it will blossom again.
    I think those interiors look suitably cool -as if they were in a huge marble palace or at the very least, dim and highly air conditioned which is all I ask!

  8. That octoganal paneled table reminds me of something Tom Scheerer did - so great looking. And, I have a total design crush on him. I agree w/ ArchitectDesign - I'm hoping AD to bring the inspiration of ole back to the pages. Love this post!

  9. I love this apartment! That Coromandel screen going right up to the ceiling, floating desk in the bedroom... can't say I've ever seen bronze mirror but love the peach mirrored walls at the Soho Grand hotel bar (by Bill Sofield?). I might want to live there but definitely not inside a D&D showroom!

  10. I am looking for the source of a picture and i assume it was published in the Architectural Digest. The first picture you posted looks quite similar. I can't upload the picture but if you allow me to send it to you i would be more than thankful. Any lead would be great!