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.
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)