PHOTOGRAPHY: JEAN-FRANCOIS GRÉGOIRE
The 1970s — the decade that brought us split levels, large windows and great flow — are having a moment in home design. These qualities and more are found in this six-bedroom home of that era on Lexington Ave. in Westmount. All of which the current owners sought to enhance during its 2013 renovation.
“Not everyone could update a unique house like this and do it justice,” says Rochelle Cantor, a real estate broker with Engel and Völkers Montreal, who is handling the home’s sale. “They not only respected its contemporary design but brought it to a whole new level.”
The house dates to 1971 and was the family home of legendary real estate developer and philanthropist David Azrieli. At the time, he was just starting to build a reputation as an architectural innovator. Azrieli would live there for more than 27 years with his wife and four children. Although Azrieli designed the home, because he was not yet a licensed architect, he worked with architect Max Wolfe Roth.
Split level or cottage — the home is difficult to define. When viewed from the street, an unassuming facade suggests a modest one-level structure. Built on a steeply sloping lot, in the rear it opens into an ingeniously configured 4,385-square-foot, two-storey home.
The interior has been reconfigured to create a whole new flow, Cantor says. “The home is divided into two wings, with the more public living areas on one side, the bedrooms on the other,” she notes.
On the bedroom side of the home, the master suite commands an entire level. The spacious bedroom lets into a massive walk-in closet. Upgrades to the adjoining 11-by-19-foot master bathroom include expanses of Statuario marble tiles and a rectangular tub in a contemporary design. It lets onto an adjoining private office and den. The floor above has three bedrooms, each with its own ensuite bathroom.
On the family living side, a large formal dining room was created to the left of the front entryway. To the right lies an area devoted to an open-plan kitchen with adjoining breakfast nook. There is also a family room — a modern convention that evolved from the 1970s rumpus room — one of this home’s three informal living areas. One is found on the basement level which also includes a state-of-the-art gym, two-car garage, walk-in cedar closet and art studio for one of the homeowners, an amateur artist.
The home’s public and private sides meet in its showpiece: the central formal living room. Here the ‘70s innovation of sunken lounge has evolved into a great room, complete with soaring ceilings with beam details overhead. No shag carpeting underfoot, though; instead the contemporary look of wide-plank jatoba hardwood floors. Wood-and-glass staircases provide access from all levels and additional architectural interest.
With windows that extend virtually from floor to ceiling on two sides, the room is flooded with profuse natural light. “This home is unique for Westmount for both the size and number of windows throughout,” says Cantor, who has toured hundreds of luxury homes in the area over a career spanning nearly 20 years. “It is hard to find a nook or cranny that is not flooded with light.”
And yet the home also boasts copious square footage of wall space. The homeowners, both professionals, love to display their extensive collection of art. Among the hundreds of works are many large-scale paintings. Unlike most homes, this one provides many opportunities to display them.
Now at the empty-nest stage of life, the homeowners are ready to move on to a new home. Their artistic sensibilities are also evident in the attention to detail found in the home’s updated design. There is not one drawer pull, handle or door frame that is not as it should be, Cantor says. “The home is now very au-courant, both in design and materials used, yet completely respects the original,” she says. “I think both the first owner and architect would be happy with it.” •
This home is for sale. For more information, contact real estate broker Rochelle Cantor:
Rochelle Cantor, Real Estate Broker
Engel & Völkers