The move from a large family home in Alta Vista to a luxurious condo at Lansdowne Park is a classic example of how to downsize without downgrading. In fact, Albert and Angeline Lefebvre traded up in more ways than just moving into the penthouse level when they transplanted themselves and some of their most cherished possessions into a spectacular new place overlooking the Rideau Canal.
Starting a new chapter in their lives after enjoying quiet suburbia for 40 years, the dynamic couple opted for the excitement of a lively, uptown environment in the Glebe. Yet, they also wanted their new sky-high home to reflect who they are with the warmth and charm of old-world elements and treasured furnishings. To help them blend the past with the present, the homeowners relied on the decorating expertise of John LeBlanc of Cadieux Interiors, who has worked with the Lefebvre family for over two decades to enhance their personal style.
Transposing a 4,000 square-foot home into a two-bedroom condo involved eliminating more than half of their belongings. John started with an idea story board and looked at the existing smaller-scale pieces to see what would be a good fit. He estimates that the ratio was 70/30 of new to old with some items being too memorable for them to leave behind.
John explains that he draws floor plans to scale by hand and includes all furnishings, accessories, lighting and rugs. “It was a challenge to put a modern spin on some antique-inspired pieces, but we made it work,” he says, citing a fabulous repurposed cabinet and a lovely silver and gold-leaf chair that was placed in the condo foyer.
THE JEWEL BOX
To create the warm, lived-in look of a more established home, John added colour and texture with dramatic flair. “I found a stunning Schumacher wallpaper in chartreuse, black, gold and white that looks hand-painted with a silk screen effect. It has a powerful wow factor and Madame Lefebvre loved it too. We put it on one wall in the entrance, matched with an amazing console and wall sconces, so it’s the first thing you see when you open the door.”
This was a jumping off point for John who worked with it throughout the whole condo to set the tone for the open-concept living space. The chartreuse colour is repeated on grasscloth wallpaper behind the TV, as well as on the ceiling of the powder room which features black and white cheetah-patterned walls. Extra rolls of the grasscloth were innovatively used on the back of two entrance doors to create a panelled effect inside black-painted lines.
“It’s a lovely detail that makes such a difference to what would have been flat, ugly doors. I love conceptualizing the whole space and adding the pretty elements to a home – and this one is a real jewel box,” says John.
His expert touch is highlighted in the kitchen, where he collaborated with Dean Large from Astro Design Centre, who also designed the bathrooms. The white cabinetry has a traditional feel with bracketed, open and glass-fronted shelving, marble counters and iron legs on the island.
“Instead of the expected more functional lighting over the island, I actually duplicated the stupidly expensive chandelier above the dining table,” he laughs, but adds it makes the kitchen look really special and fits well with the condo décor.
“The bathrooms are really decadent – the best I’ve seen in a long time,” he says, describing the Ritz-style vanities and sconces. Also on his pretty list are the softer golds and blues in the bedrooms.
“Their master bedroom is essentially the old bedroom reinvented with elegant new bedding and a settee recovered in antique silk,” notes John. The warmth of wallpaper in a landscape-toile design illustrates his belief that new condos do not have to conform to a cool and minimalist model with neutral décor.
“I’m not afraid to be daring – and as I’ve known the homeowners for so long they trusted me to push the boundaries here and there, “ he says underlining the importance of understanding the clients personality. “They are just such lovely, lively and fun people and I am so fortunate to work with them to make their home a perfect complement of who they are.”