Shelter is a weekly series featuring a conversation with tenants or condo owners.
Occupants: Diego Creimer-Medina, 38, Julie-Audree Marcoux, sons Felix, 7, Gaspard, 2
Location: Rue de la Poudriere, in Verdun
Size: 1,450 sq. ft. on 2 floors
Bought for: $245,000 in 2009
Been there: one year
After living together in three other residences, Argentine-born Diego Creimer-Medina and Quebecker Julie-Audree Marcoux bought a split-level condo in an area of Verdun that started undergoing redevelopment in 1985. The terrain where a factory once stood was gradually transformed into elegant condos, townhouses and co-ops on winding tree-lined streets.
A two-floor walkup brings you to their door, which opens to an extremely high-ceilinged living room. Overhead, the upper- floor bedroom overlooks the living room.
That's quite a high ceiling.
Creimer-Medina: Seven-and-a-half metres. The three-panel bedroom window is almost three metres high.
Your living room furniture is eclectic but seems to match.
Creimer-Medina: It's a mix of IKEA, second-hand and some valuable pieces. The wooden, glass-panelled cabinet goes back to 1870. It's been fully refurbished. It belonged to Julie's great grandmother. That's the oldest piece we have. The chairs are 19th century -refurbished, too. All the rest is inexpensive stuff. But everything on the wall is original even if it's not particularly expensive. The elephant painting is from Uganda. The scroll is from Japan.
Marcoux: I bought it in a flea market in Japan. (Julie, a professional editor/ translator, lived in japan for five years and knows Japanese).
Creimer-Medina: We used to cover the table with an obi, the belt that goes around a kimono.
What are these small antique objects on the shelf?
Marcoux: This 19th century iron was my grandmom's. She used it to iron but also to make thin toast. It served for a while to hold doors ...
Creimer-Medina: The small scale for weighing letters belonged to my father and before that, to a post office in a little town in Argentina.
Was the kitchen always open to the living room like this, with a long narrow wooden bar-table?
Creimer-Medina: It was open but it was useless because it was only the width of the wall. Since there was not a lot of space in the kitchen to cook -and we cook every day - we needed an extra surface, so I made a bar out of pine wood with seven coats of varnish. I call this the 5-to-7 spot. Usually, guests with a glass of wine stand on one side and watch while we cook on the other.
The recessed kitchen lights create a pleasant effect.
Creimer-Medina: All the light sources are hidden. The worst light for creating any ambience comes from the ceiling. (Moving past a full bathroom and washer-dryer niche to one of two back rooms, where there's a child's bed, a crib and a closet, and a large, plastic playhouse.)
Creimer-Medina: We gave this room to the kids because we wanted to be upstairs. We'll put in bunk beds later so we can free space and so each can have a desk for school work. (The neighbouring guest room has a 1920s art deco desk with a computer and Julie's diplomas on the wall.)
Creimer-Medina: This room exits to steps leading downstairs to the garden where the kids play and we have a locker. The parking included with the condo is on the side. (Taking the stairs, we enter the master bedroom, full of light.)
Creimer-Medina: Here's the best view. You're overlooking the living room and outside. (The bedroom leads directly to a large terrace with tables and chairs, a barbecue, and two large potted shrubs.)
Creimer-Medina: We're on the terrace every day when it's not raining. Our apartment faces east. You can see the fireworks in the summer and also, when there are no leaves on the trees, the CBC building where I work.
How did you find this place?
Marcoux: Our agent called us the day it went on sale. We visited and bought it the next day. There were three other interested parties. Places here sell in 24 hours. Verdun still has good places that are comparatively low-priced.
What about local services?
Creimer-Medina: The Atwater market is a short walk -we use it a lot. They have excellent coffee. Metro stop Lasalle is at the corner. One reason we bought here was the metro. We wanted to get as close to downtown as our budget would allow. The metro and bike path are the two ways we get to work. We either drive Felix or he takes the schoolbus. The little one goes to daycare less than two kilometres