House Tour: Patrick's World of Wonder

Montreal

Name: Patrick Foisy
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Size: 1027 s.f.
Years lived in: 1, owned

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Visit Patrick's loft in the converted Viau cookie factory and one is in for a surprise encounter at every turn. The home of an elementary school teacher, the loft exudes humor and creativity after just one year as a residence. Objects from the past breathe with new life, whether it's a heavy old bank safe used as a side table (and for storing "valuable" television remotes) or musical instruments repurposed into wall sconces and pendant lighting...

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A little history on the building from Patrick: "I live in a loft in a 1906 converted cookie factory in Montreal. Owned by the Viau family for several generations, the company changed hands a few times before the factory finally closed for good in 2004. Viau et Frères (Viau and Sons) has a very important place in French Canadian history. It was one of the two first French-owned companies to be quoted on the Canadian stock exchange. Viau was also famous for the invention of the Whippet cookie, which is the predecessor of the Mallomar. Just in case you are wondering, the place doesn’t smell like chocolate and vanilla anymore!".

It's apparent in visiting Patrick's home that he takes great joy in pre-used objects. To start, he knows the story behind each of his hand-chosen possessions. Then, he incorporates each object, not just as decor but as a relevant tool for daily use: mailbox as hamper, cash register as flatware drawer, bathtub as coffee table, and the list goes on and on... The result is a home not just of the visual world, but of the imagination, yesterday's tales, and tomorrow's invention.

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AT Survey:

My style: Eclectic-Scandinavian-whimsical-modern-retro. Aside from my couch and my mattress, I don’t own anything new. I love giving a second life to old things. Everything I buy usually has a purpose. For example, I use a mailbox as a laundry chute, a snare drum as an end table, an antique dentist tower as a reading lamp, metal clarinets as pendant lights, a cash register as a drawer for my flatware, a bathtub as a coffee table, etc. I guess it makes sense, I do live in a recycled building.

Inspiration: My own twisted imagination and my grandfather who gave me the collecting bug. I remember going to antique auctions when I was young and being fascinated with the fast talking guy up front. I had two childhood ambitions. One was to one day have my very own pinball in my place and the second was to own a vintage VW Beetle. I’m glad to say that I achieved both of my goals.

Favorite Element: Originally, the large living room (16’ X 16’) used to be a staircase. The factory is a U shape building and on each side, you have two towers that encased the staircases. When they converted the building, they took out the staircases and continued the floors into the towers. It now houses my living room. Back in 1906, to prevent fires from spreading from floor to floor, the towers were made entirely of brick. The living room now has three brick walls and they are 5 bricks deep! I’m also lucky enough to have 14 “ high ceilings! Interesting fact: In 1906, the east tower, which is now my living room, was the women’s entrance.

Biggest Challenge: Not to buy any more stuff! I’m an antiques / flea market / thrift store / garage sale addict! If one more piece of furniture comes in, one piece must leave! Unless I build a mezzanine… Out of the 182 lofts, I’m the one who has the fullest locker.

What Friends Say: “Every time I come here, I see something new!” and “Boy, you are obsessed with details! When do you find time to do all this?” Is this a good thing? I’ll let you judge…

Biggest Embarrassment: My dog Jedi and my cat Bowling love to leave scratches all over my floor. Aside from changing the floor and putting slippers on my pets, I really don’t know what to do.

Proudest DIY: The doors to my bathroom and my bedroom. My goal is to give my loft the original factory look. That is why I changed the generic white doors for old wooden doors bought in an architectural salvage store. I sanded them down, re-stained and re-varnished, changed the top wood panel for glass, installed old hardware and reframed it. Thanks dad for your help!

I later found an artisan that has been painting letters on glass for the last 40 years. My bathroom says: “Toilettes – Employés seulement” (Toilet – Employees only) and my bedroom door says: “Entrepot – chocolat” (Chocolate – Warehouse”).

Biggest Indulgence: I usually pride myself on finding great deals but I did splurge on one thing. I bought an antique Viau general store cookie display case. I drove to Syracuse, NY to retrieve it. I think it was well worth it.

Best advice: Fill your place with art! It can be from artistic framed photos you took, a hand made souvenir made by artisans you brought back from your travels or your child’s kindergarten finger painting. Support your local emerging artists. Some have lots of talent and you will pay the same price as massively produced reproduction found at Ikea. Plus you will have something unique!

Be patient. Wait to find exactly what you want. You can’t decorate a room in a week. It took me more than 10 years to find an antique safe to use as an end table. When you walk in an antique store and the owner asks you: “Are you looking for something in particular?”, always have an answer prepared. You might be surprised, they might have what you are looking for hidden somewhere.

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Resources:

Appliances:
Butcher block made by Legnoart.
Orbitel Panasonic “Flying saucer” TV bought at Vertige Pop Deco in Montreal 514-523-1717

Furniture:
Theatre seat, Coke sign bought at Cite Deco. Floating teak drawers, Scandinavian credenza bought at Montreal Moderne 514-293-7903

Lighting:
Clarinet pendant lights, Zildjian cymbal reading lamp, horn wall sconce made by Auger Halogen in Montreal 514-596-3946

Window Treatments: Mactac frosted paper. Cost of around 60$.

Bed: 70’s teak bed bought at Cite Deco. What is great about the design of that bed is that the squares at the end of the headboard expand so you can use it as a queen or king size bed.

Artwork: Redhead Woman painted by Cate Rangel
Martini and shaker painted by Kristen Stein
Cop Car intitled Serve and Protect painted by Arpi, Tramway painted by Arpi, Graffiti on brick wall painted by Strike and Zek, all from Cafe Graffiti
Vietnamese man playing instrument – gouache on paper – bought in Hoi An, Vietnam
Chez Patrick Café – painted by Alejandro – bought on the street in Old Montreal

Pets: Jedi and Bowling were adopted at the local SPCA.

(Thanks, Patrick!)

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