January 13, 2011 – The Motreal Gazette features Jay Alders’s art in a story of an abandoned building which is restored to a beautiful residential are. Here’s the story below, or read it on The Montreal Gazette website.
In 2010, when 35-year-old Trish McKenzie heard that an apartment was about to be renovated in Point St. Charles, she jumped at the chance to buy it. The building, which had been operating as a crack house, was in dismal shape, but it had been auctioned off for development. McKenzie, a sports and recreation director, was given the heads-up about the old-made-new again apartment by the husband of her former boss, a real estate agent.
Given the building’s shady past, weren’t you concerned that it might not be the best place to set up a home?
Not really. I grew up in Montreal and I know the area. In fact, at one time, my grandparents lived a couple of streets away. The Point is really changing. Lots of old buildings are being renovated. This complex is probably at least 100 years old, but to all intents and purposes it’s brand new.
The fellow who bought the building after it was auctioned off never finished the job, so the real estate agent said that if I liked the look of the place, he’d complete the renovation, then find other buyers to turn it into a co-prop. When I saw the apartment, I decided right away that I wanted to buy it. The sale went through very quickly.
What exactly is a co-prop?
It’s similar to a condo in that it has several owners. The main difference is that we don’t have to pay monthly maintenance fees. We’re each responsible for our own units but we share common expenses, divided according to the amount of space we own. My share is 34 per cent. We split the cost of anything structural, like repairs to the roof or if the balconies have to be redone.
You said you have a garden?
The backyard belongs to my unit but a good friend of mine lives on the second floor and a really nice couple occupies the third floor, so they use it as well. I don’t mind sharing. Instead of a garden, they each got a parking space.
Did you have to decorate the apartment before moving in?
There was very little to do because the whole place had been done over. I did ask for a number of modifications. The hallway was just a large open space so I had a couple of closets put in. I needed a storage area, especially for all my sports gear.
(She leads me to a walk-in closet crammed with snowboards, a rack full of seasonal clothing and three bicycles mounted on the wall. We walk over to a stylized painting of a surfer that hangs on the exposed brick wall in her living room.)
Your love of sports evidently figures in your decor as well!
This is by Jay Alders. He goes around surf competitions in the U.S. I’ve always loved his artwork, so last year my family gave me the painting for Christmas. The couch used to be in my parents’ basement. At some point, I’d like to recover it because I’m not keen on the colour, but I must admit, it’s very comfortable.
You have a couple of pieces that look as if they might be antiques.
The oak sideboard in the dining area was a housewarming gift from my mum. She knew it would match the dining room table, probably the most important piece of family memorabilia that I own.
There’s quite a story behind it.
The table was a wedding gift for my great-grandmother, and my dad, who inherited a lot of her furniture, took it all down to our cottage in Vermont. Unfortunately, the cottage, which was in a remote area, was broken into the first weekend after he put in all the antiques. The thieves took everything, except this table.
My father told me I could have it if I was willing to refinish it myself, so I did! I had to glue everything together because the table was so old and the surface was badly cracked. I hated having to restore the claw feet. They were very fiddly.
Did you know anything about restoring furniture before you tackled the table?
Nope! (Laughing.) I basically made it up as I went along, but I’m pretty pleased with the result.