Marvin Birnbom poses on one of the terraces in his accommodation abounding with flowers, shrubs and amusing ornaments in Côte-de-Neige in Montreal. Christinne Muschi / MONTREAL GAZETTE
Before Marvin Birnbom retired, he was a consecutive entrepreneur. One of his businesses was a alternation of cyberbanking food (Etco Electronics). Addition was publishing a annual about electronics.
Birnbom loves accessories and he’s additionally a ham radio buff. He acclimated to appearance his accompany how he could acquaint with bodies about the apple — continued afore the Internet was allotment of accustomed life.
A “born and bred” Montrealer, Birnbom, who is 87, still loves to caster and deal. He does not attending his age and has the anatomy accent and demeanour of somebody who is several decades younger. He additionally has an casual faculty of humour and his accent is brindled with amusement as he explains how he begin his rental accommodation in Côte-des-Neiges.
His home is absolutely three apartments in one and they were acquired over a cardinal of years, starting in 1964. Because Birnbom grew up in the city, he knew breadth he capital to alive and breadth he didn’t appetite to live. So he set his architect on a place, amidst by greenery, that was aerial aloft downtown.
One of the terraces of Marvin Birnbom’s accommodation abounding with flowers, shrubs and amusing ornaments. Christinne Muschi / MONTREAL GAZETTE
His aboriginal anticipation was to hire a penthouse, but alike 50 years ago, such an accommodation was way out of his amount range. Birnbom came up with the abutting best thing, namely an accommodation at the top of Mount Royal on the adverse ancillary of Westmount. From there, he had a amazing appearance and, although today the appearance is partly blocked by complete copse that accept developed about his building, he still enjoys active on what is a quiet cul-de-sac. His accommodation architecture is 10 account from downtown, but a apple abroad from the alive city.
After affective into his aboriginal apartment, he acquired two neighbouring apartments at the alpha of the 2000s (it took him a brace years), animadversion bottomward walls and amalgamating all the bedrooms and bathrooms (there are three) into one abundant active amplitude with 13 rooms. Birnbom additionally has two 1,000 square-foot patios, one of which is busy in what he calls a “California garden style” — i.e. landscaped with plants, appliance and amusing beastly ornaments ancient from garden implements.
Q: Was it adamantine to get permission to about-face the three apartments into one?
A: Well, it wasn’t easy. I’ve been through eight landlords in the time I’ve been here, but I’ve consistently had a acceptable accord with the assorted bodies who accept endemic the building. I’m appealing acceptable at bringing them about to my ideas. Afterwards all, I’m a salesman.
Marvin Birnbom’s active allowance has a behemothic cine awning and custom-made, covering armchairs. Christinne Muschi / MONTREAL GAZETTE
Q: You said your above renovations were in 2000? What did you accept done at that time?
A: I was active my business from Old Montreal and I was consistently active aback and forth. I accomplished I could administer things from a axial location, so that’s back I absitively to set up my appointment actuality at home. To do that, I bare to catechumen some of the bedrooms into accumulator space, a alive breadth and so on, so that’s what I did.
(As we chat, Birnbom walks me about his domain. His accessible active and dining allowance are busy in awe-inspiring shades of burgundy, canteen blooming and gold. The active allowance has aphotic wood, congenital bank units and several ample leather-upholstered armchairs, giving it the ambient of a clandestine gentleman’s club, emphasized by the oil paintings that adhere on the wall. A accumulating of argent ornaments stands abaft a glass-fronted affectation case, belted by a bizarre frame.)
Q: Did you accept the accoutrement yourself?
A: Oh, no. I apperceive annihilation about home decoration. I assassin an autogenous artist and she best out best of the pieces for me. The appliance was custom fabricated actuality in Montreal by Renaissance Furniture, but some of the things, like the silverware, came from my mother.
(From the active allowance we airing into what Birnbom calls his “automotive museum.” It’s an absolute allowance abounding with bottle affectation cabinets in which are rows and rows of calibration models of best and archetypal cars.)
Marvin Birnbom has a ample accumulating of archetypal aged cars in a allowance in his apartment. Christinne Muschi / MONTREAL GAZETTE
Q: I see you accept an E-Type Jaguar. That’s an iconic British car from the 1960s, isn’t it?
A: Exactly. I accept a absolute one as well. It’s in the barn downstairs.
Q: The architecture still looks avant-garde today.
A: Back I acclimated to drive the car in Old Montreal, alike little kids acclimated to bawl out “E-Type!” “E-Type!”
(From the “museum” we move into addition above bedroom. This one has been adapted into a workshop. Birnbom opens one chiffonier aperture afterwards another, to appearance me howhe has organized his tools. Each account is neatly filed into a alembic and labelled accordingly.)
Q: Goodness, you’re absolutely actual organized.
A: I accept to be because I ran my business this way. Everything is catalogued. The units were all installed by California Closets. I had to accept a branch because I adulation accomplishing things. What I like is to adapt things, adjustment things or to actualize things that are no best on the market.
The branch in Marvin Birnbom’s accommodation contains accoutrement and odd $.25 filed alphabetically. Christinne Muschi / MONTREAL GAZETTE
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Shelter is a account alternation featuring a chat with tenants or address owners.
Occupant: Marvin Birnbom, 87
Size: 2,020 aboveboard anxiety (plus two 1,000 square-foot patios)
Been there: Since 1964
The dining allowance in Marvin Birnbom’s apartment. Christinne Muschi / MONTREAL GAZETTE
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