Higher livingPublished on November 3, 2012

Share
  • Photo by Mark Holleron

  • Photo by Mark Holleron

  • Photo by Mark Holleron

  • Photo by Mark Holleron

  • Photo by Mark Holleron

  • Photo by Mark Holleron

  • Photo by Mark Holleron

It's one thing to admire a piece of art in a gallery. But can the prospective art buyer think outside the box and "see" how that same piece of art will look at home? For Michael Gennis, it's a skill that comes naturally. Sure, he knows the significance of the piece, or the meaning behind it, or even the process involved in the art form coming together. But Michael makes it sound simple when he refers to the design and art placement strategy in his own home: "It's got to look nice," he says very simply.

That's an understatement for his stunning place, particularly when you consider his impressive art collection, with a few pieces "on loan" from his gallery. Clients can sometimes see works displayed in Michael's home. Small wonder that when he was busy opening the new Michael Gennis Art Gallery in November, and moving into his equally new "double" condominium directly above the gallery in December, he sometimes wondered just which space he was in.

The European-style gallery in trendy Westboro Village, with its 20-foot ceilings and glass storefront, is a work of art in itself. But equally impressive is Michael's home seven floors above. It features: floor-to-ceiling windows, light streaming in everywhere, space, colour, artwork, and magnificent views north towards the river and east towards the Parliament Buildings.

Michael and his partner Dr. Robert Birnbaum put as much thought and energy into their living space as an artist would put into his work. They worked with an architect to "stitch" two condominiums together. The resulting in a showcase condo that also shows off their extraordinary art collection.

The colour in this beautiful home comes not from the furniture or from the walls, but rather from the décor objects and the art. A breathtaking centrepiece is the floor-to-ceiling fireplace wall, finished with inlaid mosaic glass tile in vibrant, fiery reds and oranges. It's eye candy for the art lover.

The kitchen is a simple yet functional design that features slab doors in cherry wood, a handy eating bar across the front, and a hidden gourmet pantry towards the back. It's all high-end and magazine- worthy, yet as Michael likes to point out, "You still feel like you can live here."

That's if you can get beyond the idea that if you're using the master bath, you're also sharing it with a Chagall. And there's another Chagall in the dining room. (They're not for sale.) However, if you're in the market for a one-of-a-kind, non-traditional chandelier, the one in Michael's dining room is on the market. It's brilliant - what better way to display a functional piece of art than in the gallery owner's home?

It's all about simplicity and contemporary design, accentuated by beautiful artwork. Not exactly traditional, but not really "out there" either. Accompanying the treasures are the framed family photos - also priceless.

It's a home that exudes an eclectic, yet comfortable and happy vibe, which is demonstrated as Michael gets down on his knees to clean cat "mistakes" out of a $7,000 carpet. "Welcome to my life," he says. A life filled with art, with family, with passion. A life dedicated to pursuing dreams and living them.




Sign up for our Newsletter
Subscribe to theMagazine

Subscribe to Ottawa at Home for only $25.00 + hst per year. Click to Subscribe.