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Why jazz musician Matt Zimbel loves his new living room

Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

In the year just past, Matt Zimbel, a co-founder of the Canadian jazz fusion band Manteca, released his 11th album (Monday Night at the Mensa Disco) and purchased a new, four-storey loft-style home in Montreal's emerging Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district. This year, the New York-born musician, a resident of Canada since the 1970s, will be touring the country in the summer to promote the new release; on the homefront, he is putting the finishing touches on the space he shares with his girlfriend, Lyne Tremblay, an award-winning actress and former dancer from Lac-St-Jean, Que. With her help, Zimbel has been gradually renovating the 2,500-square-foot apartment, a former thread factory that had been converted into a residential property in 1984; among other things, they are restoring the original wood floor and adding art pieces created by his father, the still-active American documentary photographer George Zimbel. A self-confessed lover of design and decor, the younger Zimbel hatches ideas while relaxing in the massive 20-by-35-square-foot living room. "It's certainly big enough," he says. "It's got a lot of old wood surfaces, so it's a beautiful space. I can imagine turning it into a salon."

The lamp

"This is built from a Bunsen burner I found in Maine and a mechanic's light I found in Nova Scotia. I made it myself."

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The framed silk purse

"My sister, Jodie Zimbel, who is adopted from Korea, brought it to the U.S. with her. It was a gift she gave to each of her three new brothers, me included. I think it's beautiful and it will always remind me of her."

The photograph

"This is by my father and it's an image that is also in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is called The Goose and it's a signature work because it shows how well he can capture spontaneity."

The lighting

"I use a lot of MR16 bulbs. They are low-voltage and you can get a lot of different beam sizes from them. I use them to light the room like a stage."

The wall colour

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"It's a moody grey by Benjamin Moore called Raccoon Fur. I found out about it at Commute Home, a Toronto store I love. I love this colour in particular because it takes light so beautifully."

The bench

"My mother bought this in 1960 for $15 from a catalogue in the U.S. It's a simple pine bench and she has always been amazed that I have liked it so much."

The chairs

"These club chairs come from a 1920s men's club in Paris, so they must have had a lot of pompous asses sitting in them. I bought them in Montreal at a store that no longer exists."

The staircase

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"I love the ascent of the stairs into the light. It leads to the bedrooms on the upper floor."

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About the Author

Deirdre Kelly is a features writer for The Globe and Mail. She is the author of the best-selling Paris Times Eight and Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection (Greystone Books). More

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