Marco Khalil and Caroline West have created a veritable Kunstkammer in their apartment in Victoria, British Columbia. Marco is a nautical captain and Caroline is a magazine art director, and together they have a passion for collecting. So when it came time to find an apartment, having enough space to display their collections was of paramount importance. They chose the Rockland neighborhood of Victoria, where Marco has lived since he was ten years old. It also happens to be a neighborhood filled with heritage mansions and grand estates. The couple found a rental apartment in one of those heritage mansions that still had most of its vintage charm intact. And, fittingly, their house actually functions like a museum. They have a nearby storage space for the bulk of their collection and then rotate out their displays whenever they feel like changing things up. It’s their living museum.-Amy
Photography: Caroline West
Image above: A wool, 48-star American flag graces the living room wall. This backdrop hosts a revolving collection of vintage linen and wool flags that I display for periods of time. The leather club chair is by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams collection and was a very inexpensive Craigslist find as it was faded from a deep butterscotch color to this light caramel – thanks to many years in a San Francisco, then Costa Rican sunroom. The metal globe is by Denoyer-Geppert ‘Cartocraft’ series (Chicago 1940s). Its surface is ‘slated’ like a chalkboard for plotting navigational problems. The only thing I remember about 4th grade was a globe like this in our classroom which I coveted relentlessly, and was probably the early start of my globe fascination. After years of searching, this globe was found on display in the remote British Columbia town of Hedley.
Image above: The moose, caribou and deer skulls line the living room wall, giving the space a gentleman’s club feel. They have a subtle grey weathered patina as they spent many years decorating an old oak tree and were salvaged by the arborist when the tree was removed. Below the skulls is a panoramic photo of a Canadian military regimen, dated 1917, and is part of a collection of about 40 regimental photos that I’ve collected over the years. The sofa came along with the club chair – a Craigslist bargain. I spontaneously assembled the coffee table from scraps found in the basement one rainy afternoon. It’s made of a repurposed five-drawer library card catalogue section that I paired to a fir top and legs with casters. The tripod lamp is my own design made with a Kodak boxwood camera tripod (dated 1892) and a wire safety cage from a 1920s mechanics light. The canvas cushions were handmade by Caroline using vintage boat signal flags as appliqué. The vintage schoolhouse clock on the oak Yawman and Erbe card file drawer both date to the 1920s. The four-drawer, olive green metal cabinet was the top half of a file cabinet that I cut down to preserve the shallow drawers. It has a beautiful patina and solid brass hardware. The jute area rug is reversible with a wide or narrow wale pattern and was purchased at Urban Barn.
See more of this Canadian home after the jump!
Image above: A collection of silver loving cups and trophies from the 1920s are set atop a vintage wood tackle box with foundry patterns. Below, antique British Boy’s adventure stories from the time of the First War are wrought with guidance in fortitude, moral structure and becoming the quintessential Englishman. Everything is displayed within a Globe-Wernicke quarter-sawn Oak Barrister Bookcase from the 1920s.
Image above: This is a small telephone niche of the living room. The small quarter-sawn oak secretaire was a local vintage shop find and fits the niche perfectly. Arrayed within is an ever-changing vignette. Now vintage oil portraits mingle with a science book series that have wonderfully embossed covers. The 1907 Corona typewriter is a cherished Craigslist find and a favourite out of the about forty or so portable typewriters I own. The lamp is another of my own designs, using a wood foundry pattern as a base. Atop the books is a human skull as Memento Mori in this tableau is part of a Victorian-era medical collection I purchased privately.
Image above: The wall hanging is a fragment of a tram destination blind from Adelaide, Australia (1930s). A real ‘barn find,’ these were found in a hayloft in the Australian countryside and purchased for a trifle. We’ve repurposed other sections as window blinds in our vintage school bus/mobile cabin. A handmade wood model of the USS Baltimore in 1:92 scale is over 7’ long and was found dustily neglected on a shelf in a painters studio on Vancouver Island. Its final 100-mile voyage home was up on my car’s roof rack. The cabinet is a zinc-topped, quarter-sawn oak printers worktable with shallow tray shelves within the cabinet doors. It, and the barrister bookcase section above were Craigslist finds. Within the bookcase section is Tacoma, a taxidermied hedgehog mounted on a leather-bound legal book titled ‘Washington Territory Reports – 1886.’ It was purchased in Tacoma, Washington from a boy who was selling a fantastically odd collection of antique smalls to raise money for a bus ticket to NYC! The foundry patterns in wood: the large cog, labeled ‘Slew Bevel Gear’, is from the foundry that produced the gates to Buckingham Palace, London.
Image above: A kinetic didactic model of a horizontal heat engine by G. Cussons, Manchester dates to 1896. Disposal surplus from Sydney University, this heavy iron and wood model came home in my checked baggage. The oak card file drawers with original bronze hardware were an inexpensive Craigslist find that needed a complete restoration.
Image above: This is our compact galley kitchen with original cabinetry and a transom glass window. It’s illuminated by natural light from the bedroom window. What this galley lacks in space it more than made up for in a storage wall and a large pantry cupboard opposing the wall niche.
Image above: The backdrop is an Ogden tobacco advertisement tin sign from 1910. A ‘Westclox’ schoolhouse electric clock found at a salvage shop and refurbished by me. The espresso machine: La Pavoni ‘Europiccola’ (1983) purchased in Sydney, Australia on the spot when I saw a man loading it into his car trunk during a house move.
Image above: A floor-to-ceiling niche populated with a ‘Westclox’ bedside alarm clock collection (1890-1935 vintage). The backdrop photos are military images from the first to second World War. The solid brass railroad station mechanical clock ticks to a sonorous beat.
Image above: A rusticated iron bed frame, found in an abandoned island cabin, received seven coatings of satin clear finish to fix its patina and prevent damage to bed linens. The tin plaque reads: ‘US Property Boundary,’ the back of this sign is ‘Government Property.’ The large bed cushion was made by Caroline for my birthday and sports a British Royal pennant flag dating to c.1890 as an appliqué.
Image above: A 1920s oak typists desk that we found sitting forlornly in the weather – and refinished – anchors the corner of the bedroom. The roller window blinds were made from a portion of an Adelaide, Australia tram destination blind from the 1930s. A real ‘barn find,’ these were discovered in a hayloft in the Australian countryside and purchased for a trifle. We’ve repurposed other sections as window blinds in our vintage school bus/mobile cabin. The world globe (1922) came from Paris, France and is housed in a delicate glass mercantile display cabinet (1890s) that I salvaged from a local hardware shop. The artwork (above the globe) is ‘Pineapple Girl’ by Claire Fletcher, London 1992. The artwork (portrait) marked: ‘charcoal drawing of Helen Jocelyn Gilman 1929’ by noted Canadian artist Lorna Lomer Macaulay was a Craigslist find.
Image above: “Edison,’ a 1950s Steiff mo-hair elephant-on-wheels was an unexpected auction find. The map of Europe by Cram (Chicago, dated 1924) shows former political boundaries which were reshaped after the Second World War. I framed it with fir wood trip and an old storefront window pane. The articulated brass lamp is by ‘Faries Co.’ (Decatur, Illinois 1907). A well travelled folio trunk with labels detailing its adventure is a perfect blanket box at the foot of the bed. A quilted counterpane bedcover was a mutual Valentine’s Day present to ourselves and purchased in Sydney, Australia at a shop called Country Road. The artwork above the nightstand is of Caroline’s souvenir salt shaker, a toy bear and a bison – all immortalized in oil by Australian painter Lucy Culliton.
Image above: A bedside table repurposed from an antique wood crate marked: ‘Friedman-Shelby’ – Atlantic Special – Men’s $3.50 and $5.00 shoes. The metal weather vane is part of an old farm electrical generation windmill and is marked: ‘Wincharger, 32 Volt’ in an emotive electric font (1930s). The articulated brass lamp is by ‘Faries Co.’ (Decatur, Illinois 1907). The stackable metal card file drawers are from the 1940s and have a beautiful, olive green finish with bronze hardware.
Image above: The upright steel cabinet, in a livery of khaki hammer-tone finish with cream pinstripes and chrome hardware, was one of a pair of sound system amplifiers from our local ‘Royal Theater.’ An original plaque on door reads Duosonic, London England. (1920s). It was saved from disposal by the old sound engineer back in the sixties, and I spotted it in his garage while on a buying visit. A tin toy aircraft marked: Pan American Airways (1930s) is perched on the cabinet and below is a WW2 US Navy pilots travel bag which was found in a vintage shop in Washington state. Caroline accompanied her friend, Australian painter Lucy Culliton, to Arizona in 2004 and these oil paintings are studies of ‘Saguaro Cactus National Monument’ and ‘Caroline at breakfast.’
Image above: A vintage schoolhouse map of Tasmania (1963) was purchased in an Australian oldwares shop as a memento of our visit to Hobart, Tasmania. The metal cabinet is a home canning/preserving oven with a New Orleans water meter manhole cover (a Mardi Gras souvenir) on its top. The Japanese glass fishing float was found on a remote Pacific beach on Vancouver Island while I was stationed there as a lighthouse keeper.
Image above: The bathroom was decorated in the theme of ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ and holds scientific instruments, medical cabinetry and anatomy specimens. The above window shelf displays quack medicinal bottles with curious statements embossed upon their aqua glass (all pre-1910). Propped below the shelf is a neon glass sign tube: ‘vacancy.’
Image above: The medicine cabinet holds a surprise within: vintage chemistry glassware mingles with Arsenic tablets, a flask of Mercury and a section of human brain preserved from a Victorian-era medical collection.
Image above: A closeup of the original pedestal sink and hardware with one of the 24 bevelled glass mirrors that line this room.
Image above: The glove mold is surrounded by a collection of vintage mirrors, most were purchased abroad and tucked into my carry-on luggage, all are now displayed atop a 1920s steel medical cabinet. The bathroom has the original subway tile with green inlay and the paint is a custom colour mix of Behr enamel by Home Depot. It is colour they formulated by scanning a fragment of a Robin’s egg shell I found in the garden.