Dominique Pirolo was thrilled with her purchase: 'I think I was only the second or third person to move into the complex.'
Dominique Pirolo was born in Italy but she came to Canada as a baby and grew up in the east end of Montreal and in Mile End. As an adult she lived in Ville-Marie and over the years, she has taken business courses at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management and online courses in leadership change through Cornell University. Now in her late 40s, Pirolo holds certificates in executive development and professional coaching. For the past decade, she has worked in human resources as a talent recruiter for SAP, a German-based software company with offices around the world.
Pirolo is the first to admit that she loves studying and she is constantly setting herself new goals. Describing herself jokingly as “a professional student,” she has just attended a two-day course at Concordia University. In the business world, she says, it’s important to keep abreast of what’s going on.
Four years ago, Pirolo also attained a non-work-related goal — namely to buy a place in Westmount. She began exploring the area when visiting her dentist, speculating about what it might be like to live here. She loved the village-like ambience of Westmount, contrasting it with the buzz of downtown.
Pirolo is clearly delighted with her decision to become a Westmounter. She loves her home — a 900-square-foot condo on the third floor of a modern, mid-rise building. It has an open-plan living area/kitchen and two bedrooms, one of which Pirolo uses as her dining room. There is a small balcony and a large, communal roof garden.
Being able to walk everywhere is one of Pirolo’s pleasures. (Although her condo came with a parking space, Pirolo rents it out because she doesn’t own a car.) It takes her just over five minutes to walk to Westmount Park and the Westmount Public Library — a favourite hangout where Pirolo loves to read and attend literary events.
Q: How did you settle on this particular condo?
A: I actually put in offers on a couple of other places, but I lost out on those. Property in Westmount goes very quickly. This building was under construction and I was able to buy my condo off-plan. That was great, because as well as being able to live in a brand-new building — I think I was only the second or third person to move into the complex — I could select things for the interior.
Q: What kinds of things?
A: My floors. My cupboards. The kitchen cabinets. The ceramic tiles…
Q: People who buy off-plan are often able to upgrade the interior before moving in. Did you consider doing that?
A: There was no need. This is a high-end condo. The developer has used quality materials, even for the fittings in the bathroom and kitchen. The doors are fireproof and I have a ‘smart’ lock that’s connected to the electrical wiring. When I walk in, the lights go on!
Q: What about your furniture? Given that this was a brand-new apartment, did you buy new furniture to go with it?
A: Just a few things, like my kitchen appliances, which are Italian. Before moving here, I had an old, large apartment, much bigger than this one, so I sold some stuff when I had an open house. I kept the pieces that I liked, including a few things from my mom. (Pirolo indicates a side lamp next to the sofa.)
She died just before my move and I’d cleared out her home so I realized it would be a good idea to keep everything as simple as possible.
Q: I notice you’ve used a mixture of styles in your living room.
A: I like to blend the old and the new. The antique-style Louis XIV chest of drawers with the inlaid wood and marble top comes from Spain. I found it here though, in a secondhand place.
(Opposite this handsome piece is a half-moon chest of drawers on which stands a lamp with a colourful, Tiffany-style shade. On each side of the chest of drawers are a couple plastic ghost chairs. We walk into the bedroom Pirolo uses as her dining room.)
Q: That’s quite the table! I like the glass top but what’s the carved stone underneath that’s supporting it?
A: It looks as if it could be something precious, but it’s actually made of concrete.
Q: That large painting on the wall beside the table, of a couple dancing, looks vaguely familiar. Is it by somebody famous?
A: I did it! I copied it from a painting by Fernando Botero.
(A Colombian painter, Botero is known for his humorous, oversized human figures.)
Q: Don’t tell me you’ve also taken a course on painting?
A: (Laughs) I have, but that’s a whole other story.
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Shelter is a series featuring a conversation with tenants or condo owners.
Occupant: Dominique Pirolo, late 40s
Location: Lower Westmount
Size: 900 square feet (plus a balcony)
Been there: Since December 2015