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The Edmonton home of Gilles Herbet

John Ulan/Epic

Art-museum maverick Gilles Hébert has led a peripatetic life. Born in Winnipeg, he began his career at two of the city's leading galleries: St. Norbert's Art Centre and the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art. As director of Saskatoon's Mendel Art Gallery, he curated 1990's Joni Mitchell: Voices, establishing himself as a force in Canadian art. Last year, he became the executive director of the newly expanded Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, where he shares a modernist 1950s bungalow with his architect wife and their son.

Hébert spends what little spare time he has in the recently renovated living room, his favourite because it's museum-like. 'The room is filled with art and artifacts that span 25 years of my life in galleries,' he says

THE DINING ROOM SUITE: "The dining room suite is mahogany. It was designed by Canadian architect Issie Coop and his wife, Cynthia Coop, an interior designer. The set was built by Cramer Custom Furniture, which closed in the early 1980s, in the north end of Winnipeg. The table, when fully extended, can accommodate 12 or more."

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THE ART: "The painting of the highball is by Alberta artist Blake Senini and references the 1970s subliminal messaging trend. It takes you a while to find the word "sex" in the ice cubes, but it's there. Every piece we have has a story; the art is mostly from projects I organized, artists I worked with or gifts."

THE FLOORING: "It's all new and continues throughout the house. The material is tiger cork, an eco-material that I love because it looks so modern. We laid it down after getting rid of the medium-brown shag rug that had previously been there. It was utterly depressing."

THE FIREPLACE: "One of the things we really liked about the house was its angel-stone-like brick fireplace. In fact, the stone is pink, made of clay and not angel stone at all. The fireplace itself is about nine feet wide, which is huge. After we got the place, we discovered that it had been altered with a pretty bad gas insert so we restored it to its wood-burning past."

THE SOFA: "The sofa, designed by Adrian Pearsall, is 11 feet long and has built-in marble end tables. We bought it at an estate sale for $125. The original owners, we were told, picked it up in the 1950s in Chicago. It weighs a tonne, but we've still moved it all over the country."

6. THE DRAPES: "They are original to the house. We just love them. We didn't want to throw them away, so we hauled them down, cleaned them and stuck them back up. The neutral colour allows everything else in the room to pop."

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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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