Architecture and plants breathe new life into a tiny Villeray duplex
Sitting on a narrow, shallow lot, this 1940s duplex housed two dark apartments. Its old, foundation-less veranda at the rear limited natural light. In order to increase the living space and enjoy greater privacy and natural light, the owners wanted to excavate the basement, annex the first floor and extend with a mezzanine.
By placing the kitchen in the center of the living area and facing the staircase, two bright spaces are freed up: the living room on the courtyard side and the dining room on the street side. This atypical layout takes advantage of the beautiful luminosity of the street-facing façade, and highlights the kitchen interface and its open-plan layout. The timeless palette of white powder-coated steel, natural birch wood and slate tiles highlights the presence of green plants and maximizes natural light. Suspended shelves, large built-in bookcases and other handcrafted furnishings provide ample opportunity for home gardeners to place their beautiful plants.
The openwork birch plywood staircase with its large matching planter links the three levels, illuminated by the soft zenithal light from the glass façades of the mezzanine office. Upstairs are two large bedrooms and a shared bathroom. In the basement, a laboratory with a panoramic view of the garden is perfect for small experiments. A veritable therapy of plants and light, this major transformation enables a young family to continue living in their neighborhood without compromise. It’s happiness among plants!
A family home now part of the Terrasses de Cap-à-l’Aigle collection in Charlevoix
November 2021. The architects visit the luxurious rental homes on this breathtaking mountain above La Malbaie in Charlevoix. Cantilevers, curtain walls, floating terraces, garden roofs and recessed residences: these architect-designed homes are bursting with creativity. How do you build a rental villa that blends in naturally with Charlevoix’s imposing, craggy landscapes? How can you create a warm, family-friendly environment while limiting your carbon footprint?
With its large gallery overlooking the river and its majestic metal roof, Le Grand Bercail evokes a sense of timelessness. A contemporary Maison Québécoise, it is as comforting as it is astonishing. Built to take advantage of the sun’s rays in winter and multiply views in all seasons, it uses its large roof overhangs to reduce overheating during heatwaves. Its hyper-insulated walls, roof and glazing (40% more than required) and excellent airtightness (0.35 CAH) make it a house that stays cool in summer and warm in winter. The delicacy of its setting between the trees and its palette inspired by boreal tones give the impression that it has always existed.
Time seems to stand still in the middle of this Plateau Mont-Royal home
Squeezed between three white gypsum walls, the kitchen was narrow and a little dark, despite its large black sliding doors opening onto the interior courtyard. In the late ’90s, the previous owner of this single-family home, architect Jean-René Corbeil, had never quite achieved his ambitions. Almost 30 years later, the new owner, an architecture enthusiast, decided to complete the work by opening up the kitchen to the living room and rectifying a series of awkward features on the upper floor.
To enhance the splendor of the courtyard, the architects proposed moving the powder room next to the garage, part of which was converted into a mudroom. Flanked by a deep-blue bar and a white oak shelf-bench, the open-plan living area features the kitchen and dining room arranged in enfilade. In the hallway, the matching oak wardrobe-bench provides attractive, effortlessly accessible storage. Mosaic and stone on the upper floor add a touch of color to the overall composition. Time stands still. Enjoy it! It’s intermission!
Journey to Japan in a loft on Laurier Avenue
Exasperated by the pandemic and in need of travel, this audiophile couple dreamed of major renovations and… a journey to Japan! Their Laurier Avenue loft, formerly a private pub, had been strangely fitted out by a designer in the 90s, with a huge windowless bedroom in the center, a large living room in front, a tiny kitchen in the back and little storage space. Fascinated by traditional Japanese ryokan inns, the couple wanted to infuse a bit of Japanese culture into their daily lives.
The foundations were laid for a major transformation! The addition of a large, angled skylight in the center of the loft created a bright, spacious kitchen. The long countertop backs onto a completely uncluttered wall, into which the kitchen hood is recessed. The rear bedroom is quieter and offers a view of the garden. The reuse of mahogany moldings and doors reminds us of the illustrious past of this former private club. The recovery of maple furniture from the 90s maximizes storage and gives a sense of height as you enter the dwelling. The living room, generously open to Rue Laurier, offers a subdued ambiance in high-fidelity music mode. The visit culminates in the bathroom, featuring a spectacular Japanese wooden bathtub, the ofuro, highlighted by tadelakt plaster and an asnaro wood slatted ceiling. Home sweet home!
A young Rosemont family implements its plan to convert their duplex into a single-family home
With its growing needs, this Rosemont family was eager to make a dream of inhabiting its duplex’s second floor become reality. In the midst of a pandemic and with galloping inflation, how could they undertake this major renovation without breaking the bank? By entrusting her project to the architects L. McComber, they decided to take on this great adventure step by step, starting with the plans.
The ground floor was partially redesigned to create a fluid interior circulation between the two levels. The existing staircase was retained, and now closes with a large sliding door that can take two positions: the first one limits the noise between the living area on the ground floor and the open office on the second floor, and the second one between the same living area and the family room in the basement. The entrance, welcoming and bright, is structured by a storage cabinet cleverly hidden in a wooden bench that delineates a shoe-free zone. The kitchen is expanded in place by opening up the dining room wall. A large bookcase provides openings for light to pass between the living room and the dining room. The reorganized second floor features three bedrooms and an office open to the staircase. A second en suite bathroom is added to serve the master bedroom. The street facade is preserved and the facade in the alley is restored with a new balcony featuring a galvanized steel railing. This project demonstrates that a creative approach to architecture can optimize both resources and available space for a city family whose needs are constantly changing.
Modular prefabrication to save a heritage shoebox in Rosemont
How can a second floor be added to a heritage shoebox on a budget and within a limited time frame? For the first time that we know of in Montreal, architects used modular construction to build an addition on top of a century-old house. Using this technique, the rooms and their bathroom are built in a factory, then shipped and assembled on site. Making up the full width of the lot, each of the three wood-frame pods is craned in place, minimizing disturbances to neighbors.
To highlight the shoebox, the second floor is set back one meter from the original façade. The exterior wood siding matches the masonry tones of the area. In alignment with the geometry of the parapet and the old sash windows, the new openings are protected from summer overheating by overhangs forming large frames. On the first floor, the renovation of the kitchen and the addition of a staircase are the main features of the living area. Upstairs, the parents’ bedrooms are connected by a closet hidden behind the bathroom, offering the most intimate of all circulations. Thanks to this transformation, this typical shoebox in Rosemont has kept its historical cachet while giving itself a new identity, elegant and functional, meeting the needs of a modern family.
A first floor in the Petite-Patrie neighborhood is converted into a Mediterranean-like oasis
The owners of this two-storey triplex built in the 1920s had previously gotten a poorly designed and poorly built extension. Worn out by this painful experience and forced to make multiple corrections to the structure of the volume, they seized the opportunity to redesign the dwelling to mirror their needs.
The Mediterranean-style living room opens generously onto a large terrace on the same level, bathed in soft light filtered through a cedar pergola. By covering the existing extension with a warm and luminous white coating, the architects took the opportunity to improve the insulation and airtightness of the exterior walls. Space optimization allows each child to have their own bedroom at the front, adds a lot of storage in the center and arranges the living area around the courtyard with its kitchen, dining room and reading area.
With a friendly wooden island in the center, a reading bench nestled in the corner, and built-in curvilinear bookcases, the space is now warm and inviting. Discover Al Partma, the apartment with a subtle Arabian atmosphere that celebrates the Mediterranean origins of this Montreal family!
Rescue of a semi-detached single-family home in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
This beautiful house, more than a century old, had been suffering from serious foundation problems for many years. The condition of the building’s structure required a complete underpinning and total interior stripping. Given the scope of demolition, how could the soul of this house built in 1917 be preserved?
The main original components of the façade were restored: the wooden solarium over the entrance porch was repaired, the red clay brickwork was repointed, the tinwork was repainted and the stained glass windows were reinstalled. At the rear, a large cedar deck arcs around the driveway. Inside, the new white kitchen contrasts with the black, raw steel staircase. In addition to improving acoustics, the herringbone pattern of the stairwell brick catches the zenithal light. All other interior finishes echo the old palette of stained red oak and white plaster. The rescue operation was a success: the Northcliffe house is alive and well!
A modest but highly efficient country home is built on a hillside in the Eastern Townships
Can you build an efficient architect-designed home in the middle of nowhere on a decent budget? That was the hope of a young family when they purchased their land in 2019. With the pandemic, the project accelerated. The challenge was to take advantage of the view of the green mountains to the west, maximize thermal gains in the winter to the south, reduce deforestation on the land, minimize the building’s footprint in the landscape, all with the lowest cost and… as quickly as possible !
Compact and minimal, the interior volume is located near the road and oriented towards the view to the west. A long shed extends the roof over the entrance, protecting its inhabitants from unwanted glances and their car from bad weather. From the road, the house is totally unremarkable. As you step inside, you are surrounded by the woodland on one side and the horizon on the other. The tall mature ash and maple trees to the south protect the windows from the summer overheat. The walk-in master bedroom enjoys a stunning view toward the sunset, while the three compact garden level bedrooms take advantage of the sloping land. The prefabrication of the highly airtight wooden walls made it possible to quickly build an almost passive house with a lean consumption of 114 kWh/m²/year. Despite the post-pandemic inflation, the challenge was met ! Welcome to the friendly Schoolcraft solar house !
Restoration of a stunning 1976 single-family residence
From the Saint-Marc limestone stairway to the layout of the bedrooms and their oversize closets, from the large kitchen overlooking the garden to the dramatic interior spiral staircase, the distinctive elements of this home have been restored to preserve its welcoming personality. The use of classic materials such as wood, travertine and brass soften the composition and recall the origins of the house built during the Montreal Olympic Games. In the courtyard, the rotted wooden terrace is transformed into a gorgeous pool by the garden. Multiple plateau terraces integrate the pool fences and create both a small outdoor living room plus a patio to eat outside. On either side of the courtyard and against the natural stone wall, vegetation and an English garden adorn what has turned into a haven of peace in the mountain ! A dream comes true !