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Separate Boîte Equal

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From the leafy sidewalk outside Paul Bernier and Joëlle Thibault’s home in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood of Montreal, there’s no clue that their brick home is all that different from its neighbors. But step inside, and perceptions quickly shift.

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  Greenery bursts out to the street from the side yard of Paul Bernier and Joëlle Thibault’s home.  Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    Greenery bursts out to the street from the side yard of Paul Bernier and Joëlle Thibault’s home. Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
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  In the second-floor hallway, Bernier skipped typical hardwood flooring in favor of thin strips of birch boards spaced a distance apart to allow light to filter between the two levels.  Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    In the second-floor hallway, Bernier skipped typical hardwood flooring in favor of thin strips of birch boards spaced a distance apart to allow light to filter between the two levels. Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
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  Bernier helps seven-year-old Edouard with his homework while four-year-old Victor flaunts his rebellious side.  Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    Bernier helps seven-year-old Edouard with his homework while four-year-old Victor flaunts his rebellious side. Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
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  Sheltered behind the fence that runs along the sidewalk, the plantings give the courtyard the feeling of an urban oasis.  Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    Sheltered behind the fence that runs along the sidewalk, the plantings give the courtyard the feeling of an urban oasis. Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
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  Because they also dampen the sounds of the city, the garden is a peaceful retreat, even though it’s located next to the road.  Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    Because they also dampen the sounds of the city, the garden is a peaceful retreat, even though it’s located next to the road. Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
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  A small, single-story addition to the row house adds a playroom without eating up too much outdoor space. A green roof also helps makes up for lost garden beds, while creating attractive, leafy views from the second and third floors. In summer, when the sliding doors are left wide open, indoor and outdoor spaces blend together.  Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    A small, single-story addition to the row house adds a playroom without eating up too much outdoor space. A green roof also helps makes up for lost garden beds, while creating attractive, leafy views from the second and third floors. In summer, when the sliding doors are left wide open, indoor and outdoor spaces blend together. Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
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  One wall section in the playroom juts in to sidestep a mature tree outside, while slender windows allow the kids to monitor its progress through the seasons.  Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    One wall section in the playroom juts in to sidestep a mature tree outside, while slender windows allow the kids to monitor its progress through the seasons. Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
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  On the top floor, a new addition provides office space for Bernier and Thibault, where a V-shaped ceiling maximizes headroom within local building-height restrictions.  Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    On the top floor, a new addition provides office space for Bernier and Thibault, where a V-shaped ceiling maximizes headroom within local building-height restrictions. Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
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  Open-Door Policy“These big sliding doors allow us to open the bedrooms right up or close them down,” says Bernier, noting that he built the doors on-site from birch boards to keep costs down and then used tracks and hardware from K. N. Crowder. “For now, the kids don’t like it when I close them too much,” but as they approach their teenage years, it will be easy to create more privacy.kncrowder.com  Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    Open-Door Policy“These big sliding doors allow us to open the bedrooms right up or close them down,” says Bernier, noting that he built the doors on-site from birch boards to keep costs down and then used tracks and hardware from K. N. Crowder. “For now, the kids don’t like it when I close them too much,” but as they approach their teenage years, it will be easy to create more privacy.kncrowder.com Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
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  A Vine RomanceOne of Bernier’s earliest and ongoing projects is covering the exterior with vines, including Virginia creeper, which grows thickly and can survive cold winters. It not only helps keep the home cool in summer, he says, but also muffles the sounds of the city outside. For urban-friendly gardens, Bernier recommends the landscape company Jardinzurbains.jardinzurbains.com  Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    A Vine RomanceOne of Bernier’s earliest and ongoing projects is covering the exterior with vines, including Virginia creeper, which grows thickly and can survive cold winters. It not only helps keep the home cool in summer, he says, but also muffles the sounds of the city outside. For urban-friendly gardens, Bernier recommends the landscape company Jardinzurbains.jardinzurbains.com Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
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  Hole in SomeBernier forewent hardware pulls on most of the cabinetry. Instead, he cut holes in the plain fronts to serve as handles—circles in some, rectangles in others. The only exceptions are the messiest areas, like below the kitchen sink, where he installed stainless-steel pull bars by Richelieu that can stand up to wet and soiled hands.richelieu.com  Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    Hole in SomeBernier forewent hardware pulls on most of the cabinetry. Instead, he cut holes in the plain fronts to serve as handles—circles in some, rectangles in others. The only exceptions are the messiest areas, like below the kitchen sink, where he installed stainless-steel pull bars by Richelieu that can stand up to wet and soiled hands.richelieu.com Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
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  Reel SimpleFor a simple, low-cost bedside reading light with a dash of industrial style, Bernier ran a standard-issue cord set through a vintage clothesline pulley, which he picked up at a flea market, on Thibault’s side of the bed. “If she ever wants it to be higher, she can easily adjust it,” he says.  Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    Reel SimpleFor a simple, low-cost bedside reading light with a dash of industrial style, Bernier ran a standard-issue cord set through a vintage clothesline pulley, which he picked up at a flea market, on Thibault’s side of the bed. “If she ever wants it to be higher, she can easily adjust it,” he says. Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
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  Keep RightTo eliminate flex in the cantilevered stairs, Bernier placed the structural stringer off-center. “When you climb the stairs and hold the rail, you actually step closer to the inside edge,” he says. He also located the handrail against the wall to keep it from visually interrupting the living room. The custom metalwork is by Félix Lepage.felixlepagedesign.comDon't miss a word of Dwell! Download our  FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!   Photo by Alexi Hobbs.
    Keep RightTo eliminate flex in the cantilevered stairs, Bernier placed the structural stringer off-center. “When you climb the stairs and hold the rail, you actually step closer to the inside edge,” he says. He also located the handrail against the wall to keep it from visually interrupting the living room. The custom metalwork is by Félix Lepage.felixlepagedesign.com

    Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

    Photo by Alexi Hobbs.

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