Balaban designed the staircase to read like a piece of furniture. It features handsome wood steps and a metal railing. Balaban flipped the traditional hierarchy of the house and placed bedrooms on the ground floor and living spaces on the second story. "We ran through a lot of design iterations during the concept phase—some of them were a bit off the wall—before finally settling on the form and the concept of inversing the spaces and digging out the courtyard from the center of the house," Balaban says. "We all went through a few months of weekly meetings and iterations to fine tune the design and the spaces, choose the materials and settle on the details. We tried just about every combination and permutation of spatial organization and stair configuration possible. The shape of the courtyard also evolved to respond to the spaces moving around. Time was an important and indispensable ingredient in the process!"

"The living space is located on the upper floor and it's quite pleasant," Vu says. "The space is flooded with natural light all year long and has a view of mature trees in the neighborhood—it's stunning. We almost feel like we're in the countryside!"  Photo 4 of 12 in 11 Modern Stairways That Do Way More Than Just Connect Floors from A Minimal, Metal-Clad Montreal House With A Hidden Courtyard