A Monochromatic Renovation for a 19th-Century Montreal Home

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By Emily Shapiro / Published by Dwell
Once a residence for the stable hands responsible for the horses and carriages of a grander home in Montreal, this structure now serves as a modern, minimal family home.

After plans to completely redesign the edifice and interior of this this late-19th-century building were thwarted by city preservation regulations, architect Maxime Moreau was forced to come up with a creative solution. Instead of sacrificing the facade as his clients had requested, Moreau rebuilt the original 1890s wood siding, molding, cornices, and window frames, but proposed painting the entire exterior black. The bold, monochromatic hue served as a nod to avant-garde architecture and satisfied his clients’ wish for an adventurous, contemporary home.

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The owners’ goal was to transform the 19th-century building into a bold single-family residence. Historical architectural details were made modern with a striking black facade, while inside, a flexible living space that opens into an exterior garden enables a simplified lifestyle.

Inside, a flexible open-plan with minimal furniture continues the modern aesthetic. The couple, both art and design enthusiasts, opted to demolish everything inside the existing structure, opening the living space and extending it into an exterior garden terrace that sits on the same level. With what little furniture they have fitted with wheels, the couple can move seamlessly from indoors to outdoors.

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A 13-foot-wide sliding door by Portes Unis St-Michel opens the rear exterior onto a terrace, where the owners spend much of their time. The Series Skyline fireplace by Marquis and movable furniture make the garden an extension of the living space in all seasons.

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The communication between interior and exterior is unmistakable. The polished steel that surrounds the fireplace and the concrete floor’s dark finish recall the home’s exterior, while the contrasting stark white walls create a visual language as striking as the building’s black facade.

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By foregoing a fixed dining table in favor of a large American walnut wood countertop by Cuisine Elysee, the couple is able to enjoy a open space with a clear view of the back of the house and the garden terrace outside.

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A short wall on the kitchen island hides clutter and keeps the straight lines of the design unmarred. Almost every lighting fixture, including the overhead Artemide Tolomeo light, is movable. The refrigerator and oven are from Fisher and Paykel.

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The staircase’s steel guardrail and the custom black bookshelf create a link between the kitchen, the living space, and the entryway.

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While the second level has more privacy, the first floor’s airiness continues upstairs. Sliding doors are kept open to allow light to pass through the bedroom, which has a cherry-stained walnut floor.

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