How to Refresh a Midcentury Gem in Quebec? Winter-White Everything

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By Emily Shapiro / Published by Dwell
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A renovated home blends interior and exterior, uniting nature and materiality.

Originally built in the 1960s, this home in Laval, Quebec, has remained in one family for decades. In 2013, the owners sought out Architecture Open Form, a Montreal-based company, to give it an update. In collaboration with interior design firm FX Studio par Clairoux, the team transformed dated interiors into contemporary spaces, drawing on original architectural details to maintain the home's integrity. The result is a modern haven with open terraces that extend into the surrounding landscape.

The horizontal layout of the home allows for easy movement throughout the interior, while the line of the continuous roof seems to extend into the trees. Enlarging the opening of the home allowed for impressive views of the river and surrounding area.

During the two-year renovation, emphasis was placed not only on honoring, but on enhancing, the horizontality of the original building’s prairie-style layout. In order to do so, architect Maurice Martel installed a continuous cedar wood roof and added open entries on each end. Reintroducing the use of natural wood and enlarging the outdoor space created an elegant continuity to the architectural form of the exterior. Inside, the space was transformed into a minimalist retreat, in which pale, nuanced colors and modern furniture, take precedence. 

It was important to the owners that the architects leave intact several distinctive details of the original home, such as the huge central chimney, which the architect calls, “The soul of the family home.” Its natural stone complements the continuous cedar roof.

The mix of stone, masonry, and wood in the south-facing terrace replicates the style of the original house. In order to ensure the space felt warm and inviting, the architect replaced the existing steel structure with solid cedar, adding cedar posts and shutters to unite the wood ceiling with both the interior and with nature outside.

The open terrace is fitted with recessed lighting by Foscarini and a StoneTile floor. It houses an outdoor kitchen and dining area, as well as a fireplace and a spa. Inside, it connects to a gym and sauna in the basement.

On the other end of the property, a terrace faces northeast, overlooking a small stream flowing into the Riviére des Prairies.

The addition of a glass wall in the center of the property further opens the interior space to the outside and allows for an additional source of natural light.

The interior features neutral colors and streamlined appliances like the Miele oven, stovetop, and refrigerator and Espace Cuisine cabinets.

“Everything was chosen to create harmony and be coherent,” says interior designer Frédric Clairoux. “Every piece has a reason.” Much of the furniture was sourced from the same contemporary furniture showroom, Latitude Nord, including the Arper chairs, Tibetan carpet, sofa, and table.

Painted beams serve to separate interior spaces.

Playful stylistic details, such as two-toned dining chairs from Latitude Nord and a creative lighting fixture from Au Courant, are juxtaposed with the rest of the home’s tranquil elegance.

Horizontal lines and long, rectangular spaces train the eye towards the exterior. A glass and steel side table from Roche Bobois offers a geometric break from the linearity of the living room.

The lower floor houses a spa, gym, and office. A built-in bathroom by Espace Cuisine includes a sauna.