The House with a Big Heart in Montreal, Canada by Entre Quatre Murs

09 Nov 2023

Major renovation of a Montreal family house.

Photo credit: Phil Bernard

Entre Quatre Murs unveils its design of The House with a Big Heart, located in the Town of Mount Royal, in Montreal. Originally built in 1959, the house had not been renovated for several decades and featured typical enclosed rooms and small, narrow, dark hallways. The clients wanted to create a home that would fit their lifestyle. They chose to purchase the property for its location and large garden but wanted a radical transformation of all its floors so that their young family could thrive within its walls for many years to come.

Making light a central element of the house

To overcome the lack of natural light, the approach was to open up the existing house by decompartmentalizing many of the rooms, and by creating an impressive opening between the first and second floors. The completely open, white wooden staircase, with glass railings crossing all three residence floors, gives an impression of lightness as soon as one enters the space, allowing sunlight to pass through the entire house. To create a strong connection with the outside, wide openings were made on the rear facade, providing views of the garden from all the floors.

Each room in its own time

Although the space is an entirely open concept, the kitchen is not directly visible upon entering the house, nor is it visible from the living room or the open-space office located on the second floor. Only by taking the stairs is it possible to appreciate all the spaces simultaneously.

"We wanted each room to have its privacy, and the views between each space not to detract from the enjoyment of the moment, but simply to allow glimpses of other family members moving from room to room. So, even though the majority of the two floors are one open plan, the bespoke furniture and positioning of the rooms offer a sense of calm and privacy," explains Gatline Artis, owner of the house and designer at Entre Quatre Murs.

An unconventional approach was taken for the kitchen design. It is divided into two separate spaces. The front portion consists of three integrated furniture elements that were designed to give a sense of lightness and refinement. There are no wall cabinets, the china cabinet is reminiscent of the bookcases found in the living room, and the delicate legs of the island allow for a communal table area around which the family gathers each evening to prepare dinner. Behind the front portion, the all-black pantry stands out from the kitchen by its contrast, highlighting it. To facilitate access, it was deliberately planned that no door would close it off. A true extension of the kitchen, this space has been maximized to discreetly integrate the refrigerator, the coffee corner, as well as all the small daily appliances. These elements remain visually hidden but within easy access. Humble and unifying, this space, deeply rooted in family life, harmoniously combines aesthetics and functionality.


When privacy and common space go hand in hand

On the second floor, all private spaces are articulated around the central opening of the house. Far from the original corridors and partitioned spaces, the new configuration plunges occupants into the heart of family life as soon as they leave their private spaces. These spaces act as small cocoons of intimacy and allow for the rhythm of life of the different members of the family. Particular attention was paid to the acoustic insulation of these spaces. 

An integral part of the floor plan designs, the office has become a central piece in the owners' daily lives. They wanted to be able to work from home occasionally with unobstructed views of the garden. Placed in the centre of the space, the large work surfaces act as a central island around which all members of the family can gather to work, including the children during homework time.

Four functions, one space

No detail in this project was overlooked, including the basement in which three functions coexist harmoniously without overlapping. This was made possible by the use of cabinetry modules that provide a visual delineation between the gym, the pool area, and the family room. To optimize the use of the space, the design of these custom-made pieces of furniture also enhances the functionality of each sub-space. The result is a lively and multifunctional basement used daily by the whole family.

"We were looking for a sweet home, a little cocoon where we could see our children grow up, but above all, we wanted a home that reflected our image. Creating our own completely bespoke home, in which we could live and thrive for decades to come, was paramount. From the first pencil stroke to the last paint touch-up, the process was laborious, but we don't regret the adventure at all. The house continues to amaze us with each passing season, and exceeds our expectations of functionality and quality of life," explains Gatline Artis.

Technical sheet

Official Project Name: Dobie
Location: Mont-Royal, QC, Canada
Studio: Entre Quatre Murs
Designer / Project manager: Gatline Artis
Contractor: Projet Caron
Cabinetmaker: Création Avantage
Suppliers: Slik Design, Stonetile, Ramacieri Soligo, Caesarstone, Brizo, Ethnicraft, EQ3, Crate & Barrel, Herman Miller, Delightful, Normann Copenhagen, Gus Modern, Sonneman.
Area: 3200 sq ft
Year: 2022
Photo credit: Phil Bernard
Awards and recognitions: 6 Gold Certifications at the Grands Prix du Design - 16th edition