La Maison MBM
By : MXMA Architecture & Design + Chamberland Design
GRANDS PRIX DU DESIGN – 16th edition
Discipline : Interior Design : Grand Winner
Categories : Special Awards / Heritage Preservation : Platinum Winner
Categories : Residence / Kitchen
Categories : Residence / Residential Space > 5,400 sq.ft. (> 500 sq.m.) : Gold Certification
Categories : Residence / Classic/Timeless Residential Space : Platinum Winner
Categories : Special Awards / Interior Design + Colour
Categories : Special Awards / Interior Design + Stairs
Categories : Residence / Bathroom : Platinum Winner
An English-style mansion takes us back in time to when the Tudor style dominated England. Yet the MBM House is located in the center of Montreal.
The new owners, a family with 6 children, decided to leave Montreal\\’s South Shore to settle closer to downtown.
Built in 1936, on the west side of Mount Royal, the MBM House is a building clad exclusively in stone. Two stories high on the street side, it stretches from an attic and a garden level to the rear. Its irregular composition, its steeply pitched roofs covered with terracotta tiles, its noble materials and its leaded windows give this house a great historical and artistic value. It is an example of a distinctive architectural style that contributes to Montreal\\’s built heritage.
While the exterior of the house had great heritage value, the interior of the property had lost its unity. The layout still reflected the house\\’s origins and the domestic lifestyle of the past, but successive transformations had resulted in a labyrinth of spaces. Two staircases inefficiently connected the four levels of the house. Only the main staircase, placed in the axis of the entrance hall, presented an interesting potential with its monumental silhouette. On the garden level, the living spaces were organized along the rear wall, behind narrow windows. With their low ceilings and dark, enclosed atmosphere, these rooms were completely separated from the courtyard and offered no relationship to the outside.
Initially, the couple wanted to make small renovations to modernize the interiors. This idea had to be quickly abandoned when a thorough inspection of the building revealed that it was in very poor condition, forcing the owners to develop two projects in parallel: the renovation of the house\\’s envelope and the complete redesign of the interiors.
The challenge then was to balance the Tudor style of the original residence with the open, contemporary look the clients were seeking.
The renovation of the house envelope raised several challenges, including respect for time-honored construction methods. A prerogative of the restoration work was then to maximize the reuse of existing materials in order to respect the characteristics of the original house, which also virtuously helped to minimize the environmental impact of the project. The redesign of certain interior spaces (including the kitchen, dining room, living room, TV room and gym) required the transformation of several existing bays and even the demolition of exterior walls, while respecting the order of the building\\’s facades. Replacing all of the original leaded windows was another particularly challenging task of the project, including replicating the stained glass composition while respecting preservation regulations.
Interior, the renovation of the house and the creation of the contemporary spaces began with the ideation of the kitchen as the gathering nucleus for the entire family. In order to compose this new living environment, the first floor was completely decompartmentalized. The kitchen and dining room are now arranged in a row along the courtyard, on the south side. The new openings, meticulously remodeled and enlarged, now bathe these spaces in natural light and offer unobstructed views of the surrounding nature, downtown and the St. Lawrence River in the background. With its minimalist and versatile modules, deep black color and clean design, the kitchen\\’s style evokes more of a contemporary and timeless furniture aesthetic, and brings a breath of fresh air to the mansion.
While the interior design of the home was thought of around the kitchen with its deep black, uncluttered look and carefully considered details, these components became the guiding parameters for many of the elements of the project, and most importantly, the main staircase. At the center of the house and conceived as a true design object, it takes the form of a sculptural ribbon, connecting all levels of the house with simplicity and elegance, in keeping with the contemporary style sought by the owners. This new element has become a centerpiece of the house.
On the second floor, the architect took advantage of the house\\’s irregular shape and the presence of large windows to organize a light-filled hallway that leads to the master suite. Two fluted frosted glass doors provide an intimate space for the parents without compromising the light. When the doors are open, this passageway area allows all family members to enjoy natural light and views of the surrounding landscape. This original design enhances the look and strict functionalism of a simple \\’\\’corridor.\\’
Behind the glass, the couple finds themselves immersed in a true haven of peace. The warmth of the wood flooring unites with the soft, gray tones of the frosted marble slabs that cover all the surfaces of the bathroom, creating a very elegant monochromatic atmosphere. Placed in line with the window, the bathtub allows parents to relax while enjoying the view of the century-old tree in the garden.
The large 12-foot-long fluted white oak vanity contributes to the functional organization and balance of the space. The bathroom\\’s elegant finishes and sleek shapes accurately reflect the home\\’s delicate style and minimalist details, blending seamlessly with its classic setting.
Classic and timeless style
In the interior of the house, the uncluttered and sleek forms, noble materials, refined details, carefully selected colors, high-quality furniture and artworks meet and complement each other to create a balance between classic and contemporary styles.
On the main floor, the bright white coffered walls give full rein, in radiant calm and exquisite elegance, to the couple\\’s contemporary art collection creating a sophisticated sensibility throughout the rooms.
In the library, the navy blue color breaks the rhythm of the white walls. In this room, the experience is immersive. The ceiling, woodwork, pedestals, built-in furniture and walls are all lacquered in blue to create a sleek and playful atmosphere. It is in this intimate and tranquil space that family members settle down to read, study or simply reflect. From the original home, only the gray stone fireplace mantle in this room has been preserved in its authentic state to support the color of the white oak floor and give a nod to the past!
In the kitchen, the Gioia marble used to line the walls of the room creates a precious setting that, in contrast, highlights the minimalist modules finished in deep black. This sober yet sophisticated combination perfectly unites with the timeless setting of the house.
In the living room, the antique fireplace mantle in Nero Marquina, purchased from an antique store, was carefully incorporated into the project to enhance the classic expression of the house while adding a touch of sophistication thanks to its black color. Complementing this, Mario Bellini\\’s Camaleonda sofa produces an interesting modern opposition, with its velvety curves and dark blue hue, while remaining true to the design vision.
In the attic, a concealed door opens to a bathroom clad in powder pink ceramic tiles, creating a striking contrast to the classic style of the house. The playful and romantic atmosphere of this original room instantly catches the eye and delights the youngest member of the family who occupies this floor.
In the basement, in continuity and coherence with the upper floors, natural light dominates. The spaces are now vast and clear. The garden is accessed through four large French doors meticulously placed in alignment with the openings on the upper levels. The south-facing bays let in natural light and improve the quality of a once dark and neglected space. One of the doors is positioned in line with the entrance and main staircase to create a direct view of the new courtyard landscaping. The concrete floor, lowered two feet to accommodate the owners\\’ program, captures sunlight and enhances the family\\’s well-being while increasing the building\\’s energy efficiency.
The MBM House is a tour de force in design and materials control. The design process has become a true lesson in conservation and a challenge to every addition in the exercise of preserving a valuable historical heritage, enhanced with a contemporary vision. The modern European-style interior, sublimating the building\\’s classic setting, creates a sophisticated atmosphere throughout the house, perfectly reflecting the personality of the inhabitants as well as their architectural dream.