Life infused with art

Past, present, and the timeless world of art are reconciled in this interior redesign of a stunning 1912 residence on the Island of Montreal 

Designed by Martha Franco Architecture & Design (MFA&D)

From the designers:

This high-profile design project was commissioned by a senior partner in an international investment firm headquartered in New York City and his wife, a Montrealer. 

The couple chose Montreal as the foundation of a life of international travel while providing a stable base for their children to attend school in Montreal. 

As avid art collectors, the couple envisioned a curation of their worldly art aggregation – including works by Jean-Paul Riopelle, Jim dine, Damien Hirst, Francesco Vezzoli, and Canadian First Nations artist Kent Monkman – within the warm embrace of their home’s heritage elements.

The owners have exquisite tastes, and they understand that the dialogue of art transcends the simplicity of just matching colours, says Martha Franco, founder of the firm bearing her name. 

“We embarked on the project with that prominently in mind, while defining a distinct character for each space in the home and designing transitions to connect them all together.”

A history of heritage – connecting the past and present

MFA&D specialises in architecture and design within heritage properties, and the stunning turn-of-the-century home presented an opportunity to carry the beauty of the past into the present, while ensuring that the character and flavour of the property’s heritage would remain relevant to the current design. 

The undertaking addressed a trending global challenge as design firms around the world strive to find fresh ways to strike a coherent balance between heritage and contemporary design elements.

The 1096m² home includes three main living floors, buffered between an upper attic space, and a storage cellar below. 

Gallery windows and vaulted ceilings provide a heritage framework for each of the home’s unique spaces. 

On the main floor, beginning at the entrance vestibule, a fabulous promenade serves as a natural connector between the spaces. 

Upon entering the home, a dining room area opens to the left, offering stunning city views through its expansive windows. 

The dining room is elegantly appointed with the custom-designed furnishings of MFA&D artistically anchored by a beautiful Italian marble table and a magnificent chandelier from Barlas Baylar. 

The room epitomises the firm’s approach to the home – striking a demonstrative dialogue between classical design and present-day relevancy.

The living room is characterised by the elegance of custom contemporary furnishings in rich Italian velvets and silks. 

The adjacent breakfast nook includes a stunning chandelier by Gabriel Scott that brings the room to life and transitions into a contemporary kitchen showcasing a perfect blend of fresh materials and timeless heritage design.

“That timeless appeal of heritage design elements lies at the heart of our perspectives, principles, and values as a firm,” says Franco. 

“We focus on things that will not only be durable and long-lasting but will also endure as timeless designs that correspond coherently throughout the project.”

Harmonious destinations

The main floor includes a music room, where the owner couple and their children often spend time playing music together in a space offering more intimate and secluded external views. 

Internally, the traditional feel of the room’s heritage elements is balanced by the custom-designed, contemporary furniture and lighting pieces selected by MFA&D to highlight the couple’s art collection. 

Lighting design is prominent throughout the project and is epitomised by the music room’s stunning Nepenthes Cordon by Christopher Boots, characterised by its solid brass tendrils and glowing hand-blown glass.

Each room is designed as a destination within a destination and the main floor office space continues that trend with its theme of old and new. 

Green leather upholstering connects the space to traditional heritage office design with circle pendant lighting by Roll & Hill providing a fresh and illuminating touch.

“We approached the first floor as a sequence of rooms, a promenade of spaces with the right flow throughout the project,” says Franco. “However, while each room is connected, we envisioned each as a unique destination providing a distinctive look and feel.”

Curating the museum details

In addition to achieving the seamless harmonisation of heritage and contemporary design philosophies and elements, MFA&D’s informed selection of exquisite, high-quality materials for this project adds the vibrancy that brings it all to life. 

Minute detailing includes custom-upholstered walls throughout the home that are consistent with traditional design but infused with fresh Italian fabric with a rich texture that captures light in a variety of ways.

Detailing continues upon ascension to the master bedroom suite and guest bedrooms and bathrooms of the upper levels. 

Martha Franco commissioned Canadian artist Nicolas Ruel to create a triptych installation for the second-floor hallway that connects the level’s rooms together. 

The artist, recognised worldwide for printing photographs on metals, delivered a triptych portrait of the owner, printed on bronze, as an artistic correlation between traditional design elements and modern techniques. 

Lighting design and contemporary comforts carry through the unique spaces of the lower-level rooms, which includes a state-of-the-art gym, and a modern cinema room. 

The latter features lighting designs by Kelly Wearstler, including Covet Double Box and Nouvel sconce fixtures.

Credit list

Custom-made by MFA&D
Westmount residence

Designed by: Martha Franco Architecture & Design

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Nicolas Ruel

04 Dec, 2022

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