Les Ensembliers, a Montreal-based firm combining the services of an architectural firm, a design agency and a construction company, has added to its portfolio of high-end residential projects with the transformation of a Tudor mansion in Montreal’s prestigious Westmount district.
Bringing the past into the present
The firm’s most recent pièce de résistance involved a classical property distinguished by sophisticated architectural detail, both inside and out. Completed in 2014, Les Ensembliers transformed the multi-level Tudor home over a two-year period by revisiting every room, reworking original details and adding new details. Faced by the challenges of traditional Tudor architecture, including dark entrances and central staircases, Les Ensembliers embarked on a vision to establish wider, brighter and larger connections to the center of the house, without distracting from the architectural history.
After designing the Palm Beach home of the same client in a warm climate, the challenge for the firm was to transform an historic property into a fresh living space, creating new moods in a new climate and giving it a sense of collective pieces and flow. Being a home that will be lived in during colder seasons, the goal was to create a warm and cozy ambiance, without selling out to full-blown contemporary design.
“It’s easy to paint out wood and to give it neutral colours, but this was an entirely different approach that was done piece by piece,” explains Richard Ouellette, designer and founding partner of the globally-recognized firm. “With all of the trimmings and wood details, we decided to keep some, paint some, highlight some and mute some in order to ensure that the right details are featured and that others fall into a backdrop.”
The firm’s vision was to maintain the home’s highlighted mouldings, wainscoting and ceilings, but to give it all better flow and connectivity. That process led to designing wider openings to bring more light into the home, while creating smoother connections between the rooms.
“Each project has a unique soul that has been created over time, so we wanted to maintain the integrity of the home’s origins, while making it warmer, more inviting and more livable today,” says Ouellette. “Our approach was to keep the historical elements, to build around them and to make them even stronger, essentially creating an historic backdrop to the story of how we live today.”
The project drew upon the complementary strengths of Les Ensembliers’ founding partners, Maxime Vandal and Richard Ouellette, who feel that they have created a home that is fresh and new, but with a truly historical feel to it. Vandal’s expertise in 18th century architecture and construction was applied to the project in terms of ensuring the true meaning of proportions and methods in each room, while Ouellette’s strength in décor provided the home with greater flow and space.
“With a true understanding of the historical aspects and a combined, evolving vision, we were able to apply the right skills to each room in order to blend 18th century and contemporary design,” says Ouellette. “In the end, our complementary and shared skill sets combine to create stronger visions that can be taken to new heights.”
About Les Ensembliers
When it comes to marrying the essential elements of historic and contemporary design, Les Ensembliers has earned a global reputation for their trademark ability to transform contrasting concepts into harmonious living spaces. The firm has been recognized through numerous awards and design accolades, including the 2010 Emeritus Heritage Award from the Montréal Architectural Heritage Campaign. The firm is regularly featured in the international press and has completed projects in Paris, Corsica, Palm Beach, Vancouver and Montreal.
With a vertical connection between architecture, design, construction and décor, the firm offers its clients complete integration via a one-stop shop. Les Ensembliers’ consultative approach allows for client input, changes and modifications as a project unfolds, rather than having lines etched in stone from conceptualization.
“Every project is unique in its approach and vision,” adds Ouellette. “While it becomes our vision, it always starts with the vision of the client and the question of how we can bring their dream to life and take it further down the road.”