Despite being 100 years old and cheaply renovated with vinyl windows, mirrored closet doors, and dingy carpet, Canadian architect Paul Bernier saw potential in this Montreal home.
Bought in 1993, Bernier was attracted to the its privacy, which is an unusual feature for the area. Unlike the nearby properties, which feature yards situated behind the house, Bernier's features a side yard, surrounded by other buildings. The exterior walls of the residence, which are covered with greenery, absorb the sounds of the city, creating a quiet oasis.
Expansion began when Bernier and his wife, Joëlle Thibault, were expecting their second child. The couple designed two additions, a playroom and an office, each about 264 square feet. They situated the playroom in the garden, while the office was nestled onto the existing roof. While the main objective was to create more space for the growing family, Bernier also wanted to make the house lighter and brighter.
The playroom features a green roof to absorb the heat from the afternoon sun, soften the city noises, and extend the feeling of the yard. A silver maple tree situated in the garden forced Bernier to build one of the walls at an angle. Large windows let in ample light and give the playroom a scenic backdrop.
The block Bernier's home sits on is designated by city codes as a two-story street, so the architect had to get creative with the home office's design. The room is set back and lowered partially into the existing building so that it is not visible from the street. This unique vantage point gives the homeowners a view over the surrounding housetops in the neighborhood.
To create the light, airy home Bernier envisioned, several adaptations were made. The stairs, made of steel and wood, stretch up three floors through an open, transparent space. Additionally, the hardwood in the second-floor hallway was laid with gaps between the birch boards to allow sunlight to shine through.