Can a house be a muse? It seems that way for fashion designer Tu Ly, whose circa-1885 Montreal rowhouse inspired a stylistic sea change. Tu’s former home, which he shared with partner Marc Garand, was a cool, industrial loft that he styled in sexy black and white minimalism. “After living there for 15 years, we wanted something different,” says Tu. “Can we have doors, a roof garden, rooms for entertaining and a front porch?” Currently vice-president of design for Canadian fashion brand Moose Knuckles, Tu has enjoyed a long career designing for legacy brands such as Hudson’s Bay and Roots Canada. Tu and Marc, who’s a digital consultant, bought their house in the city’s hip Little Burgundy neighborhood in 2015.
The Victorian grande dame, with spiky wrought- iron balustrades, a mansard roof, stained glass windows and gingerbread detailing, hadn’t been overly modernized and still had a lot of its original character. With plenty of wood paneling and frothy plasterwork medallions, the house was the polar opposite of the “white box” renovations the couple had seen elsewhere. Bonus: It had once served as a rooming house for nuns in the 1930s. “I guess that’s why it has such a good spirit,” says Tu. “The minute we walked in, we knew it just felt right.”