As beautiful historic brownstones go, this century-old version in Quebec City was almost perfect — but the 4,500-square-foot dwelling lacked a certain
je ne sais quoi. The traditional kitchen had no panache and, overall, the home seemed a bit flat for a stylish couple who collected vibrant artwork. “The homeowner felt her house was bland and uninteresting — and she loves color; she’s fearless about it,” says interior designer Richard Ouellette of Les Ensembliers.
Over six months, their brownstone was transformed. But the objective wasn’t to start from scratch. Richard repurposed many of the couple’s pieces, recovering a set of wing chairs and relocating artwork and light fixtures throughout the house. Revived with a fresh mix of pattern, texture and color, the brownstone is now in sync with its stylish owners. Click through for a look inside.
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To give the foyer a more current look, Richard chose a purple-smudged rug that acts as a playful foil to the room’s stately moldings and elegant banister.
A large sectional sofa can overpower a room, but this one is low and easy to manoeuvre around. Interior designer Richard Ouellette had it reupholstered in taupe cashmere wool.
“Trays are amazing for holding decorating accents,” says Richard. “I always throw things in them and move them around.”
“When it comes to accent pillows, the more the merrier,” says Richard. Covers made from embroidered velvets and linens help the sofas feel extra plush.
Facetted candlesticks by Tom Dixon match the contemporary flourishes throughout the home.
For a dynamic mix, two traditional wing chairs upholstered in a mod animal print fabric by Kelly Wearstler mingle with a daring snake-patterned rug and a pair of edgy gold tables. “I love the deconstructed look of these tables,” says Richard. “It would be an obvious choice to put in a traditional coffee table.”
“The original kitchen had a round island and it never felt right,” says Richard. The homeowners wanted a streamlined look with personality — a hand-worked patina gives the metal on the waterfall island and vent hood an artisanal quality. Special-occasion dishes and glassware are stored in a freestanding armoire (far right).
Matte off-black cupboards conceal a pantry and coffee machine.
An elegant archway frames the dining area where plum-colored, full-length drapes in a painterly brushstroke fabric accentuate the 12-foot-high ceilings. A five-arm chandelier from Billy Cotton mimics the linear pattern of the drapes and was customized for the recessed ceiling.
Despite belonging to different eras, a hand-painted, Asian-style cabinet meshes well with contemporary drapes.
A bench by Gabriel Scott and a photograph by David Burdeny create an alluring vignette at the top of the stairs. “It gives the hallway a gallery feel,” says Richard.
Soft tones of barely-there purple and putty grey have a lulling quality in the luxe principal bedroom, which features an upholstered bed and matte-lacquered nightstands, both designed by Les Ensembliers. The Chinoiserie-print linen drapes energize the soothing palette, while a Venetian Fortuny silk parasol chandelier adds opulence. “It was the starting point for the bedroom design,” says Richard.
In the principal ensuite, the panelled bathtub surround and vanity were a drab dark brown, so Richard had them lacquered in a grey color that contains just a hint of lilac. “The bathroom has great moldings; it’s such a beautiful space,” he says.
The homeowners’ ornate ginger jars are pretty catchalls for bathroom essentials.
Author: Iris Benaroia
House & Home October 2017