A secondary residence of 17,000 sq. ft.
New England Residence
Even though this villa is the farthest thing from a typical “single house,” it fulfils the program. Like American cottages, it favours the light, the views, the landscape, friendly large rooms and wood, but the resemblance ends there.
There are no rustic or nostalgic references here, no decorative excesses or accumulations. All the attributes of the bourgeois style have been reinterpreted in a way that could not be more contemporary, proof that minimalism, once mastered, stands beyond time. The villa does, however, give the impression that it has always been there. It is a place with history, where classic elements coexist with artfully crafted lamps, antiques and collectibles, Louis XV wing chairs and 1930s love seats, opulent velvet and rustic linen, Murano glass and plastic… almost as if remnants of generations past had accumulated in a family home.
The interior can be summarized in three words: consistency, flow and flexibility. As hoped, the villa is as appropriate for a dinner for 50 as it is for relaxed weekends among children and grandchildren, or even just a getaway for two. A wide corridor on the ground floor leads to reception areas facing the lake as well as the private wing on the garden side. A symbol of hospitality, the dining room has been placed at its core, facing the vestibule. The absolute freedom of movement afforded between rooms betrays a certain “soft loft” influence.
“After searching in vain for an older building, the couple asked me to build a large villa in the spirit of the American East coast. There was no real connection between their request and my natural penchant for contemporary architecture, but I found my clients’ wishes so stimulating that they simply got in the way of a designer plagiarizing himself one more time. After four years of a close working relationship, we discovered that the work had taken us to a place that we didn’t know we could go.”
The villa’s considerable volume is nevertheless broken down into distinct spaces by openings – some of which are made theatrical by square panelled columns – that mark movement without introducing visual interruptions. Sliding doors that slip into the walls make it possible to close off or open up private rooms to satisfy many different needs. For personal privacy and freedom, the rooms upstairs have been designed as virtually independent worlds.
The villa is characterized throughout by style and refinement that are stripped of any pretension. Elegant Ipe floors and the occasional Oriental rug add a warm counterpoint to the pure, symmetrical lines. Similarly, white - a colour that is by definition pure - and honey yellow add a certain modernity to the wall panelling, the ceiling casings and the mouldings, creating a particularly peaceful atmosphere. Every element, down to the door handles, was designed and fabricated in accordance with good trade practice. In this case, luxury has been expressed through clear but restrained opulence.
Collaborators: Alan Bellavance architect, Jean-Luc Charbonneau (garden design)