Renovated to bring in more natural light and highlight its original modern style, this Outremont property has been standing out from its traditional neighbours for nearly nine decades.
Named after its first owner, Montréal’s Kirsh house epitomized the modernist movement when it was built in 1934. Originally designed by architects Shorey & Ritchie in a Streamline Moderne style, it is noteworthy for the rounded corner on the front facade and white plaster cladding. Though the look of this beautiful home has become both iconic and timeless, it did not match the traditional interior layout, which was very compartmentalized and, according to the owner, a little dark. “He called me because he wanted to extend the house and let in more natural light. I suggested that we study the history of the architecture and complete the initial structural design, which had not been followed through,” explains Loukas Yiacouvakis of the firm YH2.
Looking at the original plans, the architect and his team were inspired to create windows with horizontal grids to replace those installed in the 1950s. The addition of an immense wall of glass on the rear facade brings in abundant natural light without compromising the sense of place. “The original ceilings were eight feet tall, so we removed part of the second-floor bathroom to create a two-storey living room and incorporate this glass wall, which accentuates the feeling of grandeur,” continues Yiacouvakis, who increased the size of the living room by pushing the outer wall several feet into the yard. At the same time, the pool was shortened a little to increase the area of the patio.
Although the old walls between the ground-floor common rooms were removed, each area remains independent, thanks to some thoughtfully placed elements. In addition to providing storage space, minimalist white cabinets separate the kitchen from the dining room, while a compartment that holds the television defines the family room. Though it replaces a wall, there was already a difference in floor level. The architect attenuated this variation by adding two steps to transition from one space to the other. Throughout the house, the backdrop of white walls enhances the light, as does the bleached oak floor, both of which also create a welcoming, serene atmosphere.
Every element has been carefully thought out, from the perforated steel panels covering the radiators to the discreet white painted steel column that supports the entire house. With its attention to detail, this refined project has created fluid, dynamic volumes that elevate the original existing envelope. Though artwork provides some colour, the primary source is the lush vegetation of the garden, which the homeowners can now fully appreciate.