We are in the Laurentians, at the country home of Claude Marcotte, a partner at Carbonleo, and his wife, Josée Dufresne, co-founder of LaBoum. The house is a hive of activity, with our homeowner’s four children also in residence. Not to mention all the friends who are yet to arrive! “This place was made for entertaining,” says Marcotte, who goes on to list all the outdoor features that make it so easy to host. Space is certainly not in short supply, with 7,000 sq. ft. to move around! Marcotte and Dufresne didn’t happen upon the house by accident: it was built from scratch on a sloped lot by the lake. Claude asked his brother, architect André Marcotte, to design a grand, contemporary vision of a country getaway. Construction took two years, and Claude put in “thousands of hours” bringing his dream to life. He is the one, for example, who decided exactly where all the light fixtures would go, studying the measurements carefully, and then using chalk on the ceiling to show the electrician exactly where to light the room. The big stuff is impressive, too. Plenty of rock had to be dynamited in order to anchor the structure soundly, while considerable effort went into saving as many mature trees as possible, and planting many others. Marcotte has nothing but praise for Kramer, the company that planted 28-foot specimens with root balls as big as cars! Inside, the staircase with floating stairs was an engineering challenge. A steel stringboard was attached to the wall, and the stairs, also made of metal, were covered with torrefied cherry wood. But what is most striking is the overall simplicity of the lines and layout. Architecture reigns supreme here. Noble materials stand out, with torrefied wood and slate at the top of the list. But that doesn’t mean technology and new products have no place. The windows—a critical feature for such a design—are industrial/commercial calibre, designed for this type of home. And there is nothing ordinary about the interior doors. Marcotte explains that the details were decided on-site: 9 feet tall, with a heart of Russian plywood covered in torrefied pine. As you listen to him, you begin to understand why this project took so long to finish…and fine-tune! Marcotte had enormous fun putting it all together, but he adds that it “almost caused a divorce.” An exaggeration, to be sure, but one that gives you an idea of what was at stake.
“The whole house was designed to suit our lifestyle,” says Marcotte, “from the spectacular entrance to the steep slope down to the lake along a rocky cliff. The living room, with its built-in stone and steel fireplace, the dining room, and the kitchen islands all constitute one particularly comfortable and comforting whole. It is the perfect place to spend precious time with family and friends. The huge floor-to-ceiling windows make you feel like you’re living right in the forest. The master bath has a spectacular shower with a skylight for a ceiling. The garden level is a peaceful oasis with a huge billiard table, awine cellar, sauna and a whirlpool bath.” The house is entirely automated, with ventilation, security, lighting, music, TV, etc., all electronically controlled. Heating and air conditioning are provided by a high-performance geothermal system that is both ecological and economical. Heated floors throughout and a peripheral ventilation system ensure optimal comfort year-round.
“We really make the most of the outdoors,” continues Marcotte. “We jump right off the dock into the lake, which is very clean and motor-free. We swim a lot, and have become big paddleboard fans. There are lots of forest trails for us to explore on our mountain bikes, and we also play tennis regularly. In winter, the forest trails come alive, and we trade our bikes for snowshoes. We also skate and slide right on the lake. We’re just minutes away from a number of ski hills, and we hit the slopes almost every weekend. We planned and designed this place to suit our habits, and our lifestyle. We live very intense lives (work, leisure, sports, travel) and we are very fortunate to have access to this haven, which is both spectacular and peaceful all at once.”
Photos : Adrien Williams
Architects: André Marcotte with the collaboration of Manuel Cisneros; Windows: Alumilex