Home renovation reveals butterfly in Mont-St-Hilaire

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One look at a Quebec house called Papillon is enough to understand its name.

“We focused on the sloping roof as its main architectural feature and we had to emphasize this feature. This strong visual line inspired us. We had to stretch it to the end and add a replica in the background, which gave it wings and dynamism, hence the butterfly,” explains architect Kim My Le Quoc.

Papillon is located in the Montreal suburb of Mont-St-Hilaire overlooking the scenic Richelieu River. The house was first built on several levels, with three bedrooms on the upper floor and one bedroom on the ground floor.

The redesign nearly doubled the size of Papillon, bringing it to 3,000 square feet from its original 1,524 square feet.

On the main level is a large kitchen, dining room and sunken living room. Large windows and cathedral ceilings in the main living areas catch the early morning light. At the back, a new solarium offers a perfect view of the river.

A three story extension has been added and a staircase from the ground floor to the master bedroom on the second level creates the feel of a secluded apartment. In addition, the private retreat opens onto a terrace, perfect for admiring the sunsets over the Richelieu.

On the main level is a sunken living room, the dining room and a large kitchen.

The upper part of the original house is now a home office space with a garage roof terrace.

The children’s quarters are at the garden level (or lower) of the extension, as is the family room which extends into the ground of the backyard and appears carved into the rock. A wooden walkway wraps around the yard that winds down to the riverside dock.

Exterior treatments include white brick cladding and stone veneer in the front, and white painted natural wood planks were used on the rear facade facing the river. Le Quoc says the landscape architect went to great lengths to connect the house to the river and preserve the shoreline.

The large central kitchen island is a meeting place and large windows overlook the Richelieu River.

Papillon took 10 months to design and build, and was completed in 2020.

Kim My Le Quoc, of Luc Plante, Architecture and Design Inc., in Saint-Lambert, Qc, answers some questions about Papillon:

What is renovation and new construction?

The view of the river is the focal point of the new ground floor space created at the rear of the house.

As we were located in a neighborhood of interest, the municipality asked us to preserve and enhance the architectural characteristics of the original house.

The owners have also made it a priority to maintain the existing foundations and core. So we kept the floor levels, adjusted the layout and added floor space – a garage at street level and a full three-story extension on the south side.

We have separated children and parents on different levels allowing for space and privacy.

The rear outdoor patio leads to the backyard children's area.

How did you mix old and new?

The old part of the house is underlined by the cladding of bright white bricks and this original volume is supported by the new ones clad in stone, of a darker hue. Some wood inserts allow for a soft blend of old and new, and add a warm texture.

What were your biggest challenges in designing the house?

Boulders line the grassy driveway leading to Papillon from the Richelieu River.

One of the main challenges was to double the square footage of the house while retaining the spirit and nature of the original house. We had to add living spaces around it without drowning it under larger volumes.

The geometry of the roof was also a critical challenge. Although it is a strong architectural concept, it was important to anticipate water management on the roof and to control snow accumulation and water accumulation.

Georgie Binks is a Toronto-based writer and freelance contributor to The Star. Contact her at [email protected]

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