Preservation was coded into every move. When moldings couldn’t be saved, Britto and
Charette enlisted a plaster specialist to carefully cast the originals, ensuring both authenticity
and a trove of back-ups. From this careful labor a beautiful restoration emerged, along with
the addition of a formal master suite (with fireplace), a rebuilt foyer, sweeping staircase,
sleek steel-and-marble kitchen and a cool living room sanctuary. With all 4,000 square
feet reinterpreted, the designers delved into composition. The space crackles with drama.
Rooms may appear nearly colorless, designed in the duo’s signature whites and grays, yet
the pair’s mastery of materials and deftly orchestrated manipulations of light ignite a rare
“We play a lot with texture,” notes David Charette. “Some of the wall covering, for instance,
has a titanium and silk background and a gessoed stripe. As the light hits it, you can see the
layers, and so we placed multiple light sources there to highlight the effect. Working with
texture always adds richness to a room.”
Pattern and texture are constantly engaged, passing between warmth and intrigue,
echoing or reflecting each other. The contrasts are quietly present. one illustration is the
chevron marble floor in the foyer, where a surprising spray of mosaics drift in, as if washed
in from another shore. “We liked the texture of the flat, smooth honed chevron and how it
contrasted the tougher feel of the mosaic with different tones,” says Charette, recalling his
inspiration: a baroque staircase in the Versace showroom in New York, where the mosaic
effect cascaded like water. The movement in that marble pattern was inspired by the
herringbone floors throughout, which were original to the home.
Much of what gives this space character can also be credited to timing. Ascend the stairs
and the eye instantly finds Massimo Vitali’s soft blue beach scene. Placing that work was
deliberate, says Charette, something to take the bite out of Montreal’s prosaic winter gloom.
russell Young’s Marilyn Crying and the glinting sculpture of an Hermès bag by Jonathan
Seliger (a favorite of the client) are equally expressive.
But it’s not all feel-good vibes and a spin-around color wheel, the art/sightline accord is
an essential component to Britto Charette interiors. It pulsates in the dining room with artist
Paul Beliveau’s juicy work, just as Julian opie’s Maria 2 presides over dedicated hours of
chess in the living area. (The client grew up playing and is teaching his children to engage
the game of discipline and strategy—the ultimate antidote to video games.) That said, the
home suffers no absence of tech: The designers added television sets embedded into mirrors
that become literally invisible when turned off, and a projector screen in the library that also
vanishes on command.