A soothing calm reigns in this suburban house which feels like a refuge. You could imagine yourself in the forest, in a high-end chalet designed by an architect. But a look out the window doesn’t lie. We are in Greenfield Park, a borough of Longueuil, in a very classic neighborhood.
Seven years ago, when they were in their late twenties, Éliane Coulombe and Étienne St-Germain purchased a modest post-war house that had only had one owner. “It was as it was, it hadn’t moved. Our friends said we lived in a museum,” says Éliane. “Or a chalet,” Étienne adds.
They lived there for three years, toying with the idea of a renovation. From the idea of a simple upgrade was born the dream of starting from scratch to build an almost new, minimalist and sustainable house. “At that time, we were thinking a lot about how to rethink the environment we live in to go smaller instead of extravagant,” explains Éliane. The couple, who like to go to the countryside on weekends, wanted a simple house that would not require too much maintenance.
Seduced by the images of a project carried out by the firm Appar Architecture, they contacted its founder, the architect Kim Pariseau, to lay the foundations of the project which will ultimately be erected on the foundations of the old house. The land being located at the corner of two streets, in order to retain the acquired right of positioning on the land, it was necessary to preserve at least half of the original building, i.e. the foundations and three walls.
Construction contractor, Étienne St-Germain himself took charge of the project which started at the height of the pandemic. Over the months, several family members pitched in, including his grandfather who helped dig the basement and take out the boilers.
With an area of just under 2,000 square feet, spread over two floors, in addition to a basement, the residence has 16 rooms, including 3 bedrooms: a master suite with integrated bathroom and two bedrooms. more modest children, separated by another bathroom. “Our room with the bathroom, if one day we rebuild, I think I would do the same concept because it’s so simple, family-friendly, it’s easy in the daily routine,” remarks Éliane. We spend a lot of time there. »
Open to the courtyard by means of abundant windows, the main living areas are concentrated on the ground floor and isolated from the entrance hall by a calming corridor which has the effect of a decompression airlock. In terms of materials, the nobility and durability of wood were favored: white oak on the floor, Russian cherry plywood on the walls and, on the exterior, pre-aged cedar shingles and clapboard.
Even if the construction is more contemporary than its neighbors, the owners wanted it to be discreet and blend in as much as possible into the environment of the neighborhood which brings together quite eclectic houses. To echo the past, the project was named Le Emma, in a nod to the former owner. “It was important for us to keep track,” notes Éliane. He was a person who was also well-liked in Greenfield Park. »
Although they only lived there for two and a half years, the couple assures that the project was not designed with the aim of profiting from it.
So, it was to get closer to nature that the family, which now includes two young children, decided to pack up and settle full-time in Estrie. “We love our neighborhood, our house, how we built it to meet our needs,” notes Éliane. But we wanted to have a little more nature, more trees. Our oldest loves the outdoors, nature, and animals. We just want to get out of town. »
They will nevertheless miss home. “I have a connection here, when you build something, you put time and love into it,” she continues. It’s a little reluctantly in my mind that we put it up for sale. But, it’s for the best, I guess. »