written by:
January 29, 2015
Originally published in A Fresh Start
as
Hitting the Plateau
A clever design team brings a dash of Scandinavian style to a Danish executive’s flat in a renovated Montreal triplex.
Montreal apartment kitchen with teak cabinets and spiral staircase

Emilie Bédard and Maria Rosa Di Ioia of EM Architecture gave Erik Rydingsvärd’s top-floor apartment in a Montreal triplex a subdued, modern look that evokes his native Denmark. The range hood and satin-finished teak cabinets are by Kastella. The floors are Douglas fir and the walls are spruce, painted white.

 

1 / 14
Montreal apartment kitchen before renovation

The apartment originally crammed four closed rooms and a kitchen and bathroom into 1,000 square feet. After the renovation, it had only one bedroom and a large, open kitchen.

2 / 14
Montreal apartment living room with MDF Italia shelves and custom sofa with Hay cushions

The living room is furnished with a Vita modular shelving system from MDF Italia, a Lili coffee table by Add Interior, and a custom sofa by Linea P International. The Dot cushions are by Hay.

 

3 / 14
Montreal living room before renovation

This view shows how the space was previously divided.

4 / 14
Montreal kitchen after renovation

The spacious kitchen makes it ideal for entertaining.

5 / 14
Montreal apartment with wrought-iron spiral staircase leading to rooftop

Di Ioia and Bédard designed the wrought-iron spiral staircase that leads to the rooftop terrace and sauna as a visual nod to Montreal’s signature outdoor stairways.

6 / 14
Renovated Montreal bathroom with black and white Ceragres tiles

In the master bath, a dowdy tub was replaced with a standing shower designed by Di Ioia and Bédard and manufactured by Linea P International. The wall and floor tiles are by Ceragres, and the sink, tub, and towel rack are by Aqua Mobilier de Bain. 

 

7 / 14
Montreal bathroom before renovation

A before shot of the bathroom.

8 / 14
Montreal master bedroom with the original roof exposed

The master bedroom includes an armoire by Kastella and a chandelier by Lambert & Fils. A portion of the ceiling was pared back to expose the underside of the original roof.

 

9 / 14
Montreal apartment master bedroom before renovation

The same space before it was updated.

10 / 14
Montreal rooftop with custom iron bench

Atop the spiral staircase, a custom iron bench is festooned with Turkish throw pillows from SophiesBazaar.

11 / 14
Montreal rooftop with cedar-lined sauna

Torrified cedar lines the inside of the rooftop sauna.

12 / 14
Montreal rooftop terrace with cedar sauna

Rydingsvärd often cooks out on his terrace, which offers a view of Mount Royal. The volume housing the sauna is clad in cedar planks that were painted black. The door and windows are by Alumilex, and the custom outdoor shower is by Avantage Plus.

13 / 14
Résidence Esplanade Floor Plan

Résidence Esplanade Floor Plan

14 / 14
Montreal apartment kitchen with teak cabinets and spiral staircase

Emilie Bédard and Maria Rosa Di Ioia of EM Architecture gave Erik Rydingsvärd’s top-floor apartment in a Montreal triplex a subdued, modern look that evokes his native Denmark. The range hood and satin-finished teak cabinets are by Kastella. The floors are Douglas fir and the walls are spruce, painted white.

 

Project 
Résidence Esplanade
Architect 

The gracious triplexes indigenous to Montreal’s Plateau and Mile-End neighborhoods, long admired for their stone and brick facades and wrought-iron outdoor staircases, captured Erik Rydingsvärd’s fancy soon after he arrived in the city from Copenhagen in 2010. “My first thought when I moved here was, I would love to buy one of those triplexes and just live in one [of the units] and rent out the other two,” he says. “I love the row houses; for me, coming from Scandinavia, it’s very different.”

But first, Rydingsvärd, a fashion executive who relocated for work, had to make sure he was staying put. His first two months in Montreal were “an interim period,” he says, which meant hastily securing a Plateau apartment on Craigslist. That led to a second short-term lease, with rented furniture, and then—once he knew he’d be in Montreal for the long haul—a downtown condominium that he regretted purchasing as soon as winter arrived. The Plateau “lives in the winter,” he explains, “whereas, in downtown Montreal, everything dies. After six? Whoosh.” 

So Rydingsvärd quickly sold the condo for a small profit and, in 2012, returned to the Plateau, this time spending a year in a rented house while he searched, block by block, for that quintessential triplex he’d first imagined. “I used to take my bike at night,” he says, “and check, like, Where is there no traffic at night? Because I’m a bit obsessed with being able to sleep with the windows open.” He narrowed his hunt to a pair of streets that run north-south between the Plateau and the adjacent and similarly artsy Mile-End. On one of the streets, his agent found a building perfectly suited to his vision: a circa 1910 triplex with three floor-through units. The bottom two had been renovated recently enough that they could be rented with minimum upgrades. The top apartment, however, was “disgusting,” Rydingsvärd says, which made it a perfect candidate for the top-to-bottom renovation he envisioned for his own home.

Chief among his must-haves: an open-air space to entertain and a sauna—both on the roof. “I was pretty fixed on both ideas,” he says, “because I had an apartment in Copenhagen where I had a sauna on the roof as well.” He also wanted to convert the apartment—which crammed four closed rooms and a kitchen and bathroom into 1,000 square feet—into a one-bedroom with a large, open kitchen. Outfitting a small alcove with a Murphy bed would give Rydingsvärd just enough room to accommodate houseguests.

If methodical exploration was what led Rydingsvärd to the right property, serendipity supplied the right designer for the job. He first came across Maria Rosa Di Ioia’s work when he attended a store opening in the tony enclave of Westmount for a competing Scandinavian fashion brand. “It felt a bit homey,” Rydingsvärd recalls of the retail space. “Nice materials, a lot of wood. I asked my friend, ‘Who did this?’” Not long afterward, he read an account in Dwell about Di Ioia’s renovation of a flat in Habitat 67, the iconic modular residential complex that Moshe Safdie conceived for the Expo 67 world’s fair. “I called Maria,” he recalls, “and I said, ‘I bought a triplex, and would you be interested in talking?’” 

Montreal rooftop terrace with cedar sauna

Rydingsvärd often cooks out on his terrace, which offers a view of Mount Royal. The volume housing the sauna is clad in cedar planks that were painted black. The door and windows are by Alumilex, and the custom outdoor shower is by Avantage Plus.

“The first thing we wanted to do was open it up completely,” Di Ioia says of Rydingsvärd’s top-story unit. “And so we toyed with, How do we open it up without having to intervene too much on the lower floors?” Emilie Bédard, the architect Rydingsvärd hired to design the space along with Di Ioia (the two have since joined forces under the name EM Architecture), decided that installing cellar-to-rooftop columns and new beams to support a terrace would be too onerous. Instead, Bédard says she decided to remove about three-quarters of the roof structure toward the back of the building and install new joists. This move, along with their decision to strip away the old ceilings at the front of the building for a loftlike effect, allowed her to augment the ceiling height throughout the apartment to just over ten feet from around nine feet, helping to create room for the staircase to the terrace and sauna. Only a small portion of the original roof—its underside beautiful and intact after the apartment’s ceilings were peeled back—was preserved, to act as a new ceiling for Rydingsvärd’s street-side bedroom. 

With the problem of properly supporting the terrace solved—and with Rydingsvärd deciding to “screw the budget” to extract maximum enjoyment from the 550-square-foot outdoor space Bédard had designed—all that was left to do was execute. “It was fairly straightforward,” Di Ioia says. The wrought-iron spiral staircase, an aesthetic nod to the neighborhood’s signature outdoor stairways, allowed more sunlight to filter down into Rydingsvärd’s living space, which was renovated with fir flooring and teak cabinetry, materials chosen for their Scandinavian feel. “I’ve always been surprised how, in Montreal, they clutter things more than I find necessary,” Rydingsvärd says. “They paint it red and black—crazy colors—and you’re like, Why? Just paint it white.”

With construction completed in late August 2013, Rydingsvärd was able to host his first alfresco get-together right before Montreal’s early-autumn chill crept in. Since then, the roof has become a warm-weather respite for him and his fiancée, Valerie Gohier. “We use it every night for barbecuing, just sitting out there eating,” he says. “We have a beautiful sunset. You see the airplanes landing at the airport; it feels like you have the whole city.”

And for the long winters, there’s the sauna. Constructed inside the cupola-like stairwell, which added 100 square feet to the apartment’s footprint, the sauna is outfitted with glass paneling and oriented to capture views of Mount Royal, the hill at the center of town that gave Montreal its name. 

“You sit in the sauna and you look out and you have the whole mountain,” Rydingsvärd says. “For a Scandinavian, it’s like therapy.”

Montreal apartment living room with MDF Italia shelves and custom sofa with Hay cushions

The living room is furnished with a Vita modular shelving system from MDF Italia, a Lili coffee table by Add Interior, and a custom sofa by Linea P International. The Dot cushions are by Hay.

 

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016