LIVING IN COLOUR

Homeowner happy to throw around bold shades

 BY PHILIP FINE

PHOTOGRAPHY: DREW HADLEY

STYLING: LISA ARNSBY 

 Ten years ago, when Anne Lyonnais and Frédéric Gremillet built their Candiac home, they hired designer Manon Bélanger to renovate the 4,000-square-foot house. Two years ago, they rehired Bélanger.

This latest assignment neither required walls to be destroyed nor floors to be pulled up. Instead, it freshened the place with new finishes, lighting, items and ideas. “We were living there for eight years and needed a change,” says Anne.

A significant life event preceded this decision: the death of Anne’s mother. “My mother had been terminally ill and living for a year and a half with us,” she says. The work on her house began a year and a half after the death of a woman who, like her daughter, loved beautiful decor.

With her mother’s passing and her children, (now aged eight and 13) getting older, Anne decided it was time for renewal. By the fall of 2012, she and Bélanger were sharing ideas.

Despite the presence of light green in the house, Bélanger’s new plan called for neutral shades throughout the interiors, punctuated by bright colours. A medium grey would unite the interiors. Light and dark greys would be used in accents, and vivid greens and pinks would be reserved for accessories.

The couple’s children, Renaud and Charlotte, helped choose colours for the makeover of their rooms.

Anne does not shy away from bold colours. “She does not live in a beige world,” says Bélanger. “Not all my clients are this receptive to colour.” The designer appreciates her client’s aesthetic choices and the way in which they convey joy and a bit of folly. A case in point is an understated white padded bench that sits in the entry foyer. If colours could talk, the one behind this bench would cheer; it’s a loud and proud green floral-print wallpaper inside a silver-painted frame.  Another example is in the powder room, where walls are painted in a bold chartreuse.

Upstairs, the main bathroom was completely renovated to incorporate a new vanity and a double shower. Bélanger clad the bathtub in lacquered fuschia MDF. The colour can be changed as desired, she says.

Black, usually a room colour reserved for small theatres and depressed teenagers, boldly takes up a wallpapered wall in the living area on the ground floor. Some levity is found in its black-on-black pattern, its large matte dots applied on a shiny background. Providing contrast against the black are the irregularly spaced bookshelves, bright green accessories, a chrome lamp and white lacquered tables, one of them round and the other smaller and peanut-shaped.

Bélanger points out that if the homeowners tire of these colours, they can remove them. “These are places where it’s easy to change things, like wallpaper, the bath cladding, and the bookshelf items,” she says.

The more permanent areas of the house are decorated in neutral tones, while lighting fixtures are mostly chrome, and cabinets and shelves white.

The chrome and white lend an airiness to the space. This is evident in the kitchen, where little has changed from the previous renovation. “The layout was good and so were the materials,” says Bélanger. She and Anne decided it needed only a lightening of the wood finish on the upper cabinets. The designer had them repainted in white lacquer. She also introduced more white by installing a quartz countertop, and added shine and a bit of ’70s fun with round, chrome pendant lights over the island.

One of the challenges with the upper floor’s four closed rooms was their sloped ceilings. Bélanger lightened the rooms’ colours, kept furnishings sparse and used space-saving techniques. For instance, a white lacquered structure in Charlotte’s room does double duty as both headboard on one side and a desk on the other.

While phase one involved moving walls and turning the house into a construction site, the second project has been a more mess-free affair, focusing on finishes and colours, furniture and fixtures. “We kept all the walls, floors and structures,” says Bélanger. “There was no demolition.”

The designer fine-tuned the home’s interior design to create a cohesive style. “I wanted it to be mostly contemporary and clean,” says Bélanger. “But I also wanted it to be young and joyful.”

And Anne, who was ready for that kind of change, got it, in living colour.