Grant Kefalas and Isabelle Perez of Evolution Design began their partnership in 2006 by working with a very particular client – Isabelle Perez herself.

The two had known each other for years through family and friends. She was a newly minted designer working on her own, and he was a long-time designer whose work she had admired. She was wondering if he could help on her personal project, one that would involve someone with his architectural knowledge.

“It’s one thing to design homes for clients. It’s another to design for your own family. I needed a sounding board, so I asked Grant to collaborate with me.”

Their project would involve something that had been nagging at the designer ever since she and her husband Ariel and their two children moved into their home in 2002. The original layout of her 6,000-square-foot French country-style stone house in the St. Laurent borough posed a few problems.

“We were always stuck in the dinette and a small family room that lacked charm. We’re a big extended family and there’s always someone here. There just wasn’t enough space.”

Isabelle and Grant began to work together on the extension. The structure housing that family room with the lack of charm was torn away and an addition was built, with a second floor above it to enlarge the fourth bedroom and provide it with an ensuite.

That had not come easy, recalled Grant. “The challenge was to integrate the architecture with what we wanted.” The wish list included a family dining area, bay window, larger kitchen and inviting family room.

Adding to the difficulty, or perhaps the hilarity, was the fact that Isabelle had been carrying her third child throughout the work. “I was a pregnant woman on a work site!”