This 1400-square-foot six-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment on two floors was completed in August 2019. Located in a 120-year-old, grey stone building in the Plateau Mont-Royal borough in Montréal, Québec, this major renovation was part of the second of a two-phase project on this three-storey building. The first phase included the complete reconstruction of the ground floor apartment including a new slab on grade and steel frame structure, a mechanical/electrical service pit for the water and electrical entries and the preparation for the subsequent renovation of the top two floors of the building. The second phase saw the top two units combined into one apartment on two floors, the windows and roof were replaced, and the balconies were reconstructed. This phase also included the restoration of the original cornice and stone facade.

In order to maximize the use of the compact living spaces, custom elements were built for the apartment including the main interior staircase, the kitchen and the dining room table.

The staircase is composed only of steel plates and perforated panels for simplicity of construction and for maximum transparency. The living spaces are open from the front of the house to the back, therefore an open riser stair was proposed with 1/2” steel plates for the treads to let light penetrate deep in to the apartment from both directions. The staircase was fabricated, assembled, and painted off-site and delivered in one piece to the unit for installation. This methodology significantly reduced the cost of this major building element and was extremely efficient with regards to installation time on site.

Above the staircase, there is a large skylight that brings light down from the roof level to the living spaces two floors below. The landing and stringer are spaced 1” from the wall to let the light wash the wall continuously from above. The perforated steel guardrail was chosen with 51% openings to let the direct and reflected light pass through to the spaces below but with sufficient thickness that the plate does not warp or buckle. Behind the staircase and below the skylight, the double-height yellow wall brightens up the entire unit on both floors and provides and contrasting background for the dark staircase.

In order to illuminate the kitchen, which is at the center of the floor plate on the lower level, a reflective, blue-grey penny round backsplash was used in conjunction with integrated LED lighting in the upper cabinets and shelves above the sink. This combination results in a gentle glow that emanates from the ceramic and glossy, light grey quartz counter.

Finally, the custom dining room table is constructed with a white steel structure, assembled from the same standard components as the staircase with an ultra white quartz tabletop floating on top. The lime green chairs and bright white table reflect the light and liven-up the dining space below the stair. The result of this interior design development is a compact and yet comfortable space filled with natural light and bright colours.

Project type

Major renovation

Completion date

Summer 2020


Alain Mousseau, structural engineer *^Lara Isaac, stagiaire en architecture

Photo credits

Maxime Brouillet et Thomas Evans


Plateau Mont-Royal