Portland Residence

Montréal, Canada

The Portland Residence is a historical stone house located in the Town of Mount-Royal, a “model city” built in the early 20th century. The architectural firm Atelier Barda entirely renovated the property and created a custom furniture collection through its new Foraine par Atelier Barda division. 

The architects’ mandate was to renovate all the spaces in the three-storey house, totalling 3,000 square feet, and to add an extension at the back. Important considerations in the redesign were the house’s location in the heart of the garden city and a desire to respect the heritage value of the surrounding built environment. 

The main living area on the ground floor has an open layout that sets it apart from the upper floors. The partitioned layout of the original residence was entirely reconfigured to allow for fluid, intuitive circulation. A central service block, around which family life revolves, was designed in the form of a black rectangular box connecting the different levels. It includes a closet and powder room, along with kitchen appliances and equipment, and provides access to the stairs and a bookcase. It also serves as a transition between the private spaces (bathrooms, bedrooms) and common areas (living room, entrance hall, kitchen, family room), thus freeing up the peripheral space for occupants’ use. The anthracite oak finish contrasts with the light tones of the rest of the space.  

The materials selected for the project help to create a soft atmosphere. The chevron parquet in natural light oiled oak and clean-lined mouldings strike an elegant balance between the house’s original features and new architectural elements.  

The thicknesses of the materials are concealed to obtain sharp edges where surfaces meet, playing with perceptions of volume and juxtaposition. The curved surfaces are not only a reference to the house’s original architectural features; they also promote fluid transition between spaces.  

At the back of the house, a series of glass curtain walls were added, providing an unobstructed view of the garden and filtering diffuse, natural light over the entire floor. Fine black steel mullions conceal a high-performance thermal insulation system adapted to Quebec’s challenging climate. 

Notable interior architectural details include carefully selected materials, curved walls and custom elements such as the stone mantlepiece, kitchen hood and stair railing. 

In the living room, an iconic de Sede sofa faces the fireplace, helping to hierarchize the space and orient movement. Throughout the home are pieces of classic-lined furniture in solid anthracite oak (dining table, bench, coffee table, end tables, night tables). All of the pieces were designed by Foraine par Atelier Barda.

On the next floor are the bedrooms and a private office. In the bathrooms, a classic lime and tadelakt plaster finish with marble countertops and flooring create a peaceful environment. The skylight above the staircase allows abundant natural light to reach as far as the bedrooms.

 This innovative redesign has freed the building’s spirit from its original constraints, giving it fresh expression in a setting that is both classic and resolutely contemporary.

About Foraine par Atelier Barda

Founded by Cécile Combelle and Antonio Di Bacco in 2017, Foraine par Atelier Barda is the prestige furniture arm of the Montreal-based international architecture firm. The team is composed of passionate people from various backgrounds who work together to combine traditional and contemporary vocabularies, freely exploring uses and materials.

From the initial concept development through to the production phase, each hybrid collections is shaped by an integrated approach and reshaped through ongoing conversations with local artisans. The result is an understated, timeless elegance expressed through bespoke and limited edition pieces.

Balancing intuition, emotion and exacting detail, the designers infuse each project with references drawn from their personal and shared histories, in addition to their combined knowledge and experience.

Photo credit: Alex Lesage, Threefold

Kate Shelton
Kate has led a diverse career in both the arts and business management. From dancing with the prestigious National Ballet of Canada to earning a Bachelor of Arts degree at Ryerson to then taking on the entrepreneurial role of running a small business, Kate’s wide range of experience has allowed her to develop a keen eye for art and design. As an avid Crossfitter, Kate has a true appreciation for leading an active, healthy lifestyle. She currently lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and their wonderful son.