Past meets Present: Martha Franco redesigns 1912 residence

Martha Franco Architecture & Design (MFA&D) unveiled its redesign of a residence built in 1912 in the City of Westmount, on the Island of Montreal. The project was commissioned by a senior partner at a New York City international investment firm and his Quebecois wife.

Photo credit: Nicolas Ruel

“The clients have exquisite tastes, and they understand that the dialogue of art transcends the simplicity of just matching colors,” says Martha Franco, founder of the firm bearing her name. “We embarked on the project with that prominently in mind, while defining a distinct character for each space in their home and designing transitions to connect them all together.”

The 11,800 sqft. home includes three main living floors, buffered between an upper attic space, and a storage cellar below. Gallery windows and vaulted ceilings provide a heritage framework for each of the home’s unique spaces.

On the main floor, beginning at the entrance vestibule, a fabulous promenade serves as a natural connector between the spaces. Upon entering the home, a dining room area opens to the left, offering stunning city views through its expansive windows.

The dining room is elegantly appointed with the custom-designed furnishings of MFA&D artistically anchored by a beautiful Italian marble table and a magnificent chandelier from Barlas Baylar. The living room is characterized by the elegance of custom contemporary furnishings in rich Italian velvets and silks.

Photo credit: Nicolas Ruel

The adjacent breakfast nook includes a stunning chandelier by Gabriel Scott that brings to life the room and transitions into a contemporary kitchen showcasing a perfect blend of fresh materials and timeless heritage design.

“That timeless appeal of heritage design elements lies at the heart of our perspectives, principles, and values as a firm,” says Ms. Franco. “We focus on things that will not only be durable and long-lasting but will also endure as timeless designs that correspond coherently throughout the project.”

The main floor includes a music room, where the client couple and their kids often spend time playing music together in a space offering more intimate and secluded external views. Internally, the traditional feel of the room’s heritage elements is balanced by the custom-designed, contemporary furniture and lighting pieces carefully selected by MFA&D to highlight the couple’s art collection.

Photo credit: Nicolas Ruel



Lighting design is prominent throughout the project and is epitomized by the music room’s stunning Nepenthes Cordon by Christopher Boots, characterized by its solid brass tendrils and glowing hand-blown glass.

“We approached the first floor as a sequence of rooms, a promenade of spaces with the right flow throughout the project,” says Ms. Franco. “However, while each room is connected, we envisioned each as a unique destination providing a distinctive look and feel.”

In addition to achieving the seamless harmonization of heritage and contemporary design philosophies and elements, MFA&D’s informed selection of the most exquisite, high-quality materials for this project adds the vibrancy that brings it all to life. Minute detailing includes custom-upholstered walls throughout the home that is consistent with traditional design but infused with fresh spectacular Italian fabric with a rich texture that captures light in a variety of different ways.

Detailing continues upon ascension to the master bedroom suite and guest bedrooms and bathrooms of the upper levels. Martha Franco commissioned Canadian artist, Nicolas Ruel, to create a triptych installation for the second-floor hallway that connects the level’s rooms together. The artist, recognized worldwide for printing photographs on metals, delivered a triptych portrait of the owner, printed on bronze, as an artistic correlation between traditional design elements and modern techniques. Nicolas’s exquisite work is well known among others in Peter Marino’s projects for Bvlgari and Christian Dior.

Lighting design and contemporary comforts carry through the unique spaces of the lower-level rooms, which includes a state-of-the-art gym, and a modern cinema room. The latter features lighting designs by Kelly Wearstler, including Covet Double Box and Nouvel sconce fixtures.

Technical sheet
Project name: Westmount residence
City: Westmount, Quebec, Canada
Architectes/designers: Martha Franco Architecture & Design (MFA&D)
Furniture: Custom-made by MFA&D
Lighting: See document attached
Photographer: Nicolas Ruel

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