More space thanks to the garage

The unique story of this family begins with a classic case: an apartment on the plateau that has become too cramped, parents looking elsewhere for more space… Until a chance meeting with the family, an architect uncle makes them see things from another angle. Here is the rest of their story. A tip: it ends well.

Posted at 12:00 p.m.

Sophie Ouimet

Sophie Ouimet
The press

On this Thursday afternoon at the end of summer, the children play in the alley with their friends, or rather the street alley, which is the Avenue de Chateaubriand on the plateau. The main entrance to their century-old house may be on rue Saint-Hubert, but it is behind: where their courtyard, their alley, their friends and even their school are.


PHOTO MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

The family in the beloved alley: parents Virginie Morin and Maxime Brunelle, with their children Valentine and Morgane. Absent from the picture: Romeo, who was in daycare that day!

However, the parents, Maxime Brunelle and Virginie Morin, almost had to leave the neighborhood due to lack of space in their triplex on the ground floor. They had an old garage in the yard, topped with a small attic that could be used for storage, but it wasn’t enough anymore. “We started to feel a little cramped,” says Maxime, father of Valentine, 13, Morgane, 9, and Romeo, 5. Looking for something a little bigger, we visited other places in Montreal, and even on the South Shore… But when we happened to chat with Marc at a family gathering, he said, “Oh, there might be opportunities that you haven’t seen.” »

Marc is Marc Blouin, uncle of Virginie and also architect co-founder of the firm Blouin Orzes. He saw the potential in the old garage, especially since we already had access to it through the house. “It had lived, but on the other hand it had an interesting quality: It was a garage of almost two floors. »


PHOTO MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

The extension is built on the right of bay of the old garage. The sliding door still leads to a garage, but… rather to bikes. Upstairs we built a room for the eldest.

“I took a little tour of the Plateau city,” continues the architect. He knew he had a project on his hands when the borough confirmed it was possible to tear down the garage, rebuild it into two stories and dig a basement. Even better than expected!


PHOTO MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

Marc Blouin, architect

The idea was initially to have a family room. But when we learned we could build two stories, that was like a real bonus… And then by digging, it allows for storage, which is another plus.

Marc Blouin, architect

Excavating and building made it possible to add several missing features at once: a family room, a bedroom for the elderly, storage space in the basement and even a bicycle garage.

However, the project has had its share of challenges, and everything is measured to the nearest millimetre. Although it was possible to build a second floor, the architect was thus very limited in height. Among other technical achievements, he has designed a ceiling made of small wooden slats, which, in addition to having an original appearance, has the advantage of taking up very little space. “We stretched the height to max. We found a way to make the roof like a small sandwich, to get the thinnest possible roof and a habitable space. »

  • The family room is very popular with friends.  The stairs lead to Valentine's upstairs bedroom.

    PHOTO MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    The family room is very popular with friends. The stairs lead to Valentine’s upstairs bedroom.

  • Architect Marc Blouin managed to integrate a bedroom on the second floor, despite the limited space, to the delight of the family's elders.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY BLOUIN ORZES ARCHITECTES

    Architect Marc Blouin managed to integrate a bedroom on the second floor, despite the limited space, to the delight of the family’s elders.

  • The alley covered with grass allows you to go directly from the farm to the alley.  Through the door you can see the white brick wall which was the old outer wall.

    PHOTO MARCO CAMPANOZZI, THE PRESS

    The alley covered with grass allows you to go directly from the farm to the alley. Through the door you can see the white brick wall which was the old outer wall.

  • The roof of the extension creates a terrace for the apartment above.  The fire escape has also been moved a little further.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY BLOUIN ORZES ARCHITECTES

    The roof of the extension creates a terrace for the apartment above. The fire escape has also been moved a little further.

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The farm has also been redesigned according to the new configuration. The roof of the extension had the advantage of creating a terrace for the apartment above. We also moved one of the fire escapes in accordance with (many) regulations.

All this without touching – or almost – the original apartment. In fact, the only clue to the intervention is the hole made in a wall in the kitchen, which leads to the extension. The extra bedroom therefore enjoys great privacy. A little cocoon where Valentine loves to receive his friends!


PHOTO PROVIDED BY BLOUIN ORZES ARCHITECTES

The extension seen from the alley

On that particular day, a friend is in the yard with the family. And that’s how it always is, confirm the parents, who are very happy. “It’s fun, the children are here all the time, it’s the gathering point. We like that there is action”, says Virginie in the middle of the whirlwind. “We want it to continue like this,” adds Maxime.

Unfortunately, the youngest was conspicuous by his absence as that day marked his last day at daycare. The next day, Romeo also started school, just behind the alley. And the wheel keeps turning. “We still have a few years to go… and that was the plan!” concludes Virginie.

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