As a partner of Les Ensembliers, the Montreal design and architecture firm he runs with business and life partner Maxime Vandal, interior designer Richard Ouellette knows home renovations. Besides creating eclectic, refined interiors for clients in Quebec and Palm Beach, the former fashion designer keeps busy by revitalizing dilapidated houses in Westmount, which he and Vandal use to showcase their talents. "It's a great marketing tool," says Ouellette, whose latest Westmount house, built in the 1940s, serves as a calling card for prospective clients in the upscale neighbourhood. The couple hosts open-house cocktail parties in their living room, a compact 14-foot-square space that delivers big visual impact. "It is a small room," Ouellette says. "But, without patting myself on the back, I knew what to do to make the space pop."
The window seat
"There was a radiator cover there originally, but we decided to deepen and raise it to an appropriate height in order to create additional seating for people attending our cocktails parties."
"The main visual interest in the room is the window, which has no curtains. To draw attention to it, I used a series of cushions, some colour blocked, some with a peacock feather for a touch of whimsy."
"I got these at Celadon in Montreal. I wanted a contemporary twist in a classic room. The fact that they are floating, not entirely covered with fabric, means that they aren't too much for a room of this scale."
"Take anything from nature and put it into a vase and a room comes to life. My preference is for a simple spray of greenery or a bunch of flowers of the same species, nothing too formal. It make a space feel lived in."
"This is blown glass by Canadian artist John Paul Robinson, one of the few glass blowers working today. We fell in love with it and wanted to hang it over the fireplace, which is original to the house but is not functioning. To us, this art says fire."
"These are by Maxime's mother, who was an artist in Quebec in the 1960s. You can't see it, but there is a large Riopelle over the couch; these are from the same period as the Riopelle but not as big or bold. They have a touch of chinoiserie about them, which makes for a subtle background."
The coffee table
"This is a piece that has been in my family since I was 15 years old. It is a lacquered table that is hand-made, gorgeous really. My father purchased it. It's very eighties, but in the right environment it looks timeless. It anchors the room."
"I picked this Oushak carpet because of the original blond oak floors. I wanted the carpet and the floors to flow together. I found it at Tapis H. Lalonde & Frère on Avenue du Parc, a Montreal institution."