Nestled deep in Canada’s Laurentian Forest, the low-slung, timber-clad, dark exterior of this house by Montreal-based architect Jean Verville gives no clue as to the kaleidoscopic interiors that await inside. Known for this unconventional approach to domestic settings, Verville was the perfect fit for a couple of “admirable eccentrics” who wanted a forest refuge imbued with whimsical energy. Taking a page from the clients’ passion for 1980s Italian design, the architect combined a minimalist design language with extravagance, invigorating the forest cabin with gleaming brass surfaces, graphic tile patterns and playful geometric forms inspired by the zany universe of the Memphis Group.
The building consists of two distinct rectangular volumes, one housing the living and sleeping area, the other an atelier and garage, connected by a slanting roof that gently swoops over them. Set at a right angle, with a glass-enclosed vestibule in-between, the two timber-clad volumes form a large gravel driveway on one side and a smaller concrete patio on the other that the living room opens onto. Featuring large floor-to-ceiling windows, the latter also enjoys wide views of the forest.
The austere sensibility of the building’s exterior is echoed by the minimalist soberness of Verville’s interior design albeit with a playful twist. Framed by black-hued timber wall and ceiling cladding and concrete floors, the open-plan living area is marked by the gleaming brass volumes of the kitchen islands and cylindrical extractor hood that separate the lounge from the dining area. Laminated wall and ceiling cut-outs in bright yellow carve out a circular zone around the brass volumes imbuing the room with a playful theatrically giving the impression that the space is dramatically lit by a giant spotlight. Yellow-hued minimalist sofas further underscore the whimsical scenography.
Swapping the living room’s dramatic geometric forms for decorative panache, the bathroom and adjacent lavatory are a riot of geometric patterns, courtesy of playful combinations using different tiles, while the bedroom is a swathed in a monochromatic dark green that imbues the space with a soothing ambience in tune with the surrounding forest. Hanging above the bed, a playful, multi-arm hanging lamp ultimately encapsulates the project’s “wacky universe of the 80s” in one bold gesture.