Tours

There’s Not a Single White Wall in This Colorful, Maximalist Montreal Flat

updated Dec 19, 2019
Tours

There’s Not a Single White Wall in This Colorful, Maximalist Montreal Flat

updated Dec 19, 2019
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Home Type
Bedrooms
Square feet
1500
Sq ft
1500
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Name: Kristina Kasparian and Jeremy Ethan Cohen
Location: Plateau Mont-Royal — Montreal, Canada
Size: 1500 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, owned

Kristina—a neurolinguist, writer, and travel photographer who owns the online decor shop Veni Etiam Photography and a consulting business for scientists and creative entrepreneurs called Momentum Emporium—has a neurological trait called “synesthesia.” It’s where her brain automatically creates color perception in response to language, music, or movement. Her husband, Jeremy Ethan Cohen, is an English-as-a-second-language teacher and writer of fantasy and children’s books. Together, they’ve painted every room in their Montreal home a different color; there’s not a single white wall in the house.

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Our place has been lovingly nicknamed “The Pink Palazzo” by us and our loved ones. This is our second home together but the first home that we own. I have always found it difficult to name our decor style because there are so many different elements to it and our style is always evolving! But, if I had to choose three words to describe the style of this home, I would use: colorful, maximalist, eclectic. Each room has a different decor style, but each room is totally representative of us and our journey both as individuals and as a couple. There are rustic Mediterranean, industrial, and nautical influences throughout the home.

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion
The chalkboard cabinet is a DIY to cover an ugly breaker box, electricity counter, and router.

It has been renovated into a somewhat modern open space while still preserving (and enhancing) its antique 1910 elements, like its original moldings, floors, doors, brick walls and other architectural details. We have filled it with interesting furnishings, treasured family heirlooms from here and abroad, meaningful trinkets that we have collected from our travels and inspiring hand-crafted pieces made by local artists we have met through our own artistic projects. I have always had a penchant for vibrant colors, quite possibly because I have a neurological trait called “synesthesia” where my brain automatically creates color perception in response to language, music, or movement.

Fun fact: there is not a single white wall in the house! Thankfully, Jeremy has never seemed to mind it. We both love the flow of this place; several walls have been knocked down, making this a bright and airy space where energy (and music) flows freely from one room to the other. Even the back patio has been decorated as an extension of the interior space. 

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

Inspiration: Our main sources of inspiration are our travels and any art that has a memorable story behind it. I lived in Europe for several years during my graduate studies and we both travel a lot for work. It seems impossible to go anywhere without bringing back a memento (or two, or three!)—anything from art, ceramics, or larger pieces. Italy has always been my greatest passion, so naturally it is woven into my daily life here in many obvious and subtle ways. The photography on our walls is my own, from places that have mattered most to us. Jeremy is a true sci-fi and fantasy geek (and writes fantasy novels in his spare time), so if you’re attentive when you come over, you’ll notice that Spock or a Stormtrooper may be staring at you from a small nook in the exposed brick! In short, our decor inspirations really mirror our feelings, personalities, and life stories. 

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

Favorite Element: The reason we knew this place was perfect for us (despite its quirks, hello slanted floors!) was because the space was not only beautiful, it also had the potential of being extremely functional, so we could grow in it over time. Our first home together—and all the homes I have lived in in Europe—had the tiniest kitchen known to man. This kitchen was a major upgrade! I knew exactly how I wanted to design it as soon as I stepped into it. I love the harmonious coexistence of modern and original elements, of art and functional objects, the open shelving and the hanging pots against the brick wall—having everything within arm’s reach makes it easy to cook up a storm and to host, with guests chilling at the kitchen island. 

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

We also got lucky with the spacious office, which is the sacred space from which I do all my freelance work in science / business and run my photography shop. I love that it’s big enough to accommodate both my scientific and artistic side—a desk for each passion! Who said that heavy volumes on neuroscience and statistics can’t mingle with colorful fine-art prints? This space is pure gold for a creative entrepreneur who works from home and needs a joyful, inspiring place to feel motivated daily. It’s definitely tied with the kitchen for my favorite room in the house. 

Biggest Challenge: If you ask Jeremy, he might say bringing the massive, single-piece bookshelf with the ladder up to the third floor was a real challenge. It wouldn’t make it up the narrow, steep indoor staircase, so it had to be hoisted up to the third floor from the front balcony (in pouring rain, no less!)

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

Jokes aside, we would both say that our biggest challenge has been with the room we have dubbed “The Garden View Room.” This extra bedroom has an obvious slant in the flooring due to structural issues that were stabilized before our time, making it challenging to furnish or even decorate. We added moldings to trick the eye into focusing on straight lines, even though you feel dizzy if you try to walk (uphill) towards the window! But we felt at a crossroads with this room for a very long time, because we had initially intended for it to be a baby’s room, but repeated miscarriages and serious health scares prevented us from decorating this room without knowing its fate. Though it makes us feel vulnerable to share this, we do it because we think too many women and couples suffer in silence. Finally, we turned it into a guest room, and it made us feel better not to have it stay empty anymore. 

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

What Friends Say: Anyone who visits us immediately notices the cozy, bright, eclectic feel of the space, and comments on how many details there are in every room. We often hear that it’s like stepping into Europe, or into a museum! We love to host, and we love it when our guests feel at home and start referring to our place as the Pink Palazzo with affection in their voices. In the summer, our treetop garden is cherished by our family both during the day and in the evenings. It’s like a little urban oasis. Visitors can’t believe how quiet it is, although it’s a city home just steps away from the bustle of one of the most famous shopping streets. We walk or bike everywhere, buy our produce, cheese and meat daily from independent shops only meters away, and when our friends get a taste of this lifestyle, they say they want to move in! 

Biggest Embarrassment: We redid all the floors and then adopted a two-month-old kitten with claws. Needless to say, she’s left her mark on our floors! 

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

Proudest DIY: My design of the laundry room makes me proud! We sorely lacked a functional storage / laundry space in our first flat, especially for cleaning supplies, sports equipment, and garden supplies once winter hits. I remember my sketches of how I wanted a mix of deep, continuous, sturdy shelves, colorful hooks of all sorts, and cabinets in the space. We also put metal hooks on the pegboard case enclosing the hot water tank. Inspired by Burano, a colorful island in Venice (Italy), I chose pastel shades of green, blue, and pink as well as white lace for the accents in the room. My photographs of Burano add a nostalgic touch! When we first moved in, I was seriously addicted to doing laundry, and I owe that joy to this room! 

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

Biggest Indulgence: The leather chair I have in my home office, right by the low window. It’s my “thinking chair” where I do a lot of my brainstorming and learning. It was such an investment! I remember how hesitant I was to splurge on it. I seriously visited this chair in the store for several months, just making sure it was still there, checking on its price, until I decided it was silly to wait and finally brought it home. No regrets!

Best Advice: Invest in your space whether you own it or rent it, whether it is your forever home or just a chapter in your life. It is your sanctuary, so don’t wait to create a space that fills you with joy. Forget “rules” or convention when you create your space; just do YOU and create a space that represents who you are, where you’ve been and what you dream of. Being inspired is far more important than current trends or matching colors. Also, don’t be afraid to change things up; spaces evolve as we do, and nothing is set in stone—not even the art in your frames. Finally, be mindful within your space. Look around, say good morning, and thank you. Be grateful for your haven. 

Resources

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

PAINT & COLORS

  • Living room & entryway – CIL # 90RR 39/226 “Rio Rose”
  • Dining room – CIL # 13YY 60/475 M “Roman fresco”
  • Master bedroom – SICO # 4098-42 “Beeswax”
  • Kitchen & hallway – CIL # 29BB 75/065 W/B “Tailwind / Altitude”
  • Kitchen antique cupboard wood stain – SAMAN “Sea/Mer” 
  • Bathroom – Benjamin Moore #2068-70 “White Heaven” 
  • Laundry room – CIL 50 GY 74/273 W/B “Arboretum”
  • Office – dark wall: KILZ C711-3″Atlantic Sea” / light wall: CIL 72 BG 75/023 W/B “Aria de Marianne” / brick wall: white
Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

LIVING ROOM

  • Sofa – second-hand purchase with our previous apartment 
  • Wicker bookshelf and table – Pier 1 Imports
  • Abstract photograph of Venice on canvas – Veni Etiam Photography
  • Berlin mosaic poster – German artist
  • Ceramic art hangings – Collected from travels (California and Venice, Italy)
  • Corner desk with antique writing pieces – Pier 1 Imports
  • Rustic white lantern – Hand-crafted import from Egypt belonging to my grandmother
  • Chest – Vintage 
  • Pillows and throw – Bouclair and Pier 1 Imports 
  • Charcoal cat portrait – Canadian artist, Mississippi North
  • Painting – An original by my mother-in-law Alice Kulyn
  • Small canvas milky way landscape – An original by Canadian artist Melissa Mary Jenkins
Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

DINING ROOM

  • Tall wood curio – JC Perreault
  • Sideboard bar cabinet – Pottery Barn
  • Industrial pulley lamp – MUST
  • Epoxy wall art of autumn leaves – Veni Etiam Photography
  • Dining room table – Our own design made from recycled parts found at Jack Lux
  • Dining room chairs – Bristow Metal Black chairs by OSP designs ordered online
  • White shelving unit in window nook – Second-hand
  • Bar cart – Vintage 
  • Watercolor art print of Venice found in an antique shop in Venice, Italy
  • Two hearts metal art – Veni Etiam Photography
  • Curtains – Designed and custom made by previous owner 
Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

KITCHEN

  • Bar stools – Zone Maison
  • Shelves and rods for pots – IKEA
  • White cabinets – IKEA
  • Coffee cart – IKEA
  • Chalkboard cabinet – DIY to cover ugly breaker box, electricity counter, and router
  • Marble counter tops – Ceragrès
  • Light fixtures – Olde Brick Lighting on Etsy
  • Sea landscape metal wall art — Veni Etiam Photography
  • Olive groves wood wall art – Veni Etiam Photography
  • London underground canvas wall art – Veni Etiam Photography
  • Flower bulb watercolor wall art – Canadian artist, Joannie Houle Art
  • Painting – An original by my mother-in-law Alice Kulyn
  • Italy map poster – Found in a small Italian paper shop while living in Milan
  • Italy poster – Bought in New York City at Phillip Williams Posters
  • Curtains – Designed and custom made by previous owner
Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

MASTER BEDROOM

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

GUEST BEDROOM

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

BATHROOM

  • Tiles – Imported from Italy
  • Sink, mirror and long cabinet – IKEA
  • Glass shelves – IKEA and Home Depot
  • Marble countertop – Ceragrès
  • Rubber duckies – All over the world! 
Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

LAUNDRY ROOM

  • Shelving – DIY 
  • Colorful water tap knobs and hooks – VdeV Maison
  • Hanging clothes rack above sink – IKEA
  • Vintage wire baskets – Piorra Maison
  • Burano wall art and frames – Veni Etiam Photography 
  • White cabinets – IKEA
  • Lace curtains – IKEA
  • Blue trolley – IKEA
Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

HALLWAY / OFFICE

Credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion

GARDEN

  • Light fixture – Wayfair
  • Colorful tables and lanterns – Canadian Tire
  • Outdoor carpet – Buk & Nola
  • Wall shelf – Home Sense
  • Mosaic bench – Home Sense
  • Patio furniture – Home Depot
  • Brass watering can – Vintage
  • Wall art – Katie Daisy, the Wheatfield on Etsy
  • Colorful frames – IKEA

Thanks Kristina & Jeremy!

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