A Vibrant 420-Square-Foot Montreal Rental Apartment

updated Apr 29, 2019

A Vibrant 420-Square-Foot Montreal Rental Apartment

updated Apr 29, 2019
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Name: Lea Nguyen and Ugo Rioux
Location: Ville-Marie, Montreal
Size: 420 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting

After an extensive search, Lea, a freelance writer and journalist, and her boyfriend Ugo, a science assistant in a college, left their respective beloved Montreal hoods of Little Italy and Villeray to move in together in Ville-Marie borough. The apartment did not look anything like it does now when signing the lease, but they saw the potential. Overall, they chose this flat because of the good energy flowing in the place. They have made it their cozy nest—an oasis in the heart of downtown.

Although it’s a rental, they did (some would say major!) work in all the rooms and the backyard, as well. Each space is filled with a bit of color, a hint of humor, and plenty of succulents and plants.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic colorful small plant heaven.

Inspiration: A mix from the sixties and the seventies.

Favorite Element: The unique wall cutout in the open space (living room/dining area). We had this design in mind while choosing the living room carpet.

Biggest Challenge: Integrating two work stations in an open living room/dining area without compromising on style.

What Friends Say: Since it’s the first item that catches the eye when you enter our flat, they all ask about the infamous banana frame.

Biggest Embarrassment: The only lighting we didn’t change in our home yet is the one in the bedroom. We looked everywhere—from high-end stores to classified ads to vintage sales—but didn’t find decent wall lighting that would fit our taste. We’re thinking about customizing it. À suivre!

Proudest DIY: Our custom furniture/IKEA hack to store our vinyl. We’re also pretty pleased with our “screenless” environment, i.e. one of the computers and the television are concealed behind a frame so we are less prone to use them!

Biggest Indulgence: The mattress—for quality time and sleep.

Best Advice: I think it’s more about functionality than decoration. You need time to grasp how you actually live in a space to determine what is essential and what’s not. I believe if you want a “home” that is genuinely you, only acquire pieces that really speak to you: not for others.

Dream Sources: Places we go to and hang out—bars and the coffee shop.


SICO Évolution – Gant de dentelle (white paint)
SICO Évolution – Marée verte (green paint)
SICO Évolution – Nouvelle lune (blue paint)

Skateboard Art — Franklin Would
Banana Print – Gabrielle Laïla Tittley (PONY)
Mile Ex End Musique Print – Mile Ex End
Convenience Store Print – DROWSTER
Cinéma L’amour Print — Ex-Voto
Vinyl Slipmat – Limited series from DJ and illustrator Omar Krivit
Vintage Turntable (SL-1200MK2) – Technics
Record Cabinet – DIY
Chest – Vintage
Triumph Typewriter – Vintage from Lea’s grandmother
Utility/Bar Cart – IKEA
ALICE Velvet Sofa – Structube
Air Plant in a Globe – Plantzy

Countertop Slab – Rona
CETTA Bench – Structube
Vase – Design Zola
Hanging Light (we added a custom chain) – Globe Electric
Shelves and Working Spaces Counter – DIY

Spice Rack – DIY (wine crates)
Removable Wood Countertop to Cook – DIY
Cabinet Handle – Rona
Luminaire – IKEA

Bedspring —DIY (from wine crates)
Hedge Alarm Clock — EQ3
Counter Stool — Structube
Tray — Vintage from Le Marche Noir
Coffee Counter — DIY
String of Lights — Deserres

Gold Faucet — Wayfair
Air Plant in a Globe – Plantzy
Mirror —Vintage
Lighting — IKEA

Thanks, Lea and Ugo!

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