Hickson Residence is a minimal house located in Saint-Lambert, Canada, designed by MRDK. A young family of three, soon to be four, sought out a larger home on Montreal’s south shore. They fell in love with a 1981 Frank McGrath-designed house, but it was in need of a major renovation after 40 years of wear and tear. The family enlisted MRDK to lead the renovation, drawn to the firm’s attention to detail and nostalgia. One of the first changes made by MRDK was the demolition of the house’s dilapidated greenhouse, which had gained a reputation as an eyesore in the neighborhood. The firm salvaged the greenhouse’s concrete foundation to create a large window-well that brought southern light into the basement office. To further maximize daylight and create a convivial living space below ground, MRDK excavated the backyard to add floor-to-ceiling windows on the back façade, creating a walkout basement.

An unusable attic space off the principal bedroom was repurposed by lifting the sloping roof, creating a contemporary dormer. This space now houses the walk-through closet and principal bathroom, with generous south-facing clerestory windows and 14-foot-high ceilings. Upon entering the house, one is greeted by a sweeping staircase whose handrail, covered in lime plaster, wraps into a curved volume containing a fireplace below. The double-height living room can be admired from above, from the built-in desk on the mezzanine. At the rear of the house, the kitchen and dining room are bathed in natural light from the large opening created by sliding doors that open onto a cedar patio.

A large sculptural travertine island sits at the center of the kitchen, with its edge softened by an inverted demi-bullnose. A fabrication mistake on the island left grooves down either side of the travertine, which MRDK transformed into a design opportunity by filling the grooves with strips of Rosso Levanto marble. Travertine is found again on the kitchen backsplash, where a large slab slides into a pocket in the wall, exposing a hidden pantry beyond. All appliances typically cluttering the countertop are hidden away in this pantry, which features a pass-through opening for practical use of space.

Photography by David Dworkind