When Vanessa Sicotte and her husband, Jonathan Plourde, moved into their Montreal West home in 2014, it had a single colour palette: yellow. Butter, canary, daffodil, cream – it was as though one paint swatch was used for every room. Built in 1926 by an architect who constructed the place for himself, the structure had good bones – and Sicotte, an interior design writer, blogger and TV personality, knew just what it needed. Plus: you’ve gotta check out the video tour of the walk-in closet.
Published August 8, 2017, Updated January 10, 2020
Sicotte drew on several inspirations for the makeover, including mid-century furniture, California surf vibes and a bit of arts-and-crafts. Her signature touch: choosing a few wild-card pieces that didn’t quite fit in. The overall effect is a homey, timeless design that isn’t afraid to take some risks.
Related: Video: Walk-In Closet Makeover
The Art of Compromise
Sicotte and her husband have different design ethos: she likes florals and flourish and he’s a bit more classic. The living room captures their his-and-hers approach. The heather grey Montauk couch pops with bohemian pillow accents, while the tobacco leather couch strikes a more masculine aesthetic. The suspended wooden chair, designed by a Swedish company, adds a touch of whimsy.
Dramatic windows frame the living space and Sicotte chose the patterned carpet to mirror the crosshatch design. Behind the couch is a sample of Sicotte’s plant collection, which adds an organic feel to the room. She has dozens throughout the house and relies on humidity thermometers to keep her collection alive and well.
Sicotte lived in California for a time and she admired the use of Earth tones in design. This basket vignette combines natural elements to add a soothing anchor to the coffee table. Montreal designer Monique Sainte Marie made the fringed blue basket out of hemp.
The massive painting behind the couch, made by artist Zoe Pawlak, captures the fresh essence of the room for Sicotte, who says the piece reminded her of a bright morning on the ocean. It’s colours are reflected in the cheeky tassels atop the hanging chair.
The marine blue fireplace and buoy accent (bought for $10 at a market) tie in the room’s subtle nautical theme. The vintage starburst mirror and small peace sign statue allude to a hippie vibe that Sicotte credits to being a kid in the 1970s.
More buoys are seen in the corner of the room, alongside Sicotte’s personal collection of hats. The vintage secretary desk has three drawers – one for each of her children’s knick-knacks. The romantic pink picture is a print by artist Leigh Viner.
Sicotte jokes that the dining room used to look like it belonged in a convent, with its dark wood and early-Victorian design. She freshened it up with grey-and-white wallpaper and a striking table anchored by two wishbone chairs. She kept a touch of the room’s cloistered past, with a nine-foot-long church bench brought in from Prince Edward County.
Plate rails aren’t so common these days, but Sicotte decided to use one to profile art made by her kids. On the far left is a plate patterned with fairies, given to Sicotte by her grandmother just before she passed away. The mishmash of personal and whimsical gives the space a bit of familial warmth.
Painted Hardwood? Why Not
There was plenty of debate when Sicotte proposed painting the original oak floorboards a crisp shade of white. It might seem sacrilege, but she knew it would brighten up the space. She says she did the project “clandestinely” and thankfully, it was a hit. The solid brass light fixture above the table is a vintage Italian piece from the 1920s.
This kitchen was once painted (you guessed it) yellow with a bright red countertop. For less than $5,000, Sicotte transformed the space with an encaustic tile backsplash. Since the dining room project worked out so well, these hardwood floors are painted as well.
Farm to Kitchen
The two thick wooden shelves on the left weight 100 pounds each. Sicotte found them on a farm and anchored them to the wall with several tough brackets.
The little alcove at the end of the galley kitchen is adorned in nature-themed wallpaper, a snake plant and open shelving.
Fit for a Queen
One of the most remarkable pieces in the house is this 350-year-old chair, which, once upon a time, lived in a French castle. It’s still gilded with real gold, but has been updated with a regal floral pattern. It’s the centrepiece of Sicotte’s luxe walk-in closet, which used to be a den. Check out the video tour of this amazing walk-in closet here.
Here’s another angle in the walk-in closet, which features a wall of Sicotte’s shoes.
The master bedroom is another area of compromise. The stately Ethan Allen bed frame was customized with delicate fabric, one of the few places in the house where Sicotte injected florals. You can also notice the difference in styles on Sicotte’s bedside table (on the left) versus Plourde’s (on the right).
Here’s another shot of the bedroom with a plush sitting chair, an antique mannequin and plenty of greenery.
At the foot of the bed there is a fun area rug that tells people to “keep off.”
Out of This World
In Sicotte’s son’s room, planets and constellations are featured throughout the space. His globe collection is scattered across the room and the bedspread, from Liberty of London, has dozens of constellations spattered across the fabric.
The navy-and-gold wallpaper may look like polka-dots, but in fact, it’s phases of the moon. The wallpaper isn’t sold in Canada, so Sicotte had it shipped in from a retailer in Paris. The bookcase is bamboo, and Sicotte found it at a flea market for $25 and spray-painted it firetruck red.
Posters from the Danish pavilion at Expo 67, which was held in Montreal, are hung throughout the room. They’re a cute touch of Canadiana in an otherwise interstellar room and as an added bonus, Sicotte says the collectable pieces have nearly tripled in value since she bought them in 2010. And, if you look closely, the bedside lamp is actually a sneaky giraffe.
Fit for a Fairy
Sicotte’s daughter lives in this room and as you can probably tell, she likes pink. The floor is painted pink and the bedskirt looks like it was ripped off Cinderella’s ball gown. The Victorian settee, purchased at an auction in a deep green fabric, was reupholstered in a cloudy grey and has since become a landing spot for stuffed animals.
The top-floor bedroom is sloped with the roof, so Sicotte had to saw a 1960s tulip table in half to make it fit the space. To keep with the room’s theme, she painted the base a shade of flamingo pink. The vintage gum ball machine on the bookcase was once red and damaged, so Sicotte changed the glass and painted it a peachy coral.
Shapes and Sounds
This room belongs to Sicotte’s eldest daughter, who she lovingly refers to as her “Sporty Spice.” She went with a geometric design on the wall, painted in harmonious tones of olive, mustard, peach and blue. The hardwood floors were painted light grey to give the room a lofty feel.
Ivy League Dreams
The homework area is also tucked near the roof’s slope, so Sicotte placed her father’s childhood desk in the space. She updated it with a fresh coat of navy blue paint to go with the baby blue Eiffel chair. In front of the desk is a tiny flag from Yale University – at the age of 12, Sicotte’s daughter had already chosen her future alma mater.