Within walking distance of Québec’s Mont-Tremblant Ski Resort is a home both grand and snug. Its turrets and pale weathered ashlar exterior give it the look of a centuries-old castle. That feeling carries inside, with velvety damask upholstery and drapes in rich colours, such as plum, olive, and cobalt blue.
Wrought-iron sconces cast shadows and light on the variegated stone walls, which are framed by massive wooden beams. The vaulted ceilings rise two stories in places, with a 20-foot-tall window that opens the living room up to the shore of Lake Tremblant.
“I pictured what it would have been like to live in an era where all the fabrics were very lush and dark,” says Chantal Chamandy, the home’s owner and interior decorator. Her overarching vision was to have a colourful home — no beige-based palettes here — full of cozy nooks. “I wanted to be able to put my feet up anywhere,” she says.
She’s in her car as we speak, on her way to the set of a film she’s producing. Chamandy’s performing career started with pop-music success in her teens, including a Juno nomination for most promising female vocalist.
After a long hiatus from the music world, she made a comeback in 2006 with a bold ad campaign — her image became ubiquitous in Toronto subways. She independently released her single “Feels Like Love” by selling it for $1 in dollar stores, an unconventional marketing move that paid off. It went platinum.
Chamandy is also an actress and has produced films, including Hit by Lightning (2014), starring Jon Cryer and Will Sasso. Her son, Harley Chamandy, got the artistic gene too, and it’s his film that she’s now producing.
Building a stage and set
Harley had a space in the family home to stage theatre performances growing up (he’s now 19, and the home was built when he was 10). A stage with draw curtains makes the movie room double as a theatre. The walls are covered in brown velvet, good for acoustics and also for creating a warm atmosphere.
The process of designing her home was like “building a set,” Chamandy says. She didn’t have formal interior-design training, but she drew on her experience and creativity as a performing artist to create a different scene in each room.
Before she built the “set,” however, she had architect Richard Landry build the “stage.”
Landry grew up in a small town only a couple hours’ drive from Mont Tremblant. Chamandy had no idea Landry was a Québec native when she called him. He’s based in LA and is known for his celebrity clientele, who have included Mark Wahlberg, Eddie Murphy, and Wayne Gretzky.
When Landry moved to LA in the 1980s, he had neither job nor U.S. work visa. Through cold-calling, he landed a job designing historical façades for theme parks. When he struck out on his own, he started with small projects but put his whole heart into them and quickly elevated his career through word-of-mouth.
Chamandy and her husband, entrepreneur Greg Chamandy, saw Landry’s work in Architectural Digest. They loved the English manor house he’d built in Seattle for saxophonist Kenny G.
“It was fun for me to do work again in my home province,” Landry says. It helped that he was familiar with the local architecture — the manor houses in Montreal as well as the rural Québec homes that inspired the Chamandy home.
“It’s almost like a fairytale house,” Landry says. “To me, when I look at it, there’s a playfulness to it.” He says of what Chamandy calls her “meditation nook” in the turret, “it almost feels like a treehouse in there.”
“At the same time, it’s an important home; it has a sense of being a classic home with rich material,” he says.
He highlights the use of natural, local materials. For example, the bedrock outcroppings the builders removed to make way for the foundation were relocated to the sides of the cobblestone drive.
The ceilings were important, Landry says, and each room’s ceiling has a different character. In the two-story foyer, the ceiling is made of reclaimed wood from local barns (as are the large beams throughout the house). The high, barn-like ceiling gives the foyer an outdoorsy feel.
Chamandy says, “It’s all about feeling the nature, walking in and not feeling completely different from being outside.”
The kitchen is more cozy, with plaster on the ceiling instead of wood plank, but it still includes the intersecting wooden beams, tying it into the rest of the house. A groin-vaulted ceiling in the cellar, made of white brick, gives the feeling of “an old wine cave,” Landry says.
Landry is known for his versatility. Although architects generally work with clients’ requests and visions, they often have an overall style of their own. Landry’s designs, on the other hand, are widely divergent.
Chamandy says she’s the same way. This is her country home, but she has an “ultra-modern” apartment in Florida, an eclectic apartment in New York City, and other properties, each with its own character.
Her Mont Tremblant property is almost 2 acres, including a beach area on the lake, and the house is about 9,700 square feet.
The interior space is so big and bright that Chamandy found dark décor and oversized furnishings were necessary to balance it out. When she put a queen-sized bed in her bedroom, it looked like “dollhouse furniture,” she says. It was dwarfed by the scale of the room, so she got a king-sized bed.
She collected oversized furniture and a lot of the other décor elements during her travels. “That’s the fun of designing, for me — it’s not picking stuff from a catalogue, but really going from place to place, to go out there and see what treasures I can find,” she says.
She ordered a massive chandelier, about 10 feet in diameter, from a seller online in Pasadena, California. Her husband wondered how in the world the seller was going to ship it to Mont Tremblant, but it arrived in due course and now hangs in their dining room.
One of the most special pieces in her home is a colourful circular tray she got in Egypt, now displayed on the fireplace mantle in the living room. Chamandy was born in Egypt and moved to Montreal with her parents at the age of 6. In 2008, she had the rare honour of performing a solo concert in front of the Sphinx, accompanied by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra.
Afterward, she was in a local antiques shop, and the owner was a fan. He wanted to give her a gift and told her to take her pick of his wares. She picked that circular tray.
Her kitchen is her home’s pièce de résistance, she says. It’s the antithesis of the clean-lined, stainless-steel-clad aesthetic of modern kitchens. Instead of conventional cabinetry, stately armoires keep her dishes. She had the marble countertop on her islands stripped down so they look like natural slabs straight from the quarry.
Landry says he’s experienced firsthand the good use the Chamandys make of the custom crêpe-maker built into their dining island, and of the wood-fired pizza oven. As they worked on the home together, Landry and the Chamandys became friends and travel together occasionally to this day.
In December, Landry published a book about his designs, titled Modern to Classic, Volume 2, which includes the Chamandy home. It also features 14 other completed projects, including a design for football player Tom Brady and his wife supermodel Gisele Bündchen, as well as 25 projects that are in progress.
Photography by Erhard Pfeiffer