Living With What You Love

Collecting is one thing … living with what you collect is another. Architect Maxime Vandal and designer Richard Ouellette keep one couple’s collection new and exciting, and build a home around it.

Story Credits

Interior Design
Richard Ouellette with Roxanne Arsenault and Jane Charron, Les Ensembliers, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
André Rider, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Interior Architecture
Maxime Vandal, Les Ensembliers, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Landscape Architecture
Jorge Sanchez and Phil Maddux, SMI Landscape Architecture, Inc., Palm Beach, FL
Text by
Marina Brown
(View full image and details by clicking on picture)


Beautiful things demand a beautiful setting. And when one finds a designer who elevates a passion for collecting into art and then incorporates that art into comfortable living, there’s a tendency to return to him again and again. That is the case for an international couple with homes in Canada, a villa on the Mediterranean, a Haussmanian flat in Paris, and now an exquisite Regency estate in Palm Beach, Fla.

Richard Ouellette, President of Les Ensembliers, an exclusive architectural and design firm based in Canada, has created homes of different personalities on different continents for the couple. Each time, he respects nuance of place and style — and each time seamlessly integrates their spectacular collection of Chinoiserie faience into his designs.

“Though the Palm Beach home was older by current standards, the “H” footprint of the 1970s, 8,000-square-foot house gives it a classical countenance,” Ouellette says. “Even more, there are numerous internal courtyards, walled gardens, and places for private reverie that exist behind a high screen of green. This gives another aspect … a kind of ‘Moroccan labyrinthine’ series of surprises.”

But not everything in the home is intimate. The massive main living area is so vast that it is divided into several seating areas, a game section, and a dining room. Uniting the diverse activities beneath soaring 20-foot-high ceilings is a bespoke area rug in brilliant geometries of orange and white.

In the dining room, the owners themselves selected a delicate bouquet of gilded Murano glass to hang above the leather-finished wood table from Julian Chichester. The Chinese Chippendale woodwork of Artistic Frames’ dining chairs is another homage to the influence of the Orient in Europe.

When all things Asian became the fashion in the West in the 17th century, “Chinoiserie” showed up in fabrics, architecture and design. In distinct blue and white, the Chinese ginger jars and bowls are dramatic design features throughout. The theme repeats in the breakfast area, where chairs by Bunny Williams and an antique banquette are clad in the patterned motif. Monolithic jars even find a place peeking from within glass-mullioned cabinets in the kitchen.

Embraced by the two rear wings of the house, the pool and its gardens are themselves serene. In five different seating spaces and with several fireplaces near, guests can take the sun, or cool in the shade of a draped dining area. A travertine-topped table with Manutti chairs easily seats a party of 10 for alfresco dining amidst more exquisite blue and white nods to the East.