With a fashion designer past, Richard Ouellette of Les Ensembliers doesn’t aspire to decorate interiors so much as he aims to dress them. Alongside his in-business and in-life partner, Maxime, Richard has transformed everything from ultra-modern Manhattan penthouses to sprawling Canadian farmhouses into eclectic and luxely-layered spaces brimming with inventively reimagined antiques. Now, with a line of Brunchswig and Fils textiles in the mix, it seems only fair to say that Richard’s playbook is as complete as they come. To go hand-in-hand with his recent Chairish curation, Richard took a bit of time with us to open up to us about some of his design faves, including his favorite design rule to break and his favorite spots to scout vintage in his hometown of Montreal!
What do you love about shopping on Chairish?
We can always find unexpected pieces for all budgets.
Is there any particular product category where Chairish is your go-to?
Everything Mid-Century—it is our first stop every time.
Favorite thing about designing with vintage pieces:
Vintages pieces always bring character to a room. A room needs to have patina. The odd pieces; they bring in the soul.
Favorite way to add drama to a room:
Art—large, even over-scaled—makes the statement. Investing in art is always a good idea.
Favorite source for design inspiration:
I am old school; books are my favorite way to get inspired and put myself in a creative mood. Instagram is also an addiction (and a curse as much as it is a fabulous inspiration tool!).
Favorite design rule to break:
Use large-scaled pieces in a small space. Use mirrors and art in front of window. Fearlessly mix in color and patterns…the more the merrier!
Favorite paint color:
I love color, including color on upholstery and décor elements, but I prefer Benjamin Moore CC-30 Oxford White for walls. Warm white elevates any architectural element, corrects any fault in a space, and gives everything a fresh gallery feel.
Favorite pattern (and how you love to use it):
Our Tamara pattern which we created for rugs, trays, and cabinets. It is a dynamic and contemporary pattern with a nod to Art Deco.
Favorite color combo:
Deep teal and paprika is a favorite. Bronze-gold and black is always a go-to, as well.
Favorite way to mix high and low:
Accessories and accent pieces are the easiest pieces to mix in next to high-end pieces—they become part of the story. Also, art, and not necessarily expensive art. A well-framed photo from a book can easily live next to a master painting in a grouping, or even stand alone. It’s all in the mix!
Favorite way to work a bit of vintage into a room:
Rugs; the older the better. They ground and set the tone. A vintage wood accent table next to a contemporary-lined sofa. A bergère with patina and covered in a fabulous fabric next to the same sofa. Vases and boxes with chips and age—again, the best way to bring in the soul and character to a room. Lastly, any travelled pieces with a story. Whether it’s a ceramic figurine, a tassel from china on an armchair or in a shadowbox, or a Tanzanian stone or wood dish; anything that tells a great story!
Can you share with us any big projects you’re working on in 2018?
To begin, we have exciting licensing deals in the works. We are also working on a 2,5000 square foot mansion on a lake, completing a South Ocean mansion project in Palm Beach, beginning work on an artistic 10,000 square foot penthouse for art collectors, putting the finishing touches on a spectacular décor and renovation of a Tudor mansion in Westmount, bringing a contemporary glass house in Toronto to the décor stage (which will be even more fun than building it)…and our special project: the continuation in building mine and Maxime’s refuge—our contemporary farm in the Eastern Townships. It’s looking to be a busy and very exciting year!
You’re from Canada. Have you noticed any major differences in what your US vs Canada clients want in your design work?
I believe all are clients, from wherever on the planet, have the same expectation from us: they want to be Wowed. Lucky for us, we always aim to wow…it’s in our DNA.
Favorite travel destination:
Always NYC. It’s the place I feel home. London for the vibe, and our farm in the country, which is always the best place to come back to!
Emoji? I never use them.
Favorite weekend activity:
Gardening with Max. Or, more accurately, watching Max garden while I read with Zack (the pincher) under the apple tree.
Unfortunately, like most addicted to Instagram.
Favorite morning beverage:
I make fresh green juice like clockwork every morning for Max and I.
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Take a day off and run back with my loves (Max and Zack the dog) to the country…best possible treat.
Favorite Hostess gift:
Jo Malone is always a good idea.
Favorite adult beverage:
Gin martini really dry, really cold, with 3 olives.
To quote Zelina Brunschwig: “Good design is forever.”
A great caterer.
Jean Michel Basquiat.
Favorite thing to collect:
Your City: Montreal
Foxy. Best food and drinks in town, perfect ambiance, fab decor…and its right next door to my office.
Hôtel Gault in Old Montreal
Favorite Culture hub:
Quartier des Spectacle, where everything can happen on a summer’s evening.
Favorite Local Attraction:
Old Montreal. It’s the perfect place to discover the history and beauty of our city. At Mount Royal, nestled in the middle of the city, you’ll get an incredible view of the city and its surroundings. Take a stroll in the old gardens and paths of Expo 67, and don’t forget to stop by Habitat 67 from famous architect Moshe Safdie—it’s a must-see! Make sure to walk this city. Just like NYC, walking’s the way to discover it and meet the friendly, always-ready-to-help Montrealer! You know where, Canadians!!!!
Lead photo byBrittany Ambridge