Owned by an antique dealer, this mansion is part residence and part showroom.
Just outside Montreal, there is an imposing 6,500-square-foot Georgian mansion in Châteauguay, Quebec. It looks straight out of the Gilded Age, with an ornate hand-carved entrance and turn-of-the-century copper sconces. In fact, the house was built just last year.
Its owner, antiquarian Emmanuel Hébert, created the modern palace in the space of his 2,000-square-foot childhood home. He bought the property from his mother when he was 18, using money she had saved from a job restoring car paint. Manoir Blackswan, which serves as Hébert’s primary residence and showroom for his antiques business, is named after the theory of black swan events: unpredictable situations that change the trajectory of your life but make sense in retrospect. When Hébert was 26 years old, he took a trip to India that took him into the world of antiquities. He saw the country’s respect for his artistic history and felt compelled to look at Canada’s past as well.
He read voraciously about the decorative arts and crafts of Victorian homes; In 2017, she founded her own company, Historical Lights, named after her love of chandeliers, and sold pieces online. At first she only dealt with items that suited her personal taste, which she leaned towards baroque and rococo, but that changed as she acquired more knowledge of the field. She now deals only in the rarest antiques, including a complete set of hand-carved Odd Fellows chairs from an Odd Fellows lodge in Napanee, Ontario. “I’m trying to buy museum-quality pieces,” she says, “because that’s where the real value is.”
In 2020, he embarked on an ambitious renovation to transform his two-bedroom, one-bathroom family home into a six-bedroom, three-bathroom mansion. To achieve this, he hired a handful of craftsmen: a tinker for the house’s gutters and dormers, a master plasterer for the interior cornices and ceiling medallions, and a cabinetmaker who reproduced the ceiling moldings of a 19th-century hotel in Quebec City. .
Almost everything you see at Manoir Blackswan is for sale, although there are some prohibited items, such as Hébert’s four-poster bed and fireplace mantel. The interior of the mansion has a unique aesthetic that combines vintage and Versailles, with marble floors and stuffed animals. “Manoir Blackswan is all about opulence and exuberance,” he says. His living room has a checkerboard floor made of Italian Bianco Carrara marble and Spanish Nero Marquina marble. There’s an Italian sofa covered in gold leaf, a hand-carved Spanish marble fireplace, and an elaborate ceiling with approximately 50 chandeliers. “When I want to feel like the king of the world, I go to my living room,” he says. “You feel like you’re in a castle somewhere in France.”
Each room follows a different theme based on a vintage era or style. The living room focuses on eclectic decoration. The tea room, which features a hand-painted botanical mural by artist Sonia Laurin, is Hébert’s homage to chinoiserie, a genre of Western design that imitates Chinese art and motifs. His bedroom is decorated like a Victorian parlor, replete with a fringed chandelier, velvet chaise longue and mahogany four-poster bed in ruby tones. (Naturally, it is nicknamed the Red Room.) “The beauty of maximalism is that there are so many possibilities,” he says.
Next year, Hébert will begin construction on the second phase of Manoir Blackswan, with the intention of adding another 8,000 square feet to the home. After posting photographs online, he received numerous requests for photo and film shoots. “There’s nothing like it on the market right now,” he says. He intends to add a commercial kitchen as well as a Golden age–style ballroom, private art gallery, speakeasy, wine cellar and entrance with spiral staircase, so you can also organize weddings and corporate events. “My life needs to be full of beautiful things that bring me joy,” she says. “I would feel sad in a completely white apartment or house. “Maximalism completes me.”