When a general contractor from Montreal and a writer from Italy decided to buy a place where they could raise their two young children, they wanted to restore a property in his hometown. Although they had chosen his Canadian city as their primary base, the two had spent plenty of time in her home country where they had studied the merits of design and architecture. But unlike the ornate buildings of the Old World, the couple wanted a minimalist house where a few choice materials comprised its overall personality. And when they stumbled upon a 1906 duplex near the verdant La Fontaine Park, the pair hired Maxime Moreau and his firm, MXMA, to renovate the location with a calm, uncluttered eye. "The idea became this design that is representative of the structure of the trees and branches, which are in view from the living space," Moreau noted. He and his team relied on white oak throughout most of the interiors — and most strikingly on the kitchen's ceiling — to anchor the new open layout to one textural element. Custom built-ins were integral to the look's unobstructed appearance, while muted colors and skylights allow the wood's grain to shine. It may not seem like a lot, but to a couple who simply wanted to appreciate the details, the finished home is everything.