- Emmanuel Hébert grew up in a small Montréal house that he has transformed into a Georgian mansion.
- Hébert, who lives there with his son, uses it as a gallery for his antiques business.
- He also rents it out for $184 an hour and uses the funds to further renovate the mansion.
Emmanuel Hébert used to restore paint jobs on classic cars.
Now the tattooed 33-year-old antiques dealer funnels that creative energy into another endeavor: transforming his modest childhood home in a suburb of Montréal into a 6,500-square-foot Georgian-style mansion.
Inside, antiques of all eras stand out against black walls and over-the-top bespoke finishes.
The mansion is Hébert’s home, where he’s raising his 5-year-old son, Romeo, as well as a showroom for his antiques business. He also rents the space out for $184 an hour for photographers and videographers looking to take advantage of its evocative interiors.
The renovation has been a labor of love that’s won him praise across the internet, where he’s drawn adoring fans. On Instagram, nearly 10,000 people follow Manoir Blackswan — what he calls the mansion — and 13,700 people follow his antiques business. On Facebook, he’s won a devoted audience both on his personal page and in a group for moody maximalist interior design, which has 287,000 devoted members.
The social-media reach has helped Hébert not only share his passion but also promote his business.
Hébert purchased his roughly 2,200-square-foot childhood house from his mom in 2009, when he was 20 years old, for $184,000 using money he’d earned from his work on cars.
“It wasn’t a nice house,” he said. “Nothing had been done to it since 1963.”
The single-story home was midcentury in style and had a basement, where Hébert started fixing up antiques. It’s where he honed his craft.
The idea to transform the house grew in tandem with his budding career as an antiques dealer.
“In Montréal, we have an incredible amount of quality pieces, but there’s no market for it,” he said. “I don’t want a brick-and-mortar shop like all these antique dealers waiting for customers to pass by. It’s not a model that’s going to work in the future, and COVID proved me right.”
That, he said, is when he had the wild idea of building a private showroom in his home. He always envisioned a Georgian-style mansion with symmetrical architecture and costly bespoke finishes by a cadre of tradespeople.
The home had to live up to the antiques, after all.
Hébert grows his home — and business
Hébert started selling antiques online in 2017, and the income from that helped him secure funding for the renovation. He landed a $404,000 loan for his in-situ showroom after just one rejection.
Construction of the mansion cum showroom kicked off in 2020 after a year of planning. The bungalow was incorporated into a new, larger structure. One of its three bedrooms and the original living room were cleared to make way for a kitchen and dining room that would be proportional with the new home.
Hébert connected with a coppersmith over Facebook whom he contracted to create the home’s gutters, soffits, and a 10-foot-by-30-inch chimney cap. He’s spent about $140,000 on the copperwork alone.
He also commissioned a roughly 8-by-5-foot fireplace mantel of his own design — a lattice and filigreelike pattern flanked by two imposing lions — made of two blocks of black marble with white veining from Basque Country in Spain. It took four carvers in Spain three months to complete the piece, he said. It is one of his most prized possessions in the home.
“Having all these craftsmen working here was a privilege,” he said. “And for them, they’re so happy that someone in 2020 decided to bring back the old stuff.”
Hébert is a craftsman himself, taking on general contractor duties for the build-out to cut costs. He’s also handy at restoring antiques he brings in for his business.
He specializes in antique lighting fixtures, what he calls the jewelry of the home. While many of the items in Manoir Blackswan are for sale, many are part of his personal collection: the stuffed peacock on a perch that he designed the living room around, for instance.
It’s a work in progress, and Hébert has grand plans that are still just blueprints: a perfectly symmetrical French-style garden and swimming pool, a bedroom dripping in red interiors, and a two-story, three-car garage, to name just a few.
“For me, I’m barely scratching the surface of the possibilities,” he said.
But the home’s already come a long way from the petite three-bedroom bungalow it was when he was growing up. Hébert said the home was worth about $1.5 million now, based off conversations he had with local real-estate agents and the few comparable homes in the area, as opposed to roughly $367,000 before the renovation. He owes about $514,000 on the property.
It’s all worth it, he said. Now he gets to watch his son continue to grow in their new home.
“Everyone that comes in is his friend, and he wants to greet them and be a part of it,” Hébert said. “He grew up in that kind of environment. So for him, it’s totally normal.”
He added: “I can’t wait to see him realize that’s not normal.”