“It’s the details,” says McKay, about the design of the home, which was completely in flux when she was hired. She settled on a neutral palette for both the interior and exterior of the home so the key was to create visual interest by providing contrast with colour and texture.
SHADES OF GREY
The grey-washed wood floors that McKay used throughout the home provide contrast to the warm walnut. The fireplace facade is a mixture of one-inch cube bluestone and porcelain “wood” tile below the hearth.
WRAPPED IN WOOD
The homeowner’s walnut kitchen features gorgeous grain that draws the eye upwards to the high ceilings. A writing desk is incorporated into the design of the kitchen’s built-in cabinetry. It’s a functional way to break up the wall of wood.
In the main bathroom shower, McKay used the same colour of limestone tiles in two different textures. The 12-X-12-inch limestone is flat; the other is a relief mosaic. It’s a smart way to keep colour continuity while adding visual interest.
The Bathrooms: Design Redux
Walnut millwork, once again, is used in both bathrooms. Glass mosaic tiles that include hues of greens, coppers and browns wrap the powder-room wall. The pendants lend an unexpected hit of gold glam. Functionality rules with a slim slide-out cabinet and seating area tucked between the two sinks.
The Living Room: Wide Open Spaces
The absence of both window coverings and rugs makes the room feel “more vast, more lofty,” says McKay. The curvilinear pendant light is an organic addition to the clean-lined space and draws the eye upward, showcasing the expansiveness of the high ceilings.
The Wine Room: Functional Art
The wine room is creatively situated between the home’s front and back doors, affording easy access from the living, dining and family rooms. Originally, the homeowner wanted it in the family room, but McKay and her team came up with a more creative use of space. The result is a functional showpiece that incorporates glass so the flow of the space is uninterrupted.
The Master Bedroom: Go Big
Some people dress their beds with colour and pattern, but the understated navy bedding and white walls present an ideal opportunity to go big with art. The large triptych reminds McKay of a wood burl. “When I look at it close, there’s so much depth and interest.”
The Dining Room: A Dash of Drama
“I love lighting and I take it really seriously,” says McKay who uses different pendant lights in every room. “It’s a sculpture, it’s an opportunity.” Behind the grand dining room chandelier, an abstract painting offers a dash of drama in the serene space.
The Kitchen: Simplicity Rules
“We kept it simple – even the fixtures in the kitchen,” says McKay, pointing out mid-century modern flourishes such as the chrome light and industrial Bertoia wire chairs. The walnut dining room table blends in seamlessly with the cabinets.
The Family Room: A Splash of Colour
McKay’s go-to colour is blue, as seen in the table lamp and over-dyed rug, which anchors the otherwise neutral family room. “It creates contrast,” she says, adding, “it’s also incredibly neutral.” McKay selected the home’s furnishings and paintings that are all by B.C. artists.
Designer Ami McKay helps a builder blend his modern home into North Vancouver's Edgemont Village by using natural elements such as wood and stone
Ami McKay’s design ethos is to create pure, healthy homes, hence her company name, PURE Design. Her work features formaldehyde-free kitchens with non-emitting cabinetry. McKay also has a nature-inspired bedding collection at Bed Bath and Beyond.
When designer Ami McKay showed the homeowner the grey-washed wood she wanted to use for the flooring in his newly built Edgemont Village home, he told her she was crazy. “He wanted a walnut kitchen – and he wanted walnut everywhere,” explains McKay, pointing out that it was the first time the builder and his wife had worked with a designer. “I wanted to use walnut as a punctuation. It’s more of a feature,” she says. “If it’s everywhere, it gets a little flat.”
Once McKay put together her inspiration package of natural materials, which included walnut, bluestone and grey-washed wood – colours and textures evocative of North Vancouver’s nearby mountains and forests – she handily won the homeowners over.
“This house is very West Coast contemporary. The inspiration was all the natural materials,” says McKay.
Overall, the 4,500 square foot home’s design and decor could be described as quiet. Walls are muted, fabrics are in hushed tones, stone adds texture and the grey floors throughout provide an uninterrupted flow from room to room. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t drama.
Take the gutsy see-through glass wine room that floats between front and back entrances, for instance. “It’s an art piece,” says McKay. And then there are the edgy canvases. “Even though the pieces are dramatic, they’re limited to one sightline,” says McKay. Her goal? To make sure each room looks beautiful from every angle – inside and out – whether you’re sitting or standing.
Janet Gyenes is a writer, editor, beverage columnist and co-founder of 70 magazine, an online travel publication. She has co-authored two travel guidebooks on Vancouver and has put her insatiable curiosity to work in words and photos, covering topics such as tasting sherry in Spain, mule-riding in Molokai, and tracking textile trends in Turkey. She regularly writes for BCLiving about food, beverage, design and more.