When Ami McKay moved to British Columbia from her native Niagara Falls 20 years ago, her dream was to paint the mountains. She took classes at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, but then changed disciplines. Today, she's an interior designer, specializing in residential and hospitality projects in addition to new builds; McKay collaborates on them with project manager Don Thomas, her partner in life and business. As principal of Pure Design Inc., she has also designed a line of sustainable furniture and bedding sold across Canada through Bed, Bath & Beyond stores. Much of her ideas come from nature, with which McKay maintains a connection through her principal residence, a three-bedroom cabin in the woods some 25 minutes north of Vancouver. The mountains, which originally lured her west, are visible from the cabin's living room. And they inspire her still. "It is heaven here," she says. "We have our own private beach and I can see it all through the windows in this room, which I've designed to be very earthy to contrast with the ocean outside."
"There are no curtains on purpose – this room has such wow factor. When people walk into the space, their mouths drop, because all you see is blue, the blue of the ocean. It feels like you are in a floating home and I didn't want anything to take away from that. The view is everything in this room."
"These I designed myself. They are part of my Pure furniture line, which is 100-per-cent sustainable. I upholstered them in a linen cotton blend fabric. I love that they are white, as I like having light-looking furniture in my home. It doesn't compete for attention with the other pieces in the room."
The side table
"This is really neat. It comes from Indonesia. When the forests are clear cut [there], the villagers are left with nothing except the root in the ground, which they dig out and sell. So this table serves two purposes for me: It's sculptural and it's also giving back. It's a table with a conscience."
"It's a cedar-beam ceiling. It's interesting and really beautiful. I really like how the white walls pop against the high contrast of the wood."
"It's made of wire, and looks to me like an industrial fan. I have spent a lot of time looking at it. I love baskets, and I love the hand work that goes into making baskets. This is the same except it's made of wire. It's amazing. I got it at Once A Tree in Vancouver. It's also special to me because this is the table that Don and I purchased together, the first piece of furniture that is ours."
"This is a custom piece; the artist was inspired by our beach. Her name is Evangelia Kondilis, and she's from B.C. I wanted a piece in the living room that would pull the whole inside/outside [dynamic] together. I didn't know what she would do, but I love what she has created for us."