May 29, 2024

PURE Design gives a family home a lift that balances utility, beauty

Everything hits a sweet spot between functional and beautiful

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What defines the perfect family home for interior designer Ami McKay? Nothing is too precious to use—and everything hits a sweet spot between functional and beautiful.

“We mainly wanted to make sure that it ticked all their boxes. We just wanted them to love their home,” says McKay of a recent renovation she designed for a Vancouver family of four. “They have kids and a dog, so they use their home; it’s not a show home.”

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Though looking at the ‘after’ photos, it certainly could be.

Homeowners Kristin Hanlon and Paul West-Sells purchased the house in 2010. But it was a decade before they approached McKay, president and principal designer of PURE Design Inc. With their children now in their teens, and the family dog out of puppy-hood, it felt like the right time for the home to grow up too, Hanlon says.

Interior designer Ami McKay replaced the family's traditional dining set with banquette-bench seating, repurposing their existing wood table to match.
Interior designer Ami McKay replaced the family’s traditional dining set with banquette-bench seating, repurposing their existing wood table to match. Photo by Janis Nicolay Photography
The living room fireplace got a fresh face of new tile (Geode by Andy Fleishman Field Tiles) and stylish lighting (Hindsdale-1 sconces by Hudson Valley Lighting) to complement furniture pieces and artwork reflecting the owners' love of midcentury and eclectic style.
The living room fireplace got a fresh face of new tile (Geode by Andy Fleishman Field Tiles) and stylish lighting (Hindsdale-1 sconces by Hudson Valley Lighting) to complement furniture pieces and artwork reflecting the owners’ love of midcentury and eclectic style. Photo by Janis Nicolay Photography

“We had a number of ideas about what we wanted to change when we met with Ami,” says West-Sells. The home’s main-floor spaces felt choppy, for instance, and the ensuite simply wasn’t functional for two people. “But she had some other really good suggestions, too.”

One of those was to overhaul the entryway, which was overflowing with shoes and coats, and lacking adequate storage. “She came in and said, ‘we can make this really efficient, and you can hide all of this stuff’,” recalls West-Sells.

McKay and her team delivered elegantly, installing floor-to-ceiling cabinets to tuck away clutter, along with a built-in upholstered bench. “It’s nice and clean looking, and very calming,” says West-Sells.

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For the main floor, the family requested an open plan, with a larger kitchen. McKay and her team obliged, removing a wall that divided the kitchen from the living room to reclaim dead space.

“Without the wall, we were able to put this really expansive island there, and now those two spaces speak to each other,” McKay says. “The light just glows through both ways.”

For the ensuite, the family wanted a spa-like feeling, with enough space for two people and a shower, in addition to a tub.
For the ensuite, the family wanted a spa-like feeling, with enough space for two people and a shower, in addition to a tub. Photo by Janis Nicolay Photography
A small powder room on the main floor received an upgrade with a new shower lined in soft grey glazed tile, and a space-saving custom concrete floating sink.
A small powder room on the main floor received an upgrade with a new shower lined in soft grey glazed tile, and a space-saving custom concrete floating sink. Photo by Janis Nicolay Photography

To replace a peninsula bar and separated dining area, McKay designed banquette bench seating, repurposing the family’s original table to match. Millwork housing a countertop espresso bar deftly disguises a support beam, while modern cabinetry in a mix of oak veneer and sage green (Sherwin Williams Delft) now runs the length of the merged space.

Centred in the main floor, the oversized island adds seating for five and plenty of extra storage. “My focus constantly was how much fun they’d have in that kitchen,” says McKay. For instance, the couple’s daughter is an avid baker. “Now, she can be over on one side working away, and her mom can be doing something else with her brother or dad. There’s enough room for multiple people to be in there.”

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Though the main-floor footprint hasn’t changed, the space feels much larger and brighter, says West-Sells. “One of the big changes, which was actually a subtle change, but quite striking, was that they redid all the floor with a much lighter stain, and it really brightened things up.”

The primary bedroom is located in the attic, with angled ceilings typical to the home’s 1940s vintage. McKay used these to her advantage, changing the room’s layout and customizing built-in shelves and closets to snug into the angles. “We were able to take advantage of all of that extra space by putting in drawers, hanging space and shelves,” Hanlon says.

The ensuite got an airy new layout, too, with plenty of storage and a fresh and bright palette of soft beige, greyish blue and white—including a feature wall of hand-glazed tiles and black wall-mounted faucet and taps. A double vanity with oak millwork now complements a cabinet above the sinks, with sliding mirror doors and a matching glazed tile backsplash. And the couple got a badly needed shower, to complement a freestanding tub (no more showering in the kids’ bathroom).

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Floor-to-ceiling cabinets offer ample storage for shoes and coats, while a built-in-upholstered bench provides a restful welcome.
Floor-to-ceiling cabinets offer ample storage for shoes and coats, while a built-in-upholstered bench provides a restful welcome. Photo by Janis Nicolay Photography
High-contrast patterned wallpaper balances the serene hues of the entrance millwork, which matches the palette of the kitchen for visual flow.
High-contrast patterned wallpaper balances the serene hues of the entrance millwork, which matches the palette of the kitchen for visual flow. Photo by Janis Nicolay Photography

Looking back at the 2020–2021-built project, Hanlon and West-Sells say they particularly appreciate McKay’s efforts to source local products for their home.

“It was very much a COVID renovation, meaning that we were doing it from start to finish throughout COVID,” says Hanlon. “She recommended products that were available in Canada or locally, which appealed to me from an environmental perspective. But it was also very practical during COVID, because the supply chain issues [for those products] were not as substantial.”

McKay’s favourite feature of the finished space? Probably the entryway, she says, and how it harmonizes with the rest of the main-floor design as it welcomes guests at the door.

“My little secret for entrances is to not put in a traditional closet. Where you have two-by-fours and a frame, you have dead space. So I always love using the same millwork in the kitchen and an entrance, to make it flow,” she says. And not a precious inch wasted.

Design and construction: PURE Design Inc.

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