Canadian designer Ami McKay on the art of creating joyful interiors

Pat J. Fraley


Finding joy in life is something McKay seems determined on wholeheartedly.

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It could sound quite annoying coming from someone else, but when Canadian designer Ami McKay of PURE Design tells you to get outside and enjoy your life, it feels like advice worth taking.

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Finding joy in life is something McKay seems determined on wholeheartedly. After the past two years of intensity, the world over, people need more joy in their lives, she says.

McKay delivers joy through her approach to home and interior design. McKay’s company, PURE Design, now has a brick-and-mortar store in Vancouver, an online shop, and a design-and-build practice. The central thread is to create more joy.

“When people walk into their homes, I want them to love their space,” she says.

The designer says she’s thrilled about the growing demand for colour, pattern and texture.

For a long time, working as an interior designer was like being an artist at a canvas restricted to blacks, whites, greys, and other neutral tones. More recently, it’s like she’s been handed huge cobalt blue and ochre tubes and told to go for it.

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She says that colour is a great way to bring happy feelings to a space. For example, McKay recently finished a kitchen that has a patterned backsplash and green cabinets.

“We need positivity and joy more than ever now,” she says.

Curves are in says Canadian designer Ami McKay.
Curves are in says Canadian designer Ami McKay. Photo by Ami McKay /PNG

Colourful backsplashes or countertops are a great way to liven up a kitchen, and if you do not want to commit to that, go for some colourful furniture, such as a yellow chair, she says.

Something McKay is presently doing for a client is using colourful wallpaper for their kitchen backsplash, with glass on top of it.

“That whole Laura Ashley thing that was part of my youth seems to be coming into spaces more. But the wallpaper doesn’t have to be floral; it could be anything,” she says.

White kitchens are clean and elegant but look great with colour blocking, says the designer.

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She says that playing with scale is another great way to liven up a space. Such as oversized door or cabinet pulls or handles.

“I shop and source a lot from Australia. They really push the boundaries with scale. Three foot handles — I love the drama of it all,” she says.

Curves are in big-time when it comes to home interiors, and you’ll see this in all parts of the home, like kitchens, bathrooms and living spaces.

She says that curves are a great way to create a feeling of playfulness and happy energy.

They often have clients’ furniture made locally by Lock & Mortice or Montauk. And lighting from ANDlight, says McKay.

And they source their tiles from across the border, from the likes of Cle tile, but McKay says she’d love to buy these locally.

All the products they carry in the PURE Design shop are ethically-minded and sustainably sourced, says McKay.

“I buy from artisans from around the world and support social initiatives,” she says.

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