Inside design: Colleen McGill
As the owner of McGill Design Group, an interior design firm, Canadian designer, Colleen McGill, has showcased her signature style of merging both architectural and interior design for many years. Now with her furniture line, Plum Furniture, it's easy to bring that signature style to your home. We caught up with Colleen to discuss her keen sense of design, tips on her success and more.
Style at Home: When and how did you know you wanted to work in design?
Colleen McGill I’ve always been very aware of spaces that make me feel good. The mother of one of my best friends had white carpeting in her hallways, and I tried to convince my mother to do the same. She wouldn’t. I also constantly drew her plans for my bedroom, such as a loft with a jungle gym in it – that never materialized either.
SH: How did you translate that interest into your career?
CM I actually completed a degree in economics at Western University in London, Ont., but I noticed my peers were a lot more passionate about what they were doing, so I told my dad I didn’t think economics was for me. I was interested in architecture and interior design and so, with my dad’s encouragement, I did a four-year interior design degree at Toronto’s Ryerson University.
SAH: It’s great that your dad was so encouraging.
CM He really was! He believed a lot in following your passion. Now I’m running my own business and have a furniture line [Plum], so economics does come into play. And design has a lot to do with math, anyway. You have to be able to see patterns and understand geometry.
SAH: Who influenced you most in terms of decor?
CM My mother was a bit of a Martha Stewart – a stylish do-it-yourselfer who sewed her own clothes and had a catering company. And my father was so passionate about the design and function of living well. He created things to make his household chores easier, like garbage chutes so he wouldn’t have to take out the trash. He also loved making drinks for people, so our house had a hidden bar in it.
SAH: Do you ever incorporate bars in your designs?
CM Always! Every single project I’ve done has a bar of some sort. Whether hidden or on a bar cart, it’s a great place to gather and relax.
SAH: As are kitchens these days. What’s the most important design consideration for kitchens?
CM Function, of course. After all is said and done, if you haven’t considered your work triangle or made sure that there’s enough storage space, it’s not well-designed.
CM Scanomat’s TopBrewer coffee maker. It’s a brewed-coffee tap built right into your kitchen countertop – it’s so small and subtle. And you can program it from your smartphone, so you can make yourself a coffee from bed!
SAH: How did your Plum furniture line come about?
CM It started with my design solution packages, because I wanted to offer help to people who couldn’t necessarily afford to hire a designer. The furniture line evolved from that – it’s really an answer to the pieces we couldn’t find on the market. We also wanted to offer Canadian-made products to the world, which we are doing successfully now through Designers House, among other vendors.
SAH: Do you have a favourite piece from your line?
CM The Coco desk, the Sandra chaise and the Reese bench are a few of my absolute favourites. I named the latter after my eldest daughter, Reese. And every time we make a sale, she comes down and rings this nautical bell we have. It’s so cute.
SAH: Does your daughter Reese want to get into design?
CM I think so! She draws plans all the time for things like tree houses and slides coming out of her bedroom window. She’s showing the same sort of creative tendencies I had when I was young.