Monday, November 8, 2010

{q & a with colleen mcgill}

Today I am excited and honored to share a little conversation with the talented Canadian designer Colleen McGill. As an aspiring decorator, her work has been an immense source of inspiration to me. It's no secret that I love so many things about her design aesthetic and personal style, so featuring Colleen in a designer profile is such a treat!

Colleen McGill is an award winning interior designer who is principal of the Toronto-based architectural and interior design firm McGill Design Group. Her work has been featured in countless design publications; most recently her designs were featured in House & Home's November issue, Style at Home's December issue, and on the television show HGTV's Top 10. McGill was even named one of the Top 80 Interior Designers of the last Decade by Canadian House & Home!

I must say that Colleen's design aesthetic really resonates with my own, her work incorporates so many of the elements that would be must-haves on my 'dream-house' wish list: sconces everywhere {especially embedded in mirrors, and in tufted banquettes}, gorgeous herringbone floors with inlaid borders, millwork, mouldings, and built-ins galore! To me, that kind of attention to detail is what truly makes a space.

Nancy Marcus: When did you know you wanted to become a designer and how did you begin your business venture?

Colleen McGill: While completing my degree in Economics at The University of Western Ontario, I realized that my passion truly lay in a more creative field where I could help make an impact on people’s lives.  I had always been very artistic and very interested in how interior environments impacted my sense of wellbeing.  I explored Architecture schools and in my travels discovered the field of Interior Design.

I registered McGill Design Group in 1996 and began taking on clients while I was completing my degree in Interior Design at Ryerson University.

Nancy Marcus: What was your one big break?

Colleen McGill: I would say that I had a few breaks that have shaped my career.  The first was working for Joe Brennan at JF Brennan Design Build early in my career. He is a very talented man with a passion for classical architecture and I benefited tremendously from that experience.   It was a great to be a part of the design process and see the work come to life through building.  It taught me a great deal about the true impact of my design decisions.  The staff at JF Brennan were all very talented and I learned a great deal about Architecture and Planning.  Most of all, I adopted Joe’s optimistic philosophy that “nothing is impossible,” an empowering attitude that stays with me today.

My second break was a full redesign and renovation on a house in Forest Hill in Toronto early in my career.  I was lucky to have a client who gave me full reign to redesign the house, manage the renovation and decorate it top to bottom.  Not only did I manage to complete the renovation in 3 months and keep on budget but the house was featured in Canadian House & Home magazine that year and really got me noticed.

Nancy Marcus: Which designers do you admire most?

Colleen McGill: I love the work of the late architect John Russell Pope. His classical architecture is sublime. I adore Kelly Wearstler’s bold and decadent interiors – Bergdorf Goodman’s Tea Room is wonderful. Christian Liaigre’s Mercer Hotel in New York is still gorgeous and timelessly on trend. I also love Oscar de La Renta for his seemingly effortless designs that are at once timeless, graceful and youthful.  I am inspired by his personal grace and continued ability to reinvent his design while still keeping his signature elegance over such a long career.

Nancy Marcus: Your use of paneling within your projects is stunning, would you say this is a key element to achieving a luxe and classic look?

Colleen McGill: Yes I do love paneling! It gives a room a detailed layer of elegance which allows me to overlay either a classic look in the furnishings or a contrast of more contemporary pieces.  It gives my spaces a language of timelessness and naturally enhances the perceived and real value of a home.  I believe in true recessed paneling rather than just applying panel mould onto drywall which doesn’t offer the full affect.

Nancy Marcus: Fabulous! The effect is truly sensational, and I must agree that this takes an already stunning space to the next level.

Nancy Marcus: What project are you most proud of?

Colleen McGill: One of my favorite projects is a house in downtown Calgary that we did for a wonderful couple.  The Exterior Architecture of the house is modern but the clients asked for the interior to be classical.   The home has wonderful detail and an incredibly inviting kitchen/ family room with views of the Rocky Mountains.

I am working on a very small but incredibly important space right now that I am very proud of – it’s the redesign of the Mount Sinai Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit waiting room that I am redesigning on behalf of Project Sunshine – a charity organization that I support.  The space will give families of the babies in the NICU a place to rest, to wait, to hope and to feel a sense of optimism as their little ones are being cared for.

I am most proud when my clients tell me my designs have changed the way they live for the better.  I love hearing they spend more time with their family in a newly designed kitchen or that they love entertaining in their new home. We endeavor to enrich people's lives and there is nothing better than coming home to a beautiful, elegant, serene, and functional relaxing space filled with light and character.

Nancy Marcus: What an inspiration, I am sure the families spending countless hours in the NICU will find comfort in a space designed specifically with their wellbeing in mind. Thank you for sharing this important project with us!

A huge thank you to Colleen for being gracious with your time, it's always a thrill to learn more about the person being the fabulous designs!

If you aren't already following the uber talented McGill Design Group on facebook, hurry on over cause you are missing out!


Wallpaper said...

great interview, love the pics as well!!

anne sutherland said...

My cousin and we are very proud of her. Yay Colleen.

Lisa said...

Great interview! Love her style!

mydesignchic said...

Thanks for giving us more insight on this talented designer. Every room she decorates is stunning...

JenniferB said...

Lovely! Her work is beautiful, will head over to her website to check it out :)

Jennifer x

Splendid Willow said...

Oh Nancy, what a great feature! I love those rooms and actually posted before and after pictures of some of these rooms. But of course everything looks better on your blog!!

In am sure many of Colleen's clients can say thay that she changed their lives for the better!

A warm hug to you,

ox, Mon

Tomines hjem said...

lovely! it is very warm and cosy.. i have just the same colors in my Norwegian house we just built.. please take a look.. have a nice week, and i added myself as follower..

♥♥♥ hugs from Norway

Anonymous said...

Hello Nancy, I'm SO glad you commented on my blog as I'm so delighted to have found yours, I love it and I just adored this interview, I've long admired Colleen McGills work and it was just fascinating to read about her and how she works, what a brilliant post, thank you!

theLENNOXX said...

Wow you are right, we really do share a design brain!! I really am crazy about Colleens work too, it's timeless! It's so great to get to know more about the designers we admire, thank you for sharing this wonderful interview with us Nancy!

The Zhush said...

Amazing interview Nancy! I adore Colleen's style and her use of panels and sconces and serene color palettes...what a talent! And what a treat to read more about her here!

Kelly @ JAX does design said...

Wowsers! I adore every room, and especially love the fantastic millwork.

Thanks for the interview with Colleen and sharing her beautiful work with us :-)


Anonymous said...

Hope you don't mind but I linked to this post, I was so inspired by it.

Arianna Belle {Organized Interiors} said...

Definitely saving these to inspiration file! I'm loving her work!

I'm also loving your blog! Thanks so much for stopping by mine as it allowed me to discover yours! Just added you to my blog roll :)

lisaroyhandbags said...

I've admired Colleen's work for quite a while now in House & Home - it's so timeless yet comfy. Great interview - it's so nice to learn more about people who's work I really admire :)

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

Her work is really beautiful. I've been back twice now to look at these photos. Thanks for the interview with her, too! Great post, Nancy. :-)

Design Elements said...

wonderful feature, Nancy!!!

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