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Parris McKenna Design

Create your ideal interior at home and at the cottage

When Erin and Dave first purchased their home, they knew it was the perfect location for their family. It was tucked in their dream neighbourhood, on an ideal street, on the upper end of The Beaches. However, the house itself was far from a dream come true.

The main floor was dark and dated – a stark contrast from the style they wanted it to embody.

“It had a ton of potential but lacked character, save the original brick fireplace in the living room,” says Parris McKenna, Owner and Principal Designer at Parris McKenna Design (PMD). “It checked all the necessary boxes, but the layout and design needed work to make the space function for them.”

Before long, the couple enlisted PMD to transform their house into their dream home.

“This was one of my favourite projects,” says Parris. Their wishlist was simple: they wanted a good kitchen to cook in, and space to entertain. And the pair trusted Parris and her team wholeheartedly.

“They embraced our designs and expertise.”

To bring their dream to life, the team at PMD embarked on a complete renovation of the main floor, as well as the main bathroom. While the footprints of these spaces didn’t change, the layout and overall flow of each did. To create a more functional layout, Parris changed the location of the door into the bathroom and closed a passthrough window between the kitchen and the family room to allow for more millwork and storage in the kitchen.

“Simple changes like this made way for a more functional and aesthetically inviting design.”

The design needed to be bright and airy, yet warm and vibrant. Staying true to the home’s mid-century style, and the couple’s vibrant personalities, Parris and her team decided to play with bold and moody tones that would create visual interest.

“We paired rich green tiles with dark grey countertops in the kitchen. We then accented with brass fixtures and warm wood flooring to create a timeless, yet unexpected aesthetic,” says Parris.

While Erin and Dave’s project was in the city, the team notes that their experience is often mirrored by cottage buyers: many buy a cottage for the land it’s on, not necessarily for the structure itself.

“Whether you’re looking at buying in Muskoka, on Lake Simcoe, or Georgian Bay, make sure you love the things you can’t change – the location, the exposure, the waterfront,” says Parris. “Because our team can then help transform the cottage into the retreat you’ve always wanted.”

From the GTA to Muskoka
Parris knows this process firsthand, having bought her cottage in Muskoka to transform it into a swoon-worthy home for her and her family. While PMD is still headquartered in Toronto, the expansion of PMD north of the city has allowed her team to take on more projects in cottage country and beyond, helping more people reimagine their homes and cottages.

“As a boutique firm, we only take on a select number of projects each year to provide the best level of service to our clients,” says Parris. “This decision allows us to better serve every client at each stage of their project. We’re a luxury service and want our client experience to feel that way.

Designed naturally
Parris describes her aesthetic as rooted in her love for Canada’s natural surroundings. Having grown up in Vancouver, surrounded by the mountains, ocean, thousand-year-old timbers, and pebbly coast, she looks for opportunities to bring those same elements into each design. Regardless of the project, you’ll find warm woods and metals, natural stone, and calming earth-tone colour palettes.

This, she notes, makes cottage designs even more enjoyable.

“I always ask, ‘How do we bring the outdoors in? How can we honour where we are? How do we make the space feel cohesive between our surroundings and our interiors?’ The design should feel well placed and intentional.”

Building a boutique service
Whether you’re looking to build a new cottage or renovate your existing one, Parris suggests hiring an interior designer as early as possible, even if you do not have an architect or contractor in place.

“Builders and architects will help you utilise the space to its fullest, but may not think the way a designer does,” she says. Even if you don’t want to change your floor plan, a designer can help you rethink each space and make it work better for your lifestyle, family needs, and overall long-term goals of the home.

It’s also important to choose your interior designer carefully. Usually, designers will have a specific aesthetic, notes Parris, so find one that resonates with you.

“The best thing you can do is review a designer’s portfolio and social media accounts to make sure you feel aligned with their overall style; it will create a much more enjoyable relationship and ultimately increase the trust and creative freedom you place in your designer.”

When searching for the ideal interior designer, Parris says there’s no harm in being picky. “If we have a similar taste in style, it makes selecting finishes and decor simpler, and decreases the number of revisions needed on each design.”

To see if you’re the right fit for PMD, Parris suggests reviewing her online portfolio and looking at her Instagram before filling out your project inquiry form.

“Whether you’re embarking on a full renovation or new custom build, we will work alongside your builders and architects to curate a design palette that reflects a timeless aesthetic and a functional home.”



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