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ARIDO Spotlight: Katy McNabb, ARIDO

  • Published on: Aug 11, 2023

Meet Katy McNabb, a Registered Interior Designer who turned her passion for history and design into an amazing project, a podcast called Rewind Design, which focuses not only on the history and cottage family stories around the Georgian Bay area but also sustainable design practices along the shores of Cottage Country. When she is not working on design projects with her clients, you can find her researching the Georgian Bay area shores with her drone and looking for the next inspiring story for her podcast.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself?    

My name is Katy McNabb and I am the host of a Podcast called Rewind Design. I graduated with a Bachelor of Interior Design from Ryerson School of Interior Design, and am a Registered Interior Designer, as well as NCIDQ certified through National Council of Interior Design Qualification. I love history and sustainability and design through the lens of both these passions.

Interior Design combines the ability to problem solve, constantly generating creative solutions, liaising with architects  and engineers, creating detailed construction drawings all while designing for the end user!

Katy McNabb, ARIDO

2. Why did you choose to study and practice interior design?   

Ironically, growing up, I always thought I would be an engineer as I excelled in math and science. I even went to all the engineering open houses! However, when I started to dive a bit deeper into the career, I realised that I would thrive in a more creative environment. 

I have always been creative, loving art, theatre, and dance. So my mom suggested interior design as a combination of all my interests! Interior Design combines the ability to problem solve, constantly generating creative solutions, liaising with architects  and engineers, creating detailed construction drawings all while designing for the end user!

I love how we are able to transform space so drastically in such a short time and how much these changes can improve the lives of our clients. I like to focus first on the functionality of the client's home and then jump into aesthetics!

I also love that interior design can directly benefit our health and wellness. For example improving indoor air quality and using low VOC emitting materials has a direct effect on our respiratory systems.

I like that we have the influence on clients to think more sustainably and reduce their carbon footprint by choosing sustainably sourced material and furniture.

3. Can you describe your style in one word?    

Historical-appreciation

4. How do you approach work-life balance?    

Work-life balance is very important, and I am a huge proponent of taking time off. Taking vacation is also so important as a way to de-stress and also as inspiration! 

I love to travel to new and exciting places. So far I have travelled to 25 countries and draw a lot of inspiration for what I discover. I have been to 6 of the 7 continents!

5. How do you spark your creativity?   

I love to research the history of the area I am working in, find out the time period of the building (if a restoration project) and research what were common building methods/interior design trends at the time of construction. 

Of course we like to modernize the design to allow for modern conveniences, however staying true to the history and acknowledging the past is very important to me. The client's personal history is also very important.

I also love to research sustainable ways of building which creates constraints to work within.

6. What are the biggest challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?   

The greatest challenge of the job is in society's perception of what it is we actually do. Our job is all encompassing, detail oriented and is like juggling 10 balls at once. The general public has an assumed perception of what interior designers really do, and they unintentionally loop us in with decorators. 

To become an interior designer takes years of study, a university degree and several years of practice in the field, while interior decoration can be taught by one-self and does not require formal education. Interior design is an art and science of understanding people’s behaviour to create functional spaces within a home. Decoration is the furnishing and styling of a space, still equally important. Interior designers may also decorate, but decorators do not design.

Interior design is an art and science of understanding people’s behaviour to create functional spaces within a home. Decoration is the furnishing and styling of a space, still equally important. Interior designers may also decorate, but decorators do not design.

Katy McNabb, ARIDO

7. What did you discover that you didn't know before? How did interior design or your projects shape you personally? 

Interior Design has connected me to so many amazing clients and other designers specifically though the podcast that I run, Rewind Design which focuses on Ontario's cottage country. As an interior designer in Ontario's cottage country, I believe it is very important to understand the history and environment of the area that I live and work in. 

Over the last year, I have realized the impact that cottages and cottaging is having on our shoreline and lakes. I have started to understand the importance of sustainable design, and decreasing our ecological footprint. My studies at university had also developed a fascination with old buildings, history and preserving architecture, and so began my research of both sustainability and restoration. Interior design made me realize my passions for history and sustainability.

8. Do you remember the first design that struck you or lingered in your mind?    

I spent three months in France when I was 14 when I went on a high school foreign exchange. It was the best time, and my host family took me to Paris for a trip. I couldn't believe the intricate detailing sprinkled around the city - every single element was detailed down to the subway signs and the lamp posts. We went to the Opera House and it struck me, the rich colors, ornate molding and the atmospheric lighting.

9. What is one thing you did for the first time recently?    

I bought a drone to record my visual podcast footage of cottages!

10. How would you describe your last year?   

Passionate! Over the last year I have started a podcast about history and sustainable design in Ontario's cottage country and produced two seasons so far!

Season 1 of Rewind Design, and the initial intent of the podcast was to share family cottage stories + history. 

My podcast journey started when I moved back to Georgian Bay. As I explored the area, I was overcome by a curiosity about the origin of the cottages surrounding me and how all these cottages ended up here. How had they endured so many years on the outer islands with unrelenting west winds and rugged terrain? 

I began to reach out to fellow cottagers in my area to ask them about their history, and was inundated with interest. I have since met with dozens of generational cottagers across Ontario. I have been given a glimpse into the daily life of cottaging, have spoken to 6th generation cottagers and have documented many late 18th century cottages. The vast history of not only the families’ personal histories, but also the cottages in these remote areas is exceptional.

The podcast offers in-depth discussions on protecting the shoreline via green energy, sustainable building materials and methods and the maintenance of natural landscapes to bring harmony between design and nature. 

Katy McNabb, ARIDO

Season 2 of Rewind Design, which has recently launched focuses on sustainable design along the shores of Cottage Country. Season 2 is funded by the King Family Bursary from the Georgian Bay Land Trust. The podcast offers in-depth discussions on protecting the shoreline via green energy, sustainable building materials and methods and the maintenance of natural landscapes to bring harmony between design and nature. 

Featuring interviews with experts in the field, Season 2 covers a range of topics showcasing sustainable architects and designers who encourage reducing ecological footprint and promote energy reduction. 

I will also be including builders, contractors and landscapers in the discussion to speak about best practices when building sustainably from all perspectives. The podcast also aims to motivate cottage owners to adopt simple and effective sustainable design methods when renovating or building new.

11. How did you develop your distinctive style?    

My design style focuses on restoration where possible, repurposing existing materials and selecting sustainable and local materials. I am a huge proponent of repurposing everything we can to fit the client’s needs, mixing old and new. I love renovating homes to improve the quality of life and ease of use, while maintaining the charm and feeling that the clients already love from their existing home. In short, creating authentic, unique, and sustainable spaces is what I am passionate about.

I love renovating homes to improve the quality of life and ease of use, while maintaining the charm and feeling that the clients already love from their existing home. In short, I love creating authentic, unique, and sustainable spaces.

Katy McNabb, ARIDO

12. What is a quality you most cherish in your designs?    

I tend to avoid trends and focus on the client’s needs and function first - I cherish authentic designs that are unique to each client. Instead of following trends, I draw inspiration from the natural surroundings, history of the area, colors and textures, rocks, trees and sky. I also take into account the client's existing furniture, art and style. I do however, love to attend trade shows to become versed in advancing technology specifically when it comes to sustainability, water saving fixtures and energy saving appliances.

13. Did social media affect your work? If so, how?    

Social media has been a great outlet to share my work - and also the stories that I have been capturing in my podcast. Without the podcast platform, I would not have been able to record and share so many stories about cottage country!

14. What advice would you give someone who is interested in interior design?    

I would recommend visiting a few different types of design firms before going to university or college. I would recommend visiting a small residential firm, a larger commercial firm and a firm that specializes in healthcare. You will quickly realize the vast industry of interior design and where it can take you! Talk to as many people as you can!

15. How can people connect with you? What is your preferred method of communication?   

Email - katy@rewinddesign.ca

Instagram: rewind.design

Website: www.rewinddesign.ca

About the ARIDO Spotlight

The purpose of the ARIDO Spotlight is to spark meaningful conversations.

We think honest and real conversations are at the heart of community building. Every voice matters and that there is a place for everyone in these conversations.

We feel it’s far more touching and honest to hear from the members who make up our design community – from members at large firms to small business owners, students, newcomers and independent creatives.

Would you like to be featured? Complete this form at the link below: 

-The ARIDO Communications Committee

Don't hesitate to contact Ali Moenck at communications@arido.ca if you have questions.