Barefoot Fancy

Style at Home – Welcome to the Weekend Issue – Summer 2018

For Designer Ami McKay and her husband, Don Thomas, entertaining is all about striking a mood, raising the bar from the last bash and creating memories.

“We want everyone to be excited and filled with anticipation when they come over,” says Ami. “We want our friends to look back and say, “Do you remember the time …?”

Champagne and ripped jeans, fine food and raucous laughter, bone china and bare feet: When the duo behind Pure Design, a Vancouver-based design firm, throws a party, it’s all about bringing out the best and enjoying it in the most effortless way possible. Because even thought Ami McKay and her husband Don Thomas entertain their closet friends (a.ka. The Usual Suspects) almost monthly, they want each and every shindig to feel elevated, organic, intimate and fun – it’s the West Coast way. Here’s how they do it.

“Vancouverites tend to take advantage of every dry and beautiful day they get,” says Don. Sometimes that amounts to an impromptu party, with favourite neighbourhood friends enjoying cocktails and feasting on local fare. Other times, it’s a relaxed catered meal or a boat ride to a nearby island for dinner. The most consistent aspects of this crew’s almost-weekly hangouts are the loud laughter and camaraderie.

To keep this catered affair feeling casual and cozy, Ami and Don chose to serve dinner on a low table and seat guests on plush floor cushions surrounding it. Under the cushions, layered Moroccan rugs offer a comfy, colourful, bohemian flair that inspires guests to sit back, relax and dispense with fussing about formalities so they can focus on good food and great fun.

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The floor surrounding the table makes such a bold and colourful statement that Ami chose to set a minimalistic tabletop. Instead of formal place settings, flatware sits atop the plates with sprigs of just-picked greenery. The real eye candy comes from a spattering of fresh flowers and gorgeous glassware. “I like to collect glasses, plates and napkins so my dinner table looks different every time,” says Ami, who recommends visiting the sales sections of your favourite stores to amass enough to mix and match. And most importantly: “Use the pieces you love best and create memories with them then than letting them sit in a cupboard and collect dust!”

Serving up fabulous fresh eats is essential to Ami and Don’s entertaining style, so whether or not they’re doing the cooking themselves, the menu will always feature whatever’s in season. Prep work involves a trip to the local farmers’ market and when it’s spot prawn, a visit to the sea. “Spot prawns are a delicacy unique to the West Coast and they’re bountiful in front of our house, which is right by the Pacific Ocean,” says Don. “We can see the buoys for our traps from our deck.” Once the prawns are plucked right from the water, he sautees them in their shells with garlic and white wine – it’s one of his specialities. “Then, we eat with our hands and make a mess,” says Don.

When it comes to stocking the bar, Ami and Don only have one rule: Don’t run out. They always stock up on ingredients for a signature cocktail and a special wine or two. “We want to have enough to accommodate the mood. If everyone is enjoying a certain wine we’re serving, we don’t want to run out of it and force people to move to another drink,” explains Ami. For this get-together, they served light and refreshing summer sips – Moscow Mules, bubbly and rose.

“Fresh food, delicious drinks a stunning setting and lost of kidding around are the key ingredients of West Coast soirees”


  • DESIGN – Pure Design,
  • FLOOR CUSHIONS – CF Interiors
  • RUGS – Marramarket
  • PINK GLASSES, PLATES – Anthropologie
  • FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS – Nicoloa Adam Floral

This article “Barefoot Fancy” was originally featured in Style at Home – Welcome to the Weekend, July Summer 2018 issue.  We encourage you to browse through the project in our project gallery. CLICK TO SEE THE ENTIRE PROJECT >>

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