Secrets Of...

Secrets of Lane McNab

By Julissa James

Lane McNab says she can’t draw a direct line from her early career as a critically-acclaimed operatic soprano to her current passion of interior design, but she does recognize the ways in which they’re connected and what drew her to both. Both vocations provide an opportunity to move people, says McNab, and through everything she does, that’s her intention.


Photo by Aubrie Pick

Opening Lane McNab Interiors in 2012 gave her the autonomy and empowerment that came with running her own business, but still allowed her to tap into the well of creativity she puts into each of the spaces she updates.

“Nothing motivates me more than the creative process in an area that I feel an innate drive to do,” says McNab. “Whether it was the artistry involved in training my voice and then interpreting the music and character on a stage for an audience, or transforming a space into a vision I have in my head through inspiration, skill and experience, both are really gratifying. I love putting something into the world that moves people [and] comes directly from me.”

McNab’s designs are inspired by the Bay Area at large, with its deep architectural history and surplus of visionaries. She is driven to incorporate that same kind of energy into her projects. She specializes in designing Craftsman interiors, but her portfolio ranges from highlighting color and modernity in tech offices to warming up a contemporary family property in Menlo Park. We’ve asked the interior designer to share her secrets for creating a space that feels like home.

Take the plunge.

Are you still putting off the space lift that your home is in desperate need of Sometimes the only way to finally make drastic change is to dive headfirst into the deep end. “Don’t let inertia stop you from making your home the way you really want it to be,” says McNab. She recommends working with a designer to come up with an idea you can truly commit to. “Do it well so you aren’t redoing it in a few more years or regretting you didn’t really go for it,” she says.

Think timeless.

Don’t get caught up trying to style your home based on what’s “in.” It will leave you itching for a redesign much sooner than you’d like. When choosing decor, tap into where your true tastes lie.“Don’t follow trends,” she says “It’s good to take inspiration from color trends you like, but going too far in one direction will probably feel dated before too long.” Easy breezy. The one word to
keep in mind when trying to create an effortlessly well-designed space is: Simple. McNab always
advises her clients to choose quality over quantity when their budget allows it. “We try to go custom
as much as we can, having most of our pillows and textiles fabricated by our workroom,” she says.

Must haves.

In her own space, McNab doesn’t shy away from being bold. Dramatic lighting, warm accents and high-quality textiles are her non-negotiables. “In my dreams, my whole house is done in hand woven silks and velvet mohair with vintage linen accents,” she imagines. “I love everything
from Grey Lux right now, like Lauren Hwang and Soie de Lune.”

Easy? No. Worth it? Definitely.

Turning a dream space into a reality seems like an infeasible endeavor until the first step is taken. It requires a clear vision, the right client-designer relationship and organization, but it can happen, and it can happen in a way that feels right. “It’s never as easy as HGTV makes it seem but it’s also not impossible to have the home you want to have — and so worth it,” says McNab.

Photo by Lauren Edith Anderson

Menlo Park: “We unified the overall space and gave the homeowners the elegance, warmth and functionality they were looking for,” McNab says. “The large breakfast bar seats the entire young family and is great for entertaining.”

Photo by Lauren Edith Anderson

Berkeley: “This young family has a wife and mom originally from France who loves to cook,” she explains. “The encaustic tile is a  nod to Parisian cafes.”

Photo by Aubrie Pick

Montclair: “This Craftsman with a modern interior was a splendid surprise: Early 1900s on the outside and elegant on the inside,” says McNab. “A converted attic space turned into a perfect guest room and was part of the remodel.”

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