Designer Friday: An Aspire Exclusive Interview With Lane McNab

Based in Berkeley, California, Lane McNab Interiors infuses a sophisticated sensibility into residential and commercial interiors. Specializing in residential homes, boutique retail spaces, and large-scale projects, they bring expertise in authentically integrating contemporary style into historical architecture. Principal designer Lane McNab is a former accomplished opera singer turned interior designer that sprinkles her passion for design and curiosity for beautiful things into each project she touches. With a powerhouse of creatives working with her, it’s no wonder the firm has been featured in Dwell, Architectural Digest, Luxe, and now aspire design and home. Introducing this week’s Designer Friday, Lane McNab.

The views from this scenic Montclair project are just as breathtaking as its interiors. McNab refreshed this space with neutral tones and rich hues that truly honor the nature that surrounds the home. Photography by Lauren Edith Andersen.

The views from this scenic Montclair project are just as breathtaking as its interiors. McNab refreshed this space with neutral tones and rich hues that truly honor the nature that surrounds the home. Photography by Lauren Edith Andersen.

Andrew Joseph: How would you define your work in three words
Lane McNab: I have been told my work is “edited and warm” which I love! Those are definitely adjectives I’m drawn to when designing. But I’m also always pushing for quality which deeply enhances the experience of actually living in a home beyond the beautiful photos. I feel like it’s an important part of my job to let clients know what I think the best choice is even if the decision is made to go in a different direction. And quality doesn’t always equal most expensive!

Andrew: What is something you hope to see trending in design in the future?
Lane: Longevity. My designs aim to do away with engineered obsolescence and design for a life instead of for a trend. That’s how I design for clients and also how I designed the pieces for my furniture line GUILD by LMI. It’s hard not to get sucked into the immediate gratification culture of clicking a button and getting something in a few days but whenever I’m tempted I always remind myself of the quote from Benjamin Franklin: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

Andrew: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
Lane: We are so lucky and grateful to have a roster of wonderful, dream clients right now, but even beyond that, I would love to design for a winery in nearby Napa or a large, new construction build where we could use an antique oak barn frame as the structure but do it in a modern way. This has been on my wishlist for a while now and I have learned a lot about how to do it. It would be stunning!

Andrew: What’s your design pet peeve?
Lane: I’m a stickler for finishes! I love authentic materials and finishes that feel good to touch. Solid bronze hardware is my go-to for kitchen and bath cabinetry and wood finishes that allow you to really sense the wood. I love applying old-world finishing techniques in new and contemporary ways.

Another space within the Montclair project above designed by McNab. It features a cozy fireplace and an ample amount of light filling the room. Photography by Lauren Edith Andersen.

Another space within the Montclair project above designed by McNab. It features a cozy fireplace and an ample amount of light filling the room. Photography by Lauren Edith Andersen.

Andrew: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
Lane: I’m inspired by seeing a real push for making a positive impact in the world through diversity measures and environmental stewardship. While we have a long way to go, the design industry as a whole is really having a moment and a new appreciation for the real work that goes into good design has allowed us all a new voice in how we want to be as business owners, influencers, and entrepreneurs. Taking these ideas seriously and not just through lip-service is gaining momentum and I think we can make a real impact.

Andrew: Secret talent?
Lane: It’s not much of a secret but I spent 8 years as a professional operatic soprano. I haven’t sung in a decade but it’s a fun thing to talk about with people!

Andrew: Favorite piece of clothing you own?
Lane: My Morgenthal Frederics sunglasses. I splurged on a pair of their Ginza ones several years ago and they have not disappointed! It’s the longest I’ve ever kept a pair of sunglasses and totally reinforces my “invest in quality” mantra!

Andrew: If you had one more hour in the day what would you do with it?
Lane: Exercise! I swear!

This tranquil master bedroom includes a small porch off the side and is boldly drenched in hues of grey from floor to ceiling. With the linen king-sized bed taking center stage, the rest of the hardwood accessories really make the room sing. Photography by David Livingston.

This tranquil master bedroom includes a small porch off the side and is boldly drenched in hues of grey from floor to ceiling. With the linen king-sized bed taking center stage, the rest of the hardwood accessories really make the room sing. Photography by David Livingston.

Andrew: Which room in the house do you find yourself working from the most? Why? How does this inform your thoughts about architecture?
Lane: I work mostly from our kitchen table. We live in a 1902 Brown Shingle Craftsman and our kitchen has old, (very drafty!) divided light windows all around the front and side that look out into our garden. The light is wonderful and the garden is an automatic Zoom backdrop! I love old houses and rethinking traditional architecture, so staying in our kitchen for the last year has had me envisioning redoing it for sure!

Andrew: Has your mindset changed into 2021? In what ways?
Lane: My mindset has continued on an evolution of gratitude that I was cultivating before but 2020 definitely accelerated it. Even with the loss that my family and so many others experienced over the last year, I am very aware of how much we have to be thankful for and I try to acknowledge that every day.

I know this is good for mental health but it’s also great for running your own business. I try to look at challenges with the mindset of “what does this make possible that wasn’t possible before?” And like so many of my clients I have decided I need to finally tackle some house projects that I have been putting off for a long time.

Andrew: What about your design style has shifted this quarantine?
Lane: I tend to play it safe with my own house and this year I want to go bolder. I have some things in the works that are pushing me out of my comfort zone a bit but I’m also really excited by them!

Andrew: What’s your go-to snack between zooms?
Lane: I love avocado toast and have eaten way too much of it this year! And coffee and tea. So many lattes and herbal teas get me through the day. I feel like you have to set aside little moments of ritual to look forward to and when 2pm rolls around, I can’t wait to start making my afternoon latte!


About The Designer | A Southern transplant, Lane grew up in Tallahassee, FL and completed undergraduate studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. Soon after she moved to the West Coast where she attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Graduating with advanced degrees in vocal performance, she pursued her music career spending several years as a highly-acclaimed operatic soprano in leading roles throughout the Bay Area. After years of extensive travel and studies abroad, Lane left opera singing to manage the demands of a growing family. When she returned to the working world, she focused on her other artistic passion: designing interiors. Before founding Lane McNab Interiors in 2012, she apprenticed with a local design and construction firm as a designer and project manager which gave her an invaluable hands-on experience and a deep knowledge of the design and construction process. A continuously curious learner with a passion for beauty, uniqueness, detail, and quality Lane has created a firm with a team of like-minded professionals giving her a devoted clientele and close relationships with vendors and tradespeople throughout the Bay Area. Her designs have been featured in numerous publications and tastemaker sites. When not passionately pursuing design, Lane spends her free time with her three children and husband in their 115 year old house in Berkeley, CA.


Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for aspire design and home magazine. See more of his work here.

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