Allegra Design Studio | How Ministry and a Mega Home Makeover went Hand in Hand – Part 1
Allegra Design Studios provides interior decorating and design services as well as custom art, custom furniture, custom decor, custom designs for our clients in Southeast Manitoba.
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How Ministry and a Mega Home Makeover went Hand in Hand – Part 1


I had the privilege of working with a fantastic couple on their major home makeover last year, and I’m excited to tell you about it.  Not just because the project was huge and fun. Or because you’ll pick up some super-helpful design insights. (Although both are totally true.)  I’m excited to tell you about it because of the people.  This couple is amazing. Their generosity of time, attention, and of their lives and home is moving. Their heart for others is humbling to see in action. They genuinely love people and, as a designer, I’m particularly moved by how this permeates everything they say, and do – even the rooms in which they live.

This is a tour of their mega home makeover and the compelling, heart-warming story behind it.

Meet Donavan and Kendra Friesen and their family.  The pastoral couple swirled in the chaos of change that year.



After over a decade as a pastor in one of Manitoba’s largest churches, Donavan felt drawn to lead at Anchorpoint Church in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada. It was an exciting and welcomed changed, but it meant leaving behind friends, and the church family they’d grown so close with.  Meeting new friends and moving closer to family, was something the adventurous couple was excited to do.  Yet, this meant leaving their communal home where they lived together with a friend and two other families in a house they had built for just that purpose. They adored sharing their lives and home with others. Now they would live in a smaller, just-for-them house – something they hadn’t done for years.  For months, there was a flood of goodbyes and a mountain of hellos as they packed up his office and their home.  Tying up all the loose ends leaving a job and community necessitates, it was a hectic time and there was so much to do.  This was when we heard from them, asking for some design and build help for their new home-to be.


The Unique House Story

I should pause here to tell you about this house.

The house they’d purchased wasn’t just any random house. It had been owned by a family member whose wife had recently passed away from cancer. The whole family felt the pain of her loss. In the wake of it, a decision to sell the house was made and Donavan and Kendra offered to buy it.  This resolved situations for each of them – it gave the pastoral couple a place to live in the new city, and allowed him to step forward into this new season of life with his children. In a difficult situation, pieces were falling into place.

From the start, they’d purchased the bungalow with the intent of changing it to suit their own family. It was interesting to walk through that with them – the house held memories for their family too. To find that balance between respecting the past and forging a new future can be difficult, especially when working with family and especially in the emotional circumstance that this was. But the grace and compassion exercised in that situation by everyone was such a joy to experience. Everyone was so kind and loving to each other. It was refreshingly heavenly.


The Vision

The vision with this new home was to create a space every family member would feel completely at home in, and also to create a wide and welcoming space for all the hosting they do. Even if someone only ever saw the entrance, they wanted people to feel instantly welcomed and at home the moment they walked in.

My goal was to design a space that not only accommodated them but also mirrored who they are. It needed to be generous in space, welcoming to all, and able to accommodate varying types and sizes of group gatherings. Whether they hosted feasts around the table, Bible studies in the living room, or simply enjoyed lingering conversations with friends in the entrance after the third goodbye, the goal was for everyone to feel like a part of the family.  A few specific must-haves included a wood-working area for him, an office nook for her, an attached garage, ensuite, a grand welcoming entrance, and an open diningroom and living room.  The project would require a major addition, an electrical overhaul, and overcoming some very particular design challenges.

Right from the start we were under a time crunch.

I was called into the project in March. With his new role as Senior Pastor starting end of summer, they wanted to move into the completed home at the same time. Possession, however, only happened on June 1st. That left us about two months to complete the renos, and two months for the huge amounts of preliminary prep.  To give you an idea of how long preliminary prep can take on a project of this size, my designing the addition, garage, floorplan, and the moving of multiple walls is one thing, (Ideally, for this portion of a project at this scale I allow 4-6 weeks)  Getting the architect stamp on it though, is another. Then there are municipal permits, zoning and variance issues, inspections, and quotes from electricians, plumbers, and other trades. It takes weeks. We only had weeks, so the pressure was on!


Design Style

Donavan and Kendra appreciate the sleek lines, bold look, and high contrast of modern design, and love unusual pieces. They were looking for something edgy.  The risk of edgy though, is that in just a couple of years it can look dated. Traditional or classic design, however, stands the test of time regardless of other styles that come and go.  The challenge was to marry the two – to accomplish the sleek modern design, both inside and out, while harnessing the timelessness of classic design elements so they wouldn’t find the architectural and (other design elements) to be dated in a few years.  We wanted a  stunning design that would age well.






We added a single car garage and built out a gable end addition for the grand and welcoming entrance.  The finishing was fun to put together. For the modern, edgy look they wanted, we leveraged the light color and lines of large hardy panels, contrasting it with the deep charcoal in the front door, gable supports, overhead door, and shingles. For a timeless effect, we added a gable end entrance which accentuated the traditional roof peaks.  The couple also wanted wood to be incorporated into the exterior finish, so cedar planks were added. Installing them vertically at the entrance brought height to the central feature. Then, for balance and continuity, we installed more cedar, horizontally this time so as to compliment and not compete with the entrance, at the right third of the façade.






















Original Entry- View from living room down to what would be the new entryway passage.  


It was deeply important to this family that the entrance made people feel instantly welcome.  Previously it had been a small landing at the base of entryway stairs, the lack of space necessitating the homeowner to stand atop the stairs, away from guests, and talk down into the dimly lit space. It’s a common entryway style in older homes, but they hoped for more.

We brainstormed and problem solved, coming to the decision of the addition.  We envisioned a high-ceiling, gable end entrance with lots of natural light. I got to work designing, the contractors got to work building, and we arrived at this beautiful modern entryway that accomplished just what they’d hoped – welcome.

























Here we continued with the a modern high contrast colour scheme, by using a light warm grey wall colour (Balboa Mist by Benjamin Moore), with jet black accents. We repeated the angled shape of the rake head window in the fabulous Archello 5 Light Chandelier. The inlay of sliced stone that edges the floor brings dynamic interest to the space and it also relates to the straight lines and angles of the rooms accents creating a clean, striking and harmonious space.

It is so satisfying to see how we were able to accomplish exactly what they’d hoped: that when people walked in, they instantly feel welcome; like there is room for them, not just in this physical space, but in Donavan and Kendra’s lives.


Close up of Entry Flooring Main Tile – Concordia Twilight                      Feature Tile – Pacific Beach Obsidian Sliced



What the Friesens Love About It:
“The large entrance is great for welcoming in a large family all at once. We also now have a place to stand and chat as company is leaving. The mudroom is right next to the front entrance, but all the mess is hidden even if company comes over and we haven’t had a chance to tidy up.”


Thank you so much for joining me on Part 1 of our Project Tour!  I hope you enjoyed it and maybe you can walk away with some inspiration for your own space 🙂  I’d love to hear from you, comment and tell me what you think!  ALSO…  Check back next week for Part 2 when we continue on into the main living spaces…

Living Room, Kitchen and Dining Room!



General Contracting & Build: Karlon Builders Inc.
Exterior Finishing: ENEX
Flooring: EG Penner Building Center
Painting: Broesky Painting
Photo Credit: Jocelyn Broesky Photography



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