-The Lehmann Family 2019
This was the first year of Holiday Home & Hearts and words cannot express how amazing this experience was. I’ve been asked a few times where this idea came from. One day my husband and I were brainstorming about giveaways when we decided it would be incredible to do a room makeover for a deserving family. We decided a perfect time to do this would be for Christmas season and make this into a project where anyone could donate and support the family.
In November, Illustrious Interiors sent out a video requesting the community of Fort Saskatchewan to submit nominations of who they thought deserved this holiday room makeover. The Fort Saskatchewan Record and MIX 107 also highlighted the event. We gave one week to receive submissions and received nearly 30 nominations, which was far more than I expected. This was definitely the hardest part of the project; reading through each of those hardships and only able to select one.
The Lehmann family was selected and Three Sixty Alberta and I surprised the family by telling them at their doorstep. To say they were surprised was an understatement!
A little history on the Lehmann family: This family has gone through the worst year of their lives. Benjamin, their youngest son, contracted Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) twice in February leaving him on life support for 10 days in the Stollery. Kirstin (mother) was fighting Post Partum Depression and Mathias (father) had to work 12-hour shifts, yet still came to visit his family at the hospital. Sam (older son) blamed himself, thinking he got Benjamin sick and would never see his parents again.
In the spring, the Lehmann’s basement flooded and their car broke down. They had to take another trip to the ER after Sam had a cut next to his eye. When we actually started the project, their bumper also fell off of their vehicle, which became another unexpected expense.
The family spent many days at the hospital, had lactation appointments, physio therapists, and other appointments just to keep Ben healthy and growing. Ben currently has some motor delays, but he is finally on an upward path and loved dearly by his family. The family is just starting to recover and get back on their feet after this devastating year.
After we met with the family, we let them choose a room they wanted to transform. The Lehmann family selected their bedroom and for a good cause! Kirstin explained to me that she first noticed Ben getting sick while they were in their bedroom and the space felt haunting to them. I asked Kirstin and Mathias what their dream wish list would be in their bedroom and the top requests were: a functional closet, a brighter room, a tree mural, more lighting and storage for Mathias’ work clothes. I am so happy to say, we were able to check off each of these items from the list!
The first couple of weeks after announcing the winning family, we began searching for all of the items for the room mostly through sponsors and donations. I couldn’t believe the outpour of support and donations that were made towards this project!
Another question that I was asked a lot was “Where is the family while you’re doing this?”
I had full expectations that we might need to have them stay in a hotel or at a family member’s house, but it turned out their parents went away on a vacation right when we were planning on doing the renovation. Talk about perfect timing! We had 6 days to complete the project!
The monetary donations were graciously given by Jennifer Fairhurst – Re/Max, Ramie Browatzke – Re/Max, Fran Vida, Carrie Paige, Cameron Dental, Victoria Curran, Cristina Rask, Brittany Nicole, and Amanda Ross, which was nearly enough to cover the remaining expenses of the room.
My dear friend, Agnieszka Makowski from Swatch Bucket Design, was my right-hand lady, my co-designer for the project, my life-saver. Seriously, I don’t know what I would have done without her! Not only did she offer to help with the project, she spent DAYS working on this makeover with me from start to finish! She was a person I had full trust to give an idea board to, and professionally execute it. From shopping, to sourcing, to designing, to last minute pick ups, and staging, she helped with it all! Plus she donated the curtains and the bed skirt.
The first two projects of the room were painting and creating the closet space. Although both of us were in there, we were able to accomplish a lot on the first day. I decided to tackle painting the room and the mural. Integra Painting donated ALL of the paint for this project, including the mural! The walls were painted a warm white to brighten up the space with a colorful accent mural. All of the walls and the closet space were painted and took three full days just to complete.
When Kirstin had wished for a tree mural, I could already envision the idea in her space. I fell in love with the idea of birch or poplar trees, but wanted to add in some vibrant colors. This isn’t usually my norm, but I wanted to create a space that was completely unique. Once I had the idea for the mural, the rest of the design fell into place.
Knottwood Construction donated all of their time and some of the expenses for the closet space. I was blown away by their attention to detail! We had several different ideas for the closet, but in the end, this turned out perfectly! The Knottwood Construction team worked hard for two solid days, perfecting every feature from the built-in shelves, the hinges, the trim, installing the light, and yes, those gorgeous routered doors!
Let’s talk about these elegant gold accents!! Darlene from Richelieu donated the two gorgeous handles on the large doors, Chateau Lighting gifted the perfect light fixture which had ample light for the room, and Design Loft gave the edgy mirror on the opposite end of the room. I felt like a little kid opening up Christmas presents when each of these items were donated for the room! They were all such beautiful accent pieces that pulled the room together!
Another important piece to the room was the headboard. My friend Amber from Elk Island Rustics has woodworking skills that are out of this world! Everything she creates is always a masterpiece. Not saying that because she is a friend, I actually feel that way about all that she makes. When Amber reached out and asked if there was anything she could help with the project, I knew where her work could be showcased! I sent her a few ideas for the headboard and she delivered, of course, above and beyond my expectations!
Splendid Furnishings gave us the option of receiving a cow hide or two end tables! Initially we wanted to go for the night stands, which ended up being a bit too large for the space, so we opted for the cow hide. I AM SO GLAD it worked out that way. The hide gave it an ultra-cozy rustic feel for the space!
I won’t lie, I kind of had a wish list for the project, which included a Christmas tree for the space. That was my hope and I had no idea if the space would allow a tree, but my wish came true. I wanted the tree so that anyone who wanted to donate an item that wouldn’t necessarily fit in the room like décor, to be able to go under the tree.
The tree was donated from Jasmine Elizabeth and the gold ornaments were donated from the Olnyk family. I spent one full night painting all of my bright teal ornaments (which I wasn’t using anymore) with chalk paint so they matched the room better. You know, because it needs to be perfect. Ha! Sarah’s Macrame made the most creative cinnamon stick ornaments for the tree! They were the perfect combination of modern and rustic, and oh did they smell so heavenly!
Is this not the most spectacular tree you’ve ever seen!? My sister, Amber Gubersky, is the Queen of decorating trees and when she volunteered to glam up the tree, I knew there wasn’t anyone better for the job! She came with a trunk full of decorations and worked like a little elf creating this masterpiece of a Christmas tree! She had an idea of the space and the vibe we were going for and she made it feel like it was meant to be in the space! It was beyond perfect!
The tree was filled with gifts and you better believe that young Sam noticed that right away! Cameron Dental gave a gift certificate to adopt the family for an entire year, Ameeka Cosmetics donated a gift basket filled with bath bombs and goodies for the whole family, Freson Bros donated a large gift basket of local foods and treats, Name it by Toni made personalized mugs for both of the kids, Heier Massage Therapy donated a gift card for a massage treatment, and Tara Wilson (Seacret Direct) donated a box of products! I was blown away by all of these gifts to the family!
Then it was time to decorate the beautifully built closet space! I took a day to go thrifting, which is where I found most of the items to fill the shelves! Courtney Liddle created the cutest sketch of the family and Mountain Time Rustics handmade the three hanging frames! They were the perfect amount of décor to fill the space and it turned out to be a family favorite! I went to my parent’s house (Tami and Gary Gubersky) in thoughts that I would be a lumberjack chopping wood to fill a couple of the cubbies, but turned out they had a perfect cut stack to donate! B&M Upholstery made a seat cushion for the bench, which completely cozied up the space!
I laugh because Agneiszka and I talked about how much we couldn’t sleep the night before. We were so excited for the family and all the hard work that went into this room! The morning of the reveal, I was scrambling gathering up the last-minute gifts, doing a few of the staging touch ups, and Knottwood Construction had a few small items to install. When I say we needed every minute of those six days, I truly meant it!
A.Keen Photography and Three Sixty Alberta set up inside the room to capture the reveal. The Lehmann family had no idea what to expect and could only envision what their room looked like before. When they opened their eyes to see the transformation, it will be a moment I will remember forever. That moment of shock and awe across their faces made me burst with excitement and pride! To know what this family has struggled with and to create a space where they can share new exciting memories with each other was so incredibly rewarding.
The Lehmann family has thanked myself and all the sponsors time and time again and although it’s been a week since the reveal, they said “each day [they] appreciate something new about the room”. Sam was so excited for the room that he created some artwork to pass on as a thank you.
The video created by Three Sixty Alberta can be found here. Leanne, the videographer and creator of this video knocked it out of the park! She was readily available to capture every moment and was the absolute best to work with!
Not only did Amanda from A.Keen Photography capture the reveal from this makeover, but she also offered a lifestyle session of the family inside this room! I was able to hold myself together for this entire project, until I received the photos. I shed tears. Yes, several tears. Those 6 days working in the room, plus the weeks of preparing beforehand had me in a state of overdrive and exhaustion. When I look at the photos, I see the hard work, the genuine smiles, each and every detail that went into creating that room, and a family that received a Christmas miracle that will allow them to move forward after a devastating year. The support from the community, friends, and family with this project was more than I could ever have asked for. There is good in this world and this is a prime example of it!
Just when we thought the project was over, a sweet friend and mentor of mine, Lisa Crawford gave me a call and it completely took my breath away! Her company Simply Stunning Hair and Makeup decided to donate $1,000 to the family that they could spend however they wished over the Holidays. It was the cherry on top. Okay maybe more like a watermelon on top! Going to deliver that cheque with her was the most magical night of my life.
My last shoutout goes to my own family. My husband Mark, who finally gets to see his wife again, was holding down the fort while I worked away on this project. My parents also chipped in and watched my kids for a few days, and I seriously don’t know what I would have done without their help on those days!
My daughter, who is four, knew that I was making a “new room” for someone for Christmas. There was one night when we had a few of the gifts delivered and she exclaimed, “Is this for your family with the new room, Mom?”. When I told her it was, she had a huge smile and said, “They are going to be so excited!”.
That was a little moment of pride. A 4-year old that sees a present and a) doesn’t ask for it, and b) show’s excitement for someone else’s joy. It was at that moment when I knew that not only did this event have an impact on the Lehmann family or the community, but my littles saw the importance to give back to others!
Again, I would like to thank everyone who participated in the Holiday Home & Hearts makeover. Without each and every person listed in this post, there would never have been an outcome as great as this. As they say, “it takes a village”.
This project will continue each year and I would like to thank everyone who has already stepped up to volunteer for next year’s home! Christmas in 2020 can’t come soon enough! Merry Christmas to all!