Design Reality….at the EMKE Youville Centre edition

The TBBs are just coming up for air after a busy month designing, seeking donations of goods and services and revealing the makeover of a lounge for young teenage mothers. This was the third EMKE (Extreme Makeover Kindness Edition) for the TBBs, spearheaded by the talented lead designer, Sonya Kinkade, one of our own!

Youville Centre was founded by Sister Betty Ann Kinsella when she saw a need for a facility that would provide young mothers a chance to complete their high school education, receive subsidized day care for their babies and toddlers, gain life and childraising skills, and access social services, all in a caring and non-judgemental environment. Our tour of the Centre showed her vision has been achieved more than she probably ever imagined (some TBBs were even seen shedding a few tears).


The room we made over was a former classroom, devoid of any character. The challenge was to create a comfortable, beautiful room that the girls could call their own. A place to hang out and be teenagers, free from all their adult responsibilities. The girls created a wish list that guided us throughout.



But, as in all design work, things inevitably don’t go according to plan. This is something good designers are able to overcome by adapting their original vision to deal with the new reality. Right from the beginning, donations of furniture and other goods were slow to come in, leaving us more than a little stressed wondering how to get the job done. But at the 11th hour, almost everything came in, allowing us to breathe a little easier. The fabric only arrived the day before the makeover, making three TBBs run their sewing machines overtime to get the throw cushions covered! There wasn’t enough fabric to fully upholster the banquette cushions, so we stretched the fabric by wrapping it around the foam/batting and stapling it at the back. Who would ever know the difference? The two bulletin boards were covered with leftover fabric as planned, but the exposed staples were not pretty! No problem, nothing a glue gun and some grosgrain ribbon couldn’t cover.



Due to the short timeline, the sofa and chair had to be chosen from in stock items, thus limiting the choice of style, colour and fabric. Miraculously, ones were found that worked well together, and with the rest of the room. We couldn’t get matching chairs as planned, so went to plan B and found another one to co-ordinate. The wallpaper that had been selected for a focal wall was not in stock after all, so a quick decision was made to paint the wall with bold stripes. In retrospect, this had more of an impact than the wallpaper would have. Another bullet dodged! The donated picture frames for the wall of dreamy movie stars turned out to be much larger than our photos. But, luckily the drawer liner matched the colours in the room and served as a background behind the pictures in their frames. Again, this looks better than the correct size frames would have! When the wrong coffee table arrived, hair was pulled out in frustration. But once everything was in place, the oval shape actually suited the layout better and was less likely to cause bruised shins.

The finished room exceeded any expectations the girls and staff had for the makeover. I think the TBBs were even surprised at just how cosy and comfortable the room became! It was a wonderful reward to watch the students’ excitement when they came into the room. They couldn’t believe it was just for them and quickly pointed that out to their teachers, just in case they had any ideas about sharing!

Please Visit Sonya’s Blog ABODE for the official post on Extreme Makeover Kindness Edition and see the full list of this years CONTRIBUTORS !

Please visit the EMKE website by clicking on the link below


Mary Anne: “Great job, fellow TBBs. It is always a blast working together and this years project had a special place in my heart! Looking forward to next year!”

  Sonya Says: I was chosen to head up The Extreme Makeover Kindness Edition by the United Way in 2011 I was supposed to do this on my own, but I knew it would be WAY more fun with the TBBs. I asked you ladies then and there if you would like to come on board and help me out as the EMKE team and without hesitation you said yes….this is why I love you :). As designers, it is hard having someone who is your equal taking the reins and planning out a full design concept and have her then “Boss” you around for a few weeks, but you ladies are full of class and do what needs to be done without judgement, another reason why I love you. Thank you all so much for the last three years of Extreme Makeovers and I look forward to doing it all again next year, I hope you feel the same….or maybe you’re ready to tell me to bugger off! Either way, THANK YOU!!

Donna says:  The design challenges we faced were easily overcome with TBBs on the job!  And although I’ve participated three years now, I am always amazed at how emotional the reveal is!  Enjoy it girls!


Lisa says:  Many hands makes light work.  Having all of us help out Sonya and do our little pieces makes it go that little bit easier and faster. And it is truly a joy to see the reactions. That is definitely my favourite part!


Maureen says: I’m with you Donna. The reaction of the girls and staff at The Youville Centre will be forever implanted in my memory. The tight timeline, asking for donations, the sometimes quick design changes and solutions are distant memories now. I’m ready for next year’s EMKE project. How about you Sonya?


Nicole says: I will always be amazed at how generous Ottawa is when it comes to pulling this makeover together.  We have $0 to work with to create these spaces.  We do a lot of asking from our local and out of town suppliers to help out and it’s wonderful when they are in a position to help out.  A little kindness really does go a long way.  These girls deserved to be given this extra special space.  Maybe one day they’ll be in a position to help someone else, remembering what this felt like.  Take some kindness and pass it along!


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