Renovation & Design

Home renovations make great gifts

Sure, socks are nice, but who doesn’t want a fireplace?

Willy Williamson / Winnipeg Free Press

This fireplace is missing its Christmas stockings, but they will be hung with care soon.

So, just to have a little fun a few days ago, I asked the gang I chat with, “If you could have a free home reno for Christmas, what would it be?” I invited them to “be creative” in their replies.

Wow, I had no idea how creative they’d be. Let’s start with a fairly reasonable one from my good friend Alan Shepard.

Alan: “A real fireplace. No more boob-tube bonfire.”

Ironically, he has a real fireplace in his century-old Winnipeg home, it just isn’t safe to use anymore I’m guessing … so he sets his TV in it, one of the reasons being so he can watch his fake bonfire.

I thought his was still working, but Al says “no”, and he oughta know.

“However,” muses he, “with my TV inserted in there, who can tell?”

Mmmmmmm, everyone Al, everyone, but hey, “A” … or “Eh”, for effort.

Suzanne Broughton Halpenny has bigger dreams: “I want the wall between my living room and kitchen taken down — full on open concept!! Or redo the powder room downstairs. I can go on if you like.” I would love to be able to do that for you. Where did I leave that pile of money?

Leslee Clinck has some reno ambitions along those lines as well.

Leslee: “I would love a new kitchen and would love to tear out the basement studs for a big redo… it’s such a bad layout with wasted space!”

I’ll forward both your requests to Santa.

My good friend Keith Pettapiece has a fairly straightforward one: “A kitchen reno for Cindy.” Well, since I know your skills and that you are very capable of doing that, hop to it pal, but not before you fix my snowblower.

Are we still good friends?

Patti Adams: “I would like all my floors redone upstairs and electrical run to my sunroom so I could put in baseboard heaters and AC so I could use it all year.”

I love this one. Short and sweet. Gerty Martens: “Shop extension at 24 2 17 SW.”

Hope somebody makes that happen for you.

Diana Heppner Stephens: “I’d like a two-car garage to replace my carport.”

I hope this one happens for Cilla Mcdermot. Sounds wonderful. I’d like this too: “I’d love to have a farmhouse kitchen with lots of rustic charm. I already have the sink from 1940 so I would keep that and incorporate it into the new kitchen.” So nice.

Couple of challenging ones here. Kathy Johnson Coyne: “Where do I start? I could use a whole house reno. The absolute worst has to be the crawl space under the addition. It’s huge and is the length and width of the addition with only one heat vent in it. All the upstairs heat vents run through there and there is very little heat that makes its way upstairs. The bedrooms are nice and cold.”

Sorry to hear that. Does it help to point out that at least you have an addition?

Now this one, from Leah Anne Tennant, needs a bit of a Christmas miracle.

Leah: “My kitchen, because No. 1 half of my counter space is stovetop, so I use a huge cutting board to cover it, and No. 2, my kitchen sink is tucked in the corner of the counter, so it’s really hard to bend over the sink, and when you put in even so much as a plate, cup and your cutlery, the sink is full. Can barely get a pail in for washing your floor. I need help.”

Praying Leah, praying.

Let’s wrap on a simpler one that maybe a letter to Santa could make happen.

Zoe Pinette: “I would like hardwood floors, one slate grey stone wall, and built in shelving around my picture window with a window seat.”

Much easier. Santa? Have a great weekend folks.

Comments and column ideas welcome at


Browse Homes

Browse by Building Type