by design episode #15: Pastor Lionel Young & Home Office Remodel

Today we chat with Pastor Lionel Young about God’s design for design… and how it’s grounded in beauty, just like God himself. Pastor Lionel unpacks the significance of that and what it means for us as image bearers, and in essence gives us permission to enjoy beauty as God intended. (Which I think some of us need to be encouraged in, don’t we?!) We talk beauty in creation, in our homes, in our work and even it’s purpose in the church. Pastor Lionel has such an inspiring perspective, and is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. We know you’ll be blessed by this one!

And our design chat is all about Pastor Lionel’s home office remodel which we designed for him last year. He has a love for books and history and old world things. So we came up with a plan to transform his ordinary office into the coziest little English feeling library/den imaginable.

Pastor Lionel oversees preaching and vision for the Calvary Church in Valparaiso, IN. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies (Grace College), a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Theology (Grace Theological Seminary) and a Master of Theology in the History of Christian Thought (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School).  He is currently completing his PhD studies in Global Christianity at the University of Stirling (Scotland).


This week if you head over to iTunes and leave us a review, you’ll be entered to win a free book! Woot!

Two lucky reviewers will win either a SIGNED copy of Bianca Olthoff’s new book “Play With Fire” or  a copy of Lionel Young’s book “A New Type of Missionary” !

Here’s the link to leave the review

And make sure to follow us on insta @lynfelsman @dannettegora @bydesignpodcast

Ok friends… Enjoy!
Lyn & Dannette

{ you can listen here or thru the player below ↓↓↓ }

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A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity by Pastor Lionel Young

Calvary Church in Valparaiso, IN

Every experience of beauty points to [eternity]. – Hans Urs Von Balthasar

DESIGN CHAT: the coziest little English feeling library/den imaginable

oak doors

The scope of the project was basically to take our Pastor’s ordinary home office and make it a cozy and functional place for him to work. We also had the help of an amazing craftsman from our church…Jonny Roetker. Check him out on Instagram !!! He’s truly gifted in woodworking, as you’ll see in the “after” photos of this post.

Here are a few before photos:

After some discussion, we realized what we were really getting the opportunity to do. We were crafting the space where a man, our Pastor, would be living out his calling of leading and shepherding hearts. What an opportunity. Somehow we wanted it to be more than bookcases and paint and furniture. ? We wanted it to be a retreat almost. Not just a place he could sit and read and work, but a place that would take him somewhere. Where he could sink into a chair and dream a bit and breathe.

So we started with his style. What Pastor Lionel loves, besides his lovely sweet wife. The man bleeds books and history and old world things. Did I mention he loves books…lol? So we came up with a plan to make the room into the coziest little English feeling library / den imaginable.

To get a better feel for the space we snuck into his office while he and his wife were out of town…and by “snuck” I totally mean we had permission {of course}. !!! But still, even with that, it’s a little weird to be tiptoeing around your Pastor’s house when he’s not there. So Lyn and I decided to make ourselves known and took a selfie and sent it to him. Ha!


Did I mention the man has a lot of books? And by a lot, I mean the man is more than well armed. He has an arsenal of history and literature and wisdom at his fingertips. We needed to get these little nuggets of wisdom within reach…but the room was small. It couldn’t handle much furniture, if any. So we came up with the idea to build in storage wherever possible. Above the windows, above the doors, along the walls, and even rework the existing shelving a bit to make it all flow.

The plan:


We were also dealing with all existing honey oak for the doors, windows, and base. And not that that’s bad in any way, but it’s just not ideal. It’s definitely not my first choice or what I start off wanting to build into a space. We talked about painting it, replacing it, re-staining it. In the end, we decided to go with a two tone wood look, leaving all the existing oak as is, and painting all the new bookcases a dark charcoal gray/black. We tied the two finishes together by using the honey oak as the back to each of the bookcases we added in.

Lyn worked out all the details and styled the room. The desk, the curtains, the rug…all of the pretty stuff you see below. We had more than a few conversations about the deep orange chair you see below too. I hinted to it on Instagram that it was somewhat of an eyesore (mostly because it’s an older style and a bold color), and we weren’t sure it would even work in the room. And it definitely did not look right in his old office. Not one bit. The orange fabric and light wood made it disappear into the land of honey stained oak. And it’s funny to me now, because it almost looks like we designed the room around this chair, if not FOR it. It belonged to a beloved man from our church who left us for heaven not too long ago. He left behind a legacy of sorts with this orange chair. I’ve heard it’s the one he would sit and read and pray in. What a blessing that it now adorns our Pastor’s office.

The after:

Which turned out beautiful by the way. We’re still on the look out for an ottoman for the space…but we were over anxious and couldn’t wait for that piece to take the pictures.

From my instagram…

Thank you Lyn, for letting me help you serve and love on our Pastor in this way!
It was a JOY.
Oh…and these doors, right? I started this post with them because they are the existing doors into our Pastor’s home office. Not exactly exciting. They’re ordinary run of the mill, honey oak doors with brass hardware. Nothing special, right? But not anymore. It’s like they’re alive to me now. Intentional. They don’t disappear. They help create the right atmosphere because we used them in the right way.
Now they’re the doors one steps thru to write and pray and live out that calling. If I had a heart emoji, I’d insert it here.


  1. Linda Overman | 20th Sep 16

    I enjoyed your podcast on the subject of beauty. It brought to memory, one of my favorite songs… What a Wonderful World:)

    • Dannette | 20th Sep 16

      Oh yes…good old Louis Armstrong!!! 😉

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