It’s said there’s no more difficult client for designers than themselves. Just how do you choose that one perfect floor tile, that one most stunning chandelier, that one truly excellent wall colour, when you’re aware of the million other equally gorgeous selections that you’d have to leave behind? The more you know, the more difficult it can be to narrow in on a single personal favourite.Brianna HughesBrianna Hughes

That’s when it helps to be a part of a design duo. Shannon McClelland and Brianna Hughes of Ministry of Interiors formed their design business in Edmonton a few years ago after a chance meeting: Hughes, who was working as a photographer, was doing a photo shoot with McClelland’s family, and they got to talking. “We were both planning our own spaces at the same time,” says Hughes, “and realized we had similar styles.”

Brianna HughesBrianna Hughes

A few years into the partnership, McClelland purchased a tree-lined lot facing a ravine in Edmonton’s Crestwood neighbourhood, and decided it was time to build her forever house. “I’d built another house two years ago, and when it was sold, I thought, I’m not building anymore,” she says. “I’m going to settle down.”

Brianna HughesBrianna Hughes

Building for herself and her family (she and her husband, Casey, have three kids, the youngest three months old) gave the design pair more leeway than they typically have with design projects that have resale as the main goal. “It was the house to go a little bonkers on,” she laughs. “Knowing we’re not going to resell it meant we could have some fun—five different wallpapers, a lot of different tiles.”

Brianna HughesBrianna Hughes

A visit to the design show Maison et Objet in Paris in 2017 kickstarted McClelland and Hughes’s vision: “We wanted it to be Scandinavian farmhouse with elements of gothic Spanish,” says McClelland. Hints of French design would be brought in throughout as well, such as bistro lighting, leaded partition walls and penny tiles. “We were inspired by the lighting, the moulding, the high ceilings and the pitched roofs of Paris.”

Brianna HughesBrianna Hughes

With the overarching aesthetic in place along with plans from local firm Design Two Group, honing in on the right details was next—and that’s where McClelland’s like-minded partnership with Hughes came in very handy. “Brianna would help me recalibrate a hard design choice, knowing my personal style,” says McClelland. (Here Hughes chimes in with a laugh, “I’m the axe!”)

Brianna HughesBrianna Hughes

And while the influences are broad, there’s a cohesion to the overall space that’s soothing yet playful, aspirational yet family friendly. That palette of inspirations has come together into a modern space with an ode to historic design. “There was no way we were going to be able to stick to one particular style,” says McClelland. “But this is the essence of why we love design and work so well together.”

Brianna HughesBrianna Hughes

Light Show

In the kitchen, classic herringbone flooring recalls historic European designs, while the slab porcelain counters and flat cabinet doors bring in a modern aesthetic.

Brianna HughesBrianna Hughes

Splash Works

In the mudroom, all family members have their own whitewashed wood lockers to drop off their gear as they walk in the door—even the dog, who also has his own dogwash station. The flooring is a stunning, oversized Terrazzo Renata floor tile from Ann Sacks.

xBrianna Hughes

Bathing Beauties

In the master bathroom, bistro lighting and gold Brizo plumbing feel classic French, while organic touches like an African stool provide elements of warmth.

Brianna HughesBrianna HughesCat's Meow

The powder room (bottom right) features a custom-designed wallpaper from Edmonton’s Vanguard Works—the same team that designed the mural in Wilfred restaurant. The pretty-in-pink space also features Himalayan marble flooring and penny tile wainscotting from Ann Sacks.

Brianna HughesBrianna Hughes

French Getaway

The master bedroom features floor-to-ceiling mullioned windows, though the team searched long and hard to ensure there would be a fine profile on the metal mullions. “We didn’t want that chunky farmhouse look,” says Hughes, “but a more modern, French design.” The effect is that of being perched up in a tree house—with tone-on-tone linen bedding and soothing neutral interiors creating a moody, Parisian-influenced atmosphere in the room.