livin’ on a prayer
This church turned sweet family home is a study in conscious upcycling
This church-turned-family home experienced a heavenly makeover.
When we’re looking for something for the house, our first point of call is always a local second-hand store, or even a buy, swap and sell site,” says Amanda Callan, of the eclectic northern NSW digs she shares with her partner Andrew, sons Banjo, five, and Percy, two, and pup Maggie. “Andrew and I both love the look of old things, and we feel like there’s so much stuff out there already – it just seems sensible to reuse.”
The family arrived in pretty Billinudgel and moved into their old, ’30s-era timber church nearly five years ago. It’s from here that they run Church Farm General Store (churchfarmgeneralstore.com), their line of handmade soaps, sauces, pickles and pastes that they sell online, at various retailers and out of nearby farmers’ markets. They used to make it all on-site, bottling the products right here in their kitchen, only moving production to a warehouse when demand took off.
The church was just an empty hall when they first arrived, so the family did some basic renovations, but always with respect to the original walls. “When we moved in, it had such a nice feel about it – we really wanted to keep that. The thought of anything too modern just didn’t seem right,” says Amanda. “When
we were renovating and choosing materials, we were inspired and influenced by the era the church was built in. Family members had renovated an old Queenslander not long before, so we scored pastel-coloured timber pieces that we used to make our kitchen, plus old windows and doors that we’ve used in our building and the shed and cabin on the property. One person’s trash is definitely someone else’s treasure!” she laughs.
If they’re not repurposing a piece that has already lived a long life, like the dining table that Andrew made out of an old door, Amanda says this family chooses wisely. “If we’re going to buy something new, we like it to be made by somebody we know and that we can keep forever. We have stools by Martin Johnston, rugs and throws from Pampa, beautiful handmade furniture from Pop & Scott and Sibella Court fixtures from Newrybar Merchants – they’re great for hooks and holders,” she says.
If you follow the family on social media, you would have spied the home’s idyllic country surrounds, complete with ambling cows on the land next door. Banjo and Percy enjoy the wide open space, which in turn affects the family’s decorating choices. “We spend a lot of time outdoors in the dirt and mud so anything light in colour has no chance!” Amanda says.
The open-plan style of the converted church, with its beautifully acoustic high ceilings, makes for plenty of quality family time and noisy meals. “My favourite spot is the kitchen. It’s where everything good happens. Andrew is an amazing cook. But if you ask him, his favourite spot is probably the couch,” laughs Amanda.
But there are plans afoot for this old gem. The pair intend to take the house a little higher and have even added an open, pointed ceiling since they let us inside to photograph. Maybe the next life for this old girl will be even better than the first.
“I’M NOT SURE WE HAVE A STYLE AS SUCH – IT’S MORE OF A THROWN-TOGETHER TYPE VIBE. BUT WE DO LOVE PLANTS AND TIMBER”
MASS APPEAL The kitchen table Andrew made from an old timber door is a favourite piece. “It isn’t the most practical because it’s a bit bent, but we could never let it go,” says Amanda
STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN A spiral staircase, colourful timber and plenty of greenery create points of interest all throughout the family home