‘We took on a con­verted chapel’

Us­ing their shared love of pe­riod prop­er­ties and quirky decor, Sarah and Karl brought an old church up to date

Style at Home (UK) - - Buy It -

Our house chose us, rather than the other way around,’ says Sarah. ‘My hus­band Karl and I were look­ing for a larger home – we both love older prop­er­ties, but also crave modern, light space and clean lines. We’d looked at a num­ber of houses, in­clud­ing a cou­ple of church con­ver­sions, but we weren’t sold as most had lay­outs that just wouldn’t have worked for us as a fam­ily home. When we saw the old chapel, on the other hand, it seemed to be the per­fect com­pro­mise.

Orig­i­nally an old Methodist chapel, built in 1807, it has loads of his­tory. It had been re­built and con­verted into a do­mes­tic dwelling, which meant it had many of the modern fea­tures we wanted, like straight walls and a fan­tas­tic open-plan lay­out in­side. The lo­ca­tion it­self was a mas­sive draw too, as it’s in the cen­tre of a vil­lage, with two schools, a brook run­ning through it and a friendly com­mu­nity.

Fall­ing in love

We only saw the house for 45 min­utes in the dark be­fore we knew it was the one! It opens from dou­ble doors into a vestibule, has a main open-plan liv­ing and din­ing space, a kitchen and snug, and up­stairs are three bed­rooms (one with an en suite) and a small L-shaped bath­room.

Buy­ing the house was a bit of an or­deal as it was listed with two es­tate agents but we fi­nally had our of­fer ac­cepted on Valen­tine’s Day 2014, and we moved in the April of the same year. There were

as­pects we had to tweak but struc­turally no changes were needed – it was more a case of stamp­ing our iden­tity on to the in­te­rior. The front steps were col­laps­ing, some win­dows needed re­plac­ing and when­ever we started a project, we would soon find another is­sue. For ex­am­ple, when we re­placed the glass in Ava’s bed­room win­dow, we found out the frames weren’t even at­tached to the house!

Adding per­son­al­ity

Mostly though, we had a won­der­ful blank can­vas with loads of quirky spa­ces that were beg­ging for us to add some char­ac­ter. Time and money meant it was a slow, bit-by-bit process. A few pre­vi­ous oc­cu­piers had added up­grades of their own, like solid oak floor­ing with a drop-level liv­ing area and old school-style ra­di­a­tors through­out. Af­ter mov­ing in, we painted a few of the smaller rooms and

‘be creative and repur­pose vin­tage finds - the shoe last i found on ebay is now a loo roll holder!’

then just spent a year en­joy­ing the house and get­ting to know the vil­lage.

Dec­o­rat­ing be­gins

We’ve spent the last few years slowly get­ting the house to where we want it. Our style is a mix of modern coun­try and English quirk­i­ness, which bal­ances the his­tory and age of the prop­erty, its ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment and our own per­son­al­i­ties. We’ve tried to stay sen­si­tive to the prop­erty with­out go­ing down a themed route – we only have a church pew din­ing ta­ble bench and small do­na­tion box as a nod to the prop­erty’s re­li­gious ori­gins.

We did most of the dec­o­rat­ing our­selves, with a lit­tle help here and there. In­sta­gram is a source of in­spi­ra­tion, as is travel – we spend a lot of our hol­i­days on city breaks, where the style in the lo­cal bars and in­te­rior de­sign shops play a big part in help­ing us come up with ideas.

We also like stay­ing in bou­tique ho­tels, and each an­niver­sary we book some­where that looks a lit­tle quirky and find at least one thing that we repli­cate in our own home. It’s a great way to re­mind our­selves of all the good times that we’ve shared to­gether.

Eclec­tic buys

We love find­ing quirky and vin­tage pieces to dis­play. We also wanted a few state­ment pieces for our din­ing room wall, but couldn’t find the right thing – in the end, we picked up some large

‘make ev­ery cor­ner count by cre­at­ing a cosy space with comfy cush­ions, throws and ap­pro­pri­ate light­ing’

potato rid­dles from the Peter­bor­ough an­tiques fair, and af­ter a good clean up we at­tached some cus­tom-cut round mir­ror glass and they be­came ex­actly the state­ment pieces we were af­ter.

Dur­ing the win­ter, the liv­ing room can get pretty cold due to the high ceil­ings and dou­ble-height win­dows so we’ve made it as cosy as we can, with faux fur throws, blan­kets, plenty of chunky knits and can­dles. We still have lots more to do but we’re con­fi­dent that the style foun­da­tions are in place to let our home evolve as we grow as a fam­ily – it’s ex­actly what we wanted.’

talk­ing point ‘Our small tele­phone area has a chaise from ebay, a wire and linen bas­ket from Truf­fles & Twine and a star cush­ion from Per­fectly Lovely Interiors’

hat trick ‘Karl made the bowler hat light in the vestibule him­self’

mak­ing do ‘We in­her­ited this re­claimed kitchen and we’ll prob­a­bly up­date it in the fu­ture as we’d like some­thing a bit more modern’

top drawer ‘The apothe­cary drawer wall­pa­per is by Deb­bie Mc­k­ee­gan’

idea to steal ‘Turn an­tique potato rid­dles into unique round wall mir­rorsõ man’s work ‘our sofa is from next and the cof­fee ta­ble is from Made.com. Karl made the in­dus­trial ta­ble light from an old workman’s lamp’

Take a pew ‘We up­cy­cled the church pew as a nod to our home’s past’

‘the gallery bridge run­ning be­tween the bed­rooms makes the whole house feel con­nected’

idea to steal ‘If you’re not handy with a paint­brush, cheat the look with over­sized wall stick­ers’ think pink ‘We chose soft greys and pinks for a girly scheme. The bed is from Ar­gos and Karl and Ava hand-painted the tree wall mu­ral’

man cave ‘In the spare bed­room we used a book­shelf wall­pa­per from Ama­zon to cre­ate some depth’

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