Mod­ern in­dus­trial styling brings a charm­ing twist to this for­mer chapel in Brighton


Lolita and Peter Colenso had both led busy lives be­fore they had chil­dren, work­ing in in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment abroad. And when they de­cided to put down some roots, they wanted a fam­ily home some­where fun and close to Lon­don. Brighton was per­fect, but they soon out­grew the Vic­to­rian villa which was their first home. With two chil­dren, Louis, now 13, and Lara, 10, the cou­ple be­gan look­ing for some­where new to live. ‘We were search­ing for a quirky home, and those aren’t easy to find,’ says Lolita. ‘But it was as if the chapel was wait­ing for us.’

The place was far from per­fect, with a poky kitchen and small bed­rooms. Yet Lolita, an in­te­rior de­signer, felt that with clever plan­ning and styling she could

sym­pa­thet­i­cally trans­form the unique build­ing into a wel­com­ing fam­ily home.

De­lighted when the sale went through, Lolita de­cided the first job was to add a kitchen-diner and sit­ting room ex­ten­sion that would over­look the gar­den. To cre­ate a loft ware­house feel, the ex­te­rior back wall, now an in­side wall, was left in its orig­i­nal bare-brick state. And she de­signed in­dus­trial-style French doors, with a bronze fin­ish. Her eye for de­tail is ev­i­dent through­out. ‘I re­search a lot on­line,’ she ex­plains. ‘It takes ages to find some vin­tage items but it’s al­ways worth the wait.’

With this first ex­ten­sion done, Lolita and Peter turned the old kitchen up­stairs into an en-suite guest bed­room and a study. One wall in the study is made out of glazed sal­vaged school doors, which al­low light to flow through the top floor. ‘I’m a big re­cy­cling fan,’ says Lolita. ‘It’s so sat­is­fy­ing to re­pur­pose ma­te­ri­als in a cre­ative way.’

The cou­ple’s ex­ten­sive trav­els also in­formed the look of their new home. In the main bed­room, touches of Asian in­flu­ence ap­pear in the form of carved wood, pretty linens and an ar­ray of wo­ven bas­kets. ‘This space is tucked away from the rest of the house,’ says Lolita. ‘There is a guest room, too, with an en suite, so even when friends visit, there’s room for us all.’

But Lolita’s work is far from over. She’s now plan­ning a roof gar­den over the kitchen ex­ten­sion. ‘Our home seems to love mod­ern touches,’ she says. ‘I hope I’ll be think­ing up new ideas here for years to come.’

SIT­TING ROOM A rich sense of his­tory is cre­ated by keep­ing the patina of the orig­i­nal chim­ney breast and jux­ta­pos­ing this with a re­claimed stone fire­place and an­tique dresser. For sim­i­lar sal­vaged fire­places, from around £250, try Dor­ton. Léon­tine china cabi­net, £804, Maisons du Monde, would work here. Large vin­tage lassi cup used as vase, £32.50, Scara­manga

BATH­ROOM A free­stand­ing roll-top bath and star-de­sign tiles set a pretty vin­tage tone. Cast-iron bath, from £876, Na­tion­wide bath­rooms. ham­mam towels, £22.50 each, Closet & botts

GUEST BED­ROOM The carved head­board and lay­ered tex­tures make for a cosy feel. gen­tong teak head­board, £549, tikamoon, is sim­i­lar. For an In­dian cot­ton quilt, try the Del­phine, £225, In­dia Jane. Lo­tus lamp with silk shade, £155, ShimuMAIN BED­ROOM Slop­ing walls and draped tex­tiles turn this space into a heav­enly sanc­tu­ary. Jayne bed frame, £299, John Lewis, is a match. blan­ket, £68, Closet & botts. Flokati rug, £ 450, habi­tat, is sim­i­lar. bas­kets, £69.95 each, Nkuku

GUEST EN SUITE A mod­ern glass panel with an an­tique shower head cre­ates an eclec­tic look. basco tiles, £5.88 each, bert & May, would match this scheme. An­tique bronze shower set, £260.99, house of enki, is near-iden­ti­cal. Shells, £8 each, Quince

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