Converted Churches

Converted Churches

How would you feel about living in a former church? Would you love the sense of stillness and peace that its history might bring? Or would you feel uncomfortable with the prospect of gravestones in the garden?

 Beautiful: creating a home within a former church can breathe new life into the building.

Beautiful: creating a home within a former church can breathe new life into the building.

Over the last 30 years some 20,000 churches have been sold off for conversion. By 2020 a further 10% of the approximately 40,000 remaining churches and chapels will be privately owned.

 This living room is full of character. The windows and painted walls take centre stage.

This living room is full of character. The windows and painted walls take centre stage.

As a nation we seem to love them and a past survey from Property Finder put chapels and churches as our favourite conversion, even ahead of the ever popular barn. One estate agent confirmed that a converted church will attract over double the amount of viewings a conventional home might have when it goes on sale. Although in the end many of those viewers don’t end up making an offer because they feel that the houses are just too unusual.

 No building can blend modern and traditional in quite the same way as a converted church.

No building can blend modern and traditional in quite the same way as a converted church.

What do you think, would they be great places to live?

 This bedroom feels cosy as well as open and airy.

This bedroom feels cosy as well as open and airy.

There are certainly many who believe so. Proponents cite the natural light streaming through the tall windows or the large open space inside. They are also distinctive buildings externally, often with stained glass windows and original features. Churches and chapels were built in enviable locations and the continued sense of tranquility within these buildings offer respite to their owners whether located on a busy street or in a rural retreat.

 The height and shape of this ceiling draws your eye upwards. However, the wooden floors and furniture help to anchor the living space.

The height and shape of this ceiling draws your eye upwards. However, the wooden floors and furniture help to anchor the living space.

 The stained glass window is the key feature in this kitchen.  The units and seating in classic black and white help to set it off perfectly.

The stained glass window is the key feature in this kitchen.  The units and seating in classic black and white help to set it off perfectly.

 The evening light through those windows would look lovely while relaxing in a bath at the end of a busy day.

The evening light through those windows would look lovely while relaxing in a bath at the end of a busy day.

 The choice of furniture for this dining room blend well with this former church.

The choice of furniture for this dining room blend well with this former church.

But like all old buildings, they’ll most likely need renovation and as listed buildings the rules around what can and can’t be done will hamper conversions. The height of the ceilings will make the space difficult to heat and if there are graves in the grounds, public access must be granted.

However, these problems aren’t insurmountable and once tackled, a converted church or chapel can make a beautiful and unusual home...

 Look at those gorgeous windows! A sensitive conversion, with a very tempting pool.

Look at those gorgeous windows! A sensitive conversion, with a very tempting pool.

...Or yoga studio

 The location for this yoga therapy class is  Guildford United Reformed Church , which is still an active church on other days.

The location for this yoga therapy class is Guildford United Reformed Church, which is still an active church on other days.

...Or art and crafts centre:

  Lyn Valley Arts & Crafts  is a centre for 50 traders from Devon & Exmoor and is located in an converted Methodist Church in Lynton. 

Lyn Valley Arts & Crafts is a centre for 50 traders from Devon & Exmoor and is located in an converted Methodist Church in Lynton. 

...Or pub!

 This  O'Neill's pub  in Muswell Hill was formerly a Presbyterian church.

This O'Neill's pub in Muswell Hill was formerly a Presbyterian church.

They're clearly special places, but what if you don't really fancy a move or a hefty renovation bill? What if you'd love the look and feel of a converted church in your own home without actually having to live in one?

Stained Glass Windows
These are integral to a converted church and can completely alter the atmosphere of the rooms inside. Luckily, you can easily incorporate stained glass, or coloured window film is a great alternative, into your own home.

Front doors are the obvious choices, but be brave and think about bathroom windows, living room windows and back doors.

 Nothing can beat the colours and light of sunlight streaming through a stained glass front door.

Nothing can beat the colours and light of sunlight streaming through a stained glass front door.

 A bathroom is the perfect room for coloured glass windows. Not only do they offer privacy, but they can create a relaxing and elegant room.

A bathroom is the perfect room for coloured glass windows. Not only do they offer privacy, but they can create a relaxing and elegant room.

 A gorgeous, modern take on stained glass and would be easy to achieve using window film. This technique would be great for urban areas especially, as it means you have lots of light, but aren't so overlooked by your neighbours.

A gorgeous, modern take on stained glass and would be easy to achieve using window film. This technique would be great for urban areas especially, as it means you have lots of light, but aren't so overlooked by your neighbours.

Ceiling Height
The height of the ceilings in converted churches and chapels is usually vast! Sadly, modern houses can’t really compete. However, if you long for high ceilings, there are tricks you can employ to fool the eye into thinking a room’s ceiling height is higher than it is…

1) Choose furniture which is low and horizontal

 Keeping furniture low and horizontal will increase the perceived height of your room. It'll also accentuate any views. Even if you're not living in a penthouse with views like this, it will still make your ceiling appear higher.

Keeping furniture low and horizontal will increase the perceived height of your room. It'll also accentuate any views. Even if you're not living in a penthouse with views like this, it will still make your ceiling appear higher.

2) Introduce diagonals

 A painted diagonal or decoration feature which creates a diagonal line will invite your eye upwards, maximising the height of the room

A painted diagonal or decoration feature which creates a diagonal line will invite your eye upwards, maximising the height of the room

3) Paint your ceiling in high gloss

 A high gloss ceiling will make your room feel as though it's endless. 

A high gloss ceiling will make your room feel as though it's endless. 

4) Accentuate the vertical with your soft furnishings and accessories

 Vertical stripes give the illusion of height in a room

Vertical stripes give the illusion of height in a room

 Patterned drapes fixed high will elongate your room. Keep other patterns in the room to a minimum for this trick to really work well.

Patterned drapes fixed high will elongate your room. Keep other patterns in the room to a minimum for this trick to really work well.

 A vertical display of pictures or objects will guide your eye upwards and give the illusion of more headroom.

A vertical display of pictures or objects will guide your eye upwards and give the illusion of more headroom.

Original features
Churches and chapels are filled with original objects, including beautiful clocks, bells and pews. These are wonderful things to source from antique shops, salvage yards or modern reproductions from high street stores and they can look lovely in a modern home. 

 Not all church bells are huge! This one could make an unusual garden feature or even a door bell..

Not all church bells are huge! This one could make an unusual garden feature or even a door bell..

 An old, rustic church clock face would look beautiful in a garden seating area. Think about bringing it inside and make a statement in your hall or living room.

An old, rustic church clock face would look beautiful in a garden seating area. Think about bringing it inside and make a statement in your hall or living room.

 Former church pews work so well in the dining room, or as a standalone piece in the hallway.

Former church pews work so well in the dining room, or as a standalone piece in the hallway.

Has this changed how you initially felt about church conversions? If you want to explore more, consider staying in one. This former coastal chapel in Cornwall will let you enjoy all the benefits of a conversion while you consider if you'd like to live in one permanently!

 

 

 

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