One of my first studio projects in college was a retrofit of an old church into a residence. Unlike now, when I have 15+ clients at any given time, I devoted an embarrassing amount of time and thought to this project. So much time and thought that I remember it better than some projects from two years ago. I think it imprinted on my brain.
I am also a fan of the Hollows series by Kim Harrison where – don’t judge me – a bounty hunter witch lives in an old church with her vampire roommate and a pixie family. Okay – go ahead and judge – it’s a guilty pleasure book, okay? I like the way Harrison describes the old church, particularly the kitchen in the church. A long time fantasy of mine is to find an old church (along with a lot of money) and renovate it.
I saw this listing recently and all my fond memories of designing the church in school, and my secret desire to renovate a church to live in, came rushing back. This church is in Maryland, a little over 3,000 square feet and built in 1894. I don’t love the renovation that was done – it looks a little generic and unimaginative to me. However, I don’t like to give people I’ve never met a hard time on this blog for design decisions so I’ll lay off my critique. Here’s the link to the original listing while it lasts – they have more before renovation photos there that are really interesting.
If you’re lucky enough to design a church residence I think the temptation is to either go heavy with the church references or to take a minimalistic approach and create a space that’s a loft like as possible. I’ve seen photos of kitchen in a church residence that had gothic arches on their kitchen cabinets and that’s a little much for my taste. I’ve also seen renovations where there’s very little evidence of the former building at all – also a mistake to my eyes. Just buy a normal home if that’s what you want and leave the church homes to the rest of us weirdos.
This church residence has so much potential! Too bad I don’t live in Maryland and too bad I don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars laying around to throw at retrofitting church residences around the country. Wouldn’t that be a fun life? Another early design project that imprinted on me was a fire station retrofit in Baltimore. I’ll have to look around to see if any of those are up for sale so I can live vicariously through the photos.
“It’s easier to find a way to make money at something you love than to learn to love a job that you can make money at.”