Church Sweet Home becomes a book

I started this blog because I’m writer. Having already written three books and thousands of blog posts, I sensed I had a great story, no matter how it turned out, and it needed to be documented.

Without knowing how it would end, I chose the unconventional approach of a real-time-memoir with the intention of turning my blog posts into a book. I’ve spent months polishing my prose and having it professionally edited, and finally, the launch day for the book Church Sweet Home: A Renovation to Warm the Soul is coming soon. Mark your calendar: May 5.

CSH Book Front Cover OnlyIf you’re here, reading this blog post, you’ve probably read most of the story and you sort of understand it all ends well. I have hundreds of loyal readers who cheered us on through months of dirty demolition and construction, and I am so grateful for the moral support you offered with nice comments and Facebook likes on so many nights we were exhausted and feeling sorry for ourselves. You helped pull us through.

You might be asking, why would I read this book if I followed the blog? Well, here are five reasons you might enjoy the book as much as you liked the blog:

  1. The book has an all-new prologue about abandoned churches.
  2. The story has a proper heart-warming ending.
  3. All the those annoying “our story so far” and “tomorrow” teasers are gone.
  4. You’ll find out how the real budget compares to the Tequila Budget.
  5. If you’re technically challenged or just too impatient to click through all the blog posts, you can page through the story easily and at your own pace.

I suppose you might know some people who would enjoy the story but aren’t blog readers. Voilà, a book is a nice gift for your friend.

So stay tuned for all the information you need to get yourself a paperback or ebook of Church Sweet Home in May.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to share updates about the renovation. I have a few in the archive, and we still have projects ahead of us.

Again, thanks for reading.

 

Shake that booty

As I pondered news to share here about progress we’ve made on the church, I realized I never shared before-and-after photos of the west side of the church.

This area of the old Methodist church received a lot of attention last summer when we sided the garage and finished repairs to the belfry.

Here’s how it looked “before” when that functional-but-less-than-pretty fire escape was still attached:

fire escape after new windows
This picture was taken after we replaced the windows. 

Note the distinctive architectural feature between the first- and second-story windows. After finding the original wooden shakes on the fluted portion of the belfry, Tyler suspected wooden shakes were also hidden beneath that aluminum siding on the west side. So he had You-Can-Call-Me-Al remove the siding, and behold, the original shakes.

west side revealed
Removing the aluminum siding revealed wooden shakes in the peak and between the windows.

The wood shakes were in pretty good condition, and we wondered why on earth they were ever concealed. They desperately needed paint. You-Can-Call-Me-Al replaced about 20 of them. Tyler rented an articulating boom to make the belfry repairs, and You-Can-Call-Me-Al also used it to fix and paint the west side.

west wide articulating boom
Useful tool, that articulating boom.

You-Can-Call-Me-Al painted the wooden shakes a similar color gray that we painted the stone foundation. Those century-old shakes soaked up the latex.

west wide after
A few pieces of white siding are missing on either side of the center fluted area in this picture (let’s be honest, in reality, too). Still, a huge improvement.

The west side turned out so well, we decided to copy the fluted peak and shakes on the new-construction garage, too.

west side garage match
Note the fluted peak of the garage. These shakes are a man-made substance manufacturered in rows, not individual wooden shakes like on the west side.

If you look carefully at the belfry, you’ll see the new spire. I’ll share more about the installation of that spire in a future post.

# # #

CSH Book Front Cover OnlyIf you enjoy renovation stories or more specifically, this renovation story, mark your calendar. The book version of this blog, Church Sweet Home: A Renovation to Warm the Soul, will be available May 5. Stay tuned for details.

Panoramic view

One of the first things I sketched when we put an offer in on the church we were buying to turn into our home was a furniture layout of the sanctuary we were making over into our great room.

Oh, I had grand plans for two sectionals, a big table vase in the entryway and a dining room table for 10.

During demolition, we decided to build a balcony over part of the sanctuary and tuck our kitchen under it. This ate into the square footage and my plans for two sectionals.

Well, who needs two sectionals anyway? We had plenty of room for entertaining. Here’s a sketch I made at some point after we established the balcony plans.

Floorplan

This is the definition of a “loose sketch.” That round thing in the upper left is the spiral stairway with the balcony defined in a dotted line along the left side. The fireplace is there along the north wall (top) and there’s a doorway to the patio in the upper right corner (that never happened). Those rectangle shapes along the wall are windows. You can see the dining room table for 10 on the bottom right, the beverage bar on the bottom left and a kitchen island on the left. The sectional is right in front of the fireplace, with a conversation area for two behind it.

The real furniture layout turned out quite similar to the plans. Besides losing the patio doorway, my dining room table seats only eight (we can get 10 in a pinch though) and we added a big china cabinet. The way we situated the kitchen island (and added a recliner for Tyler to the mix) demanded we set the sectional askew.

Initially, when all the furniture arrived, we arranged the sectional and the rug beneath it at an angle to the fireplace (and TV). We lived with that for four months before deciding we needed straighten the rug (and leave the sectional angled). We did some heavy lifting a week and a half ago to make these changes (what’s a little sweat on a rainy day?), and now you can see the results. Here is the sectional now in a view from the balcony (fireplace is unseen on the left, dining table unseen on the right).
sofa

As I was admiring the view from the balcony, I realized I could take a panoramic shot of the whole great room. For perspective, the kitchen is beneath my feet.

Panorama

There’s a little bit of a fun house vibe to this shot, but you can see the fireplace and the front door at the same time. You can even see two of the hanging chandeliers.

This is one of the answers when someone asks, how do you turn a church sanctuary into a living room?

A small transformation

We’re fans of polyurethane around this old converted church having applied dozens of gallons of it on the original wood floors we restored to their glory.

I also used it on a shelving unit we found on the second story of the church. It had some interesting details but it was just a little beat-up.

Towel Rack Before
See that shelf just outside the door of the belfry?

All it took was a bit of sanding and a couple of coats of polyurethane to bring this piece back to life. I think Tyler tightened the screws a bit, too, to improve its sturdiness.

towel rack after
Shelving unit, after.

Without a linen closet on the second floor, I turned this shelf into a towel storage rack in the guest bath. I love it when we can re-use original pieces of the church. A clear winner (get it? I used clear polyurethane, te, he).

towel rack close up

 

Whatsit? Thingamajig? Oojamaflip?

Another piece of the church has been returned to its original location.

I’m not sure what to call it, this piece. Terrarium? Vase? Plant stand?

It was in the entryway when we purchased the church, squirreled away in the corner beneath the painted message “May the love of God surround you,” but it was so inconsequential, I don’t even have any before pictures of it. With a modern look, the hollow bottom is a hammered metal (aluminum? tin?), and the glass top was filled with little rocks and rose petals.

The container, whatever one calls it, was worth keeping because we removed it and moved it several times until it found a place in the corner of the garage, where it had been collecting dust all winter. At some point, we broke a hole in the bottom of the glass topper. Tyler threatened to throw it away which I couldn’t bear.

I hauled into the house and gave it the soap-and-water treatment before determining what to do with it. It cleaned up so nicely I decided it ought to return to the entryway.

rock stand

Instead of rocks and flower petals, I covered the broken hole and filled it with light-and-airy decorative vase fillers.

rock stand close up

It’s earned a proper name: I’m calling it a floor-standing vase.

Fresh paint creates a clean slate (and a desk that practically invites one to work)

Paint is amazing stuff.

It covers a multitude of sins, and the right colors transform a surface from beat-up to practically new.

Other people look at beautiful wood and think it’s a shame to do anything other than apply stain. But I am a big fan of painted furniture and painted trim. It is inexplicably cathartic to cover up ugly colors and nicked-up surfaces with new paint. I like to listen to podcasts while I sand, tape and brush surfaces; the process is meditative. The first coat is satisfying, and the last one is pure bliss.

I painted or spray-painted a lot items for the old church in the past year and a half including the upstairs vanity, a headboard and footboard for a bed, a number of light fixtures and a few cupboard doors. But a recent project really shows off the beauty of paint.

Just after we moved into the church last fall, Tyler bought an antique roll-top desk he found on Craig’s List. He wanted a place in the great room to stash his office work away from sight when we entertained.

 

 Here’s the desk when we bought it, closed and open.

It had good bones and an ugly layer of brown paint. The seller claimed it had been around for more than a century, which made it as old as our 127-year-old church. After looking at it for several months as other priorities took my attention, I finally tackled the desk a couple of weeks ago with Fusion mineral paint (thanks, Sherra, for the great tip), and it turned out beautifully.

And here’s the desk now, painted.

The main color is Champlain, accented with Midnight Blue on the top and drawers. The desktop itself pulls out, and there was an inset area I filled with self-stick vinyl floor tile in Travertine, a creamy marble-like look.

Desk embellishment

I also used a little bit of Fusion’s Inglenook, sort of an aqua color, to accent some of the wood embellishments.

Desk lock

The knobs that came with the desk were workmanlike (read: ugly). It might surprise regular readers to learn I chose brass replacements; generally, I do not like brass, but it seemed an appropriate accent to the dark blue. Tyler found brass flowery knobs for most of the drawers, and we found plainer, smaller brass knobs at the flea market we shopped a few weeks back for the inside drawers. I painted the locks with a slick oil-based brass paint that practically sparkles.

The desk now resides elegantly in the corner of the great room (where the church organ once sat, which I find oddly satisfying). Until Tyler clutters it up, I’m leaving the roll-top open because it looks so nice.

If you liked this paint transformation, you might enjoy these past projects (shared on my personal blog):