Merchant Wednesday: House numbers (plus a look at the entryway)

Among the projects we raced to finish in time to show off to our guests at the holidays was the entryway to the church. We were, of course, able to move in months ago without having to finish the space (only the ceiling was done), but since it was the first impression (or second, if you took in the exterior of the church first), we wanted it to be finished.

Which meant a flurry of activity took place in late November and early December. You-Can-Call-Me Al, who had tiled our shower and kitchen back splash, tiled the ground-level entry floor. Then he built new wooden treads for the steps leading up into the sanctuary and stained them. St. Johnny spent hours sanding the sanctuary level landing; it was a bear, covered in decades of paint and mastic and gunk. We decided to keep it rustic, leaving some of the paint intact, and we stained over it. Finally, we had the walls, trim and interior doors painted, hung the new chandelier and had our wrought iron team install the railing.

The transformation of the space is significant.

But let’s begin with a look at how the front doors looked when we bought the church a year ago. I’ve shared this shot before, but it’s a good taste of all the “befores” of the church (and who doesn’t appreciate a good transformation story, especially at this time of year?).

front door
The front door was functional, but it had been stripped of a lot of its charm when the congregation replaced the original French doors with industrial red ones. The red ones were certainly more sound than the French doors, which had been stored and were so rotted when we found them, we left them on the curb because we didn’t think we could restore them. Also, the tiny lights on either side of the door may have provided illumination, but they fell short in the distinctive category.

Here’s how our Church Sweet Home presents its entryway now.

entryway exterior after
Those magnificent castle doors are a lot more interesting, and the light fixtures flanking them say a lot more than simply, “Let there by light.” Tyler rubbed a coat of tung oil into the doors in December to deepen their beauty and rub out all the nicks and scratches they had endured during construction and move-in.

Which brings me to the secondary purpose of today’s post: To call out the artisans who created our beautiful house numbers. Zach and Sheena’s work at TheWoodsCollective was featured in an issue of HGTV Magazine, and when I saw it, I wanted it for our church.

house numbers after

This is exactly the type of custom feature perfect for an Etsy vendor because everyone appreciates choosing their own wood finish and number style, and every house requires different numbers.

You can shop their offerings on Etsy at TheWoodsCollective.

OK, back to our entryway tour. Here’s how our entryway behind the door looks now.

open door
Welcome! Come on in!

See that door bell button there on the right? When you push it, it rings like a church bell inside the church. It’s awesome!

Let’s take a look at some before and after photos.

entryway stairs before
When we purchased the church, the ceiling was flat across the top with tiles, the walls of the entryway were paneled, and the steps were carpeted. The railing was distinctive, but made of wood, which didn’t match the rest of the new railings we eventually installed inside.
entryway stairs after
Here’s how the steps up into the sanctuary look now.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the entryway now is that newel post. Tyler found it on Craig’s List and sent me two hours south to retrieve it. It’s solid wood, salvaged from a mansion in Chicago, and very heavy. The guy who sold it to us had multiple storage units filled with various pieces of mansions and churches–doors, altars, stained glass windows, hutches, and more. When I got the post back here, Tyler cut a few inches from the bottom to make it fit, and it was not easy task to cut a 10-and-a-half-inch column of wood.

newell post cross cut
Ah, I remember well the sawdust era of construction.

The guys at the spiral stairs manufacturer, who built all our railings, painted the newel post to match our steel, and then built the railing to fit it.

The stairs down to the basement are not so grand as the “up” steps, at least for now. Tyler painted them a nice blue-gray. At least the carpet is gone.

When we bought the church, I appreciated the message inside the front doors …

entryway exit before
Go now in peace

… but I like our new light fixture now.

entryway exit after
The black steel light fixture coordinates with our railing, and the ceiling beams are the same as we have inside the sanctuary.

And, though I don’t have a good before of this angle, here’s a look at our Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall. Tyler found this ornate mirror at an estate sale about a week after we decided to buy the church. Now, when you enter or leave the house, you can gaze as your reflection and ask, “Who’s the fairest of them all?”

entryway mirror after
These interior doors are original to the church (or at least when we purchased it). We put in the glass panels and repainted the wood, and they look good as new.

I had intended to put a half-circle marble shelf beneath the mirror, but it turns out there’s no way to secure it, so we are looking for a little table to go there.

There you go, our renovated entryway to Church Sweet Home. Now you can go in peace.

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Balcony scene

Dear reader, we’re taking a break from the memoir-in-progress to assess the accomplishments of the past year. My husband and I closed on the 126-year-old Methodist church just shy of a year ago, and the changes have been immense. For the next couple days, I’m telling the story in before-and-after photos. Whenever possible I’ll try to use the same perspective in the “after” shot as I did long ago in the “before.” We’ve walked through most of the church, but we’re almost done. Today, we look at the balcony.

balcony before
When we bought the church, there was no balcony, only a hidden choir loft. As we were poking around during the showing, there was a dark opening on the second story. Tyler fired up the flashlight and I took this picture of the space between the ceiling and what we thought was the roof (it’s really a second ceiling–there’s another space above that before the roof).
end of balcony after
Here’s a look at that same space now. We removed the first ceiling and drywalled the second ceiling (there’s a thousand dollars worth of blow-in insulation between that ceiling and the roof).
balcony other way before
Tyler built a balcony extending from the second story room(s) and choir loft. This is the north side of the balcony.
balcony built before
And here’s a shot from the north to the south. (This was a scary picture to get because I had to walk to end of the balcony without any railings.)
balcony after
The is how the balcony looks from north to south today (or this evening– this is evening light). We carpeted the plywood (because there was no original floor to refinish) and assembled a sitting area in the center of the balcony.
balcony other way after
This is the north side of the balcony today (day light). I can watch the TV on the fireplace from the chair on the right. This is a great place for an introvert or a teenager to catch their breath during a gathering–can still hear and see the action downstairs but doesn’t have to interact. I also think it would be a great place to put a live band if we ever have a big blow-out party.

Friday: Before-and-current photos of the basement. See them here.

The bell tolls for thee

Dear reader, we’re taking a break from the memoir-in-progress to assess the accomplishments of the past year. My husband and I closed on the 126-year-old Methodist church just shy of a year ago, and the changes have been immense. For the next couple days, I’m telling the story in before-and-after photos. Whenever possible I’ll try to use the same perspective in the “after” shot as I did long ago in the “before.” We’ve walked through most of the church, but we’re almost done. Today, we look at the belfry.

door to belfry before
The belfry has an interior entrance on the second floor. It’s that open door near the center of the picture, which was taken when we first toured the church.
belfry door after demo
Here’s that space, at a slightly different angle, after demolition.
belfry door with floor done
This is the guest bedroom, with the belfry door, after we finished refinishing the floors and painting. You can see we switched out the door to the belfry so it had windows (this door came from elsewhere in the church).
belfry door after
And here’s how this wall of the second floor looks today.
belfry interior with books
Once you open the door to the belfry, it doesn’t look a whole lot different than it did when we bought the church (thus, no before picture). It’s a lot cleaner, but we haven’t installed trim or painted; I’m envisioning a bank of book shelves on the left and a window seat on the right. The bell rope is new (it’s hanging there to the left of the doorway) and the window is new.
belfry window before
Here’s how the window looked in the beginning. It was covered on the outside with siding. Tyler guessed that hole there was a bullet hole (but wouldn’t a bullet shatter the pane?). I think I can see a face in the upper right pane, can you? (It’s not me — my reflection is in the lower right, beneath the bullet hole.)
belfry-window-after.jpg
Here’s the new window, uncovered by siding, with a view of the neighbor across the street.
belfry exterior before
The exterior of the belfry when we bought the church hid a lot of sins. The roof below the bell was rotted, and two of the eight piers holding up the bell were rotted so it couldn’t be rung. A number of squirrel skeletons littered the roof area (but no bats!)

 

belfry-exterior-after.jpg
The belfry looks a lot different from a year ago. The siding has been removed (though not yet replaced), and the decorative detail on the upper part revealed. The window makes a big difference. And the bell can be rung safely again after we shored up the interior structure (neighbors will tell you I ring it every time I have visitors).

Today’s headline is a partial quote from 17th century Christian writer John Donne. Here’s the entire passage: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Tomorrow: The balcony (just wait until you see that before photo!) See it here.

Allow the fires of transformation to burn away all that doesn’t serve you

Dear reader, we’re taking a break from the memoir-in-progress to assess the accomplishments of the past year. My husband and I closed on the 126-year-old Methodist church just shy of a year ago, and the changes have been immense. For the next couple days, I’m telling the story in before-and-after photos. Whenever possible I’ll try to use the same perspective in the “after” shot as I did long ago in the “before.” Today, we take a look at the guest bedroom.

second floor bedroom before
I’ve shared this perspective before, but to remind readers: This space on the second story had been a choir loft, a bedroom for the pastor at one time in its history, the pastor’s office, a Sunday School classroom and a meeting space.
guest room after demo
This shot, at a slightly different angle, shows the space after most of the demolition. You can see the choir loft railing (with the center chunk removed). That cross-hatch pattern of two-by-fours was also removed when we raised the sanctuary ceiling so we’d have more headroom on the balcony.
guest room framed in
Again, a slightly different angle, but this is the space once we had the bathroom framed in.
guest room sheetrocked
And here’s the space with drywall.
guest room floor done
And here’s that glorious pine floor, refinished with a couple of coats of clear polyurethane.
second story bedroom
And here’s how the guest room looks today. I have decided I am going to turn the rug the other way and put a love seat on the end of it, facing the bed, to better define the space.
lucy's door with knob
This is a close-up of the door to my granddaughter’s playhouse, a 5-by-8 space under the eaves just off the guest bedroom. We repurposed the door from the other side of the eaves, and Tyler found the perfect miniature ceramic doorknob for it.

Today’s headline is a quote from Health Ash Amara, author of the Warrior Goddess book series.

Tomorrow: The belfry, inside and out. See it here.

 

Piles of paper out, toilet paper in

Dear reader, we’re taking a break from the memoir-in-progress to assess the accomplishments of the past year. My husband and I closed on the 126-year-old Methodist church just shy of a year ago, and the changes have been immense. For the next few days, I’m telling the story in before-and-after photos. Whenever possible I’ll try to use the same perspective in the “after” shot as I did long ago in the “before.” We check out the guest bath today.

bathroom wall before
I’m not entirely sure what this room in the church was. It was filled with a decades worth of Sunday School lessons and choir music. But it also had a gas heater. Maybe the walls were erected after the heater was installed.
bathroom wall after
We tore the old wall down and built a new one to enclose the guest bath. From the beginning, we knew we would locate a bathroom here because it’s directly above the master bath which is directly above the old church kitchen in the basement, and it was easier to run plumbing here. To the right, you can see part of the doorway to the balcony.
inside bathroom before
This is the old storage room before.
inside bathroom after
This is the inside of the bathroom now. A bit of work is still required. We’re missing vanity drawers, we need another coat of paint and the tub needs a surround, but we’re getting there. Given what was in there to begin with, I suppose the space could use a little reading material, too. Once we opened up the choir loft, heating the space was no longer an issue.

Tomorrow: Guest bed. See the transformation here.

 

The only way to do great work is to love what you do

Dear reader, we’re taking a break from the memoir-in-progress to assess the accomplishments of the past year. My husband and I closed on the 126-year-old Methodist church just shy of a year ago, and the changes have been immense. For the next few days, I’m telling the story in before-and-after photos. Whenever possible I’ll try to use the same perspective in the “after” shot as I did long ago in the “before.” We’ve surveyed the main floor, and now we go upstairs. It’s not all that big, but I’m breaking it up into five rooms. First, we’ll take a look at my office.

office before
When we purchased the church, it looked like the second story was last used as a Sunday School room. I think the local Alcoholics Anonymous group also may have been meeting here. Nearly everything you see in this shot was removed, including the wall with shelving and the carpeting. The window you can see in this shot led to the fire escape, which we removed a few months ago.
office after
This corner is now my office. The eaves (where a pile of colorful boxes is) goes along the entire roof line and is great for storing luggage.

Tomorrow: Guest bath. See it here.

We aim to please

Dear reader, we’re taking a break from the memoir-in-progress to assess the accomplishments of the past year. My husband and I closed on the 126-year-old Methodist church just shy of a year ago, and the changes have been immense. For the next week or so, I’m going to tell the story in before-and-after photos. Whenever possible I’ll try to use the same perspective in the “after” shot as I did long ago in the “before.” Today, we have a look in the master bath.

bathrrom before
I’ve shared pictures of the shower corner of the master bath before. This perspective shows where the water closet was built. When we bought the church, this room was being used as an office. At one time in history, this area was a Sunday School.
bathroom after
I had to sit on the vanity and take a panoramic picture to get this perspective because we moved the wall to make the bedroom behind it larger (the panorama is why the floor looks wavy in the picture). That’s another pocket door on the water closet. The door on the right is one of the linen closets.

Tomorrow: The second floor. See it here.