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?

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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.

Merchant Wednesday: Wells Spiral Stairs

As we have reinvested in home furnishings and decorations to style our Church Sweet Home, we’ve run across a number of amazing artists and vendors. Sometimes the vendor is a big-box-type store but more often it’s an online retailer or a local vendor. On some Wednesdays here on Church Sweet Home, I will share our latest find and reveal who provided it to help other interested home designers.

# # #

spiral and railing

Next to the 20-foot-tall fireplace that replaced the red velvet curtain behind the altar in the former church, our spiral stairway is a focal point in our great room. It lends sweeping drama to the space, and I almost can’t believe I’ve neglected to mention its manufacturer, a spiral stairs maker just around the corner that’s been making distinctive metalwork for 70 years.

plant hanger
See that cute little bird feeder in the shape of a church? A gift from my mother-in-law for Easter. And the vintage aqua-green garden art standing there? Made by my mother.

But I was reminded of Wells Spiral Stairs this week when Tyler erected in our garden a plant hanger made especially for us by the spirals folks. It now stands in the little flower plot begun I don’t know how many years ago by the gardeners of the church congregation (and I’m still reaping the rewards of their efforts in the form of beautiful perennials; see the final picture of this post). Tyler hung a couple of planters he found buried in our cargo trailer (we moved in, you remember, as fall was descending upon us so luxuries in storage such as outdoor plant hangers were passed over in favor of the stuff we would actually be needing over the winter).

Despite having “spiral stairs” in the name, Wells will make just about anything out of steel that a homeowner could desire: Gates, arches, sign holders, furniture, spice racks, even vashu towers, hanging metal decks and yes, plant hangers. They made all the metal railings in our converted church including the balcony railing, the coordinating entryway railing and the handrails on the back stairway and two-step stairway of the balcony. The proprietress even sourced the unique ball for the top of our spiral stairway and had her foreman paint it inside and out.

spiral Ball
 A look at our stairway, from the top down.

Their stock-in-trade, though, remains the spiral stairways. Each one is sturdily built in one piece and customized exactly to the space it will occupy and the design required. With all the lakes in south Wisconsin and northern Illinois, you can imagine Wells Spiral Stairs makes a lot of deck spirals for lake homes around here. The compact design of a spiral is perfect for small spaces and places where real estate comes at a premium (like lake front). All you need is the height and diameter of your space, and you can get a quote in no time. We were fortunate to live nearby, but the manufacturer serves all of southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois and is willing to ship anywhere in the country.

Wells Spiral Stairs is located at 162 Walworth St., Genoa City, Wisconsin. You can find out more at www.wellspirals.com.

tulip
A tulip in the flower garden, rising the occasion.

Let’s root for pom-poms!

The old motto, “Strike while the iron is hot” applies to the iron of creativity, too.

While I was meandering around Pier 1 the other day admiring the springtime displays, I happened upon a table runner on the clearance rack. Its little pom-poms attracted me (so did the price). I thought, “I could use that on my dresser in the master bedroom.” The purchase inspired me to take action.

table runner
Aren’t those pom-poms cute? I liked that the runner had texture but no color because the dresser itself sports a rainbow of colors.

My poor dresser. When we moved in, I stacked a bunch of beat-up boxes and jewelry cases on it and otherwise ignored it. It needed styling desperately.

dresser before
BEFORE: The arrangement on top the dresser looked unfinished. Because it was.

The treatment required a low profile to accommodate the television above. I fiddled around with a few vases and books, invested in a few more artificial blooms, and ta, da! Even Tyler said the dresser looks very pretty now.

dresser after
AFTER: I went for a asymmetrical look.

As I was paying for my purchases, the cashier remarked that a pillow matching the runner was also on clearance. I snapped it up, too, and tucked it among the pillows on my bed.

matching pillow
The pom-pommed pillow is on the left. The other decorative pillows on the bed were a gift from my sister for Christmas.

Merchant Wednesday: Everything under the sun personalized

As we have reinvested in home furnishings and decorations to style our Church Sweet Home, we’ve run across a number of amazing artists and vendors. Sometimes the vendor is a big-box-type store but more often it’s an online retailer or a local vendor. On some Wednesdays here on Church Sweet Home, I will share our latest find and reveal who provided it to help other interested home designers.

# # #

It’s the gift-giving season—Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, communions, weddings—and today I’m sharing a meaningful house warming gift we received that might inspire you.

serving-paddle.jpg

We invited a couple we’ve been friends with forever to check out our sound system, and they showed up with this beautiful personalized serving paddle. The husband of the couple played guitar at our wedding, and the wife is a fan of this Church Sweet Home blog, so they knew us well enough to customize the perfect gift for our new abode. I just love how it says “Food Family Fellowship,” a spot-on description for what we’re trying to accomplish when we entertain.

paddle in entrywayThe label on the back reveals it’s from PersonalizationMall.com, and that’s where I learned it’s a serving paddle (“Family Kitchen Personalized Whitewashed Walnut Serving Paddle” if you’re doing a search). We’re using it as decor; it’s hanging in a place of honor in our entryway.

This website has only about a million items that can be personalized for just about any gift recipient (and they claim to offer a turnaround time of only 24 to 48 hours). Wall hangings, robes, pillows, garden stones, rosaries, coffee mugs, aprons—you name it, they probably have one on which they can put a name or message.

Of course, we’ve treasured the historical photos and pictures some people have shared with us, and we never turn down a bottle of wine or whiskey, but this gift will last as long as we live in this church. Thank you so much, E & P!

Click here to check out PersonalizationMall.com.

 

Merchant Wednesday: Beams that’ll make you beam

As we have reinvested in home furnishings and decorations to style our Church Sweet Home, we’ve run across a number of amazing artists and vendors. Sometimes the vendor is a big-box-type store but more often it’s an online retailer or a local vendor. On some Wednesdays here on Church Sweet Home, I will share our latest find and reveal who provided it to help other interested home designers.

# # #

One of the distinctive features of our great room is our ceiling beams. There is the fireplace, and the spiral stairway, and that fab reused kitchen, too, but today we’re talking beams.

Faux wood beams.

The very first minute I stood in the old church sanctuary when we were checking it out with our real estate agent, I knew I wanted to put wood beams on that big beautiful ceiling. And Tyler figured out how to do it without hoisting two-ton hunks of timber up there.

Tyler found rigid polyurethane foam beams online—lighter and more durable than actual wood beams and more affordable, they were advertised as being “virtually indistinguishable from real wood.” The array of options was dazzling.

L beam or U beam?

Rough sawn or hand hewn (or any of eight other textures)?

How wide? How high? How long? Do you need endcaps?

What color? We knew we wanted “brown” but we could choose from among eleven shades of brown. We finally settled on antique cherry.

They arrived some weeks later by semi-truck, not your typical delivery but packed perfectly to protect our precious cargo.

beams shipped
Here are our faux wood beams, waiting in the great room for installation.

Remarkable. They really were virtually indistinguishable from real wood beams. And they were as light as cappuccino foam, which made them easier to install.

This was just the distinction we wanted for the cathedral ceiling of our great room.

Tyler found our beams at the Architectural Depot, “the do-it-yourself superstore.” Given their “superstore” tagline, they sell a lot more than faux wood beams. If you’re in the market for ceiling medallions, moulding, PVC millwork, shutters, columns, corbels & brackets, ventilation, doors and windows, siding and components, weathervanes or yard items, they offer things, too.

beams close up
Here’s a close-up view from the balcony of our hand-hewn faux wood.
beams overall
Antique cherry is just the right contrast against our white ceiling.

We also used the faux wood beams in a smaller area: The entryway. We used them to add interest to an otherwise standard peaked ceiling.

518 Booth Entryway Before
When we bought the church, the entryway ceiling was flat, covered with undistinctive ceiling tiles.
beams-in-entryway.jpg
Here’s how the ceiling looked after we installed the beams (but before the light fixture). They coordinate perfectly with our castle doors.
beams chillin
This picture of us chilling in our great room was taken by our Nest security system. This bottom-up shot really shows how grand the ceiling looks.

You can check out all that the Architectural Depot has to offer by clicking here. The website is user-friendly and you’ll find all kinds of great tips when you place an order. Also, we were able to order short sample pieces of beam before investing a couple thousand in the final product. I highly recommend doing that if you have a big project (or even a small one).

100% guaranteed

When you’re on a home improvement kick, absolutely everywhere you go offers the potential for inspiration.

Early on, Tyler and I bided our time waiting to close our deal on the church by visiting home improvement shows, home improvement stores, furniture stores, parades of homes, every show on HGTV, friends’ houses … you get the picture. We kept that up throughout construction.

Eventually, we got to the decorating phase, and I spent a lot of time at Pier 1. And as luck would have it, the nearby Pier 1 was next door to a Bath & Body Works store. So easy to stop in for hand soap (and body lotion and lip gloss …). I also spied this display in the back of the store behind the cash register. Where other people saw a brightly lit 100% guarantee, I saw 100% bright idea.

back wall inspiration
Welcome to Bath & Body Works.

The owner told me that in other franchise stores, that space filled by the sign was a big television screen with animated advertising; she just didn’t have the flat screen. I loved the lighting effect and the window pane design, and I thought, “That idea could work on the back wall of the great room.”

Click! I took a picture.

That retail display inspired the custom cabinetry on the right side of our fireplace in the church.

back wall right side
You’re going to have to use your imagination for this side.

Well, we’re not quite done, but I’ve been stringing you along on the back wall of the church for a week now. My “advertising” is still in the works. The flower, mirror and adorable picture of my granddaughter are placeholders for a grouping of a dozen canvas-wrapped vacation and family photos I’m going to display there. Also, we have rope lighting hidden in there, but these photos were taken during the day. You’re just going to have to trust me. It’s going to be epic.

back wall with pantry
This angle shows the pantry (left) and the entire back wall of the great room.

Overall, we don’t have perfect symmetry on the left and right sides of the fireplace, but we wiped that out as soon as we installed the spiral staircase. We have coordination. Matchy-matchy is so yesterday’s Sears showroom anyway.

Let’s remind ourselves where we began. Oh, dear.

sanctuary before
Here’s what the back wall of the church looked like when we purchased the building.
back wall straight on
And here’s how it looks today.