9 Great Interior Design Tips From This Converted Church Home

There can’t be many people who would be excited about a sign for sale outside a huge, neglected church. Dean Keyworth and her husband Gavin Hilton saw the disused church and decided it would make the perfect renovation project. They were looking for a second home near the coast and the church was located in a quiet village, almost as far north as possible without crossing the border into Scotland. It was 14 years ago and unfortunately things did not go as planned. Their offer was overbid and Dean and Gavin continued their search.

In 2018, the couple discovered that the church was up for sale again and had barely been touched in the meantime. “This time I wasn’t going to pass it up,” Dean said and he set about making plans and finding out what was possible given that the old church was a Grade II listed building, built in 1821. .

It turns out that with brilliance, creativity, and bravery in equal measure, a lot was possible. And the dramatic results of Dean’s Church renovation project make it one of the best homes in the world.

There is something to inspire anyone undertaking a major renovation project. However, the building’s creative makeover is full of ideas that could just as easily be transferred to smaller projects, especially for those looking for kitchen ideas.
before embarking on a refit.

Interior designer Dean Keyworth took charge of the neglected building, which he says consisted of a single huge main room with seven-meter-high ceilings and an old bathroom with a tree growing through the wall. Dean, who created Armstrong Keyworth and is a former president of the British Institute of Interior Design, has brought the old church back to life in style. He added his colorful views and quirky talking points, while retaining the essence of the original space and period elements.

We’ve picked our favorite corners from this unusual conversion. Here are some of its most inspiring design elements.

1. An old choir stall has been transformed into a mezzanine kitchen

open-plan kitchen with gray-blue cabinets and an island with an open door to a balcony and a view of the outside and red curtains

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb)

A kitchen in a choir stall – why not? We are definitely singing his praises! Looking for smart kitchen cabinet ideas? These elegant grey-blue cabinets were handcrafted by 1909 Kitchens, and Dean added the unusual distressed mirrored credenza. An island breakfast bar has also been incorporated into the project and a door opens onto a Juliet balcony to make the most of the room’s elevated position, providing great views and additional natural light. A Balangan fabric curtain by Manuel Canovas brings an additional splash of color.

2. Color has been added to a modern kitchen

open-plan kitchen on the mezzanine with a glazed balcony with coral woodwork on one wall and gray-blue furniture and a blue stove

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb)

Dean came up with a palette of burnt orange, green and caramel which he uses throughout the project and which works in both old and new parts of the building. If you’re looking for kitchen color ideas, take note: Dean’s loft kitchen is a masterclass in color blocking.

The striking tongue-and-groove paneling is painted in Craig & Rose’s Russet to contrast with the units, but to echo the downstairs dining area, while the breakfast bar’s Robert Langford chairs are upholstered Scottish leather and green Armani Casa fabric, in harmony with the palette. A glass balcony was added to the existing mezzanine, but the couple were adamant that the central space would remain as one area. “I hate to see beautiful stained glass windows cut in half with floors,” Dean says. An expert was called in to restore the windows to their original shine.

3. Embrace the origins and architecture of the building

living room with white sofas and green pouf and oriental rug with arched stained glass window behind

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb)

Dean has retained the full height of the central living space so that its original features, including stained glass windows, are in no way compromised. The framed mural is Marine Au Soleil Couchant by Papiers de Paris.

4. Create warmth in an open living room

living room with white sofas and walls and an oriental rug with a green pouf and a detailed dark wood fireplace and dark wood cabinets on either side

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb)

Dividing the central space of the property into zones has given each zone its own identity and also helps to create a more intimate and comfortable look. Of course, if you’re looking for living room ideas, you can’t go wrong grouping your sofas around a fireplace, like Dean did here. The green footstool is custom made and Dean purchased the antique cabinets on either side of the fireplace at a local auction house. The rug and fireplace were purchases at online auctions. The dark wood and gothic style of the fire surround make it the perfect choice for an old church.

5. Host formal dinners in style

formal dining table with white tablecloth and large flowers with dark wood glass cabinet and classic wall paint

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb)

While there’s room for friends around the small dining table in the loft kitchen, a more formal space like this is just perfect for entertaining a crowd. If you’re thinking of dining room ideas or reconfiguring a dining room, your starting point should be how many guests are you going to have and how often?

This mahogany dining table easily seats 14 and was a bargain at a local auctioneer. The large mural at the back of the space is India Color by Ananbo, and the orange tone was chosen in the woodwork. The couple have brought some antiques with them from London, but like to mix and match mid-century pieces and buy furniture specially, or – in the case of the huge antique library – borrow from friends.

6. Get the bedroom basics done

view from hall with artwork on walls to bedroom with gray headboard and open door

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb)

A calm gray and off-white scheme ensures the master bedroom is a relaxing retreat – essential for any bedroom idea. The headboard is covered with Reglisse by Pierre Frey. The table lamp is by Justin Van Breda. In the doorway is a treasured painting of her daughter Georgia, as well as modern art made of margarine tubs by Hani Najm.

It’s a very restful space now, but Dean has found that his plans to build a whole new floor for the master suite and guest bedroom in the attic initially gave his builder nightmares!

“Our builder was great, but to reinforce the ground enough, we needed three steels of 12 meters each,” explains Dean. “He admitted to me later that he had sleepless nights about it.”

7. Go wild with pattern and color

Vibrant patterned green bird print wallpaper and bright blue patterned headboard in bedroom with blue velvet cushion and nightstand and lamp

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb)

Sometimes when it comes to patterns, it’s best to go big. Girl Georgia’s bedroom features Charlotte Gaisford’s prints on the walls (The Countess) and headboard fabric (Tsarina). By linking the busy scheme with a calm light green hue for the woodwork, it becomes a winning combination.

8. Install a luxury bathroom

loft bathroom with white roofs, white walls and a black framed shower screen with a double sink in a green vanity unit and a comfortable blue armchair

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb)

Among the great bathroom ideas to copy from Dean’s new loft suite is a 1930s sideboard repurposed to hold double sinks. A metal grid shower screen divides the large walk-in shower.

9. Go big in a small bathroom

mudroom with classic gold architectural print wallpaper and narrow blue vanity with mirror above

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb)

The spectacular wallpaper in the downstairs bathroom is Pierre Frey’s Alleluia, which is inspired by an 1830 Gothic design and thus matches the age of the old church.

It’s easy to get discouraged from choosing a specialty wallcovering based on cost, but a little luxury goes a long way and if you find exactly the right bathroom wallpaper, as Dean has done here, then this will have a big impact even in the smallest room in the house.

Feature / Stephanie Smith

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