Home and Garden

An 1880s-Period Church Turned Trip Dwelling in Ontario – Design*Sponge

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In early 2018, art teacher Colin and his partner Matt, a banker, nested. They had completed the renovation of their Toronto loft and were thrilled to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their hard work. The second the couple looked at this converted church in Ontario’s Warkworth area, however, everything changed: “When we saw the pictures, we immediately fell in love and made an offer the day we visited the property. “

The converted church came on the market after the previous owner’s death and, as Colin and Matt soon learned, had an interesting history. It was built in 1887 in a neo-Gothic style and features a collection of stained glass windows that would cast a rainbow of light on the Anglican parishioners. It welcomed believers for almost 60 years until it closed in the late 1950s. It then stood empty for almost 15 years before it was converted into a private residence.

Before they could really start adding a chapter of their own to the structure’s history, Colin and Matt had to update the basics and make the vacation home better suited to their needs. For six months the couple shuttled between their main house and Warkworth, overseeing the installation of new plumbing, a new roof, and the addition of a bedroom and bathroom. The additions were particularly important: only by enlarging the total area of the house were the two able to accommodate all of their friends when the weather was nice.

When construction was complete, Colin and Matt decorated the 130-year-old building with three key elements that they knew they would instantly modernize: bold wallpaper, a millennial pink front door, and a matching pink bathroom. “Our goal in decorating was to keep the magic and charm that the house had on our first visit, but update it with our own details,” the two explain. The above wallpaper is in two bedrooms of the house. In the loft suite, a moody tree line enhances the feeling of standing above everything. In the guest room, an astrological tale plays over the walls.

It’s been a year and a half since Colin and Matt took over the property, and yet hardly a weekend goes by without the two of them driving an hour and a half to Warkworth. However, these days it is no longer necessary to meet with the contractor or review plans. It’s for relaxing. As the pink front doors of the church come into view, her worries (and those of the happy friends who came with her) seem to go away. – Garrett

Photography by Laurel Munro

Above: “We wanted to keep the warm space / spirit of the previous owner and decided to keep everything we found in the church for the time being. (The gilded accents) are a bit over the top – even for us – but we couldn’t bear to part with them, and now this space is designed around them! “Colin and Matt tell us.


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The Anglican Church was completed and operated as such in 1887 until it closed in 1957. It then stood empty for the next 13 years until it was bought and converted into living space. Colin and Matt are the third owners of the building.


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Matt wasn’t quite on board with the pink front door at first, but he fell in love with it over time. Proof that not being afraid to make bold design decisions can pay off.

The fact that the building should never be inhabited means that we are free from any rules when choosing the design.


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“This is probably the smallest room in the house [underwent] the greatest transformation. It was a dark and dusty closet off the living room. We replaced the old doors, painted the brick, and refurbished the floors so that it’s now a bright entrance. “- Colin and Matt


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Matt (left) and Colin (right) previously renovated their Toronto loft to “understand the stress and decision-making involved in a big project.”


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Colin and Matt had the stairs moved to give the house a better flow. They then wrapped it in disguise that was originally for the living room so that it would blend in with the room.


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The piano has been abandoned by the previous owner. None of the men are playing, but they “like the idea of having one” so they kept it and littered it with accessories.


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“What we love most about our home [is]… to be able to share it with friends and family. ‘- Colin and Matt


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The stained glass windows block a lot of natural light at certain times of the day. Without these large chandeliers, the kitchen wouldn’t be fully functional until the early afternoon.


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The two bought the holiday home a year and a half ago. “Since then we have had guests almost every weekend and hope that we can create new memories in the years to come,” the couple explains.


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To match the latest addition to the structure – which includes this guest bedroom – to match the shape of the rest of the house, Colin and Matt attached beadboard to the ceiling.


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“The bedroom addition needed something special to make it as exciting as the rest of the house. [so] We chose this wallpaper: ‘Cosmos’ by House of Hackney. “- Colin and Matt


A church from the 1880s became the vacation home in Ontario, design * Sponge


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A close up of the Hackney house wallpaper.

Don’t be afraid to make bold decisions around the house.


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In the guest bathroom, new tiles, fresh colors and fittings mix with a tub that was salvaged from another part of the house.


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Benjamin Moore “Paris Romance” covers the walls of the guest bathroom.


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This guest room is located in the loft and the Cole & Son wallpaper enhances the atmosphere in the treetops.


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The room is upstairs in the old church and overlooks the living room below.


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Colin and Matt both love the look of painted wood ceilings, but they could only bring themselves to paint one ceiling: that of their bedroom.


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Another collection of old and new works of art enlivens the room. “The large map (hanging over the bed) belonged to one of Matt’s ancestors: a Dutch explorer who used it on his expedition around the world in the 19th century.”


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Some of the church’s original windows protrude from behind the couple’s bedroom curtains. This room has a view of the kitchen.


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Colin and Matt tell us that the process of decorating their home taught them that they make a pretty good team. In order to keep the various projects on track, the couple split the tasks: Colin led the design decisions, while Matt focused on “the gardens and the more technical parts of the house”.


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The couple had these shelves built to hide the ductwork of the fireplace. Then they had to fill them. Fortunately, they came across this series of National Geographic magazines on a sale in the local community.


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The entrance to the closed porch.


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The porch recently got a paint job and is now the couple’s favorite hanging spot.


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The porch furniture all came with the house.


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REFERENCES

contractor
Kawartha Lakes construction

Outside and outside spaces
Pink Front Door – 1925 Workbench

entrance
Gold chair – cb2

kitchen
Island – Smash Salvage
Color – Benjamin Moore “Black Satin”

dining room
Abstract Art – Andrea Bolley

Guest room
Wallpaper – House of Hackney “Cosmos”

Colin and Matt’s bedroom
Color – Benjamin Moore “Chrome Green”

Lofted bedroom
Wallpaper – Cole & Son “Forest”

Guest bathroom
Painting – Benjamin Moore “Paris Romance”

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