7 Repurposed Churches Around the World

With their stained-glass windows, vaulted ceilings, open-floor plans, and intriguing history, churches that are repurposed into homes have become more and more desirable across the globe.
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From neo-Gothic stone churches to more modest wood sanctuaries, there are numerous benefits to repurposing these buildings that may not be in use anymore. In fact, during the transformation from house of worship to private residence, the building's distinct elements are usually emphasized, allowing them to act as focal points in the design—regardless of architectural style or material. Take a look at eight projects we found where these elements speak to the building’s previous life, while also providing a bold contrast to the renovation's contemporary materials and finishes. 

In the London neighborhood of Kenmont Gardens, a brick church's stained-glass windows provide a pop of color. It contrasts with the surrounding stark white walls and black powder-coated steel spiral staircase that connects the open-plan main level of the home to the bedrooms on the upper floors.

One of the typical characteristics of a traditional church is its high, vaulted ceilings. In the Middle Ages, Gothic churches were designed to bring an aspirational eye upward. In a home, however, these high ceilings are both challenging and enchanting, making a space difficult to heat and cool—but also providing unique architectural opportunities for double-height spaces with an exposed structure.   

In London, a late-1800s brick church was converted into a single-family home by Gianna Camilotti Interiors. The church's roof structure was left exposed, while and a mezzanine was inserted into the building to take advantage of the high ceilings.

In Melbourne, Australia, Bagnato Architects converted an 1892 wood frame church into a single-family home and inserted a second-floor mezzanine that opens to the main level below. The architects selected wood stair treads and railings that echo the wood decking and trusses of the roof, but with a modern twist.

Stained glass is another feature that can be found in many historic churches, often depicting scenes or symbolic imagery set in large, arched windows. In conversion projects, the vivid colors of the stained glass are frequently highlighted by selecting more muted colors and materials. 

This church conversion in Chicago was completed by Linc Thelen Design and Scrafano Architects, and transformed a brick church into a single-family home. Arched stained-glass windows were maintained, and some panels were swapped out for clear glass.

Other original components like arched doorways and stone details can also be emphasized by contrast. By revealing stone surrounds, keystones, ribbed vaults, frescoes, and sculptures, the church’s architecture can act as artwork integrated into the existing building. 

In a converted church in Utrecht by Zecc Architecten, a softly-pointed stone archway, complete with carved figures and symbols, provides texture and character to an otherwise minimalist, white interior.

In a renovation by Estudio VilaBlanch in a historic neighborhood in Barcelona, cloisters dating from the 1600s were converted into a residence. Hand-carved stone features were left exposed and utilized as shelves, including horizontal belt courses, columns, and imposts for the vaults.

Even the original layout of a church—typically one long nave (or center aisle)—can be reworked into an open-plan kitchen and living room space. Additionally, with fewer interior partitions, sight lines from one end of the former church to the other end can stay the same, so that windows and other features remain visible from all areas.

With no interior partitions dividing up the space, one of the long side aisles of this converted 1910 brick church in Toronto, Canada, maintains the rhythm of the groin vaults, now plastered over and lit with minimalist fixtures. Light and the decorative windows (whose stained glass was removed), can be seen from opposite ends of the home.

In Kelso, Scotland, a centuries-old stone church was converted into a five-bedroom house—which you can actually rent out—where the upper floor of the church is one large, open space that houses a kitchen, dining area, living room, and game space. The open plan also allows attention to be focused on the pointed arch windows along the front facade.


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