There’s really only one way to describe this restored eighteenth century church-turned-residential property, and that is – heavenly!
Step inside the foyer and you’ll immediately feel at home: the entire design was intended to create a warm, welcoming space. The soaring ceilings, wide-plank original wood flooring, and bright, natural light seeping through the stained glass windows all enhance its awe-inspiring yet approachable aesthetic. The home is also very sensitive to its surroundings: the expansive windows showcase the beautiful farm country surrounding the property and show its harmony with natural surroundings. But it wasn’t always this way – this home’s journey from an 1800’s Methodist Church to a beautifully updated modern home was a careful, long-term labour of love. From the moment owners Tony and Marsha saw the the building, she had a vision for it. “It was really an emotional response – I just knew,” she admits with a smile. “It had always been on my bucket list to do something like this.”
When they originally purchased the property, it had already been converted to a residential home, but in such a way that it covered over the original architecture. From the beginning, Marsha considered the process to be a restoration rather than a renovation; removing some of the distractions to enhance the original features. “We were very sympathetic to the original design,” she explained. “We kept and recycled as much as we could and retained a lot of the other features. A number of the walls that had been added weren’t structural, so we could open it up and make the space do what we needed it to do.”
Of course, this was no easy task. Tony and Marsha approached the task with a team of local professionals. “We’ve lived out here for twenty years and know a lot of young people; lots of highly skilled tradespeople,” says Marsha. “Our son-in-law is an amazing contractor, so his assistance was invaluable throughout the process. The brick and stone work was completed by Jason and Trevor Van Kessel of Van Kessel Masonry. Plumbing revisions were completed by Kavenaugh Plumbing, and the designer was Terri Koks of Design Your Space.
The renovation process took nearly a year, beginning in April with Tony and Marsha moving in just before Christmas, although the lower level had not been fully finished yet. Following the completion of the building’s restoration, they also created a book detailing the before-and-after process of the home; a priceless keepsake to reminisce over their hard work and dedication.
The changes were extensive, and involved a lot of vision and pre-planning. From retaining the original flooring to the repainting of the exterior; the goal throughout the process was to enhance the original structure and complement the beautiful country setting. There were a number of tasks required to make this happen; from cosmetic to infrastructural, including removing the buckthorn outside the property, adjusting the framing, repairing all of the brick and stone under the windows and around the basement, redoing the septic system, adding high density foam insulation, forced air gas heating, air conditioning, a built-in speaker system, CAT3 and TV outlets, energy efficient LED lighting, a steel roof, and plumbing with radiant heat in the lower level. “The great thing about the house is that it has all of the charm of a century building with none of the inconveniences,” explains Marsha. “No drafts, no difficulty staying warm, and it’s very well insulated.”
Other preparatory tasks included removing 70’s panelling and painstakingly removing, restoring, and reinstalling original wainscotting & flooring features. The exposed beams are part of the original structure that were highlighted, rather than hidden, and the space was opened up to allow for the original architecture to shine through.
One of the biggest surprises throughout the renovation process was the discovery of the archway, which had previously been covered over. There was no big window, and no hint as to the presence of the arch prior to the removal of the panelling “When we found the archway, it changed the design of the whole house,” explains Marsha.
Now, the open concept kitchen space, with its stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, island and inner-archway lighting is one of the many highlights of the home. “The walk-in kitchen pantry and the sink space overlooking the view of the fields from the North are a few of my favourite spots,” says Marsha. On a good day, she notes, you can actually see Lake Simcoe from here as well.
A cozy open-concept family room with fireplace and a main floor master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom and walk-in closet round out the main level. The windows were carefully restored by local artist Clark Matheson, intending to retain the same feel as the originals without the drafts. Upstairs, the loft area offers a flexible living space option. While it is currently configured as an office space with a sitting area and ensuite bath, it could easily be adjusted. “We designed it to be open but to have the ability to close into two bedrooms or function as a second master bedroom,” says Marsha.
The bright lower level feels like anything but a ‘basement’ – with its walkout to the patio, bright, full-size windows, two bedrooms, wet bar space, living room, and washroom; it’s beautiful, functional, and carefully designed to maximize every piece of the living space.
The outdoor patio is another highlight: with its great views of the lot & surrounding land, covered patio & hot tub; it provides a great place to read, relax, or entertain. A detached 2 car garage and loft helps with the property’s storage options.
While the flexible living space, easy maintenance, and stunning interior are all draws to the home, Tony and Marsha are hoping that the future owners will love the space just as much as they do. “The new owners will have to be someone who loves the feeling of space indoors and outdoors; someone who’s not a interested in a cookie cutter home and likes things that are a little more different; more interesting,” muses Marsha. “The space is really flexible so it could suit a lot of different people…we just hope that it’s purchased by someone who really loves it.”
If you find yourself scrolling through and suffering through an acute case of home envy – there’s hope! This home is currently on the market and available for a new owner; If you think this glorious piece of heaven in the country might be the right fit for you, visit the full listing here!
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Amy is a communications associate for PropertyGuys.com Durham Region and contributor for Welcome Mat.