HOMES

Family Ties: A Converted Church Becomes Home in Vandeleur

July 18, 2019 | STORY BY KRISTIN SCHNELTEN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY SANDY MACKAY

Divine intervention makes this church into a home.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of OUR HOMES Grey & Bruce Counties, p. 104. Find local businesses in our Grey Bruce directory.

 

More than 50 years ago, Morgan Weatherall’s parents donated a corner of their farm in Vandeleur to the Church of Christ, for construction of the local congregation’s new gathering place.
 
Completed in 1965, the small church was a bustling centre of activity for many years.  But, as decades passed, attendance declined. 
 
The once-full parking lot slowly dwindled to one lone vehicle, and the time finally came to close the doors for good. When the Church made the decision to sell, they reached out to Morgan and his wife, Barb, current owners of the family farm.
 
“We immediately said yes,” says Barb. Her husband’s family history and the building’s location and charm helped to make their decision an easy one.
 
Their vision for a renovation to the 1,000 sq. ft. structure was of a small home, a comfortable cottage in the country. In order to bring this vision to reality, they enlisted the help of Dorothy Smith, whose skills and knowledge had been put to the test in their recent kitchen renovation. 
 
From demolition to drywall finishing, painting, flooring, and trim, “Dorothy did nearly all of the work here. She really is amazing - she just gets everything right,” Barb gushes.
 
The renovation process, which spanned a year, began with two full months of cleaning and gutting. With multiple people working full time, the crew cleared out decades of collected clutter, furniture, and construction materials, enabling the rebuilding process to begin almost from scratch, with just the church’s envelope and basic framing remaining.
 
Barb, Morgan, and Dorothy collaborated on most of the planning. Together, they devised a floor plan that optimized the space, finding room for two bedrooms, two full baths, a sizeable kitchen and comfortable living area. 
 
The many former church pews are now scattered about the region, as they were sold one by one during the renovation. Just a single pew remains, although in a shortened form, thanks to Mike Millard at Millard Bautista Designs.
 
Although the couple purchased the building and undertook renovations solely as an investment property, Barb says, “I really made it as if I was going to live here.” Moving into the space would mean downsizing quite a bit from their current home, but the primary loss would be her treasured gardens. Fortunately she was able to bring her eye for detail to the church property, filling the nooks and crannies with personal touches and extra amenities. 
 
Barb thoroughly enjoyed the process of appointing each room with anything a guest might need during their stay. As one guest noted, “She really hasn’t missed a thing!”
 
Envisioning the final product, designing the space, working with a multitude of contractors, making decisions - the entire process was a pleasure for Barb. Especially working with Dorothy. “We really did have an awful lot of fun,” says Barb. “It’s easy when you have an amazing support team.”
 
 

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