Family Ties: A Converted Church Becomes Home in Vandeleur


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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Photography by Sandy MacKay
A live-edge shelf in the front foyer is handy for hanging jackets as you step into the home.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
Stairs lead down to the lower-level laundry room. The Bear is from Light House Photo Gallery.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
Glass from the church windows was reused as transoms in the interior doors, Dorothy added the patterned film. Accessible hooks and lots of shelves keep things organized in this open closet just up the stairs from the front door.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
The large island does double duty as the dining table and as an extra surface area for prepping meals. Contrasting Rococo quartz by LG Viatera adds visual interest.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
Dorothy Smith and homeowner Barb Weatherall enjoyed their collaborative partnership on this reno.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
The kitchen, with cabinets by South Gate Cabinets, is two steps up from the main entrance. Oversize subway tile is used for the backsplash that extends to the ceiling. Sunlight floods the area, aided by the new front window that gives views of the valley as you load the dishwasher. The faucet was sourced at Knights’ Home Hardware.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
Concerto quartz from The Old Barn is from Q by MSI and was used on the perimeter cabinets. A coffee station at one end keeps everyone except the cook out of the kitchen. Cabinets are painted Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
Industrial wood-topped shelves in the kitchen hold practical items and some decorative pieces sourced at Peek Through My Window.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
An original pew from the church was shortened by Mike Millard of Millard Bautista Designs and now has pride of place in the living room. Flooring throughout is Harrison Pine luxury vinyl.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
There is lots of comfortable seating in the living room, including a sofa bed from Thompson Brothers Furniture Ltd. for extra guests. Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter is used on the walls.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
Large sliding doors lead to the large deck off the living room. Two picnic tables for outdoor dining convert to benches and were made by local craftsman Allan Fawcett.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
A painting of a flower by Kim Whalen directed the colour choice in this bedroom. All bedding is from CR Designs.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
After a long day of hiking, a beautifully-made bed awaits guests in the master bedroom.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
Peeking through the sliding barn door into the bathroom, the vanity by South Gate Cabinets has lots of storage. The flowers are from Collingwood Flowers & Home Decor.

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Photography by Sandy MacKay
Bob Wilson of Wilson Solutions outfitted the closets in the bedrooms and doubled the available storage.