This Washington State Home Was Once a 19th-Century Church

church home tour kitchen sink detail

Lisa Staton is no stranger to making a house a home, but when the Washington-based interior designer agreed to her latest project halfway through the renovation phase, she was tasked with a unique challenge: To transform a 19th-century church into a residence for a contemporary couple.

Nestled between acres of lush farmland and the Pacific Ocean, the Chapel House served as a Catholic church from its erection in 1890 to 1970. Since then, the 2,410 square-foot building evolved into a daycare center, teacher's residence, and finally, a home to a modern duo. Since one of her clients, Marianna DeHart, is an artist, Staton refers to herself as the editor and expert to an already inspiring project. "This meant the process for us was a bit different—more organic, but still deeply collaborative and passionate for our team," she shares. "Working with an artist meant we approached it in a less formal fashion: less drafting [and fewer] formal presentations by our firm. Instead, we collaborated more naturally as the job progressed."

Between requesting more mockups to finding the perfect craftsperson to accomplish a uniquely challenging task, this project was unconventional in almost every way. "This more organic approach requires patience on everyone's part. You could argue it goes against the more linear approach to renovating that is bounded by time and budget," Staton adds. "As construction work unfolded, more answers and ideas revealed themselves and we adjusted together accordingly." But, with clean bones to honor the structure's rich history and layered interiors, the Chapel House proves that even the most unconventional spaces can be transformed into a beautiful, welcoming home.

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Experiment with Textures

church home tour entryway

When working on the Chapel House, interior designer Lisa Staton, along with one of her clients, Marianna DeHart, wanted to pepper the home with modern touches without rewriting the structure's rich history. To do so, the designer mastered the balance with textures. In the entryway—which once comprised the church's vestibule, nave, and confessional—she and Dehart opted for dark ceramic tiles to give the space a warm feel; they kept the distressed wood beam the once separated the vestibule from the nave. Rounding out the foyer is a tactile curtain on the front door, which gives the residents some privacy.

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Updated Edge

church home tour mudroom

Don't let its storied demeanor fool you: The Chapel House is full of high-tech touches. Case in point? The structure's mudroom. Though this half of the room, seen here, is decked out with a traditional bench seat and recycled wooden details, the opposing side features an app-enabled sauna that creates a variety of lighting scenes.

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Flexible Floor Plan

church home tour floor plan

The silver lining to transforming a church into a home? The layout was easy to manipulate and could be modified to cater to the clients' needs. In the present-day great room, which consists of the kitchen, dining room, and living room, the raised altar now acts as a studio for DeHart. "It meant ultimately that the final product felt so authentic to them," Staton shares of these subtle changes. To keep the space's flexibility front and center, Staton coated all the interior walls in Farrow & Ball's Wimborne White.

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Mix and Match

church home tour kitchen

A kitchen might be the stomach of any space, but in the Chapel House, it's a perfect example of melding old and new elements. Here, Staton painted the accompanying cabinets in Farrow & Ball's Downpipe, a dark gray that changes hue throughout the day. An alluring brass backsplash offers some warmth, while the kitchen's modern appliances keep the space up to date. But, the kitchen's pièce de résistance? The triple halo light over the island, which ties into the church heritage.

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Décor with a Story

church home tour living room with stove

In the living area, which boasts the church's original eight-foot-tall arched windows, neutral walls create a soothing ambience; its curated pieces offer plenty of intrigue. Anchoring the area is a matte black fireplace, which was sourced at a local shop. "I loved the clean lines and that it's open on three sides," DeHart shares. "The tall stove pipe was done to balance out the tall arched windows on both sides." Other highlights include custom upholstered furniture as well as a Chinese altar, sourced by a friend on a recent trip abroad.

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Let the Light In

church home tour art studio

Perhaps the most innovative use of the church's old bones lies in the art studio, which is located two steps above the main floor, where the altar once was. Since good lighting can make or break a masterpiece, Staton and her clients renovated this nook with an artist's priorities in mind. Though the original space had a five-foot-wide door opening and steps leading down to the garden, the final product now features a 10-foot-wide opening with three-foot-wide double-large window panel doors. The doors open onto a large terrace, which expands the living area—and lets the light in.

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Beauty Sleep

church home tour bedroom

While the main floor features many of the structure's original details, DeHart's personal quarters were gutted to the studs. In its place? A new staircase, primary bedroom, walk-in closet, and primary bathroom. During the modernization, however, Staton and her clients worked in some traditional touches to speak to the ethos of the place. An inlaid teak screen from India acts as a demi-wall and headboard, separating the centrally located bed from the rest of the room.

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Room with a View

church home tour exterior with balcony

Rounding out the main bedroom are 10-foot-wide sliding glass doors, which open out to a balcony with an awe-inspiring view.

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church home tour exterior balcony chair

The cantilevered outdoor space is clad in recycled vintage barn wood, which pays homage to the farmland and barn structures across the way.

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Time Traveled Treatment

church home tour bathroom sink

Though the Chapel House dates back to the 19th century, the main bathroom proves that this structure can transcend time. The new build offered the perfect blank canvas for standout features such as a 17th-century French vessel, 200-year-old Japanese table, and a faucet from a nearby 1920s farmhouse.

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Patina, Please

church home tour shower and tub

The finishing touch? Modern tiling with just the right amount of patina, bridging the gap between antiquity and modernity.

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Farmhouse Flair

church home tour fire pit and yard

Since the home is surrounded by farmland, it was only natural to have robust outdoor spaces. With a designated fire pit, two rustic sheds, and lavender woven throughout, the exterior celebrates the great outdoors in all its glory.

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