This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Glen and Gabrielle Williams

Homes

When an experienced builder and property developer acquires a disused church building, and sets about converting and extending it to create his family’s dream house, the results are bound to be something pretty special.

‘The Church House’ in Brisbane is home to Glen and Gabrielle Williams and their children, Samuel and Georgia. This truly spectacular home, with sweeping views across the Brisbane River to the CBD, was designed in collaboration with architect David Hansford, and interior designer Georgia Cannon.

Our Brisbane contributor,  Jo Hoban, spoke with the team involved to get the inside story of how it all came together, with home photography by Cathy Schusler and portraits Mindi Cooke.

22nd March, 2017

The Church of Transfiguration was built in 1924 on a prominent hilltop position in Norman Park. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

The family live an active lifestyle and the tennis court cater for all sorts sports and activities. Apparently, Sam’s Grandma gives him a run for his money at tennis! Photo – Cathy Schusler.

The zinc-clad link creates a transition from the existing heritage church to the contemporary house addition. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

Views to the South across Norman Park. Hay Palissade outdoor collection furniture from Cult and beach towel designed by Stephen Mok for Row Faster George. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

First floor bedrooms look down into the living areas from a walkway above. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

View from the butler’s pantry through to the kitchen and living area. Beautiful brick facings reference the red brick church and a Cassina Tre Pezzi chair sits in the background. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

The house sits on an elevated platform with unobstructed views to the hinterland. Living spaces feel private yet open. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

Existing heritage church entry door in Norman Park, Brisbane. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

‘It was such a treat working with Glen – he was open to all of our suggestions and it was great to turn up on site and have a discussion about how each detail was going to come together with the person who was not only building it but planning on living with it – he even poured his own concrete bench top for the kitchen,’ mentions interior designer Georgia Cannon. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

The custom central stair and balustrade sit against off-form concrete Glen and his team poured on site. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

Custom shelving in the central sitting area displays artwork, ‘Two Thirds’ by Andy Harwood, and books as well as knick-knacks. Gubi Beetle lounge chair and Gubi G10 floor lamp both from Cult, Tibet floor cushion by Jardan, and Studio Twocan pots. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

A home office mezzanine and caterer’s kitchen are the only interventions within the existing church. Artwork ‘Redact 128’ by Max Presneill. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

A custom spotted-gum bedhead with built-in bedside tables sits below a louvred wall. Hand-painted pillowcases from The Vallentine project and bedding from Jardan. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

Sheer curtains provide privacy in the master ensuite without compromising Northern light and breeze through the louvred wall behind. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

The stair, looking down from the bridge link connecting the main house to the home office. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

The master bedroom flows seamlessly into the master ensuite. The whole material palette is layered throughout this space. Linen towel by Kara Rosenlund and ‘Double Happy Stool’ by Nathan Goldworthy from Cult. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

A framed view of the original entry to the church from the kitchen. The amazing, chunky, recycled timber jamb was sourced by Glen and matches the timber used in the stair treads. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

Glen and Gabrielle Willams’ son Samuel and his dog Billy enjoy the infinity-edge pool perched on the hillside. The cantilevered roof frames the church in the foreground and the Brisbane cityscape beyond. Photo – Cathy Schusler.

Sitting high on a hill in Brisbane’s inner-eastern suburb of Norman Park is a striking new iteration of an old Anglican church. Built in 1924, this property was once known as ‘The Church of Transfiguration,’ which is fitting, given the metamorphosis the heritage-listed building has recently experienced. The original church makes up part of the residence that Glen and Gabrielle Williams, their children, Samuel and Georgia, and their two dogs, have called home for just over a year.

Working in development and construction, Glen originally looked at the site of their new home for its development potential, but within five minutes he could see himself living here!  The church had been sitting empty on the 2356-square-metre block for 10 years before Glen jumped at the opportunity to purchase and regenerate the property. With wife Gabrielle, the first step involved discussing suitable form and finishes with architect, David Hansford, of DAH Architecture and interior designer, Georgia Cannon. ‘It was important to us that the theme was strong inside and out’ explains David. Between them, David and Georgia came up with a design scheme and masculine palette of finishes that resonated strongly with the owners. The resulting home is grand, angular and assertive – it’s modern, industrial aesthetic is reinforced by a considered, minimalist decorating style.

‘We basically built a new house that joins onto the heritage-listed church, with a link between the new and the old. The new house is a very modern design as we didn’t want to compete with the church – the contrast is quite striking,’ explains owner/builder, Glen. The main living section of the home is a two-storey, off-form concrete and glass extension that is linked to the old church by an above ground zinc ‘box’. The church space is used as an entertaining room (great for birthday parties) and Glen has his office on the mezzanine floor. Behind the church sits a tennis court and an infinity-edge pool that looks across the front of the property, as well as the city and mountains.

The building incorporates some impressive structural feats, including a huge cantilevered roof over the pool, and upper-level living quarters, which are hung from the roof structure over the kitchen rather than supported by columns. This has allowed for a generous open-plan living, dining and kitchen area. It’s also one of Glen’s favourite features: ‘When you’re in the living area it looks like it’s suspended in mid-air with no support – it’s very cool.’

Lending the house some serious ‘Get Smart‘ appeal, there’s also a subterranean garage, cellar and workshop, with tunnel access below the church and tennis court to the new extension!

The home suits the active family’s lifestyle to a tee – they enjoy the pool area, with its privacy and elevated views, and the tennis court, which they’ve been using for all kinds of sports. When they’re all worn out, they can plonk down in the breezy sitting area, with it’s beautiful custom-built cabinetry, and chill out with a book. ‘There is a lot to love about this house,’ says Glen. ‘It was fun to build, for both myself and my team…David and Georgia also worked very well together too; it appears we got this one right!” We concur – a truly remarkable transfiguration!

View Comments

Similar Stories

Homes

A Magical Inner City Treehouse

Fleur Glenn's Clifton Hill sanctuary designed by architect and friend, Murray Barker.

Homes

A Home Of Joy and Light, With Alex McCabe Of Kip&Co

Explore the bright, effervescent home of Alex McCabe and family.

Homes

A Home That Bridges Past And Present

A sprawling, eclectic home in regional Victoria, with its own mini pub!

This Week

News

What To Do On Your Next Summer Roadtrip

Bush Heritage Australia remind us what to consider (and what’s at stake if we don’t) as we venture outdoors.
Elle Murrell

Architecture

An Award-Winning Home, In Three Parts

The triple pavilion house design from Trias Studio in Newcastle, NSW.
Miriam McGarry
  21 hours ago

Art

This Exhibition Is A Tribute To New York Museum Wanderings

Sydney-born, New York-based artist Adriana Picker returns to her home city to unveil 'Vases from the MET' in Paddington this week.
Miriam McGarry

News

Your Chance To Eat With Julia Ostro!

Enjoy Julia Busuttil-Nishimura’s personal favourite recipes from her prolific cookbook!

Food

Lucy's Green Bean Salad With Preserved Lemon, Hazelnuts And Crème Fraîche

An easy weeknight staple, dressed up with zingy preserved lemon, creme fraiche and roasted hazelnuts for that all important crunch!
Lucy Feagins

News

Mercedes me Achieves carboNZero Certification

The Mercedes me Melbourne cafe and event space has been recognised for their ongoing commitment to sustainability.

Work Space

An Invigorating New Base For A Homegrown Success Story

Carman’s invite us to check our their fresh HQ by Ewert Leaf architects in Huntingdale, Victoria.
Elle Murrell

Architecture

A Welcoming Renovation

Tim Spicer Architects seamlessly connects old and new, in this clever extension in Shoreham, Victoria.
Miriam McGarry
  5 hours ago

The Tools I Use

The Tools I Use · Phillip Withers

We go behind-the-scenes and inside the toolkit with legendary local landscape designer, Phillip Withers!

Art

10 Unmissable Art Exhibitions of 2019

Our pick of not-to-be-missed art exhibitions for 2019, Australia wide – clear the calendar!
Miriam McGarry

Modernist Australia

A Home Where Summer Holidays Never End, And It's For Sale

A miracle confluence of premier Victorian beach town, and preeminent Victorian architect Guilford Bell, designed in 1973.
Patricia Callan

Tiny Homes

This Home Transforms Neglected Housing Stock Into Micro Luxury!

The 'tiny home' phenomenon continues... explore the Type Street Apartment from Tsai Design.
Miriam McGarry

News

The Bag Making Workshop Combining Aesthetics With Ethics

Level up and learn how to craft your own leather pouch!
Sally Tabart
  19 hours ago

Homes

A Magical Inner City Treehouse

An empty nester's brilliantly unconventional Clifton Hill home, designed by architect Murray Barker.

News

Huge Names Added To The 'All About Women' Festival

Including Michelle Obama’s former Chief of Staff!
Sally Tabart

Similar Stories

Homes

A Magical Inner City Treehouse

Fleur Glenn's Clifton Hill sanctuary designed by architect and friend, Murray Barker.

Homes

A Home Of Joy and Light, With Alex McCabe Of Kip&Co

Explore the bright, effervescent home of Alex McCabe and family.

Homes

A Home That Bridges Past And Present

A sprawling, eclectic home in regional Victoria, with its own mini pub!