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A Home Close To Heaven

Architecture

Architect Mies van der Rohe famously proclaimed that ‘God is in the detail.’ This statement couldn’t be more appropriate for today’s featured home, a 1930’s brick church in Hawthorn, that has undergone a modern revamp to serve as a serene family sanctuary.

We chat with Mardi Doherty of Doherty Design Studio about drawing upon the ethereal qualities of this distinctive heritage building, to deliver a spacious, bright and cohesive family home.

1st October, 2018

‘Church House’ by Doherty Design Studio in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

The family home was originally a church built in 1933. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

A restrained colour palette and emphasis on natural light was a priority to make the home feel spacious. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

The family kitchen. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

Heavenly details! Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

Contemporary touches help bring this heritage church conversion into the present. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

Designer living spaces. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

The study. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

Incredible original details. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

The heritage value of the church presented some of the biggest challenges to the site. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

STUNNING stained glass windows! Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

Curved walls un the bedroom. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

Up in the ‘tower’! Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

The light, bright bathroom. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

Tonal tiling and finishes in the bathroom. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Jess Lillico.

Lucy Feagins
Monday 1st October 2018

The stained glass windows create a sense of spectacle in the space, while also introducing a shifting palette of bright coloured lights dancing across the walls.

When looking to relocate to a new family home, Jennifer and Grant Peck were determined to avoid purchasing anything that required renovating. This all changed when the couple inspected a 1933 brick church in Hawthorn, which required considerable rezoning and updating…but offered adequate space for their family of five, and an unconventional opportunity too good to pass up! While there was some initial trepidation, the unique appeal of this property was clear. ‘The tower was just the icing on the cake’ Jennifer says! ‘It was too hard to resist, especially with a glass of wine at sunset.’ (Sounds like a dream!).

The family engaged Doherty Design Studio to overhaul the property, with the aim of bringing natural light in the space, increasing storage, maximising ceiling heights, and allowing ‘all the amazing church features to shine.’ Designer Mardi Doherty explains, ‘the property had great spirit and character, but lacked good spatial flow and a cohesive palette.’

Mardi outlines how making the four storey home feel light and spacious was the biggest challenge, particularly in a heritage setting with limitations on what could be removed. She explains how the team took inspiration from the original function and aesthetics of the space, in combining sanctuary and tranquility, and utilised a restrained colour palette to emphasise the soft curves of the building. A sensitive and subtle approach to lighting was imperative, to make the most of the building’s existing features and distinctive forms. ‘The courtyard at night is particularly beautiful with soft decorative lighting’ says Mardi. ‘It has a rather monastic feel in its simplicity.’

The family find it impossible to pick a single favourite aspect of their home, as the whole project has been resolved in a ‘simply stunning’ outcome! Jennifer does highlight the attention to detail across the home, ‘from the light fittings to the beautiful features in the cabinetry, even down to the cord holes in the desk! Absolutely outstanding.’

Mardi describes this unconventional renovation as a transformation from a ‘quiet meditative, spiritual space’ to a site of contemporary design. For the Peck family, going to church is a daily delight.

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