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

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.

This Week

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored
02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the
Lucy Feagins
  3 hours ago

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!
Lucy Feagins
  19 hours ago

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

News

Get Luxe Designer Furniture For Up To 15% Off!

Designer furniture retailer DOMO is discounting in-stock and custom items from HC28 + HC28 Cosmopolitan.
Sponsored

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

Rob Mills' Choose Your Own Adventure House

The celebrated Melbourne article opens up his Victorian Architecture Awards shortlisted home of many personalities.

Architecture

Bringing The Light Into A Heritage Cottage

A pocket-sized heritage home in Princes Hill, transformed by Tom Robertson Architects.

Architecture

A Masterful Revival Of A Gold Rush-Era House

A 150-year-old house in Melbourne's oldest suburb gets a contemporary revival by Rob Kennon architects.

This Week

TDF Design Awards

The Most Fabulous New Furniture Designs In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021

There is no shortage of innovation and inspiration from the Furniture Design finalists In The TDF + Laminex Design Awards this year!
Lucy Feagins
  19 hours ago

Architecture

A New Zealand Villa Built For Hosting

Architecture firm Maud creates a home for a family of hospitality professionals, built around a generous kitchen, outdoor room + pétanque g...
51:47

Podcast

Country Road’s Managing Director On The Stickiness Of Sustainable Fashion, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, Elle Roseby talks leading one of the country’s most iconic brands through a new age in the fashion industry....

Architecture

A Modernist-Inspired Seaside Home

This adaptable, Victorian seaside home designed by Nest Architects and Placement blurs the line between modernism and contemporary design. ...

Gardens

A WOW-Factor 'Secret Garden' In Blairgowrie

Ian Barker Gardens creates a private outdoor sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula.
02:27

Travel

A Perfect Day in Daylesford & The Macedon Ranges, With Paul Bangay

Lucy joins legendary landscape designer Paul Bangay for a dreamy day trip in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, capturing the best that the
Lucy Feagins
  3 hours ago

On The Market

A Light + Bright Beachside Home Hits The Market

This property in Sunrise Beach, Noosa is a full time home that feels like a holiday home - and it’s ready for new inhabitants!

News

Delicious New Bed Linen From A Local Fave

Melbourne-based bed linen stars, The Sheet Society, launches a moody new winter range ripe for mixing + matching.
Sponsored

Homes

A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Maddie and Mike Witter transformed a mould-ridden, dilapidated house into a bright and breezy family home for six!

Interiors

A Before-And-After Interior Renovation That’ll Knock Your Socks Off!

AMA Studio Interiors transforms a rustic, wood-panelled cottage on the NSW Central Coast into dreamy family retreat.

Interiors

A Glam ’60s-Inspired Makeover For A Drab Suburban Home

Kaiko Design transform a forgettable suburban space into a ritzy family residence, with big personality!

News

Get Luxe Designer Furniture For Up To 15% Off!

Designer furniture retailer DOMO is discounting in-stock and custom items from HC28 + HC28 Cosmopolitan.
Sponsored

Interiors

A Joyful Home, Full Of Whimsy + Glamour

Scalloped edges and vibrant colours have elevated this Sydney terrace by Arent&Pyke.

News

An Online Super Store + Subscription Service For All-Natural Goodies

GoodnessMe carries over 3,000 products from snacks to ready-made meals – with samples delivered to your door every month!
Sponsored

Interiors

11 Mirrors That Are Having A Moment!

Lauren Li's edit of her favourite mirrors out there right now, to take your space to the next level!
Lauren Li

Similar Stories

Architecture

Rob Mills' Choose Your Own Adventure House

The celebrated Melbourne article opens up his home of many personalities.

Architecture

Bringing The Light Into A Heritage Cottage

A pocket-sized heritage home in Princes Hill, transformed by Tom Robertson Architects.

Architecture

A Masterful Revival Of A Gold Rush-Era House

A 150-year-old house in Melbourne's oldest suburb gets a contemporary revival by Rob Kennon architects.

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.