Sarah and Adam Fairhead Hall knew of this old church in Willunga, South Australia, having regularly visited Sarah’s sister in the town. When they learned the property was for sale, they put in an offer and crossed their fingers, and finally five months later, their offer was accepted!
The heritage listed former Church Of Christ building has a rich history, having functioned as a Masonic lodge, WWII control centre, Country Women’s Association centre and more since 1870.
‘It had been lived in by others since 1991, but no internal structure like the mezzanine was put in place,’ says Sarah. ‘When we bought it, the church was hired out as a yoga studio, for belly dancing classes and chanting, along with party hire. So A LOT has happened in this space!’ Sarah says.
The couple and their children Story, (now 12) and Arlo (8) moved into the space in 2017, initially camping in tents, while they decided how best to divide the space.
‘It had to include a swing for the kids, internal windows that could look in a main space, and leave as much full height space as possible,’ says Sarah. ‘Once we figured out the layout it was a lot easier, then we could work out how big we wanted each room and kind of made it up as we went along… Eventually we just needed walls!’
Among significant additions include north-facing windows (in place of previously bricked up niches), a new kitchen, and the mezzanine built by Adam, containing three bedrooms.
Even with some walls now in place, the house retains somewhat of a studio feel, which is continually being arranged. Sarah is the owner of styling and vintage furniture business Read&Hall, and has furnished the space to adopt a rustic feel filled with vintage signage, tableware and other treasures proudly on display against a Dulux Antique White USA backdrop. The religious backdrop above the record player was found rolled up in a shed, and is believed to have come from a church in Copenhagen.
Being a heritage structure, Sarah says there are always compromises to be made, but that all comes with the territory of living in a church! ‘It was not a house and not designed to be one. The kitchen is very long and narrow and has a door into the master bedroom!’ she says.
In future, the family hopes to expand with an addition off the kitchen, under the guidance of a state heritage appointed architect. ‘We can’t wait to get to that bit!’ says Sarah.