A Victorian church in Redcar has been remodelled into a stunning family home

PUBLISHED: 20:14 18 February 2013 | UPDATED: 22:15 26 February 2013

The kitchen

The kitchen

This former Victorian church in Redcar has been remodelled into a stunning family home. Wordsds and pipictures by: Helen Johnson

Paul Wilson didnt want to move away from his seafront home, but when his wife Debra saw the For Sale board outside a Victorian church she knew it could be the perfect family home.

The building had been wrecked by vandals to such an extent that the Wilsons had to camp out in the old church hall initially, but it was project they both wanted to take on.

It was a daunting prospect creating a family home out of a derelict former church where the windows had all be smashed and the walls were covered with graffiti but Paul and Debra knew what they were doing; he runs a painting and decorating company while she is trained in interior design.

It was Pauls interest in what he calls remodelling that convinced him to leave his home with its views over the beach. He said: As soon as I saw the inside space it was just one large hall, a vestry and an organ loft my ideas started flowing. I thought it would be interesting to try it.

Vandals had got in and lit fires, put up loads of graffiti and broken all the stained glass but just four months after they bought the church, the family were able to move in.

I have a lot of good contacts, and that helped, Paul added. Although I did a lot of the work myself, I did employ specialists. For instance, an experienced bricklayer makes it look easy, but its not. I considered doing a night course, but then I decided to employ an expert. And I asked the joiners to put up the framework, then Debra and I put up the boards, the insulation and so on.

But despite their experience and contacts they went 40 per cent over budget. That was mainly because, as we went along, I realised that I wanted to improve it to something that you couldnt normally buy, so I raised the spec, added Paul.

In order to buy the nice things they wanted, they staggered some of the works. Debra said: Vandals had broken all the windows, so the church had put in plastic ones. The plastic ones were freezing cold, but the glass ones were a lot of money, so we had to wait.

The windows were, however, one of the key features that the couple designed their new home around. Paul doesnt like conversions that cut up the windows, so all the rooms are planned around the original windows. As funds allowed, they added garages, a drive, removed the old church hall and made a garden.

Paul said: It ticks all the boxes. It has four double bedrooms, all en-suite, so there are no problems with teenagers in the shower. The locations great five minutes walk to the beach and five minutes to the town centre, but its quiet because the walls are so thick.

Theyve lived here for ten years, and have already remodelled again. The original plan created a large open plan kitchen/diner/living area upstairs on a mezzanine floor. After the first son left home, Paul says:

We converted his room to a kitchen diner downstairs, and when the second son left, we converted his room to a cinema. Meanwhile, the old family room upstairs became a luxury master bedroom suite, with a walk in storage/dressing area as well as en-suite bathroom.

And Paul added: In my work Ive seen some lovely ideas and worked
with very expensive products that you might not normally get to use, for instance hand printed wallpapers from France. That experience leads
me to know where I can use standard products, and where to invest in something special.

Everything depends on location and light. As a company, we advise most people to paint their walls white and live with it for six months, to understand how the light works.

The centrepiece of their home is the living room, lit by tall Gothic windows. It can be difficult to find the right furniture to fill such a large space, Paul said.

When the boys were young, I inherited a twelve-foot snooker table. It filled the space nicely.

And Debra added: As life changes, the house changes. We used to lean on the balcony to watch the boys playing snooker down here. When they left, we changed what we did and made a living room downstairs.

The living room is now filled with huge comfortable sofas, and Paul said:
We love the space its nice and airy.

But its got too big for us now. Our sons have left home, and its a very big house. Now we want to move to a one-bed place where they cant come back!

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