We spoke to Mandy from @ourlittlechapel about the highs and lows of renovating a 19th Century chapel into a family home.
What made you fall in love with the chapel?
I saw the chapel for sale on Rightmove and instantly fell in love. I’ve known about how lovely the location is for some time and fancied the village life. It was on the market for a bit of a steal, so I had to have it! Convincing my husband that we could do a full renovation was the tough part, but he soon fell in love with it too. We had just had our first wedding anniversary and I needed a project to focus on. We entered a bidding war and finally she was ours. We got the keys in June 2018.
How are you finding the renovation process?
One word "hard." We bit off more than we could chew, and things were a lot worse than we initially thought. Things that didn't show up on surveys hit us. The original conversion from a chapel into a home, completed in the late 1980's wasn't up to current building regulations and lots more work had to be done. We moved in with no hot water or heating and a hole in the roof! Not fun at the time, but we laugh about it now!
What's been the most rewarding transformation so far?
It has to be the kitchen. The kitchen was originally three rooms, a large utility, a toilet, and a small kitchen. All damp and dark, so we knocked down the internal walls to make one big space. Then we knocked down the back wall, installed lots of very expensive steel and put in the bifold doors. It opened up that end of the chapel and made the whole downstairs open plan, with a large kitchen. We tackled the damp and installed under floor heating throughout the ground floor. The Kitchen is my favourite part of the chapel and I spend most of my time in the kitchen cooking. When covid is gone and the days are warmer, we look forward to having people over again with the bifold doors open.
ABOVE - Mandy has fitted Black Gothic Curved Lever Handles throughout.
What have you found the most challenging?
Living in a full renovation. It has to be the hardest part. If we could have afforded to live elsewhere while all the large work was done, we would have, but paying for two properties wasn't an option. Our first winter at the chapel was hard with no heating. We barely had hot water and had to go to bed in woolly hats, electric blankets and lots of layers! Never again!
Do you have any advice for those about to begin a renovation project of their own?
My advice would be to do your research! Building surveys in our experience aren't enough. We weren't prepared for the amount of work. Don't live in it, if you can live somewhere else, do it and always budget more than you think. Costs can spiral quite easily, it's good to keep an eye on the pennies.
What were your design inspirations?
I've always loved period properties, the character, the period features and the history behind them. I don't think I’d ever be happy in a new build with straight walls and close neighbours. We've tried to keep the interior fairly traditional with a little nod to the history of the place but with modern twists that work with modern life.
“ I’m so pleased with all our From the Anvil handles, hinges & door knocker. They are of real quality and will stand the test of time. ”
How did you discover From The Anvil?
I checked out the website and fell in love. I didn't want modern chrome fittings, I wanted black ironmongery throughout, especially as we still have the original iron gate by the front entrance, which was forged by a blacksmith in 1831. The gothic handles were perfect for the chapel, along with the lion door knocker which everyone comments on when they come to the nine ft tall front door.
What’s next on the to do list?
Next is the window restoration. We have ten large arched original windows. They are a little worse for wear and in need of some serious TLC. They are booked in to be fully restored at the end of march which should take a few weeks. Then, fingers crossed, we will be pretty much finished with the renovation so we can sit back and finally enjoy the chapel.
All images credit @ourlittlechapel