Real home: a bold kitchen-diner in a converted chapel

When Tina Macfarlane embarked on an adventurous chapel conversion she had a clear vision of the edgy, modern style she wanted for her new kitchen-diner

black kitchen in a converted chapel
(Image credit: Rachael Smith)

Even though Tina can’t quite remember where she first saw a ‘for sale’ advert for her converted chapel, she clearly recalls instantly falling in love with the thought of giving such an historic building a contemporary renovation.

Project notes

The owner: Tina Macfarlane, a dentist, lives here with her student daughter
The property: A three-bedroom converted chapel, originally built in the 1880s in west London
Total project cost: £26,500

Having never done something like this before, Tina called on the services of an experienced architect and builder who could transform the empty building into a welcoming home. 

‘I had the chapel completely stripped out, leaving just the roof, walls and parquet flooring intact on the ground floor,’ explains Tina. ‘It gave me a blank canvas to create exactly what I wanted within the stunning space.’ 

In addition to insulating, damp-proofing, adding several new windows and replacing the existing ones with double-glazed versions, Tina wanted a new mezzanine level for her kitchen and dining space, which would be reached
by a bespoke steel staircase. 

‘The light on the top floor is wonderful under the pitched roof,’ she explains.

Find out what she did next, then browse more real home transformations and find out how to tackle a barn, school or church conversion.

dining area in chapel conversion

 Tina found her table and chairs in a Farnham antique shop and had a large piece of glass cut to fit the table; for similar, try Dwell 

(Image credit: Rachael Smith)

Tina lived with a friend nearby during the year-long renovation of the chapel. During this time, she came across a local kitchen showroom and found units she
loved that were within her budget. 

‘I had a clear idea of the contemporary style I was after, but felt I needed help with the finer details,’ she explains. 

Kitchen designer Hylie Stretton at Imaggio Interiors took on board Tina’s ideas and helped her create a high-spec, open-plan kitchen perfectly tailored to her needs. 

My daughter and I are both fairly tall, so one of my main requests was for slightly higher work surfaces so we didn’t have to bend down all the time


dark contemporary kitchen

 Tina opted for concrete tiles over a poured concrete floor to save money. The tiles, from Concreate Flooring at Floorcraft Ltd, tie in with the texture of the large pendant lights. Walls painted in Linen Wash by Little Greene 

(Image credit: Rachael Smith)

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Hylie created two different worktop heights throughout the space; the island unit was raised so Tina wouldn’t have to stoop while washing up, but the units where the hob is situated were built a little lower to make cooking more comfortable. 

‘The worktops either side of the hob are ideal for food preparation as it’s ergonomically easier when the chopping board is a bit lower,’ says Tina. 

Another of Tina’s requirements was plenty of storage to help keep surfaces clutter-free. ‘I love the brilliant larder cupboard with its pull-out wire baskets and the double pocket door cupboard in the bank of units behind the sink,’ says Tina. 

‘The doors slide out of the way and on one side there is an extra pull-out work shelf.

storage in a dark kitchen

A small cupboard with sliding doors hides kitchen equipment out of sight  

(Image credit: Rachael Smith)

Inside there are electric sockets so I can keep my food processor, mixer and coffee machine tucked neatly away, as well as items like flour, cereal and coffee pods. It’s easy to shut everything away so the kitchen becomes a relaxed space for entertaining.

The central island, with its smart wine fridge and glass-fronted units that light up, has become Tina’s favourite feature of the new scheme. ‘As the space is so light and airy, I felt I could go for dark units and work surfaces,’ she explains.

dark kitchen diner in a chapel

Ultima Modena Horizon units in a contemporary dark wood grain have been teamed with a textured stone worktop for big hit of drama. The textured Breton pendants are from Holloways of Ludlow. For a similar wine fridge and fridge-freezer, try Smeg 

(Image credit: Rachael Smith)

Tina opted for graphite units with a subtle horizontal wood grain to complement the organic finish of the stone worktop. ‘It’s softer than quartz so I have to be careful not to scratch it, but I love its texture and that it’s not as harsh as a solid black surface,’ she adds.  

kitchen island and sink

The texture of the work surface complements elements such as the floor tiles and pendant lights 

(Image credit: Rachael Smith)

Tina admits that the process of converting the chapel has been a steep learning curve. ‘There were some unforeseen costs in the budget, but I think that’s fairly normal when you’re renovating an old building,’ she says. ‘I also didn’t realise the estimate for the conversion didn’t include VAT, and that’s very expensive.’ 

open-plan kitchen-diner in a chapel

 he vaulted roof makes the kitchen feel spacious. The bespoke metal staircase contrasts with the original church-style windows at the far end of the chapel, which flood the mezzanine level with light. The small basin has a waste disposal unit, while the large basin includes a mixer tap as well as a pull-out spray tap; for similar, try Tap Warehouse. For a similar worktop, try Mayfair Granite  

(Image credit: Rachael Smith)

I’m thrilled with the dramatic combination of dark textures and tones. I don’t think of it as a converted chapel, it’s just a wonderful, light-filled, modern home now.



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