I'm excited to share something a little different with you today. This is our other home - The Town - our new church building that opened just a few weeks ago. Our church family has been portable and meeting in a school for nine years. Can you believe that? Nine years of setting up the nurseries and tearing them down. Nine years of setting up the band and the stage and tearing it down, bringing in trailers and loading it all back up. Every Sunday, over 450 times.
There is no way I can adequately express what this building means to us, as a place to gather, a place to rest, a place to worship and a place to serve others.
I had the privilege of being a very small part of it all by helping to design a few things as well as make the finish selections throughout the building. I'll be doing lots of DIY projects in this building over the next few years so I thought it might be fun to have more content to share with you all that is a little different from what I normally share. I love seeing before and afters and watching projects evolve, so stay tuned for updates to watch this one unfold.
And here's another reason to share: As I was planning and working on the building I found that there wasn't as much church design inspiration out there as there is home design inspo (I mean, of course there wouldn't be). But I thought I'd lend my help to that situation and post and pin our journey for any other people out there who might be designing or building a church, or trying to update and beautify their worship spaces.
The Gathering Space
For the initial opening of the building I focused on the gathering space - it's the first thing you see when you walk in the doors so the building team decided that this was the area we needed to work on first. We built an industrial building and I wanted to make sure to infuse some warmth into the space. To me, warmth means texture, a touch of warmer tones (usually by means of wood elements), and a little bit of history to ground the space. One of the historical elements I used were some old steel windows. Changes had been made to the original architectural plans when we had to steal some square footage from the gathering space in order to make our pastors' work spaces. And because of this I wanted to keep an open feeling by incorporating a pair of giant steel windows on the shared office/gathering space wall.
The windows serve several functions - bringing light into the office as well as reflecting some light back into the gathering space, breaking up the long stretches of huge walls, and also lending a sense of history to a new space. The windows were from an old school in Ohio and I will share more about how I cleaned and prepped them for install another time. I have plans for a cafe space here that will evolve over time as budget allows, but for now there are some furniture items from our home and a few inexpensive pieces I put here as a place holder and a place to sit.
Another way I brought some warmth into the space was with texture - namely the 25ft tall 11ft wide fireplace. We kept costs down by using a brick tile (thin, cement brick veneer) instead of traditional clay brick. Using mortar instead of grout at the finish really upped the authenticity factor. As you can see, the next project here is to tile the inset, which is still cement board at the moment. I've selected a Victorian subway tile (small and narrow) and I'll share more on that later.
The DIY project I have already shared a little bit about on my IG page is the 2 pairs of antique doors that provide entry into the sanctuary. They were actually from the Old Executive Building in DC (from the 1870's) and getting them fit and ready to hang was a huge project that took many weeks and lots of help. But the finished doors bring a lovely presence to the room and fit nicely with the color of the fireplace. I imagine brides entering through them, and so bringing that sense of elegance to the industrial vibe for special occasions was really important to me.
We have some fun plans for the children's wing, but for now, all that was in the budget was the wall directing traffic to that side of the building. I wrapped a drywall pilaster in stained plywood boards and created a faux pilaster on the right hand side to frame the signage. A vinyl wall decal that I designed was a budget friendly and easy way to accomplish the goal here. I blended the wall color into the edges of the vinyl to hide the transition.
It's all a work in progress- and will be for a few years - but oh how far we've come! I created a short video of the gathering space progress so far - I apologize in advance for the vertical IG Story angles. I hadn't been planning to make a video out of it, only to use it on social media, but here it is anyway if you want to see some moving pictures.
I can't wait to watch our gathering space continue to unfold and evolve!