One of my favourite houses from the early days of The Property Files – so far back that it doesn’t appear here on Copperline – was Providence Chapel in Wiltshire, which was extended by the previous owner (I wrote about the house when it was on the market) working with designer Jonathan Tuckey. From the soaring volume of the main living space to the extension strikingly clad in black timber, that house has stayed with me as an example of how to tackle an old chapel and do it well. I loved it in 2013, and looking at the photos again while writing this post, it remains one of my favourite houses.
Which might explain why The Chapel Rooms leapt out the screen at me while looking through the homes being marketed by The Modern House. Again this building is a 19th century chapel, and again the original chapel has been transformed and extended to create a remarkable contemporary home.
Located in the historic Suffolk village of Gislingham and close to the market town of Eye, this former chapel was redesigned by the architect Andrew Hughes working with Nest Development to create a four bedroom home with a dramatic double height living room, which takes the place of the original chapel nave. Hughes retained a number of features, including the timber choir gallery – now a study area – and giant timber doors.
The new additions are entirely sympathetic, from the simple woodburning stove to the oak parquet flooring that creates such a beautifully elegant backdrop. The chapel was extended on two sides, and again these new elements have been clad in black stained timber as a contrast to the existing red brick. I’m not sure why black timber buildings appeal to me so much but they do – C/Z House is one of my favourites from the early days of Copperline, and this choice of material and finish looks as striking here.
One extension houses the kitchen and dining area while the other accommodates the bedrooms and bathrooms. Although clearly very different, the shape of these extensions echoes the original chapel.
The kitchen is a beautiful space with handmade timber cabinetry and Carrara marble worktops – classic finishes that are detailed here in a contemporary way. I also love the use of the glass pendants in the kitchen area adding gorgeously subtle pops of colour. Underfloor heating warms the large profile tiles and extends throughout the ground level, and heating is provided via an air source heat pump.
This blend of old and new is always a balance: too much period detail in a building like this and it could feel like you’re living in a church rather than a contemporary home; too little and it could feel like a new build once inside. Hughes has achieved that balance here – in fact this is the second such conversion that the architect has worked on with Nest Development. The first, Chapel House, was recently sold by The Modern House.
Here, I love the elongated picture window in the first photo above, a contemporary addition that pours light into the former nave, but I’m also drawn to the patina of the timber detailing from the building’s past life.
I realise that I keep saying, “This has been one of my favourite houses so far this year,” and here I am again, but The Chapel Rooms offers a distinctive home with so much character and style. What do you think – would you be drawn to a voluminous living space like this? Does black timber hold the same appeal for you as it does to me?
See this property’s listing with The Modern House. All photography from The Modern House.