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Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?

Episode 3

$99,000
Converting a Two-Hundred Year Old Church into a Dream Home!

c. 1782  Granville, NY

The sign outside says it all: this incredible cheap old house was built as the First Church in the town of Granville, NY—the Colored Slate Capital of the World!! It hosted a number of different congregations over its 200+ years until it was left to quietly fade into the background. Just outside Granville village proper, the church and adjacent cottage enjoy a stunning bucolic backdrop. Inside? A huge sanctuary of 2,000 uninterrupted square feet!

Enter: Cristiana and Nick! Finding this couple a house was one of the most challenging assignments yet, for two reasons: first, Cristiana is part of the family! She was Employee #1 at CIRCA, the company that pre-dated Cheap Old Houses and which still today celebrates old houses on the market at all price points across the country! And second, Cristiana has long dreamed not just for a cheap old house but for a non-traditional building — a school, a church, you name it! — to convert into a home. Thanks goodness for fearless partners like Nick, who was there to support the dream and, in the end, would agree that a “normal” house just wouldn’t be right for them!

The one directive Nick and Cristiana gave us and our lead designer, Jennifer Salvemini, was to celebrate the space. There would be no subdividing or building out of traditional rooms — might as well buy a traditional house! These homeowners wanted the space to stay big and open, and we were absolutely on board for that.

Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?

Episode 3

$99,000
Converting a Two-Hundred Year Old Church into a Dream Home!

c. 1782  • Granville, NY

The sign outside says it all: this incredible cheap old house was built as the First Church in the town of Granville, NY—the Colored Slate Capital of the World!! It hosted a number of different congregations over its 200+ years until it was left to quietly fade into the background. Just outside Granville village proper, the church and adjacent cottage enjoy a stunning bucolic backdrop. Inside? A huge sanctuary of 2,000 uninterrupted square feet!

Enter: Cristiana and Nick! Finding this couple a house was one of the most challenging assignments yet, for two reasons: first, Cristiana is part of the family! She was Employee #1 at CIRCA, the company that pre-dated Cheap Old Houses and which still today celebrates old houses on the market at all price points across the country! And second, Cristiana has long dreamed not just for a cheap old house but for a non-traditional building — a school, a church, you name it! — to convert into a home. Thanks goodness for fearless partners like Nick, who was there to support the dream and, in the end, would agree that a “normal” house just wouldn’t be right for them!

The one directive Nick and Cristiana gave us and our lead designer, Jennifer Salvemini, was to celebrate the space. There would be no subdividing or building out of traditional rooms — might as well buy a traditional house! These homeowners wanted the space to stay big and open, and we were absolutely on board for that.

Color can be incredibly powerful, and especially here where a shift away from pure white is a signal that this is no longer a church but that the building is entering a new phase as a private home. Working with our friend and architectural designer Scott Reed on the exterior paint plan for Cristiana and Nick’s home was an exercise in recalling materials of a bygone era — in this instance, the brownstone so beloved by the Victorians who renovated the church in the 1870s, adding the decorative elements we see today.

Working with Dunn-Edwards, we created a rich color story that accentuated the architecture of the building itself, and allowed for just enough attention to the bits of Victorian flourish. This photo of the church at night is one of our absolute favorites! There’s something truly spiritual about the way it glows at this hour.

The After

A big space with a big mystery: what could be hiding behind a ceiling that had been covered over — and quite crudely, at that — in plaster and stucco? THIS!

Lack of climate control in the church over the years had let to peeling and flaking away of the top-most layer allowing for glimmers of what awaiting underneath to shine through. Revealing this ceiling was a risk, as we had no idea what we might find underneath. The gamble was worth it as soon as we saw the eye-popping geometric mural! For now, just revealing it is a huge step forward for Cristiana and Nick.

The giant (and we mean, giant!) chandelier from Authentic Designs in Rupert, VT is one that we have had our eyes on for as long as we can remember. But we’ve never found a space large enough to do it justice! Thank you, Cristiana and Nick, for allowing us the chance to show the world how beautiful this company’s light fixtures really are.

We absolutely adore how the ruinous nature of the ceiling juxtaposes with the perfect symmetry and streamlined nature of the church design. Someday, down the road and with some pennies saved, Cristiana and Nick might want to fully restore it. In the meantime, we’re thrilled with the way it turned out!

Designing for such a large space can be daunting. The task at hand for our design team was to take these 2,000 uninterrupted square feet and create zones that felt like a home: a library, a games area, a sitting area, a dining space, etc.

It’s hard to believe that where this stunning kitchen now stands, there was not too long ago a giant hole in the floor! Repairing this element and setting the stage for a new kitchen was so exciting, and allowed for a special mix of vintage and new. Rather than spend thousands for a standard kitchen island, we found an old general store counter at an antique shop and had it cleaned up and customized for less than half the cost. To invoke the stunning Slate Valley where Granville is located, we sourced beautiful slate countertops (of course!). We worked with AjMadison to source these elegant SMEG Portofino appliances and suddenly, it all came together.

The People

Our Team

Our deepest gratitude to architectural designer and fellow champion of old houses, Scott Reed, for his invaluable insight and guidance on so many aspects of honoring this building’s era and history. Thank you to the tiny-but-mighty design and build team, lead by interior designer Jennifer Salvemini, who collaborated with us to restore the firehouse while celebrating its history and character.

It takes a village, and we’re so fortunate to work with a team of preservation-minded contractors, designers, fabricators, and more to achieve our vision.

Design & Build

Kent Hansen
Hansen Complete Remodeling
General Contractor

Brian Crabb and Ruth Storc
Design Producers

David Figueroa
Build Producer

Edin of Edo’s Home Renos
Painting

James Waterhouse
Jack of All Trades

Production & Filming

Ann Lewis Roberts, Jenny Daly,
Jon Beyer, and Bill Gaudsmith

Executive Producers

Phil DePietro
Line Producer

Steve Bowler
Supervising Producer

Cory Dross
Director of Photography

Mike Spencer
Audio Mixer

Kathryn Zavistak, Alex Nam, Greg Corwin,
Carlos Escoto, Kirk Murray, and Dan Tivin

Editors

Nick Batchelder, Paul Celello,
Owen Goldstoff, and Alec Wright

Production Assistants

Amy Goodfriend-Nussbaum
Clearance Supervisor

Kelly Taylor
Post Production Coordinator

Victoria Chiaro Snyder
Executive in Charge of Production

Erika Smith
Supervising Story Producer

Ann Marie Lizzi
Segment Producer

Bill Keller
Camera Operator

Tori Dunn
DIT

Kurtis Endreson
Production Manager

Jon Earnest, Kevin Lowe,
and Sam Rubin

Story Producers

Andi Nunez
Post Production Supervisor

Gregory McClintock and Goga Sordia
Assistant Editors

Elizabeth Stephenson
Associate Producer

Brand Partners

With our sincere thanks to our incredible partners:

Dunn-Edwards + Dunn-Edwards DURA
Paint

Authentic Designs
Exterior light + dining room chandelier

SMEG from AjMadison
Appliances

Fine & Dandy Co.
Interior mural

Arena Cabinets
Kitchen cabinets

Kaiyo
Interior furnishings

AptDeco
Interior furnishings

Schoolhouse
Interior furnishings

Spoonflower
Fabric

Jafri Rugs
Rugs

The Before

A peeling ceiling, a massive hole in the floor — this old church was a bit intimidating at first. But once we started to patch it up and expose more and more of the original character, we were emboldened to keep going!

… and finally, the chipping popcorn on the ceiling that started it all. The rest is history!

More From This Episode
  • Outfitting a Room with Secondhand Furniture

    The biggest challenge in restoring the church for Cristiana + Nick was figuring out how to furnish the space with beautiful pieces that match the scale and grandeur of the space while also being extremely affordable, considering all the restoration work that was necessary to do and would eat through the budget completely....

  • The Chandelier that Stole the Show in Nick + Cristiana’s Church

    What's more daunting than turning a firehouse — later a Town Hall and court — into a welcoming home? Turning its warren of municipal offices into a spacious, functional kitchen! READY, SET... It's before + after time!...

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