When artists Lissa and Andrew Barnum bought the building it was very rundown and in much need of renovation. It wasn't set up for a home – basically it was a dull hall with a false ceiling masking the cathedral ceiling beneath, old floors and tatty walls. They were attracted to its spirituality, its wide Tasmanian hardwood floorboards, the rambling garden and its sheer potential. They were undaunted by the mammoth renovation task that lay ahead of them.
How they renovated
Lissa and Andrew's first step was to make the building habitable. They ripped out the windows and turned the grotty public toilets into a roomy, white-tiled bathroom with painted stonework, a decorative mirror and feature tiles in the shape of a cross.
The kitchen living area was separated from the large open-plan, main body of the church and separated by a glass dividing wall with cupboards underneath the dining/storage area. The kitchen was organised in one line and opens to the living area.
Every door and most of the tables in the house are recycled. Lissa and Andrew are both attracted to discarded items and trawled the local second hand shops, recycled yards and auctions to find items to suit their home, which is in an old Sydney suburb.
Although the house seems to be filled with colour, most of the walls are actually white. The bright colours are to be found on the skirting boards or window frames and introduced as cushions, throws, paintings and ornaments. Lissa was inspired by the bright colours of her Mexican childhood. The house is a beautiful array of turquoises, bold pinks, white, reds, blues and greens. She says colour is fundamental to how you feel about an environment. It affects mood.
There is a playroom off the kitchen for their daughter Cayenne. The doors are bright pink and the walls are turquoise. Cayenne is not happy with the turquoise and much prefers pink! It's full of toys, traditional dolls, pictures and personal objects.
They tried to create the feeling of calm and relaxation upstairs. Andrew and Lissa's bedroom is white with a painting, by Lissa, of a blue angel. It's airy, light and feels very peaceful, calm and relaxing. There are some personal dolls, traditional donkeys and some artwork but the room is far sparser. Off the bedroom is a little library, another little nook that you can escape to within an open space. It looks down onto the room below.
Cayenne's bedroom is anything but calm! It's a chaotic mass of bright toys, colourful paintings, furry animals, books, dolls' house, rugs and fabrics. The bedroom has in internal window, which looks down to the dining area below.
There's another bathroom upstairs. Lissa says she believes marriages work best with two bathrooms! This one includes tiles that were brought back from Mexico including a snake-tile design in the shower.