Selling Houses Australia

An Instagram-worthy church renovation

In the new series of Selling Houses Australia, Shaynna Blaze and Charlie Albone turn an old, derelict church into a quirky and Instagrammable holiday home.

When Sabrina and David Koetsier migrated to Australia from Amsterdam 12 years ago, they never imagined they would end up buying a small church in the middle of the South Australian bush.

After finding work in the Barossa Valley, they began to look for homes in the area and when they stumbled upon this particular church, they fell in love and bought their first Australian property.

Built in the 1890s, the former Lutheran church closed its doors in 2001, and the Koetsiers are now the second residents to live there. With big dreams of renovating the property, Sabrina and David set about modernising bits and pieces when they had the time.

But this dream came to a standstill when David seriously injured his back, and even full-time work became impossible. Sadly, Sabrina and David had no choice but to leave their church in its half-renovated state and move to Adelaide to be closer to David’s doctor.

One positive from the move is David has been able to pursue his passion for chess by opening a chess school. But paying two mortgages is another burden too heavy to bear. After seven months on the market, including two failed offers, Sabrina and David need some divine intervention to sell their church home, ideally to someone who will give it the love and appreciation it deserves.

Summary of works - Interior

Shaynna wanted to maintain the character of such an historic building, but introduce a modern twist to appeal to a broader buyer pool and the growing Airbnb market. She was keen to create an "Instagrammable" space, with plenty of quirky accessories, varied colours and eclectic textures.

Starting with the foyer, a grand tiled entrance with matching dark feature wall creates a dramatic welcome. A feature wall in the same colour at the far end of the church ties the two ends of the building together and draws the eye down to the kitchen with matching resurfaced cabinetry and sleek granite benchtops.

Just beyond the kitchen is a heavenly bathroom. The original clawfoot bathtub was resprayed in teal, and ties in with the feature wall tiles.

Much of the Koetzier’s old furniture was repainted and repurposed and used to style the house in conjunction with contemporary hire furniture. And a final unique feature is the swing constructed from a red gum tree on the property, which hangs under the loft bedroom, creating the perfect prop for guests to take photos and share on social media.

Summary of works - Exterior

Shaynna and Charlie worked together to revive the external sheds that once housed the church’s Sunday School classrooms. Once the large beehive was removed and relocated, one shed was transformed into an additional bedroom, becoming an unusual bedroom that's perfect for Airbnb guests.

Charlie painted the outside of both sheds in a wide white and stone-coloured stripe to tie into the exterior colour of the church. And a new deck connected the sheds to the church building to give the property a more cohesive feel.

The front of the church needed a clear paved pathway to the entrance, which was laid through a new garden of hearty and drought-resistant plants to give the church some much-needed street presence. The result was a garden that highlighted the church's entrance and looked as though it had been there for years - so good, in fact, that Charlie decided to take his first-ever selfie to mark the occasion.

The verdict

The homeowners Sabrina and David were thrilled with the makeover and were relieved to finally have their dreams of making over the old church a reality.

Following a big effort coordinating deliveries and trades in such a remote area, this makeover was nothing short of a miracle. After ten months on the market with no interest, the Instagram holiday home sensation finally sold for $250,000.

The new series of Selling Houses Australia continues Wednesdays at 8.30pm on Lifestyle.

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