Family of seven converts 120-year-old church into home with pews and sink font

A family of seven have converted a 1903 church into their home – and are using the pews as seats at the dining room table and the cast iron as the kitchen sink

Parents Matt and Kristen Gray, 38 and 39, were looking to move to a nearby location where their children wouldn’t have to cross busy roads to get to school.

The couple set their sights on the local church when they learned it would be moving and after several years of waiting, they finally bought it for $50,000 in December 2020.

They spent five months transforming it into a family home, painting the exterior completely black, and building four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and three half bathrooms.

They also created two offices, a workout room, a lobby, a craft room, a game room, two laundry rooms, and two TV rooms.







Matt and Kristen Gray have completed the renovation of the church house
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Picture:

Matt and Kristen Gray/SWNS)


Kristen said the best thing about living in a church was “absolutely everything.”

She added: “The slide is huge…kids laugh every time they go down!

“We’ve never had a house where all seven of us can cook in the kitchen, but here we can and we love it so much.”

Matt said the couple had “always loved” historic restoration and reuse.

“We love the cozy, Scandinavian feel of black,” he said.







Matt said he and Kristin had “always loved” historical restoration and reuse
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Picture:

Matt and Kristen Gray/SWNS)


In 2016, the family wanted to move away from their property in Troy, Ohio, USA, and be closer to their children’s school in Pleasant Hill, so they wouldn’t have to cross so many busy roads to get to school. get there.

Matt said: “We heard from the rumor mill that the church has land south of town and is looking to build a new facility.

“My wonderfully creative, but a little too creative wife, Kristen had this idea which was crazy at the time, but the idea grew.”

In just two weeks they approached the church with the idea of ​​buying the building, and after a few weeks of discussions their offer was unfortunately rejected as the timing was not right.







Matt and Kristen Gray’s church gets a makeover
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Picture:

Matt and Kristen Gray/SWNS)








After a few years of waiting for the building to become available, the couple finally bought it for $50,000 in December 2020
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Picture:

Matt and Kristen Gray/SWNS)


In their excitement, Matt and Kristen had already accepted an offer for their family home, so they moved into a “superior” one which they purchased at auction.

“We’ve thought about it every day since we first hiked it,” Kristen said.

Four years and two houses later, Pleasant Hill Church of God contacted the Grays again and told them that they had started construction on their new facility and were ready to sell.

Matt said: “I think they really liked the idea and the fact that the building would now house a new purpose and not be demolished to create a car park as previously proposed.







An aerial view of the Pleasant Hill Church of God
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Picture:

Matt and Kristen Gray/SWNS)


“In a way that only God Himself could orchestrate, the timing and financial positioning of all of the above happened in a perfectly coordinated and perfectly timed fashion.”

Using the money they had earned by increasing the equity in their two previous homes, they closed the church for $50,000 in November 2020, and a month later it held its final service.

Decorating began as soon as Matt and Kristen got the go-ahead from the village community.

They gave it a new metal roof and upgraded the plumbing and electrical, before painting the exterior black.

Matt said, “The black theme is complemented and softened by copper accents, gas lanterns, natural limestone and tactfully designed landscaping.”







The family of seven in front of their 1903 church
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Picture:

Matt and Kristen Gray/SWNS)


They also wanted to involve their five children, ages eight to 15, in designing their bedrooms and other spaces like a craft room, playroom, TV room and reading nooks.

They have also created a home schooling space as their two sons and three daughters are now taught by Kristen.

The parents also added a huge master bedroom with a soaking tub, walk-in shower, office spaces, gym, and laundry room.

In addition to these modern features, Matt and Kristen were also able to retain some of the original elements of the church to use in their design.

The benches are now used as seating in dining and homeschooling rooms, and the font used for baptisms has been repurposed as a kitchen sink.







The whole family lived inside the church during the renovations, and for the first month they didn’t have a working shower or bath.
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Picture:

Matt and Kristen Gray/SWNS)


Business entrepreneur Matt said: “Thinking of all the lives that have been transformed in that steel bathtub gives you goosebumps.

“Now it lives a slightly less glamorous life than our kitchen sink, although we’re glad it can be salvaged and put to use.

A church attendance board, which once displayed numbers in the hundreds, now sits in the steeple with a tally of seven.

They were all living inside the church during the renovations, and for the first month they had no working shower or bath.

Dad Matt said: ‘We should be planning showers at the homes of family and friends in the area.

“In the meantime, you better go to the bathroom before you go to bed, like if you wake up in the middle of the night needing to pee, you have to walk through a dark and creepy 100-year-old church to find the nearest toilet!

After five months the conversion was complete, but the family still enjoys the building being used by the community for Bible study and as a food bank.

Matt said: “This little town has a huge heart full of amazing people, we’re just trying to hold our end of this market and do things the right way.

“We like having a fun, safe, and conveniently located place.

“We can spread out and have our separate spaces, while being close to each other. We really feel like home.

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