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A Family Home in a Seaside Church in Devon: A Tuckey Design Studio Creative Reuse Project

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A Family Home in a Seaside Church in Devon: A Tuckey Design Studio Creative Reuse Project

July 1, 2024

The Old Chapel looked more like a new conference center when Tuckey Design Studio was called in to remedy things. Located on the South Devon coast in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the stone church dates from the first half of the 20th century and had been converted into living quarters in the 197os and further worked on in the 1990s. The Tuckey team’s assessment of the interventions: “the majority held no historic or architectural value.”

Specialists in sensitive, artful updates of old buildings, the London architecture firm made it their mission to reinstate “the original character of the chapel,” a sense of awe included. There’s now a soaring nave that serves as the main living space, Gothic windows, and a misty coastal palette borrowed from a J.M.W. Turner seascape.

The remodel was also designed to serve as living quarters for owners Tara and Jeremy Bowles, who bought the property as a vacation place for their family, only to decide to make it their full-time home. Join us for a tour of their exalted dwelling (and scroll to the end to see the floor plans).

Photography by James Brittain, courtesy of Tuckey Design Studio.

an old stone wall separates the brick and stucco chapel from the main road. 17
Above: An old stone wall separates the brick and stucco chapel from the main road.
the exterior looks much as it did a century ago. 18
Above: The exterior looks much as it did a century ago.
tuckey design studio fitted the entrance hall/boot room with painted wood cabin 19
Above: Tuckey Design Studio fitted the entrance hall/boot room with painted wood cabinets, oak hooks, and a floor of handmade terracotta tiles. For similar oak benches, see Another Country.
above: the main room is now unmistakably a former place of worship. &#8\2\2 20
Above: The main room is now unmistakably a former place of worship. “We echoed the timber palette typical of rural chapels, implementing wooden shutters, a plywood staircase inserted into a stone arch, and exposed slatted rafters,” explains lead architect Elena Aleksandrov. The bespoke inglenook in the center serves as a dividing wall between the living room and the dining area/kitchen, a pew-style bench, and cabinet that holds, among other things, the TV and music system. The 1827 Turner painting that inspired the custom paint colors throughout is Three Seascapes, a marine sketch at the Tate.
the gothic windows have painted wood bi fold shutters with oak trim. the wide f 21
Above: The Gothic windows have painted wood bi-fold shutters with oak trim. The wide floorboards are original, newly sanded and restored. The glazed ceramic Mag Square Coffee Table is by David Schofield for The Conran Shop—read about the design in Remodelista Reconnaissance: A Poetic, All-Purpose Little Table.

Overhead, the painted trusses and reclaimed timber boards were, notes Aleksandrov, “installed flush with exposed existing joists—with new insulation added behind.”

the chapel is set in a south devon village on the sea—the design team in 22
Above: The chapel is set in a South Devon village on the sea—the design team included an outdoor shower and surf rack.
the kitchen is tucked into the back of the main room and has band sawn cabinets 23
Above: The kitchen is tucked into the back of the main room and has band-sawn cabinets made for the space from deVol’s Sebastian Cox edition: here’s our Kitchen of the Week story on the line. The Original Stool is by Ercol, available from DWR. The glass door opens to a new terrace.
the zinc topped island is fitted with induction burners. 24
Above: The zinc-topped island is fitted with induction burners.
the aged brass pull down bridge faucet is from perrin & rowe&#8\2\17;s  25
Above: The aged brass pull-down bridge faucet is from Perrin & Rowe’s Armstrong line.
the architects tucked a mezzanine over the kitchen. the plywood staircase with  26
Above: The architects tucked a mezzanine over the kitchen. The plywood staircase with a reeded glass window rises alongside a newly exposed and repointed stone masonry arched wall—”a reminder of a wooden choir/pulpit structure,” say the architects.
the upstairs space is used as an office and extra bedroom. 27
Above: The upstairs space is used as an office and extra bedroom.
a stair of handmade terracotta tile with &#8\2\20;increased mortar joints&a 28
Above: A stair of handmade terracotta tile with “increased mortar joints” leads down to the newly designed ground-floor that, thanks to a new extension, houses four bedrooms.
the rooms all have glazed doors that open to the garden and were designed to ha 29
Above: The rooms all have glazed doors that open to the garden and were designed to have an ecclesiastical feel: “given the reduced dimension and intimate nature of the spaces, we played with a calm and muted palette that echoes the monastic character of the building,” explains Aleksandrov. Note the plaster wall niche. The bedside light is Original BTC’s Hector Small Dome Light, a longstanding Remodelista favorite.
this room opens to a new patio with handmade terracotta tiles indoors and out a 30
Above: This room opens to a new patio with handmade terracotta tiles indoors and out and a whitewashed wood brise soleil to shade the space. The midcentury metal outdoor chairs are Willy Guhl Loop designs.

Floor Plans

the main chapel now houses the living area, dining room, and kitchen, which ope 31
Above: The main chapel now houses the living area, dining room, and kitchen, which opens to a back terrace. “Tuckey Design Studio first removed the earlier additions from the 1990s and reinstated the former north entrance to the chapel as the main stair hall, allowing for a more fluid circulation throughout the whole space, and between the living spaces at first floor and bedrooms at ground floor,” write the architects.
a new attic suite was inserted over the kitchen. 32
Above: A new attic suite was inserted over the kitchen.
an addition on the ground floor enabled the architects to fit in four bedrooms  33
Above: An addition on the ground floor enabled the architects to fit in four bedrooms and baths, plus a patio garden.

More standout projects by Tuckey Design Studio:

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Frequently asked questions

Where is the Old Chapel located?

The Old Chapel is located on the South Devon coast in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Who were the architects behind the remodel of the Old Chapel?

Tuckey Design Studio, a London architecture firm, was responsible for the remodel of the Old Chapel.

What was the main goal of the remodel?

The main goal of the remodel was to reinstate the original character of the chapel, including creating a sense of awe.

Who were the owners of the Old Chapel?

The owners of the Old Chapel were Tara and Jeremy Bowles, who initially bought the property as a vacation place for their family.

What inspired the custom paint colors used throughout the remodel?

The custom paint colors were inspired by a Turner painting called Three Seascapes, a marine sketch at the Tate.

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