Room of the Day: Family Congregates in Former Country Church
By Mitchell Parker
In the early 1930s, the story goes, residents of Tamalpais Valley, in the city of Mill Valley, California, got together to hand-build a new one-room nondenominational church. The Methodist Church bought the building and expanded it to include a meeting hall and Sunday-school classrooms in the 1970s. It was converted to a private residence in 2000 and purchased by Jodi Riviera.
In 2013, Riviera, husband Brian Buchanan and their four kids updated the space to reflect some of its original, hand-built charm -- but also give it a more modern feel. Just like with the original church, the awe-inspiring moments happen in the main chambers, where a newly remodeled kitchen and exposed scissor-truss ceiling would make anyone giddy enough to pull on the rope that rings the steeple bell.
AFTER: Today the main chamber remains -- now part of a busy San Francisco Bay Area neighborhood -- and is a combined living, dining and kitchen space. The additions became the bedrooms and bathrooms.
BEFORE: Previous owners had remodeled the interior, adding travertine floors and a dropped ceiling over the kitchen.
They then pushed the kitchen back a few feet and removed a wall that separated the kitchen from the entryway.
A back wall hides the kitchen pantry, refrigerator and storage from the main chambers. "Because that's the main living space, there's no separate formal living room. They're looking at the kitchen all the time every day, so we put the range forward as a showpiece and the fridge and food and not-so-attractive stuff behind it," Hollenbeck says. "Luckily, the space was large enough to do that."
[Learn more about different types of trusses]
(Countertop: pewter, Francois & Co; faucets: R.W. Atlas collection, Waterworks; floors:wood, Francois & Co; stools: Gar Products)
Buchanan is an avid cook and wanted a high-powered range and appliances. He picked a Blustar range and agreed with Hollenbeck's suggestion that it be black.
The small Hick pendants over the island came individually hung, so Hollenbeck created a custom T-bar to hang all three from.
(Pendants: Circa Lighting; T-bar:custom, Omega Lighting Design; crown molding: SF Victoriana; cabinet glass: Paige Glass Company; cabinetry hardware: Folger & Burt; LED lights: Aion; track and track heads: Hampton Bay)
(Cabinet paint: 490p, satin finish, C2 Paint; wall paint:Cloud White, flat finish, Benjamin Moore; marble range countertops, backsplash and shelves: Integrated Resource Group; countertop fabrication:Fox Marble & Granite; shelf brackets: House of Antique Hardware)
(Refrigerator, steam oven, wine fridge: Miele)
Italian folding campaign chairs from the 1940s surround an antique wood-topped dining table that rests on a new fabricated steel base.
(Wall paint: Cloud White, flat finish; trim paint: Cloud White, satin finish, both by Benjamin Moore; tabletop, base: Big Daddy Antiques)
The window with the blue cross is original to the building. The rope that hangs near it is used to pull the steeple bell. Though the bell works, it's not original to the church. The couple bought it together on a trip to Italy and had it fitted into the bell tower. The kids and their friends love to ring the bell.
Hollenbeck covered the homeowners' existing sofas in removable, washable fabric slipcovers. "With small, active children, we didn't want to make anything too precious," she says.
That idea is perfectly exemplified by the coffee table, which is a vintage Eastern European gym mat from the 1940s on a steel base. "The kids can jump back and forth from the sofas onto it without damaging it," Hollenbeck says. "It's literally a gym mat, so you can't do to it anything that hasn't been done already."
(Rug: West Elm; slipcover fabric: Romo; slipcover fabricator: Belmar Fine Custom Upholstery; pillows and drapes: custom, Andrea Santana; side tables: Big Daddy Antiques; floor lamp: Restoration Hardware; papier-mâché bulldog: SummerHouse)
The cabinets were there before but the team retrofitted them to conceal a large plasma-screen TV. The team went under the house and dug out a hole to allow the TV to be lowered into a sunken box. "It was really a fabulous solution for having a large-screen TV without looking at it all the time," Hollenbeck says.
The team reoriented the access to the front door by removing a tree and adding a garden gate that made the pedestrian entrance more obvious. A few years ago, the exterior had been painted yellow; Hollenbeck strongly recommended they go back to white.
(Exterior paint: Cloud White, Benjamin Moore)
Again, Castor changed the entrance sequence. Shaker-style cabinets keep with the simple country-church feel, while mesh adds a little industrial edge.