A Dilapidated Old Church Turned Warm, Modern Home
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Name: Jehu “Hugh” Molten and dog Rupert
Location: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Size: 1,600 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, owned
All it took for Hugh Molten to consider a dilapidated old church that had been on the market for over a year was his father saying, “But Hugh, you could keep your motorcycles inside!” After that, it wasn’t long before he’d purchased the 1,600-square-foot former house of worship and began turning it into his own personal sanctuary.
“I originally had the vision to simply clean it out and live in it basically as-is; create a small shower in the corner, stainless prep tables for the kitchen and call it done,” Hugh says. But it wasn’t quite that simple—the banks wanted the space to become more conventionally homey, and with a months-long journey to get the right permits in place, Hugh had plenty of time to research and plan the home of his dreams.
During construction, community members would stop by to check out the transformation and share stories of their time at the church—first baptisms, parents or grandparents that were founding members, and ways it had touched their lives. Hugh knew the renovation had to be respectful, and the project became as much about preservation as anything else.
“I took a building that should’ve been torn down and made it into something that can stay here forever,” Hugh says. As for the cross at the top of the entry? “It was never a question, it was always going to stay. I’d like to put new glass blocks in it to freshen it up and make it stand out a bit more. It’s a part of the fabric of the neighborhood that it stay visible as a church.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Industrial/Modern
Inspiration: I lived in Cape Town, South Africa, for a bit. The homes there are all incredibly modern, but also typically open to the outdoors. I loved this! Modern is something we don’t see a lot of down South, especially in the largely historic city of Charleston. I wanted to do things differently, but I mostly just wanted to do something I would love. Since this was my first project and first home, I wanted it to be 100% me.
Favorite Element: This is a tough one! I really love the open feeling the floor plan and high ceilings provide. It has a really calming effect.
Biggest Challenge: The permitting had to be the biggest hurdle. Because the building was changing occupancy, it had to be brought up to all current building codes, including seismic. This led to the new concrete foundation, which is also the finished floor. The town of Mt. Pleasant was very helpful and a huge advocate.
Proudest DIY: I am going with two: my shower and the light fixtures! The shower because everyone said I was crazy for using steel in my shower. There was no Youtube tutorial on how to mount steel in a shower without fasteners so I had to figure it out. The light fixtures I’m proud of because they were all made by me on my living room floor. I had a tiny budget, and the best looking fixtures are so expensive and still weren’t quite right. These cost less than $5 a piece and are perfect!
Biggest Indulgence: The countertop 100%. I had to have it, though! Carrara marble has changed over the years so I waited and waited for months until I found the perfect two slabs. I still love it and would not have done it differently.
Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. Having a tiny budget to work with forced me to get creative, especially when it came time for furnishings. I had to check out all of our local salvage shops, thrift stores, Craigslist, and always had my eye out for good trash piles. There is something special about finding discarded objects and making them cool again; a modern day treasure hunt of sorts. Several of my favorite things are found objects!
PAINT & COLORS
Walls — Sherwin-Williams Supperwhite SW6995
Ceiling — Sherwin-Williams Sealskin SW 7675
Sofa — IKEA LANDSKRONA Leather Sectional
Eames Lounge — Antique
Pillows — Celadon
Coffee Table — Found with Northern Tool industrial wheels added
Coffee Table Books and Bottles — Celadon
Media Console — Ikea Stockholm TV Unit
Painting — Celadon “Face of Chanel”
Map of Africa — Antique
Ceiling Fan — Westinghouse Industrial Fan
Cowhide — Southeastern Salvage
Vanity — IKEA GODMORGON
Cabinet — IKEA
(Designed By — Hugh Molten; Styled By — Megan Ann McFarland; Thank you to my parents Richard & Helen Molten)
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