Two Photographers Turned an Old Church into an Incredibly Cool, One-of-a-Kind Home

published Jun 2, 2023

Two Photographers Turned an Old Church into an Incredibly Cool, One-of-a-Kind Home

published Jun 2, 2023
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“When turning a church into a home, there are endless challenges. From rezoning the property, figuring out economical ways to heat, updating old fixtures and appliances,” begins photographer Nikki Ross, who has turned this church into an incredible home with her fiancé, photographer and director Matt Barnes. “Really just the transformation of a cold institutional building into a beautiful, warm home.” 

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Ever since purchasing the church (which was originally built in 1891) seven years ago, the couple has been working on renovations nearly every day. “It is truly an ongoing project. We have had our friends and family all be a part of each step and help along the way. With such a huge project we take it step by step and work on one room at a time,” Nikki writes. Some of those steps have included ripping out the stapled-down, 30-year-old church carpet. Turning the choir loft into a bedroom. Even demolishing the previous kitchen themselves with a “sledge hammer in each hand.” They’ve truly done nearly all the work themselves, from painting, to construction, to even landscaping. And although they’ve accomplished a lot, the whole home is still a work in progress. “Right now our next project is putting in a new main bathroom and a garage for our old cars,” Nikki writes.

Nikki describes her design style as inspired by “adventure, nature, tradition, sports, skateboarding, and nautical prep,” whereas “Matt’s style is a crazy mix of childhood dreams, old lithographs, pop art, religion and spirituality, hot rods, and monsters.” The result of them combing their styles is not just a church turned into a home — it’s a church turned into a incredibly creative, one-of-a-kind home that’s like no other! There’s a trampoline, a jukebox, even a slide in their space. “As two excited artists, our main concerns at the beginning were the cosmetic fixes like painting and decorating. Looking back it would have been much smarter, and perhaps a little more boring, to start with the practical fixes such as heat, water, electrical, and insulation,” Nikki writes.

Credit: Nikki Ross

“Learning to do things ourselves has saved a ton of money in the long run,” Nikki explains. “Even if we have had to try them twice and fix our mistakes, it has taught us so much about our building and how to maintain it.”


Credit: Nikki Ross


  • Collection of Victorian photographs sourced from antique stores far and wide
  • Matt’s 1930s 12K Hollywood Spotlight retrofitted into a chandelier
  • Eero Aarnio Ball Chair repainted gold metal flake with a dark blue velvet interior
  • 1930s cigarette machine 
  • Curtis neon clock 
Credit: Nikki Ross


  • A mix of vintage wool rugs + Ruggable rugs!
  • 1948 Rock-Ola magic glow jukebox 
  • Front end of a 1957 Ford Fairlane
  • A ticket booth prop from Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” 
  • Vintage 1970s pin ball machines 
  • 100-year-old lithographs – Thurston and George Magicians
  • 100-year-old French lithograph titled, “Mistinguett”
  • Altec Lansing Voice of the Theatre speakers
  • 1950s soap box derby car
  • 1960s Montreal Expo barber pole 
Credit: Nikki Ross


  • Custom-made wood dining table, legs are cast iron Facebook Marketplace find and the butcher block top is from timeless materials 
  • The Psychic reader neon sign is a Christmas gift Nikki gave to Matt last year 
Credit: Nikki Ross


  • Nikki’s proud collection of vintage green pennants sourced from all over.
Credit: Nikki Ross


  • Reglor lamps 
  • Calder lithograph 
  • Educational human body torso 
  • McIntosh stereo 
  • Crosley radio 
  • Black ocean globes
  • Land Rover Lego 

This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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