Home Tour: An 1870 Church Converted Into A Contemporary Residential Space

You know how big upcycling is nowadays, right? The most common are clothes, but then there’s furniture too, and even orange peels as candles! What about the ultimate in upcycling? We are talking about converting an 1870 church in The Netherlands into a modern residence; a dated building conversion done right.
A couple of months ago, we featured the spectacular home of Spanish architect Roberto Bofill. He turned a massive cement factory into his home. This one we are going to talk about is more than that, or shall we say, holier than thou.


The Utrecht Catholic Parish commissioned architect Gerard Gerritsen to build a church in 1870. He was able to do it in seven months with a total cost of 25,481 Dutch florins. However, in 1889, the original tower at the front of the church was demolished because it was too heavy for the foundation.

Prior to its extensive transformation, the St. Jakobus Church located in the Dutch province of Utrecht in The Netherlands was a multi-purpose space. After it closed its doors to religious services in 1991, it was used as a concert hall and a showroom.  Since then, it has evolved into a breathtaking home!




In 2009, Zecc Architects renovated the church into a residential area while keeping the brick neo-gothic façade intact.  The project obviously required a strong vision and a lot of respect for the building’s historical importance. The union of modern and stucadoorsgothiek design styles was perfectly executed. The firm made some exemplary adjustments, but retained much of the old character of the building – both exterior and interior. The gothic windows, the rib-vault ceiling, and the transept were all enhanced, but were left in their primordial composition.


In line with its contemporary and clean interior, the aged foibles of the building were covered. The entire space is painted in immaculate white, making the stained glass windows and the artwork standout. The choice of paint is also a 360-degre turnaround from being a somber and oddly intimidating area into a bright and blithe one.



The 14-meter tall nave was put to good use by building second and third levels. Divisions are kept to a minimum due to the architect’s aim to retain the openness of the interior.outsourcesol-converted-church-the-netherlands-23 


Thomas Haukes – the genius responsible for the interior styling – did a brilliant upcycling by using the church’s pews as dining chairs! Mod seats were also placed at both ends for a good style contrast. The kitchen, like the rest of the areas, has an open floor plan. Despite the enormous space, the kitchen appliances were kept to a bare minimum, keeping only the essentials.

You think having a church as a home is interesting enough? Think again! It’s the little surprising details that make this one-of-a-kind living area an exciting one! Take for instance the artworks hanging on the wall. They are the complete opposite of what should be considered as apt for the old structure, but since it has been given a new and different distinction, the whole thing works.


The third level floor-to-ceiling white theme makes the area appear much bigger. Despite the monotony, the character of the complex is still very much evident thanks to the preserved piers and pointed arch.


The bathroom is highly modernized with nary a trace of the past except for the Gothic-style door.

In 2013, the residential church was converted into a meeting area, a photo studio, a training location, and a PR office. Its beauty and rich history will remain whatever the function of the area maybe. As long as it is cared for properly, its uniqueness and beauty will forever be valuable.

All photos are from Zecc.nl