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Church conversion was answer to our prayers; Derelict kirk is the perfect family home peek in your pad.

Byline: Laura Davidson

Church conversions are usually pretty special with their high ceilings and feature windows.

But Tony and Sharon Kearney's house in a former kirk goes way beyond special...it's simply jaw-dropping.

When the couple bought the dilapidated church it had lain derelict for 10 years and they took five years to restore it to its former glory.

Sharon said: "When we came to view the building we were blown away by it and I think it still has that appeal today.

"It's taken a massive amount of work to get it in shape. We originally thought the work would take us six months and cost pounds 60,000.

"It actually took five years and I shudder to think of the final cost."

Sales managers Tony and Sharon, both 37, have a two-year-old son Aidan and are expecting their second baby later this month.

They're selling up to find a new home - a decision Sharon says was gut-wrenching.

She explained: "Tony and I have never stayed in a house longer than two years before this one and we've been here five years. We'll be sorry to leave, but it's time."

The former Hurlford Kirk in Crookedholm, Ayrshire, dates back to 1875. The Kearneys bought it in 2002 and started work in spring 2003 with work going on for a full 12 months before they moved in.

The finished article is stunning with a massive living space on the first floor and the bedrooms at ground level.

In the open-plan living space, there's an imposing 30ft stained glass window depicting spring, summer, autumn and winter which was created by Ayrshire artist Sadie McLellan in 1969. It gives the house its name - Four Seasons. A raised gallery runs around the perimeter of the space with staircases leading down a half level to the drawing room, family room, kitchen and dining room.

The couple have used bold colours - terracotta in the dininng room and rich coffee above the architectural archways - that work well with the exposed wooden ceilings and ornate cast iron pillars.

Sharon admits that decorating was a bit of an ordeal.

She explained: "The ceilings are 50ft high so we had to build scaffolding and use very long ladders.

"We also had all the woodwork and staircases handmade by local craftsmen then they had to be varnished. There are 537 spindles in this room and we varnished them all - with the help of Tony's mum.

"The detailing in the cast iron pillars is also picked out in gold paint - that was quite a job too." The five bedrooms are downstairs, the master suite decorated in soft creams with light oak furniture.

The family bathroom is a relaxing spatype room with mosaic tiles and a massive oval sunken tub.

The lower level is also home to the room's most unusual addition - an 8m swimming pool.

Sharon added: "The pool was a big job - there's 15 tonnes of concrete to support the weight. We love it though, and use it every day.

"I can't see our next house having a pool and we'll miss that but we're excited about where we'll move to next. We'll always be looking for something different."

We thought it would take six months to get it in shape..it actually took us five years

Housefile:

B-listed church converted to a five-bed family home with indoor pool in Crookedholm, Ayrshire. On sale for offers over pounds 425,000. Call Savills Glasgow on 0141 222 5875.

We love: The space.

We've never had a house with a floorplan this big.

The outdoor space is amazing too with views to the countryside at the back.

We'd change: We also own the adjoining church hall so if we were staying we'd start renovation work on that.

Next house: Probably a new build initially but we'd love to take on a self-build project.

CAPTION(S):

Sharon, Tony and son Aidan will be sorry to leave the converted kirk; The massive kitchen features bespoke wooden units and gorgeous granite worktops; The stunning living space with its impressive arches and columns; The 30ft stained glass that gives the house its Four Seasons name; The Kearneys use the pool every day and will be sorry to leave it; Even the bedroom furnishings echo the home's ecclesiastical past
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 20, 2008
Words:712
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