Author's details

Date registered: February 17, 2011


A nomadic American, (former?) academic, professional dilettante, who has decided to finally settle down in a somewhat randomly chosen spot. I bought a redundant church in Germany in early 2011, and am working on making it habitable. I'm an expat, and Converting a Church is a blog, but it is not primarily an "expat blog". It is nonetheless inevitable that my perspectives will be colored by my international experiences.

Latest posts

  1. Bielefeld – Former Catholic Church — January 20, 2012
  2. Another Church Conversion: Dorset Methodist Chapel — December 16, 2011
  3. Garden planting: The Shade Corner — August 21, 2011
  4. Jugendraum Conversion, part 2: Building the Walls — August 17, 2011
  5. Garden Cuisine: Berry ice creams — August 12, 2011

Author's posts listings


Bielefeld – Former Catholic Church

Even though we’ve got our hands full with our own church conversion, I still think it’s fun to look at other redundant churches that are on the market. Exercising the imagination by considering the possibilities these other buildings offer is inspiring for our own project. Here’s one in near Bielefeld in north-central Germany. It is …

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Another Church Conversion: Dorset Methodist Chapel

I spotted this lovely conversion of a former Methodist chapel on the border of Wiltshire and Dorset on another site, and I’m reblogging it here. One can learn a lot looking at others’ church conversions.


Garden planting: The Shade Corner

With a new garden that is essentially a blank canvas, I’ve been trying my hand at garden design. This is my first project.


Jugendraum Conversion, part 2: Building the Walls

The next steps in building our new shower room upstairs involved putting in place the structure of the bathroom. We installed a new vapor barrier, had a window put in, and built the partition walls. We even did some of these things two or three times because it was so much fun the first time …

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Garden Cuisine: Berry ice creams

Our weedy little berry bushes keep producing, and this time I include a couple of recipes for ice cream using the berries I photographed for my last post on food from the garden.


Inspiration: Clerestory windows

Since we decided that we’d like some light exchange between the new bathroom and the office, I’ve been collecting photos of clerestory and transom windows that I’ve found around the ‘net. First a gallery of photos from Houzz (sorry about the annoying Ken Burns panning, I don’t have control over that). “Clerestory” originally referred to …

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Jugendraum conversion, part 1: Destruction

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been busy with building the new bathroom upstairs in the former Jugendraum, and renovating the rest of the room itself. Our initial plans can be found in this older post. We’ve had lots of new experiences, partially since we, the neophytes, decided to do some of the work …

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Garden Cuisine: Eating the fruits of weeds

A post about the simple pleasures of taking advantage of the gift of weeds. And a bit of messing around with the camera as I take a break from plastering.


Garden Cuisine: Red Currant, Sage, and Lavender Pork on Paper-thin Zucchini

Continuing the series on recipes using produce from the garden, this time taking advantage of the bounty of zucchini and red currants, and the dry astringent flavors of sage and lavender leaves. This recipe features pork, but this can be easily substituted, or even vegetarianized. Includes a link to sources of “happy meat” in Germany.


Solar Thermal Collectors

The merits as I see them of solar thermal water and heating support, and a little of our experiences getting such a system installed.


Garden Cuisine: Lemon Balm-Asparagus Risotto

Having a garden is changing my cooking style slightly. This is the first in series of posts about what I’m doing with our produce. This recipe takes advantage of the last few days of (white) asparagus season here.


YouCapture: Flowers

I’ve been having a bit of trouble with taking pictures of lobelias and other intensely blue flowers. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong, or if the chip in my camera isn’t up to snuff any more, but the very blue wavelengths just aren’t picked up properly. The lobelia photos I took all look …

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Fragrant Roses and Times Past

A search for a strongly scented rose for our front garden, focusing on Old Garden Roses.


The State and Floorplans at Purchase: The Garden/Parking Lot

Lame mathematician jokes and the things that can be done using only a hose, a pair of secateurs, and a soup spoon. And a pictorial tour of the sorry state of the garden around our church at time of purchase.


How to Get Permission to Convert a Former Sacred Building to a Home in Germany

We finally got planning permission. Since we couldn’t find a how-to for getting change-of-usage permission applications in Germany anywhere on the web, I thought I’d write one. I’ve decorated this post with images of buildings needing conversion which are currently for sale.


The Provisional Kitchen

Relatives have been expressing curiosity about our kitchen arrangement. So, as promised, here are a few photos of where we cook now. We still don’t have warm water outside the cellar, and the spot where we will ultimately install a proper kitchen is still buried under a pile of boxes, and this isn’t likely to change for another few months. In such cases, one must improvise.


The Benefits of Trimming an Overgrown Hazelnut Tree

The house came with an overgrown hazelnut tree. I found the hard work of trimming the tree gave several benefits, some unexpected. I include a recipe for cured hazelnut-smoked goose breast.


Bad-planning: Arranging the upstairs wet room

We’ve been particularly busy with planning the upstairs wet room, involving several design dilemmas. I’m including here some sketches of our solutions to those problems. The bathroom is a very small space indeed. We’ve taken some inspiration from the lilliputian bathrooms we’ve encountered at various hotels in Brussels over the years. The Belgian bath designers can fit a whole bathroom into the tiniest spaces. Ours will be about 3 m2, which is far from the smallest of the Brussels bathrooms. A Belgian would probably think we have plenty of room for a tub too.


Adventures in Brown-Thumb Gardening: Strawberry-Herb Hanging Baskets

I have a brown thumb. This has been well demonstrated to me by numerous crunchy brown houseplants. Any plant under my control generally looks vibrant and happy for a few months, and then suddenly dies. Then I give up on plants.  I tend to forget about my ineptness if I haven’t had to care for …

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Bad-planning: Small gray bathroom inspiration

via Remodelista.

We want the bathroom to be neutral colored, but not just all white and boring. Gray appeals particularly: Pretty much any color looks great with gray, including the white of the ceramic ware (unlike, say, cream). I realize that gray is a huge trend right now, and in ten years, it’ll look soooo 2011 (or 2009…). On the other hand, I did like gray in certain contexts long before this fashion started, so why not run with it? Here some examples of gray bathrooms from around the web.

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