We’ve been speaking with the lovely Mandy of @ourlittlechapel about her beautiful home and life living in a Chapel.
Mandy lives with her husband Dave, Dave’s 16 year old daughter Elisha (who comes to stay half of the time) and their two dogs.
“We adore our little dogs, Doggy Dave and Barbara. I had Doggy Dave before I met human Dave which can be somewhat confusing!”
Dave is from Cannock in the West Midlands and moved to the East Midlands after college while Mandy, originally from Torquay in Devon, made the move 15 years ago.
Mandy works as a finance director and Dave works in wealth management. In their spare time (alongside renovating their home) they enjoy going on holiday and socialising with friends and family.
“We love a cheeky holiday, before covid came along that is! We also love to have friends over and entertain.”
After being married for just a year, Dave caved into Mandy’s dream of renovating an old building and they bought the Chapel.
The Chapel had come to the market a couple of years before Mandy and Dave purchased it, but it was overpriced and not realistic for them.
“The Chapel was repossessed and finally became affordable to us, so we entered into a bidding war and fortunately we were able to secure the property.”
“When we bought the Chapel in June 2018, we thought we’d have a few months to get some serious building work done before we moved in, but that wasn’t to be.”
After selling their previous property within 24 hours, Mandy and Dave moved into the Chapel in August 2018 while there were still missing walls and no heating.
“Despite an expensive survey, the Chapel turned out to be in a lot worse condition than we originally thought and a little buyer’s remorse set in, but we got on with it!”
Given the condition of the property, their first winter in the Chapel was somewhat of a challenge.
“For some unknown reason, a week before Christmas we decided to take out the back wall in order to fit the steel for the bifold doors. Then bifolds themselves were not fitted until just after Christmas, that was certainly a cold one!”
Being a history lover, Mandy was keen to learn more about the Chapel.
“We discovered that the chapel was built in 1831 at a cost of £120, we wished that’s what we had paid for it!”
In 1878/79 a small extension was built to account for all of the worshipers who came to the village, however this has since been knocked down and now forms a beautiful courtyard garden.
“The chapel was built for the newly formed Wesleyan faith to honour John Wesley, which we now know as the Methodist faith.”
After being used locally for many years, the Chapel was eventually sold and converted into a private residence in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s.
“Originally, covenants said that the chapel must not be used for barn dances or the consumption of alcohol, which made us laugh as we love a boozy party!”
When the pair began the renovation they discovered damp and no real foundations and so they were forced to carry out major work right away.
“We installed underfloor heating which has been one of the best decisions we ever made considering the Chapel has thin windows, no cavity walls and no insulation.”
They also made the decision early on to create an open plan living space downstairs, since becoming Mandy’s favourite room of the house.
When thinking of taking on a renovation project it is essential to do your homework, collect surveys, speak to tradesmen and plan financially.
“These things inevitably cost more money than you’ve budgeted for, so always have a contingency plan!”
Living within the renovation has been without doubt the biggest challenge for Mandy and Dave.
“We remember the three of us and our two dogs living in one bedroom with no heating and a microwave for making food, we even ended up washing dishes in the bath!”
Mandy was quick to say that if they were ever to take on a renovation project again, they wouldn’t live in the property whilst the work is being carried out.
“My advice to others considering a renovation would be don’t! Only joking, it’s been a fabulous experience and to actually sit back and think ‘we did that’ is a wonderful feeling.”
The couple feel especially proud of what they have created and designed, picking every detail from door handles to the layout.
“Looking back, it was all worth it as we adore the village that the Chapel is in, especially as the local people made us feel so welcome.”
Situated in rural Nottinghamshire, Kinoulton is a small village located around 25 minutes South-East of Nottingham City Centre.
“The people in the village always stopped us to congratulate us on buying the Chapel, I think they were just grateful that there was someone crazy enough to take it on and prevent it from falling into ruin.”
Mandy has always loved interiors and continues to use Instagram for inspiration and ideas.
“I like to think that the Chapel is a mix of modern and vintage styles, giving a bit of a nod to the history of the property with the exposed brickwork and original features.”
Mandy started @ourlittlechapel to document their renovation, but never had dreamt that over 18,000 people (and counting) would be so interested in following their journey.
“Dave thinks I’m mad, taking pictures of everything all the time!”
“Originally, the plan was to have the Chapel valued, put it on the market and move on.”
The longer Mandy and Dave live at the Chapel, the more they fall in love with it.
“The Chapel offers such a unique and lovely living experience, and thankfully no ghosts!”
“We feel like our generation’s custodians of the building and hopefully we’ll stay here for a very long time.”