A Good Old Fashioned Church Hall Revival

This past summer, I was asked to consult on the overhaul of our church hall, St. Joseph's Hall, a room that holds many great memories and has always been charming to me. When I looked at it honestly, after taking off the sentimental sunglasses we all tend to wear from time to time, it indeed needed some real help.

I have been a member of Christ Church Episcopal since I was in third grade, nearly my entire life, and I had always wondered what was beneath that dropped ceiling. The lattice and tiles must have seemed a good option to conceal a collection of maintenance woes  sometime in the 1950's, but now its time had come, and I would finally get to see the bones of the room revealed, and its secrets told--so exciting. Could there be exposed beams up there? Beaded wood detailing? You never know....with all of the expense and attention to detail given the room when it was originally built (just note the gorgeous windows), it didn't seem out of the question to me.

Alas, it all came down, and there were no beams or beads, but just a lovely, simple plaster ceiling.  And, as suspected,  the reason that the drop ceiling had been installed in the first place--lots of peeling paint, cracks, exposed lath and evidence of old roof leaks that needed to be tended to--was there to be seen, too.

I had been away on our family vacation to Maine when the demolition had started, and was blissfully unaware that the original sconces and chandeliers were being removed and thrown away.  Still frustrates me.  If I had know this was being considered, I would have swiftly stepped in and asked all involved to reconsider. If the chandeliers had been salvaged, we could have possibly made the church close to $1000 or more in the resale of those cool old mid-century fixtures, and someone else would have had the opportunity to make use of them and love them for another 60 years or so....

A second great disappointment to me was that when the wall sconces had been removed, the wiring for them was also pulled--a change that, by the time I had learned of it, was impossible to reverse given the constraints of our budget. *Sigh* The lighting plan would have to go forward without the benefits and ambience that the wall sconces would have afforded such a large room.


As things progressed, a beautiful, smooth drywall ceiling was installed covering over the flaws that had been so evident before, new wainscoting was installed, other lovely trim work was meticulously put in place, and the old radiators were exposed and given a fresh coat of paint. I looked high and low for ceiling fixtures that would suit the scale and era of the room, as well as fit within the budget. I finally settled on Rejuvenation's timeless schoolhouse pendant with the 18" Opal Schoolhouse Shade- an understated but shapely fixture of excellent quality.

Next, a color palette that would bring the room to life & make the stunning windows shine needed to be selected.

The colors I chose (MAB) were tones that I hoped would be soft, muted,  sophisticated and able to pull the intense blues in the stained glass windows forward. The wall color (SW 6239 Upward) is a grey blue with a hint of periwinkle to it to do just that. The complimentary colors (ceiling:SW 6232 Misty, trim: SW 7002 Downy) keep a tone on tone quality to the room, and add depth to the blue so that it doesn't feel like a baby boy's nursery room palette. ( I did get a call from the painter asking me about just that the day he bought the paint. "You sure about this color"....yes, I am, she said confidently....)

These images of the hall (ones I quickly snapped after church this past weekend) don't show the room as clearly as I would like....but I think they show the new life that has been brought into St. Joseph's Hall. The kids playing  (one of those hooligans is mine...:), the gleaming refinished floors, the overall character of a vintage space renewed .....there will be many years ahead of service to our community, many more friendships made and strengthened,  many more questions of faith pondered, and many more happy memories created in this space.