Design Matters

When old becomes ‘in’

by Val Nehez
Posted 5/11/23

Studio IQL is located on Indian Queen Lane, in a converted church. I made an offer on it the first time I saw the building. 

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Design Matters

When old becomes ‘in’


Studio IQL is named for its address. It is located on Indian Queen Lane, in a converted United Methodist church. I made an offer on it the first time I saw the building. 

From then on, we have worked to preserve the building’s “spirit” and modernize it beautifully. The church left all of its contents when the congregation sold the building. It had been an active congregation since the Methodists built it, in 1890. The deed was a pen and ink scroll. 

There were many treasures throughout the 10,000 square feet of space. Re-using most of the furniture was an easy decision. As I write this, the rolling bookshelves made for the Sunday school hold all our design books next to my desk.

When we received a call looking for a design team to reinvent a wooden clapboard rural church in Landenberg PA, we were grateful to have the opportunity to keep another sacred space alive. The Landenberg church did have one previous resident, the artist Bernie Felch, who had made the building a fantastical artists salon and his family home in the 1970s. The property consists of rolling hills with fields, old-growth trees and many outbuildings, including a barn, carpentry studio, greenhouse and potting shed. Each of these structures is more charming than the next. The property is also studded with handmade ceramic tiles and sculptures made by Felch.

The church has a catacomb of a basement with a stone cave and aqueduct. He had his kiln there, as well as an area that held all of his glaze mixtures. 

We located the kitchen in the center nave. When our clients, Esther and Angus, suggested building a catwalk above the main room we could see the integration of old and new coming together in perfect balance. The Indian Queen Lane church and the Landenberg church both had higher than 22-foot ceilings in the main sanctuaries. In both projects, in certain areas, we opted to gain square footage by taking advantage of the ceiling height by making mezzanine spaces – which each with ceiling heights of more than eight feet. This also allows for more intimate and enclosed spaces within the large open sanctuary. 

Churches are often very symmetrical, and these two were no exception. Locating stairs then becomes a challenge to complement the structural balance. The owner’s bedroom is now located in what was once the choir loft. It has tall interior windows that face two stories of glass at the back of the building. The third floor has a bunk room and guest suite. 

This project will be featured in HBO’s show, “In with the Old”. The show features many stunning renovation projects. Keep a heads up for this Landenberg church conversion project coming up on the show in the fall. 

To learn more about the art and life of Bernie Felch, we highly recommend the book of his life’s work written by his daughter Lindsey Felch. 

This project was a joy to work on, and I was grateful to have another opportunity to work to keep another sacred space alive.

Val Nehez is the owner and principal designer at Studio IQL in East Falls, which you can find at and on Instagram at studio_iql or for smaller projects quickandlovely_design.