Posted in materials on December 17, 2014 6:39 pm EST

On-Target Interior Design

An examination of durable and resilient finishes, fixtures, furnishings and equipment for modern church interiors.

Prince Avenue Baptist Church, Bogart, Ga. — Photo © AJS Studios. Used by permission, CDH Partners.











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TAGS: design, ff&e, furniture, lighting,


By Keith Loria

It might not be what people first think about when entering a faith-based space, but the furniture and finishes say a lot about the setting and help to set up people’s expectations of what they'll find there.

"I like to know what's working for [faith-based space owners] and what's not, and based on that, I can make suggestions. It's important to actually see where the furniture will be going to help guide them correctly."

—Maureen Levy Owner, Zoom Inc., Rockville, MD

Churches usually want to create spaces that are inviting and engage people in the worship experience. They also want spaces and furniture that are representative of the ministry and its approach within the local community. According to industry experts, it is just as important that these furnishings are easy to maintain, to remove and repair."Today, spaces are being used for different events—worship, dinners, meetings, and more. This provides an opportunity for us to suggest furniture and fixtures that have a multi-use," says Paulla Shetterly, associate principal and director of interior design for CDH Partners based in Marietta, Ga. "This may mean incorporating commercial-grade furniture for durability but [furniture that] still has color, style and warmth. We also introduce durable fabrics into the spaces that are easily cleaned. We also look at their need for storage of furniture, sets for events, and even chair dollies to move furniture from one place to another."

Many churches are configuring worship spaces to serve as multi-purpose rooms, choosing padded chairs over fixed pew seating. But among those that desire more permanent worship spaces, [they may opt] for theater or auditorium seating that offers a more contemporary vibe. In addition, church committees and congregations often choose paint over wall coverings because it offers ease of maintenance and requires fewer repairs. "We look at what age groups are using each space and make furniture selections that are age-appropriate and can serve multiple uses," Shetterly continues. "We are also finding the need to include oversized furniture to provide for bariatric needs. And when it comes to seating, ergonomics [is especially] important, [as well as] maximizing seating capacity, color choices, and acoustics."

Design Phase Significance

Since most faith-based space owners can't afford to build something that meets all of their needs in one phase, it is important that flexibility is built into the program planning. This is one of several reasons that multi-purpose spaces are more and more important to those seeking to be the best stewards of every resource.

Broadmoor Baptist Church, Jackson, Miss. — Photo © Hubert Worley. Used by permission, CDH Partners.

"As designers, we listen carefully to the objective of the church leadership, and we usually attend as visitors at least once to worship with the church and see for ourselves how the space is used," Shetterly says. "We also do an extensive analysis of how each space is used." Maureen Levy, owner of Zoom Inc. in Rockville, Md., an interior design and furnishings provider, says before starting any job, she always goes to the space to discuss the possibilities. "I like to know what’s working for them and what’s not, and based on that, I can make suggestions," Levy says. "It's important to actually see where the furniture will be going to help guide them correctly."  continued >>