Church Renovation with SketchUp

This renovation of an old church tested the scale of human endurance for this passionate husband-and-wife team. Both had full-time jobs, and the husband aimed to build the kitchen himself by attending joinery night classes. When complete, the church would have multi-purposes, including a new home for the couple, bed-and-breakfast accommodation, and a function space for hire.


Name: Margaret Young

Occupation/Role: Kitchen Designer – MY Designs

Project Title: Divine Intervention

Brief Overview of the Project: My involvement in this project was to design a kitchen with scullery in a renovation from Church to a home/venue space for hire/bed & breakfast accommodation place. The kitchen was entered into the 2023 NKBA (NZ Kitchen & Bathroom Association) Excellence in Design Awards. It won the Visual Impact Award and also won the Southern Chapter Category. The project also featured in’s Kitchen of the Week.

Wish List:

  • Modern, minimal look – and symmetrical
  • Island positioned near the ‘altar’. Tall units where the organ once played
  • Space in the island to house the service pipes
  • Tall units to have a frame
  • Coloured sink
  • Scullery space for appliances, tea/coffee making facilities and sink.

My Role:

  • Advise on spaces required for appliances within the island, and calculate a suitable length
  • Provide plans, elevations and 3D renders
  • Advise on some appliances, sinks, benchtops and internal componentry

Design Statement

I remember vividly that wintry July afternoon in 2017 when I visited the church and met this pair of intrepid renovators who were keen to show me around. As I gingerly shuffled along scaffolding planks and climbed (un)godly heights, I tried very hard to visualise beyond the broken leadlight window panes, crumbling brickwork and a gaping hole in the roof.
Service pipes grew out of concrete slab poured soon after the clients had laboriously shovelled barrow loads of dirt to level out the original sloping floor. A framework of I-Beams was erected in place, so the stage was set to imagine how a kitchen would sit in this unique space. Both had an aptitude for design and combining old elements with new – hence the butcher’s block, set in an old wood press, made at evening class.
I would consider their tastes slightly eccentric. For example, they wanted to colour-match the island sink to the blue oven interior – timely for them that IKON had just launched their custom coloured sinks!
I added two stand-alone drawer units in the scullery – ‘mini-me’ islands positioned to be visible through the two archways leading into the area, enticing the viewer with a hint that there was more to see behind the brick wall. I added a ‘mini-me’ frame around the scullery appliance cupboard, repeating the kitchen’s framed theme.
Panels to the front-facing side of the island are sliding to access the service switches.
There were no plans for the Church which made drawing this unconventional space was more challenging.
Usually, alarm bells would ring if a client wanted to DIY their kitchen, but I felt reassured knowing he was well supported by the tutor, previously the foreman of a high-end joinery firm. He had the knowledge and the connections in the kitchen industry.
Corian was the ideal material to shape the angled legs seamlessly, leaving no visible joins whatsoever on any surface. The benchtop fabricator required further 3D-generated drawings to fully understand how the faceted surfaces were orientated.
It was quite an uplifting – almost religious – moment to finally see this finished labour of love.

Why did you choose SketchUp as your primary design tool?

I have used Sketchup to design kitchens and other joinery since 2005. In the early days the SketchUp program was installed from a CD and over the 19 years the program has evolved and kept up with the times.

What specific features or functionalities of SketchUp did you find most useful for this project?

SketchUp is easy to use and I can quickly create a 3-dimensional model and at the other end of the spectrum it also enables me to produce plans and elevations to a professional standard. The cost of SketchUp is reasonable compared with other CAD programs for drawing plans for kitchens.

Can you describe the step-by-step process you followed while using SketchUp for designing the interior space?

  • Create the walls of the space
  • Draw the benchtops
  • Create the units under the benchtops & create the tall units
  • Generate the scenes – 3D, plan, elevations & section cuts
  • Export to Layout
  • Add measurements & text in Layout

Were there any particular design iterations or revisions made possible by SketchUp that significantly influenced the final outcome?

Revisions are easily made in SketchUp and it was easy to alter/adjust the size of the angled legs on the island and ‘see’ in 3 dimensions from different views. It was also easy to make changes requested by the client during the design process and for them to choose the colour of their island benchtop.

How did SketchUp facilitate collaboration and communication among team members or stakeholders during the design process?

I have already mentioned the complicated angled legs to the island and how the different 3D views enabled them to understand how to build it – far easier than trying to figure out the angled planes from the plan and elevation alone.

Were there any unforeseen challenges that arose during the design process? If so, how did you address them with SketchUp?

No unforeseen challenges in the design process with SketchUp by my side. It has allowed me to draw & create any kitchen to the limit of my imagination.

Were there any design constraints or limitations that SketchUp helped you overcome?

Countless times SketchUp has enabled me to present concepts for clients & fabricators to grasp.

Can you share a specific example of a challenge that was successfully resolved using SketchUp?

This ‘Divine Intervention’ Church kitchen is a classic example of how useful a tool SketchUp is. The clients were able to see their kitchen in relationship to the space in the Church. The unconventional angles of the island legs of the kitchen was able to be made by the benchtop fabricators after I emailed them several images and viewpoints generated by Sketchup.

How did SketchUp contribute to achieving the desired outcome for the interior space design?

The 3D views from any viewpoint help clients who have difficulties in reading standard plans and elevations visualise the project. The detailed plans and elevations are essential for the joiners, benchtop fabricators & builders to complete the build. The drawings completed in SketchUp are also given to the flooring companies so that they can calculate, quote and order.

In what ways did SketchUp help you optimize the design for functionality, aesthetics, or other project requirements?

Colours of benchtop, joinery fronts and flooring can be added to the project. Clients can actually see their colour choices before the kitchen is built.

How did SketchUp aid in presenting the design concept to clients or stakeholders for approval or feedback?

A set of drawings generated by SketchUp is essential in a presentation. The versatility of being able to draw detailed shapes quickly and accurately can actually influence a client to choose my kitchen design over a competitor who with less professional plans.

Overall, what role did SketchUp play in the success of this interior space design project?

SketchUp has always played an essential role and this project was no different.

Do you have any additional insights or reflections on the use of SketchUp for interior design that you would like to share?

SketchUp support – THANK YOU to the Cockroft family (PROCADSYS) who have provided support over the years. From registration to technical support – I have nothing but praise and customer satisfaction. Their website is great and help videos are great.

Would you recommend SketchUp to other professionals for similar projects in the future? Why or why not?

SketchUp is an intuitive program that is easy and quick to pick up.

Ready to Try SketchUp?