Kim Bazemore has an artist’s eye. An investor’s hunch. And a general contractor’s grit. Taken together, she’s exactly the kind of person who could walk into a century-old Traverse City church—one whose run-down inner core had been chopped into a dingy, boxy maze of makeshift rooms—and see nothing but potential. “I saw it as open and contemporary,” she says. “And I wanted to keep it simple.”

So, acting as her own general contractor, Bazemore, an artist and jewelry designer, gathered a team of renovating visionaries—local architect Sherry Petersen, local builder Uriah Petersen, and Bazemore’s business partner, Ted Thomas, a Northport native who has renovated and rehabilitated old community buildings in Chicago.

The first step in the crew’s plan? Redo the basement—Bazemore would live downstairs while the main floor underwent renovations. Then the gutting began. As the inner walls on the main floor came down, sunlight streamed through old church windows, bouncing from floor to ceiling and igniting the space in light. To make the most of the natural light, the builders pulled up the beige carpet and installed a light mix of beech, ash and maple flooring, and painted the remaining walls white.

“I knew it was going to be a big, white box,” says Bazemore, so to retain a spare but not sterile look, the design relied on architectural elements and limited amounts of bold color to add texture and visual interest to the central living area. The high, arched ceiling was laid with pine tongue-and-groove slats. White oak beams criss-cross the vaulted ceiling space. A loft was constructed—modest in size and with low, open sides. Bazemore connected it to the open main floor with a red steel spiral staircase—the steps and curved handrail are made of bird’s-eye maple.

To enliven the open central space, the kitchen cabinets, all ash, were stained green: lime for upper cupboards; olive for lower. A rippled laminate forms the backsplash behind the sink. The kitchen space is delineated by a narrow island and counter—no doors or walls. In fact, the only interior door in the central space is a large sliding door of corrugated aluminum. It is the entry to Bazemore’s bedroom, which also provides the only interior wall in the central living area. The wall curves in a gracious arc to complement the arched ceiling overhead.

Just one year after buying the house, Bazemore’s renovations were complete. Though the resulting home had come a long way from its early days as the Traverse City Pilgrim Holiness Church, its renewal—open, airy and filled with light—also brought the home back to where it started. “It’s a great space to be in,” she says. “It’s holy.”

Lynda Twardowski is assistant editor of Northern Home & Cottage.

Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski