Our In-Progress At Home Painted Chapel, aka how I spent my summer vacation

by | Nov 14, 2018 | Gramblewood | 31 comments

I keep waiting to be finished with the chapel to share it here, but I keep NOT being finished with it, and I’m tired of waiting. I made a ton of progress on it over the summer, but now that the homeschool year is going and with all the conference and book launch stuff going on, not much has changed in the past month or so. It’s in a useable state now though, and I’m so happy in there. So, I figured I’d give you guys a look at it so far, and the process that got it there.

The chapel started out as an upstairs storage room off of what was the servant’s quarters in our 1920-built home. It had shiplap. And a chin up bar.

And this great cathedral ceiling. The first time we toured the house, the husband and I just knew this room needed to be a chapel.

During the major renovations on the house before we moved in, we had a period stained glass window and light fixture installed. The window features St. Anne and Mary and was from a church in England. I found it on eBay. The light fixture was from a local architectural salvage.

I liked the shiplap, and I thought at first that I’d stain it all. But I couldn’t find a color I liked. And after a lot of different tries, I went in a completely different direction . . .


Whitewash! I never would have thought I’d want to cover the natural wood color. But the woodgrain still shows through and it’s so cool and calming. It’s 100% right for the room.


But it was messy.


My first decorative painting project was the center beam of the ceiling, which I stenciled with the traditional shield symbols of the twelve apostles.


I designed and created every stencil I used in the chapel using Picmonkey and this Cricut cutting machine. The designs are cut into adhesive vinyl, then I apply, paint, and remove them.


Next up was the ceiling, which is covered in Bible quotes in English and Latin, and small medallions featuring saint and traditional Catholic symbols. You can see the vinyl stencils here.


For the two tone blue and gold look, I painted the stencils in gold first, then went back with a detail brush and added blue to the edges of the letters, then removed the stencils.




Then I painted the side walls blue, a couple shades lighter than the blue in the ceiling quotes.


Then I had to decide what to do with the floor. We had a new plywood subfloor professionally installed, back when they put in the window and light. I briefly considered tiling the floor, but I really wanted to do the work in there myself (or make my kids do it) and I don’t think cutting and installing tile is in my skill set. The original pine board floors which are in what used to be the servants’ quarters but are now the husband and my room would have been painted when the house was new. So I decided to paint the chapel floor, as a nod to that, and because I know how to paint.


Except I guess I don’t, because I primed it with wall paint, which you are definitely NOT supposed to do. It took 45 minutes to prime the floor, and two days of sanding to get it back off. Here’s me just sitting there smiling before I knew I’d have to sand it all back off.


After TONS of research into two part epoxies and Los Angeles paint-related air quality regulations, I just decided to go with good old porch and floor paint from Sherwin Williams. It’s only been down a couple months, but it’s held up very well to a lot of foot traffic.


Next, I blew up this crucifixion scene from an 1899 Missale Romanum into an eight piece stencil for the back wall.


And then created a chi rho and fleur de lis pattern stencil (this one wasn’t adhesive) because the rest of the wall looked pretty bare all of a sudden.



This is the altar wall. I’m planning to use two of these prop doors (from when our house was in an episode of the TV show Justified) to create a triptych wall featuring some art, but it’s not finished yet.


The paintings are Madonna and Child by Marianne Stokes, and Christ with the Reed by Ary Scheffer
My dad did these pews for me. They were under my friend Micaela’s parents’ porch! He split, repaired, and stained them, and then whitewashed them because I didn’t like the stain. Then I stenciled the floor with medallions of all of our family’s patron saints.



And layed down some catechism between the pews. The left side of the chapel features the mysteries of the rosary.

The right side has the Sacraments, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. It’s my attempt to recreate a little of the beautiful way that medieval churches taught the faithful through tile, paint, and stained glass.


This stunning standing crucifix was a gift to our family from the very kind people at Holyart.com. You can find it here. Both the cross and the corpus are hand carved wood. The detail is breathtaking.


The chapel is not done yet. I want to add more elements to the floor, and finish the altar wall, and there’s a closet at the entryway that I still need to decide what to do with. We haven’t had it blessed yet (not since the whole house was blessed) or had a Mass said in it. But we are finally able to use it as we’ve envisioned would be it’s usual function, as a place for private prayer and quiet reflection inside a very full and noisy house.

If you’ve got twelve minutes, you can watch the whole thing unfold in timelapse. According to the app I used, it was about 600 hours of recording time, over about two months.
Hey, speaking of time (how’s THAT for a professional segue?) only two more days to grab the the Catholic Mom Bundle this season. It’s full of lovely Advent (and other) resources, all created by Catholic Moms for Catholic Moms.*


*You don’t have to be a mom to use this bundle.

There are twenty digital items worth $246, offered for only $25, but only through November 16th.


My contribution to the bundle is an At Home Nativity Play Script booklet. And I’m offering an Advent Wreath Prayers booklet and a Christmas Novena booklet as a free bonus gift for anyone who orders the bundle through my affiliate link (for which I receive a commission). Just forward or screenshot your order confirmation to me at helpdesk@catholicallyear.com and I’ll send you the other two pdfs. Now you’re getting 22 resources!


Okay, so, the chapel . . . what do you think? What else do you think it needs in there once I get going on it again?


  1. Stephanie

    I…am…speechless. I mean really. I want to leave a comment about how you're superwoman and this is beautiful and you could have your own HGTV show and I would love to pray in this room, but…wow. This is amazing. Just wow.

    • Colleen

      Same. I am amazed with all your hard work. WHat a gift to God and your family!

    • Nita

      I have to echo Stephanie’s comment…I am in total amazement of what you have done! It is beautiful and such a labor of love. You are an inspiration to me.

    • Bridget

      I, too, am speechless. Just like entering a great cathedral, the feeling of this holy space inspires to a greater peace, a greater faith, and a greater understanding. You really do need an HGTV show! ❤️

  2. Jackie

    Just amazing beautiful!!!! Just think if those servants could see their quarters now! Sooo what about the stations of the cross? I loved the artist you found from previous post- (I’ve been wanting to do these for several years myself) were you able to find them all?

    • Kendra

      I found a set of postcards and had them shipped from Holland! Now I just have to see if I can scan them and blow them up a bit.

  3. Kristi

    Kendra, this is so amazing. I had seen some of the in-progress pics before, but it's just astounding to see how it looks now. You are so talented! Do you think one of your children might get married here one day? 🙂 I know it's small, but that idea just sounds so charming to me …

    • Kendra

      Wouldn't that be amazing? But only 20 or 30 people will fit in there, which might not accommodate even both immediate families in our circle!

  4. Unknown

    Gorgeous! That Sherwin Williams paint did wonders along with your elbow grease.

  5. Aileen

    This is just stunning. I saw all this on instagram but to see the larger pictures on a pc monitor is so much better! Lovely and beautiful and breathtaking. The Holy Spirit directed you in this for sure.

  6. Laure

    Unbelievable! Where do you get your energy and drive? (Where can I get some?) Talk about a labor of love… Just amazing!

  7. Unknown

    This is absolutely gorgeous. The way you are talking about making progress on this project reminds me of a quote I read today:

    "Let God tend to the hopeless-looking things…you can't get everything done in one day, nor can you get any part of it done as well as it could be, or even as well as you'd like it; so, like the rest of us, you putter at your job with a normal amount of energy, for a reasonable amount of time, and go to bed with the humiliating yet exhilarating knowledge that you are only a child of God and not God." – Father Walter Farrell

    Too good not to share! It especially resonated with me because I just started blogging at http://www.pollyannie.com 4 months ago and progress is slow since I only have an hour and a half to work on it each day.

    • Kendra

      What a beautiful quote!

  8. Desiree H

    I'm in total awe. Mouth hanging open. How did you make the stencils? They're gorgeous!

  9. Shelly

    Your faith resonates by your perseverance in bringing to life your vision of this chapel. Using your talents to glorify God in this way is inspiring! The beauty He has planted in you is being revealed and sharing it with others is such a gift!
    A humble suggestion for the closet…a devotional space to your/your family’s patron saint with a statue and votive candles?
    Thank you for sharing!

  10. Therese Z

    Maybe the closet could become the library of devotional materials and books.

  11. Mary-Pat

    This is extraordinary! And inspiring! I couldn't match this but maybe I can make a pretty little prayer corner somewhere.

  12. J_Bob

    An example of what one can do with a dream and perseverance.

    No words are necessary to express the design, composition & finishing you accomplished.

  13. Dawn

    Hello from Maine. The chapel is just gorgeous. Thank you for the inspiration and God Bless You All!

  14. Megan Fisher

    I’d love to be able to purchase the designs you used for your chapel. It’s so beautiful!!!!

  15. Pam Fitzgibbons

    Thanks so much!!!

  16. Jacquele Mince

    Wow its turning out great! I love the old spaces. It’s like something out of a storybook. Great setting to reflect on bigger things.

    Jackie – Paint Thoughts

  17. tierneykornet

    Hi!! Would you be willing to share/sell your chi rho and fleur de lis pattern?! I would love to do something similar in our home!!

    • Kendra

      I put it together in Cricut Design Space and cut it into plastic stencil sheets with my Cricut cutting machine, but I don’t still have the files, sorry!


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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

If you’d like to learn more about what Catholics believe and why, and to be inspired by saints from every era all over the world, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of how to teach your kids about the faith in a way that’s true, engaging, and lasts a lifetime, we can help!

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