CUSTOM MADE: Linc Thelen’s Church Conversion

Most people consider their professions to be a big part of their identity. But for someone like Linc Thelen, who jumps from fine artist to furniture maker to carpenter to architect to interior designer to cabinetmaker to project manager on the daily, it’s a little hard to explain their job for a five second sound bite. All the hats he wears do, however, work together to craft unique, thoughtful, progressive (and impressive) spaces.
_DSC4312Take Linc’s recent project in the Little Italy neighborhood of Chicago. It’s a Methodist church he converted for a family of five, taking it back to the studs and opening up the attic to the ground floor to bathe the open concept living/dining/kitchen area in light. The historical architecture is beautifully juxtaposed by the minimalist modern-meets-industrial interiors vibe. “My main goal,” says Linc, “was to uncover the jewels of the architecture. Once I did that, I realized that we pretty much had to custom-make everything for it to work with the scale.”_DSC8161So Linc customized the lighting, cabinetry and much of the furniture, including the sofa in the family room (which happens to be an Interior Define CRAWFORD sectional). The family room posed a few challenges in terms of space planning and furniture arrangement. It was narrow—only 12’—but very long. There was a doorless entryway on either side of a large fireplace partition wall, meaning that the sofa could not block the passageway as people were making their way from one room to the next. Therefore, getting the precise dimensions for the piece was important, since every inch mattered. Also, the design had to sit low and not be too deep, otherwise it would take up too large a footprint in the space and the scale would not feel right in the room.


“My vision was a lower, modern but comfortable L-shaped piece,” says Linc. “It was pretty clear which one would work, and the CRAWFORD’s open arm option was nice—it allowed for an uninterrupted flow for the room. The family loves it—and now that family room is the coziest room in the house.”


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