30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30

 

Well folks, that BIG OLD birthday is just six months away. In September, I’ll be turning 30. If I’m being honest, I don’t really have too many feelings about this one. Turning 28 was hard for me, as it signified the start of my late twenties. Additionally, it was all around just a pretty trying year. Thirty feels fresh. In a lot of ways, I still feel 18 and maybe always will - but I also feel much older. I have always felt a little bit more mature than my age suggests, so maybe I welcome 30 as my official “you made it.” This is where you belong. This is where you will thrive.

I’ve learned a lot in these last 30 years - certainly more than one could ever put in a blog post. I know that there’s still so much that I don’t know, but here’s what I do. I wanted to share those learning with you all - and perhaps my younger self - as a reminder than we are all fumbling through this thing called life…together.

Michelle Gage // 30 Things I Learned Before Turning 30

On Happiness

1. How to be genuinely happy for others. For me, this came at a point when I was truly happy with my own life. After I achieved some of the successes I was fighting for, I realized that someone else’s triumphs don’t diminish yours. I have a great bunch of supportive women in my life and even if we’re in the same industry, we still cheerlead each other. Being happy for someone else doesn’t take from you. It fills you up. A few years back, everyone was in an uproar when James Franco, an actor and not yet an author, got a book deal - but he didn’t get YOUR book deal. James Franco got HIS book deal. There’s enough out there for everyone. 

2. It’s ok to say no. It’s also ok if saying no disappoints people. You can only focus on your own happiness. Saying no to one thing leaves you room to say yes to something else you really want.

3. Stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Still working on this. Kacey Musgraves has a great song on this, appropriately called Happy & Sad.

4. Unfollow anyone on social media that makes you feel badly about yourself.

5. Don’t dwell in your mistakes for too long. Life is short. Forgive yourself and move on.

6. It’s okay to be unsure about having kids.

7. What you think of yourself is not only more important than the opinion of others, it’s all that truly matters at the end of the day.

8. Life isn’t fair. There are always going to be people who struck a better deal, but also those who have it way worse. There are people really suffering out there. Be grateful for what you do have.

9. You can create a life you want. Just because you were one thing before doesn’t mean you’re just that now - but never forget where you came from. You can change, but you can’t change others.

10. The sooner you learn that your happiness is something you work on every day - and not just a goal to hit and have forever - the better off you’ll be. 

On Relationships (non-romantic)

11. You don’t have to jump when someone tells you to. Everyone has different priorities in life; don’t let others make theirs yours. 

12. Don’t make accommodations for those who wouldn’t give you the same consideration. I spent far too long working my schedule around what worked for clients and friends, getting little consideration in return. It’s ok to make gym appointments with yourself - and keep them! Be cautious with your time but also show up for the people who show up for you. If your friends fly in from Australia for your wedding, you drive six hours to their baby shower.

13. Ignore the noise. If there’s someone or something negative in your life, block it out. You choose what you allow into your life. If it disrupts your peace it isn’t worth it. This could mean ending a friendship, firing a client or taking a month off of social media.

14. Stand up for yourself. My biggest regrets come from times that I left the situation feeling taken advantage of.

15. Once you reach a point where you have what others want, they’re going to come running with their hands out; be selective about who you answer the door for. This is a lesson I learned the hard way. I always want to help and share and offer advice, but have been burned many times in the past by people who have less than fair motives. Just because someone is asking doesn’t mean you have to answer. There’s a fine line between being nice and being a doormat. 

16. Friendships built on a tearing others down are not built to last.

17. Realize that everyone has people who love them in their life, so treat everyone with respect. Even if you don’t, someone somewhere cares for them.

18. It’s ok to not have a big group of girlfriends. Having a few great friends is better and a bunch of mediocre ones.

19. It’s cool to be kind. We’re all huge weirdos anyway. 

20. Not everyone is going to get you. Hold tight to the people who really see you.

On Work

21. Work isn’t everything. This one is especially hard when you’re in the entrepreneur grind, but you need to take breaks. You don’t get points for being the busiest. I’m tired of hearing about the hustle. Sure, it’s inevitable in the beginning that there will be long hours, but get out of that rhythm as soon as you can or you’ll burn out.

22. It’s really satisfying to prove people wrong - but also great to prove them right. What I mean is, it’s great to do what others say you can’t but even better when you aren’t surprising those supportive people around your that always believe you could.

23. Create a supportive community around you. Delete the drama. 

24. Mistakes are only mistakes if you don’t learn from them.

25. I used to think that successful people had it all figured out and they were these superior beings - like they unlocked some sort of key to happiness and wealth. But wealth doesn’t necessarily bring you happiness and successful people, in most cases, really just figured out that there are no shortcuts to success and don’t ever really feel like they’ve made it. On the other side of hard work is just more hard work. Truly successful people just get up every time they’ve been knocked down.

26. Never underestimate the intern; we all started somewhere.

27. Don’t reply to scary emails until you’re ready. Really think about what you want to say and only reply when you’re in the right frame of mind to give a thoughtful response.

28. If your talents are being wasted in the wrong role, it’s ok to leave it. Find your fit and place value on yourself even if others don’t. Everyone has their own objectives and idea of “who you are.”

29. There are some things other people are better at doing. It’s worth your time to pay them so you can focus on your strengths. 

30. The smartest kids in high school aren't always the most successful in their adult life. Street smarts count more than book smarts. It’s all about making the best out of what talents you’re given.

xX. Here’s to 30! See you in September.

 

Our Round Two Renovations - Design Ideas from KBIS

 

As promised from the last KBIS post, I’m back with another one.

The first post was getting a little too long for my liking, but I still have SO MUCH to share about what I saw at KBIS.

I was totally inspired by all of the saturated colors at the show. You might be thinking that a kitchen and bath show would be pretty boring, maybe a little too white - and you’d be wrong. There were shocking and bold colors in nearly every booth I visited. We’re talking cabinets that were turquoise, Kelly green and mulberry in tone. The timing of the trip was pretty aligned with our house plans for the year, so the planner in me was super excited about that!

So let’s jump right in where we left off with the last post - how does what I saw at KBIS tie into my own home renovations?

Michelle Gage // Our Round Two Renovations - Design Ideas from KBIS
Michelle Gage // Our Round Two Renovations - Design Ideas from KBIS

The Kitchen

Yep, we’re working on another kitchen renovation, starting this spring. I wasn’t kidding when I said that the timing of KBIS worked out perfectly with our renovation plans. Luckily, after my visit to the show, I feel pretty confident about the design decisions I made prior to visiting Vegas.

What did I have planned for the kitchen makeover? Well, first and foremost, colored cabinets were a MUST. In our last kitchen, we stuck with all white shaker cabinets. While beautiful, I’m craving color - and some insets! The image you see above, of the Wellborne booth, pretty much captures the shade of blue/green/grey I was considering for the space. The exact color is TBD, but white uppers were also a part of the plan (I thiiiiink…). While I’ve been contemplating keeping things simple with a classic white subway tile, Alex is calling me out for playing it safe (something I’m not really known for)…so we’ll see where we wind up there when the time comes. I do love how soft this space is; the kitchen feels almost like an old French pastry shop, but with a modern twist.

Michelle Gage // Our Round Two Renovations - Design Ideas from KBIS

As far as technology goes, Alex is the sole coffee drinker or the home and has been eyeing this Thermador coffee machine. It’s fixed into the wall and you can actually tell it to brew you your favorite cup of Joe. Alex is all about integrating our home with voice technology and this baby hooks up to your Alexa. While Thermador was touring us around their booth, I texted Alex about this with glee…I think he may have the hots for this coffee maker. ;)

Off of the kitchen, we’re planning on outfitting our existing mudroom. Currently, it’s a dingy space with very little function. We have plans to spruce it up, though it will likely be comprised of only a built in bench/cubby. There isn’t a ton of room there and I may just let Alex “have his way” with the custom woodworking design.

Michelle Gage // Our Round Two Renovations - Design Ideas from KBIS
Michelle Gage // Our Round Two Renovations - Design Ideas from KBIS
Michelle Gage // Our Round Two Renovations - Design Ideas from KBIS

The Butlers Pantry

In case you weren’t aware, our home does already have a bulters pantry present. Sure, it may be a bit of a disaster at the moment, but it’s our little disaster! The BP is one of the main reasons we were attracted to the house. While I rarely drink, I have always wanted a mixing station, loaded with personality, for entertaining. In truth, before I visited KBIS, I thought I had the whole space designed. Then, I saw THIS and began to rethink everything! Can you blame me? This PHENOMENAL design by Ann Sacks literally took my breath away. I have no clue how much it costs - and likely can’t swing this exact look - but I am beginning to rethink my design ideas for this space.

Originally, I planned for the space to have shocking teal colored cabinets. Now, I’m questioning if I even need cabinets. Do I just work in some fabulous stone and tile combination? Either way, I think a brass sink could be in the cards! This beauty above is from Thompson Traders, who makes so many stunning metalwork sinks. Their designs just SCREAM “ULTIMATE BUTLERS PANTRY” to me. The company is owned by one fierce female too - which I’m all about!

The Laundry Room

Let me start off my saying that I fully freaked the EFFF out when I saw The LG Styler. I was in the audience for a discussion on new innovations at KBIS, with an emphasis on smart technology. Let me tell you, this little baby is about as smart as things get. Are you ready for this? It’s an at home dry cleaning solution - and it could not have launched at a better time. We’re currently in the early planning stages for our laundry room and you can bet your bottom dollar that we’re sneaking this baby into the design. I am a self-proclaimed neat freak, which means that I am commonly found by our washing machine. Currently, our washer and dryer are awkwardly living in the entrance to the kitchen. We have grand plans to bring both units upstairs, by transforming two closets into a small laundry room. It might be the project that I am most excited for.

Anyway, The LG Styler…it’s basically a dream come true for anyone who finds themselves spending far too much time running to the dry cleaner, hand washing sweaters, ignoring their “needs ironing” pile or constantly dealing with dog bedding. It’s a sleek steamer that doesn’t require a water hook up. You simply place your clothes inside “the closet” and let this little bundle of joy do the rest. I kid you not, I’m GEEKING OUT!

Michelle Gage // Our Round Two Renovations - Design Ideas from KBIS

Another feature we want to incorporate into the laundry room is a doggie shower. It might be tight, but we’re hoping to include a walk-in dog washing station. We have two adorable pups who hate bath time. If we could make that task quicker, we’d welcome the chance to have less smelly dogs in the home. The laundry room you see above is a good bit larger than what we have planned (and features many more cabinets than we can), but we’re hoping ours will have the similar functions. All in all, I’m excited to create a space that encourages cleanliness. ;)

Additionally, we’re looking to incorporate some sort of dog bowl drawer into one of these rooms we’re renovating. Since the laundry room is leaving the first floor, it likely won’t be that space, however, we may be able to find a home for it in the kitchen or adjoining mudroom. Well done, Wellborne, your thoughtful and functional designs have me swooning.

*** A BIG THANK YOU to all of these wonderful vendors for taking the time to tour me around your booths. It was such a joy to be able to hear about each brand first hand. A SUPER MAJOR THANK YOU to Sarah, Florence and Veronika at Modenus for extending this wonderful opportunity to me. They planned the whole dang trip and (despite some pesky flight cancellations that they had no control over ;) ) it went off without a hitch! Not only did I get an all-expense paid trip to KBIS, but I also met some of the sweetest designers in the industry, who became fast friends. I was lovely to travel with such a lively and enthusiast bunch. Oftentimes, as solo designers, we can be stuck in our own little bubble - but anytime I get the chance to step further into the design industry, I’m reminded of how blessed I feel to have chosen this career.

I’d love to know what y’all think about our renovation plans for 2019! Our goal is to complete the kitchen, mudroom, butlers pantry, laundry room and maybe a bathroom by the end of the year. We’re excited to dive back into our renovation work after an inspiring trip to KBIS!

 

My Trip to KBIS with Design Hounds

 

Hi Folks!

It’s currently a super snowy day here in PA, so I figured it’s the perfect time to cozy up and write this long-awaited blog post. As you may know, I went to KBIS for the first time last month. It was a jam-packed few days where I was given great exposure to many wonderful kitchen and bath companies. This massive trade show happens just once per year - and usually in Las Vegas. I’ll be honest, Vegas isn’t really my scene - but soft blue kitchen cabinets, emerald green butlers pantries and smart appliances are right up my alley! More on that later…

I flew out on a Monday afternoon and landed in LV later that night. I spent a wonderful 2 days being toured around by Modenus - which for anyone who is experiencing such a large convention for the first time is a blessing. The tour I was a part of was called Design Hounds, which comprised of the most lovely group of ladies. There were about 20 of us in total, all designers, who were flown in from all different parts of the world. While the majority of us live in the US, there were designers from Canada and Scotland too.

Throughout the tour, we attended private meetings and events with some of the major brands showing at KBIS. I even got the opportunity to speak on a panel about sourcing internationally (for me, that usually means brands from The UK or artisan and vintage finds from my travels abroad).

For me, a designer who does more decorating than renovating, it was a nice introduction to brands that I may have heard of but not yet specified in projects. When the offer of the trip presented itself, I set a few intentions. I was pretty keen on just letting the more experienced guides (the women in charge have been many times before) lead me around, but I did want to make the most of my west coast experience by finding a few new key vendors. I was on the hunt for a great countertop and cabinet company (check and check). Additionally, I wanted to learn a little bit more about the new smart appliances coming to market - and not just rely on the same old brands I’ve used before. For that, I can say that KBIS did not disappoint. There was almost too much to see!

One of the events we attended was with Caesarstone at The New American Home. The party was absolutely PACKED so instead of spending time trying to get photos of the interior (or exterior…that view…), I enjoyed the drinks and cozied up to the live material models they had strategically spread out throughout the space - and Sophie Dow, former editor of House Beautiful, who is a down to earth human with a kickass sense of humor.

Michelle Gage // My Trip to KBIS with Design Hounds
Michelle Gage // My Trip to KBIS with Design Hounds
Michelle Gage // My Trip to KBIS with Design Hounds

As a designer, it’s always great to be able to touch and see items in person before recommending them to a client. Even better, I like to take it a step further and use the product in my own home sometimes. If you’ve been following along with the blog for a while, you know that we’re in our second home currently and it’s quite the fixer upper. Through the process of renovating my own home, I’m try to try out new brands before specifying them for future design projects. It’s almost like our house can be the test subject, which is really just a second test after seeing something in a showroom.

As I’m typing all of this out, I’m realizing that this giant post would be better as two. With this in mind, I’m going to break it up into an introduction to the show here - then tie what I saw into how it applies to my own home renovation in a second post. That post will feature some of the yummy colors I saw - so stay tuned!

 

Get The Look: My Dining Room

 
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Dining Room

Can you believe that this is the final post in our “Get The Look” series? I will no longer be coming here to share all my secret sources on Wednesdays. I’m sure we’ll circle back and meet here again at a later date - so for now…it’s not “goodbye”; it’s “see you later.”

For this final post, let’s look back at my dining room. We revealed this space during last season’s One Room Challenge. If you’ve been following along since then, you’ve seen it. We finished this room in November - a full year after we moved into our new old home. This isn’t a juicy reveal of an unseen space, rather a source list for some items you may have missed.

When I shared information on this space in previous posts, I mainly stuck to furniture sources. I skipped some of the accents that aided in the styling - and I love to speak about styling. In this post, we have a few more decorative items than in the last. So if you’re looking to spruce up your space this spring, we got you covered.

I’m still just so head over heels in love with this wallpaper. It’s just so eye-catching! What’s your favorite part of this room?

Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Dining Room
 

Get The Look: My Living Room (A Reveal)

 
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Living Room (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Living Room (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Living Room (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Living Room (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Living Room (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Living Room (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Living Room (A Reveal)

Are you ready for another room reveal? If you don’t follow along on Instagram, chances are my living room is somewhat foreign to you. To me, it’s my absolute favorite room in our home. It’s filled with all of the things I LOVE. I’m obsessed with the blue and white bone coffee table. The striped chairs are super charming. The rattan daybed is a dream come true.

And the accessories? I’ve collected some of my most beloved pieces in this room. While most of the furniture is new, most of the accessories are old. The majority of the artwork was found at flea markets, thrift stores or estate sales - which makes sharing those sources a little bit harder.

For many of the rooms in my home, I get asked, “Where did you get that?” This room is a little bit different. My living room usually attracts the question, “ Where did you find all this stuff?” The source list below does a good job of sharing duplicate products with you. However, I’ll tell you, I got that beat up blue desk and vintage cream curio cabinet from a very obscure store…my parent’s basement. When it came time to sell our childhood home, I swooped in and scooped up some items I had been eyeing. Those two pieces found their perfect homes in my living rooms - both in this house and our last. They’re keepers - but there’s no way for you to acquire the exact same piece. They’re one of a kind and I hear the seller would only part with them for an unreasonable amount of money. ;)

So I’m sharing what I can - which is honestly a lot, even without all of the art. You want the hook up on this hot furniture? You got it! You want similar lighting and pillows? I got you! Now that I’ve spilled all my secrets, what pieces will you be purchasing for your own home? Lie to me and tell me…”EVERYTHING!” That will make the sting of the hours spent to pull this all together burn much less. Happy Shopping!!

Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Living Room (A Reveal)
 

Get The Look: My Studio Space (A Reveal)

 
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Studio Space (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Studio Space (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Studio Space (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Studio Space (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Studio Space (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Studio Space (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Studio Space (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Studio Space (A Reveal)
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Studio Space (A Reveal)

Alright folks, you’re in for a real treat this week. Not only am I back to share some secret source links, but I’m also sharing a room reveal with you. Allow me to introduce you to MY NEW STUDIO!! To say I’m jazzed is an understatement. This room was once a HOT MESS of stained blue carpet and an unsafe sinking ceiling. Now, it’s a stunning office with an exposed stone wall and ample room to spread out all of my swatches and samples.

This “Get The Look” post wouldn’t be complete without some “before photos” sprinkled into the mix. I can’t just show you all the pretty stuff. That said, as promised, there’s pretty stuff coming your way. I’ve got the sources for ya! Below, you can find links to that lovely stained blue carpet and that amazing set of scaffolding you’ve been eyeing. ;)

So what do you think of this room reveal? Can you believe what this room started out as? It was just a little more than a year ago that we saw the potential in this new old home of ours and decided to take on such a massive project. Needless to say, I’m pretty pumped to have this whole room to myself in 2019. Last year was a mess of finding small corners of the home to work from and never truly having the proper station. I have some exciting projects in the works for this year and having a calm and clean space to work through them will make all the difference. xx

Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Studio Space (A Reveal)
 

Get The Look: My Master Bedroom

 
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Master Bedroom
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Master Bedroom
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Master Bedroom
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Master Bedroom
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: My Master Bedroom
master bedroom design board 2.jpg

We’re back! As promised, we’ve returned for another round of “Get The Look.” This week, let’s take a look at my master bedroom.

Hi people, this is where I sleep!! Now, I’m going to tell you where you can shop to get everything you see so you can create a room like mine and we can essentially sleep in the same space as me and we can be BFF’s forever and ever.

All creepiness aside, this room was a CHALLENGE. Rightfully so, I designed it as part of The One Room Challenge - which if you aren’t familiar with by now, YOU SHOULD BE (ashamed).

This room was once two much smaller spaces. The previous owners of this home had removed the wall separating the two rooms, leaving us with one GIANT space. I’ll admit, I don’t LOVE the layout. It works for now but I can see myself changing it up in a few months or years. It’s just wonky. While I mull over that, feel free to peep the source list and steal all of my ideas to implement them for yourself!

 

Get The Look: Palm Springs Project

 
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: Palm Springs Project
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: Palm Springs Project
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: Palm Springs Project

Happy 2019! I thought I’d start the new year off with a new series here on the blog. Admittedly, I don’t blog as much as I’d like to. The truth is, blogging is HUGE time commitment. It looks quick and easy - but it really takes a few hours to pull together a post. So I pop in here when I can - but again - not as often as I would like.

That said, I’ve had this “Get The Look” idea stewing in my mind for a while now. There are a few rooms that I get asked about sources CONSTANTLY. While I don’t like to divulge where I source things for my design clients, I’m happy to spill secrets on pieces from my home or past One Room Challenges.

If you’ve been following along for some time now, you’re likely pretty familiar with The Palm Springs Project. This was the first One Room Challenge that I completed for 2017’s spring season and it was a BLAST! It’s a project that I am constantly asked about, likely because it’s just loads of fun. So, without further delay, you can find the entire source list below. It shares either the exact product link - or - similar styles if the original item is no longer in stock.

Thank you to Megan, my wonderful design assistant, for pulling this source list together! Be warned - this list is JAM PACKED! Not only will you find links to the amazing brass and lucite bar cart - but you’ll also find links to ALL of the pieces you need to style it. NOT ONLY THAT…Megan has gone ahead and completed FOUR MORE ROOMS for you all - so be sure to come back to the blog every Wednesday in January for some additional design inspiration. You don’t want to miss out. ;)

Michelle Gage // Get The Look: Palm Springs Project
 

One Year Later: Where We Are With #GoodBonesAbode

 

This blog post has been a long time coming. If you’ve been following along here and on Instagram, you’re likely “in the know” with where things stand with the house. I'm not sure what the exact date was, but this month we’re celebrating the one year anniversary of us living in our new house.

I’m going to cut to the chase and tell you that this was one of the hardest years of our lives. I speak for myself and Alex; this year wasn’t a bunch of roses. This house has made us reconsider if we could even call our last home a fixer upper. This house, which we’ve appropriately dubbed “Good Bones Abode” was in need of LOADS of work.

Tonight, Alex and I actually looked back at the original renovation plan we created before we moved in here. We updated it every few months to represent any changes and shifts, but all in all we accomplished what we set out to do.

Michelle Gage // One Year Later: Where We Are With #GoodBonesAbode

What Got Done:

Whole Home

  • Roof

  • Boiler

  • Air conditioning system

  • Refinish all hardwood floors

  • Repair walls, paint and paper all walls

  • Replaced cellar doors

  • Replaced entire plumbing system

  • Tree removal

  • Smart home system

  • Security system

  • Lighting - dimmers, can, sconces, overhead

Studio 

  • Vaulted ceiling & added beams 

  • Spray foam insulation

Powder Room

  • Brass sink fittings

  • Tile floor

  • New toilet

Master Bedroom

  • Removed old / added new entry door

  • Converted hallway into closet

Dining Room

  • Custom built in

  • Moldings - picture frame, chair rail, picture rail, crown

Spare Room

  • Decorating

Guest Room

  • Decorating

Living

  • Decorating

Michelle Gage // One Year Later: Where We Are With #GoodBonesAbode
Michelle Gage // One Year Later: Where We Are With #GoodBonesAbode

YES! That sure it a lot to do in one year.

I want to touch upon some of the things that I've learned in this past year. If you are looking for me to give you insight into how I select paint and paper or how to create a custom built in - this ain’t that. Those posts have already been written.

I'm going to share situations that focus more on taking ahold of your sanity and holding onto it for dear life. See, I took my sanity for granted. I let it go too early on in the process and am still coaxing it back into my life. These are the things I wish I knew when we started with this process last year.

  1. Hire help. Yes this refers to hiring contractors who are more skilled for a job than you are, but it also pertains to bringing in support that you may not have needed in the past to help with mundane tasks around the home. This year, in addition to specified trades, we hired a cleaning lady, laundry service and occasionally had our groceries delivered. Alex and I found that our time was better spent elsewhere - either at work, working on the house or in rare times…resting. This support helped us to not fall behind on the chores that keep the household running smoothly.

  2. Schedule fun. I know what you’re thinking…how fun can scheduled fun be?! Rest, vacations, nights out - all important and not to be taken for granted. This falls under the whole "easier said than done" adage. All I mean by this is don't let building a life make you miss out on living one. It is really easy to get wrapped up in the (impossible) task at hand. Don't let it get in the way of having fun. You’ll burn out if you go to fast. You need a healthy mix of hard work and hard play for good life balance.

  3. Share the struggle. Don’t suffer in silence. We made the mistake earlier on of not showing so much of the hard stuff. Sure, we showed what the renovation process was like to work through - but we didn’t lead on with how hard it was to live through. For the first six months, I didn’t have my home office; I was working from whatever room wasn’t a construction zone. We didn’t have a living room and we were sleeping on a mattress on the floor of bedroom that was in the earlier stages of it’s makeover. It was a lot worse than “living in an ugly home” - living through through the renovation work is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Floor sanding is not for the weak! Let people know what you’re dealing with - not to complain, but to show that the process isn’t all roses and is very very real. Let them see that side of things so the humans in your life understand what you’re going through.

Michelle Gage // One Year Later: Where We Are With #GoodBonesAbode

So I'm going to answer the question that no one asked but I assume everyone is wondering. Do we regret our decision to buy a huge fixer upper at this stage of our lives?

Alex is a hard “NO!” While his work has certainly not been without stress, he loves having a home to make our own. I'm sure you're all assuming I'll give you the same answer - the fairy tale answer of "NO, it's so much work but it's totally worth it!"

Actually, I do regret our decision to buy and fix up this house. There was nothing wrong with our previous home; we were just looking for another project. While we are totally capable of managing a project of this size, it's completely overwhelming and all-consuming. Our home renovations have taken over every aspect of our life. It's taken ahold of our budget and our time. Not to mention, I work from home - so working through this chaos has honestly been hell on earth. My business blew up this year - and I’m so grateful for that - but doing both has been A LOT to say the least. In hindsight, I wish we took on a smaller project.

I'm not saying that I will regret this decisions forever; we are creating a beautiful home for our future. At the moment, yes, I do wish we didn't sink ourselves into a project of this size - especially when Alex took on a new role at work and I am focused on growing my business. It is absolutely mind boggling to think back on all that we accomplished this year and know that we have so much more to go. We have both made multiple comments to each other about not being able to repeat 2018 again. This last year has been the most stressful our lives - 2018 has been a total mind fuck of an experience. That said, we are very aware that this was our choice and have accepted all responsibilities for that.

While we’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go. I’ll do another post on it, but in 2019 we have plans to renovated the following: 4 bathrooms, kitchen, butler’s pantry, mudroom and upstairs laundry room. The amount of work we have coming is no less than this last year, but we feel like we got a lot of the “whole home” tasks that take over every room out of the way. We also have taken the time to schedule out every vacation day we plan to take next year and book those trips in advance - so that we are forced to take time off from work and the house.

As we look to 2019, I am hopeful that we have a better plan in place to help us maintain our sanity as we continue to renovate this beast. We have a lot of exciting designs in the works and I am SO EXCITED to document them here and on Instagram. Be sure to follow the progress there, under #goodbonesabode.

Michelle Gage // One Year Later: Where We Are With #GoodBonesAbode
 

ORC Week 6: Revealing My Dining Room

 
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 6: Revealing My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 6: Revealing My Dining Room

I can’t believe that I’m sitting down at my dining room table to write this blog post. It’s been a long time coming. We bought this home almost exactly a year ago. When we moved in, the space had ketchup and mustard colored walls (why?!).

It was a great room but it lacked character. That was something we really wanted to address when creating our dream dining room, so Alex worked to build this amazing shelving. It looks like it’s always been here and holds ALL of our collected dishes. We made the look even more authentic by adding little black latches from Emtek.

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 6: Revealing My Dining Room

To add even more character, we partnered with Metrie to outfit the space with amazing moldings. We added a high wainscoting, chair rail, crown and picture rail molding to the room. Painting the trim white provided the perfect balance to the wonderful, colorful wallpaper.

As a lover of wallpaper, I knew I wanted this room to feature something charming and bold. I looked at dozen of options, but ultimately fell in love with this quirky one from Cole & Sons. Once the major “fixings” were in place, we could move in our new furniture and lighting.

We invested a lot of money and a (heck of a lot of) time into creating this space and are so thrilled with how it turned out. We couldn’t have created such an optimistic and inviting space without the help of the sponsors who partnered with us.

Hudson Valley came through with the most incredible lighting. I actually used their sconces in my last ORC for my master bedroom. Those sconces were one of the first picks I made for that space, so I was thrilled to work with them again. You’ll see that the sconces linked here have actually changed. I went to Highpoint earlier this month and popped by their showroom, as I do every season. While there, I spotted these cuties and made a mighty fast sconce switch. Luckily, Hudson Valley was happy to oblige with my fickle design brain. I’m also glad that they didn’t second guess me when my intro email to them requested two chandeliers for the space. What’s a girl to do?! Lighting is the jewelry of any room; it’s not meant to be understated.

Sitting pretty underneath these feminine chandeliers is a more masculine table from Article and a very soft blue rug from Hayneedle. The head chairs, provided by Selamat, add an extra element into the space. The caning of these chairs really elevates the set up.

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 6: Revealing My Dining Room

On the wall opposite the built in, you’ll find two different types of bar stations. The white, open bar cart (from Selamat) was a piece I had been eyeing for months. It’s a pretty big size for a bar cart - which I love. It really makes its presence known. On the other side of the window, on the same wall, lives the black, closed bar cabinet (from Article). I feel like this piece is more “Alex.” The mix of brass and black adds a little bit more moodiness into the room and provides lots of storage.

I styled both bar pieces with items I already had on hand, with a few exceptions. The night before the shoot, I made a last minute run out to stock the bars with pretty alcohol bottles and in the pursuit of the perfect mini candle to sit with the vintage match striker I acquired just one week earlier at a local flea market. I am a big believer that the styling makes the space. I’m constantly shopping and collecting, so I have a lot of great pieces on hand. The cast bust for example - like who else has one of those on hand?! Just me?! Ok…

cage_sproul_dining_06.jpg
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 6: Revealing My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 6: Revealing My Dining Room

Sprinkling the space with plants and flowers always adds life to any room. On the center of the dining table, I placed this stunning bowl, created by Jill Rosenwald, and filled it with hydrangeas. Originally, I planned to hang a bit more art in the space than actually wound up on the walls. In the end, I didn’t want to cover up the gorgeous wallpaper print. Ultimately, however, this “cool girl” print from Minted went up as planned. I love discovering new artists on Minted. Kaitie Bryant photographed this piece, aptly titled “Movement” (not “cool girl”, but maybe it was a name she considered).

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 6: Revealing My Dining Room

I always find the reveals so fascinating. Since each room is done so quickly, things often come together at the last minute - and in ways you may have never expected. As I shared my dining room’s journey each week, did you see it coming together this way? I hope I did a good job sharing some insight into the design process.

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 6: Revealing My Dining Room

I couldn’t end this season’s challenge without sending some major THANK YOUS out into the world!!

Linda, thank you for creating a challenge that encourages creativity and always leaves me with a fantastic finished space to come home to.

Sponsors, thank you for partnering with me to bring this space to life. You all were so easy to work with and I hope you love the end result as much as I do.

Alex, you are the world’s most amazing husband and the best person I know. Thank you for always being my biggest cheerleader and for always having a “make it work” attitude. These rooms come together because of your hard work and skill. You’re the real deal.

Readers, thanks for tuning in each week to see what I create. It still boggles my mind that so many people care about what I’m designing and relate to my sense of style.

Now I’m off to poke around everyone else’s posts. Reveal Day is like Christmas morning in the design world!!

At Home with Ashley | Bre Purposed | Dabito | The English Room | Erin Kestenbaum

Harlow & Thistle | House of Brinson | J & J Design | Kelly Golightly | Linda Holt

Megan Bachmann | Michelle Gage | Mimosa Lane | Murphy Deesign | Nicole Cole

Old Home Love | SG Style | Shay Geyer | Sita Montgomery | Style MPL

Media Partner Better Homes & Gardens | TM by ORC

 

ORC Week 5: Styling The Dining Room

 

Well, folks, we made it. Alex and I spent the entire weekend preparing for the dining room photoshoot, which took place yesterday. We had very little “down time” between assembling lighting, installing hardware, setting up the furniture, flower shopping and styling. The final pieces for the room showed up just the night before the shoot - talk about a time crunch!!

This week saw a lot of progress. The wallpaper went up last Friday, which meant that we could finally set up the room. It’s totally crazy to think about what was accomplished in those 3 short days between the wallpaper installation and the photoshoot. We really do complete these rooms in 6 weeks. We start the process a few days early and also end a few days early. We have to work this way in order to hit the reveal day deadline with professional photos. If I was shooting the space myself (you’d cringe), I could wait until the very last minute to do so. However, I can’t operate a camera to save my life and I want the room to be shown off in it’s best light, so I always hire a pro to shoot any projects I plan to put out into the world.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise by revealing too much of the room. Instead, I’m going to share some detail shots. My photos wouldn’t do the space justice anyway, so you’re better off waiting a week for the good stuff!!

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 5: Styling The Dining Room

Let’s touch on some of the new arrivals aka we finally have furniture again! Goodbye, folding table!

I was thrilled to work with Article again. I had partnered with them about 2 years ago, outside of The ORC, on our basement makeover in my last home. Article has some great pieces at great prices and I had been eyeing The Oscuro Bar Cabinet for the space. I also had my heart set on some pretty fantastic chairs. One of the hardest things to manage in this challenge is the tight timeline. These chairs would’ve been lovely in the space, but they would have arrived after the reveal/shoot, so I had to purchase something that not only looked the part but came on time. To continue the partnership, we swapped the chairs out for a dining table. I needed something sturdy and simple and The Seno Dining Table hit all the marks. It’s a larger room than in our last home and we plan on hosting family here. We needed a table that accommodated as many people as possible; this one is extendable, which works well for when we host family and also for when we eat tacos by ourselves.

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 5: Styling The Dining Room

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I chose the black latches from Emtek for the built in doors. They really POP against the white cabinetry and play with the bits of black that bounce around the room. I’m typically much more of a brass person, but I loved the sleekness of the latch design and thought the black finish really drove that idea home. I am so amazed by what Alex created from nothing (remember, we started with an empty wall) and love how he was able to make something so totally custom - just by selecting the right cabinets and hardware.

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 5: Styling The Dining Room

So with the shoot behind us, we can finally breathe a sigh of relief. We’re so thrilled with how the room turned out and can’t wait to share the end result with you all in just a week. Beyond what I shared above, you can get a good sense of how we spend out weekends by viewing the time lapse video below.

Just as I do with every project, I can’t help but critique my own work. I wish I realized sooner that the large piece of art was blocking the view - but this is real life, people, and I was in my zone. Styling is WORK!! For anyone who things it’s easy and fast, I’m here to debunk that myth. Styling, while loads of fun, is absolutely exhausting. I spent no less than 8 hours getting the styling just right for this room - and I already owned all of the props.

If you’re sick of hearing me talk about this space, I suggest you take a look at what these other talents are cooking up. I’m just as excited to see their rooms as I am to share my own. Be sure come back next week for the full reveal!!

At Home with Ashley | Bre Purposed | Dabito | The English Room | Erin Kestenbaum

Harlow & Thistle | House of Brinson | J & J Design | Kelly Golightly | Linda Holt

Megan Bachmann | Michelle Gage | Mimosa Lane | Murphy Deesign | Nicole Cole

Old Home Love | SG Style | Shay Geyer | Sita Montgomery | Style MPL

Media Partner Better Homes & Gardens | TM by ORC

 

ORC Week 4: Let's Talk Finances!

 

How much is that doggie in the window?

Well, before I tell you the price of the pup, I need to tell you that you’ve asked the wrong question. The leash is $40. The food is $60. The vet bills are $75, $50, $135. Surprise! Here’s another (random) $200 vet bill. You’ll need to get an electric fence which could run you $1500. Your new best friend will inevitably chew your brand new rug, so you’ll need to replace that $1800 purchase. The dog walker will run you $225 a week and then there’s the boarding fee every time you go on vacation. Oh the dog? Just $300.

Things are expensive and with most items you purchase, there are hidden fees. On that note, I want to talk about sponsorships. Let me start off by saying that I am SO SO grateful to have the sponsors that I do for my dining room makeover. The room would not happen without them (or Linda) and they have all been truly wonderful to work with. THANK YOU!!

That said, in addition to Alex and I both putting in countless hours to make this project happen, we’re footing the bill on a lot of what you might not “see” aka “the hidden fees.”

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 4: Let's Talk Finances!

For example, I received a discount on the amazing wallpaper in this room. While wonderful, I paid a portion of it and also am paying for the installation. (Wallpaper, we don’t do). The trim and moldings certainly take this room to a whole other level. I am lucky that Alex can manage that install himself, but they needed to be painted. We hired that out. I know a lot of people think painting is one of the easiest tasks for them to do on their own - and they aren’t wrong in thinking this. However, our house is really old and was uncared for when we purchased it. It would be easy to slap some paint on well-maintained walls, but we didn’t have those. They needed so much prep work before they were ready to receive paint. We hired our tried and true paint crew to tackle the job of patching and painting.

As we become busier and put more on our proverbial plates (aka buy a fixer upper for fun, running a design business), we are more and more careful with the work we (cough * Alex * cough) do versus the work we hire out. We knew our painters would do a better job than we would caulking, spackling, puttying, etc. so we left that job in their very capable hands. Given that we only have 6 weeks (and we really stick to that timeline), it wouldn’t have been possible to do a project of this size ourselves and still keep our sanity.

I guess where I’m going with this is to a place of understanding. Reality TV is not real. Television has you believing that you can renovate an entire home in 48 hours for $5k. What you pay to your local trades people is totally dependent on your market - and unless you are doing every last little task yourself, you’re paying trades. What I can tell you about where I live - hold onto your hat - is that it is taking my painters two weeks to do the dining room and I’m shelling out more than $5k for that. Time is money people. Yes, I could’ve likely gotten someone out here to do the job for a thousand bucks, but they would’ve been done in a day when the room really needed more attention than that. You get what you pay for, which is why it’s important to be open-minded when hiring the RIGHT professional for the job.

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 4: Let's Talk Finances!

So screw it, I’m just going to break it down for you. I was hoping to avoid talking specifics (because I’m too lazy to write it all out), but I want to drive my point home that things take time and cost money. Money makes people funny, but does anyone out there really think I’m outfitting this space for a few hundred bucks?

Let me address the time first; that one is going to be a shorter topic, as it is much harder to quantify. Alex has/will be spending every day of every weekend of the 6 week challenge working on our dining room. He has also spent many nights after work ordering, installing, etc. to get this room to the state it is in now (and eventually will be).

I started pulling the design together a bit before the challenge started, but we don’t touch the room until that first week. However, with the way the sponsors trickle in, I wound up revising said design numerous times. I then spoke with all the brands, placed orders and scheduled deliveries. I found a photographer - and when the photoshoot date gets closer - I will style out the space. Once styled and shot, I will be amping up the social media and press promotions. Oh, I’m cataloging and blogging about it all along the way too!

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 4: Let's Talk Finances!

Money. Yikes! I love talking money, but it is always scary when you don’t know how it will be received. I don’t want to come off as ungrateful. I’m SO grateful. I just want you to know that this challenge costs me money and time - even if it looks free and fast. This is something I do within my business. It’s work. I work for money (or in this case furniture). So, money! I like money. I like talking about money. I like telling other people how to make the most of their money. Let’s talk about it!

So back to your burning question. How much does the dog cost? Let me break it down for you (in round numbers). Know that, as a featured designer, much of the product is provided in exchange for exposure. These rooms would not happen if these partnerships weren’t in place. I will denote which items are provided to me, but share their full cost with you.

Base cabinets for built in - $3100

Upper shelves for built in (material only) - $400

Latch hardware - $180 (sponsored)

Ceiling Medallions (2) - $100

All trim + moldings - $450 (sponsored)

Wallpaper - $1600 (provided at a discount)

Rug (+ pad) - $1050 (sponsored)

Dining table - $1200 (sponsored)

S/8 white dining chairs - $600

S/2 white head chairs - $3100 (I paid freight).

White bar cart - $1700 (I paid freight).

Black bar cabinet - $900 (sponsored)

Chandeliers (2) - $5500 (sponsored)

Sconces (4) - $1100 (sponsored)

Table lamp - $200 (sponsored)

Window Treatments (2) - $325 (sponsored)

Labor (anything not done by Alex) - $7000

TOTAL: $28,505

And that’s excluding the accessories and art selections.

I hope that sheds some light on what all goes into these challenges. They’re never easy - but super rewarding to have a completely finished room when they are done. There’s a lot of work (and money) that goes on behind the scenes. I’d love to see other featured designers (linked below) follow suit and speak to their expenses. I’m genuinely interested in the spending habits of others, especially when it comes to interior design.

At Home with Ashley | Bre Purposed | Dabito | The English Room | Erin Kestenbaum

Harlow & Thistle | House of Brinson | J & J Design | Kelly Golightly | Linda Holt

Megan Bachmann | Michelle Gage | Mimosa Lane | Murphy Deesign | Nicole Cole

Old Home Love | SG Style | Shay Geyer | Sita Montgomery | Style MPL

Media Partner Better Homes & Gardens | TM by ORC

 

Must See Showrooms at Highpoint Market

 

Last week, I took a much-anticipated trip to Highpoint Market. This market happens twice per year and I have visited 3 times now. The first time I went was with Anthropologie, as a buyer for rugs and lighting. It’s exciting to go back now on my own terms, as an interior designer and business owner.

Every season, I make a list of must-see showrooms. It changes each time, but I have a handful that I stick to for each visit. Each designer has their own reasons why they shop certain places. For me, I choose my top showrooms based of of style first and foremost. I want to select items for clients that are true to my brand and give them something elevated and unexpected - something they can’t source on their own. The second consideration is price point. There are some showrooms I see that serve more as inspiration. I may not choose to shop there often, but if I can bring even just one of their special pieces into a room then I do.

It’s important to visit market to get a sense of an item’s quality and scale in person. I touch all the coffee tables. I open all the dresser drawers. I sit on all the sofas. I do this all so I can confidently recommend pieces to clients that I have personally tried myself. So if, for example, a client loves the look of a sofa I suggested, but is unsure of how comfortable it is, I can say I tested it out and approve the piece.

 
Michelle Gage // Must See Showrooms at Highpoint

The Baker Showroom never disappoints. They are the golden standard when it comes to high end furniture design.

Michelle Gage // Must See Showrooms at Highpoint

The Arteriors Showroom displays the most amazing lighting. Their designs are always innovative and unexpected.

Michelle Gage // Must See Showrooms at Highpoint

Bobo Intriguing Objects is a vintage lovers delight! Their furniture is has a touch of nostalgia, which I and my clients love.

Michelle Gage // Must See Showrooms at Highpoint

Made Goods is a staple when it comes to my designs. Their selection is truly unique, using a variety of high end materials in unexpected ways.

Michelle Gage // Must See Showrooms at Highpoint

Selamat is a boho lovers dream. Their fresh take on furniture makes it easy to create a bohemian paradise for my clients.

If you’re interested in seeing more from my Highpoint travels, I have a highlight on Instagram. While at market, I am always scouting amazing finds for existing and future client projects. I also go to build relationships with vendors and sales reps. What some may see as easy - picking out a coffee table for a living room - actually involves a lot of behind the scenes work. Luckily for me, I enjoy my work and feel grateful to have a job in a field that really interests me. That said, it’s still my job - and I always want to do my job to the best of my abilities. I aim to bring interesting elements into each space I design, create a one of a kind experience for my clients.

ORC Week 3: Revealing The Room's Wallpaper

 

Let me start off by saying this…I KNOW. I KNOW it’s a bit out of order to see the built in details before the full room design. I KNOW everyone and their mother shared their design boards last week. I KNOW I’ve kept you waiting on the details of what furniture, wallpaper and lighting is going into the room. Trust me, I had a good reason. See, I KNOW wallpaper. I have picked out some pretty fantastic styles for clients, if I do say so myself. (See evidence of this statement here, here, here, here and here).

You get it.

So back to me. I knew that if I showed you all a wallpaper that I wasn’t 100% certain about, you’d fall in love and want it real bad…then I’d break your little hearts when I told you I changed it to a different but equally amazing style. I was doing you a favor, really.

To cut to the chase, the wallpaper is on it’s way; it’ll be here by Friday…so now we can talk about it.

I’m jazzed because I sure do love talking about wallpaper. I really dig throwing a BOLD style into a space. Wallpaper can make the room. With wallpaper, I suggest going FEARLESS!! Your dining room is a great space to experiment and should definitely be decked out.

Let me make my case…

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 3: Revealing The Room's Wallpaper
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 3: Revealing The Room's Wallpaper
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 3: Revealing The Room's Wallpaper
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 3: Revealing The Room's Wallpaper
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 3: Revealing The Room's Wallpaper
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 3: Revealing The Room's Wallpaper

So we all dig the wallpaper, right? More on that later…

I’m thrilled to say that I have an amazing team of sponsors making this room a reality. Before I share the sponsors with you, let me say that there is no way this would be happening without my husband; I just can’t gush about him enough. This guy is spending every waking hour of this weekend making this dream dining room a reality. He is working on the space in the evenings and just making whatever I designed WORK.

I was away Saturday through last night at Highpoint Market with Nicole Cole (another featured Philly designer). I kid you not, I’d be lost without Alex. When I returned home from my trip, there was all of this magical progress in the dining room (see my highlights). He’s just the best and I’ll likely remind you of that every week (as I already have in Week 2).

So let’s talk sources. What’s coming into the space to create this kickass design? Article is sponsoring with this amazing bar cabinet and dining table. Underneath the table, Hayneedle is coming in with this (#sponsored) stunner of a rug. At the head of each table will sit these PERFECT chairs from Selamat. I’m so grateful to have Selamat as a sponsor, especially since they’ll be sending me this AMAZING bar cart that I’ve been eyeing FOREVER. On each side of the table will be these cutie chairs (#notsponsored #paidforbyme).

Two huge sponsors for this room are Hudson Valley Lighting and Metrie. HVL is coming in strong with a table lamp, sconces and the chandeliers of my dreams. I already went into detail about the amazing moldings being provided by Metrie in last week’s blog post. If you want to see some progress on all that, again, hop on over to my IG highlights (or peep my husband’s IG). IT’S SICK STUFF!!

Lastly, what you’ve all been waiting for…THIS is the amazing wallpaper I’ve chosen for the dining room. Cole & Sons is providing me with a pretty great discount that allows me to afford the install on this bad boy - because the one DIY we don’t do is wallpaper. No doubt, this print splashed all over the walls will be what makes the room. It’s all I’ve ever wanted in a wallpaper. I’m one lucky lady!

Alright, I’ve yapped enough. That’s all from me, y’all. Be sure to see what the other bloggers/designers are up to this week. I see some good things a-brewing!


At Home with Ashley
 | Bre Purposed | Dabito | The English Room | Erin Kestenbaum

Harlow & Thistle | House of Brinson | J & J Design | Kelly Golightly | Linda Holt

Megan Bachmann | Michelle Gage | Mimosa Lane | Murphy Deesign | Nicole Cole

Old Home Love | SG Style | Shay Geyer | Sita Montgomery | Style MPL

Media Partner Better Homes & Gardens | TM by ORC

 

ORC Week 2: The Built In

 

Every interior designer needs a reliable contractor - and luckily I married mine. Well, that’s not entirely true. Alex and I were together long before we starting renovating homes. We met in a college dorm freshman year and have been inseparable ever since (10 years together, baby). While in college, we volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and an organization that went to Mississippi to rebuild homes after Hurricane Katrina. Once we graduated, we lived in apartments for two years before we purchased our first fixer upper together (which we’ve since sold). Now, we’re in what we hope is our “forever home” and are taking extreme care and consideration with every renovation.

Alex is the best executer I know. I create all the design plans - based on my wildest dreams - and Alex is the one to make them happen. I do not hide the fact that I am not the one swinging the hammer. It’s not that I’m against getting my hands dirty, it’s just that Alex and I have different focuses. I’m the designer and project manager. He is the contractor. We play to our strengths and make a good team.

Now onto the FUN STUFF…the built in!!

Next week, I will share the full design plan with you. It’s maaaaaybe 92% done and I don’t want to share it until it’s at 100% - BUT one thing we know for sure is that we’re creating a massive built in along the back wall. As I mentioned in last week’s post, this was our jumping off point. We have another time lapse video to share some additional insights - as well as photos that capture the step by step process.

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 2: The Built In
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 2: The Built In
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 2: The Built In
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 2: The Built In
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 2: The Built In
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 2: The Built In
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 2: The Built In

YEA yea yea, Alex is amazing - I can’t argue that. Moving on. We purchased a trio of inset cabinets for the base of this built in and Alex turned a pile of wood into the top shelving. We’re building it into the wall and making it look original to the house by applying uniform moldings throughout. Metrie is supplying us with the trim and we couldn’t be more excited. I have seen many bloggers and designers create wonderful rooms with their products; we’re pumped to join that “dream team.”

So what’s the trim plan? Metrie is providing us with chair rail, crown molding, picture mold and panel mold. You can see the intention for the what the wall trim will look like in the middle image below. Underneath that, you can see that we (Alex) already got started applying the crown molding. We are SUPER SUPER EXCITED to get all this trim work up on the walls. This room is pretty open to the rest of the house and it’s going to be amazing to have it be such a showstopper.

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 2: The Built In
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 2: The Built In
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 2: The Built In

As of now, we can happily say we’re on track with this challenge. That said, it’s a reeeally tight schedule and becoming increasingly stressful with every passing day - especially with all of the work traveling happening this month. I feel so lucky to have many partners in this. Not only do I have Alex, but I also have some wonderful sponsors coming through with some amazing products that I can’t wait to talk about. Linda (who is also a huge help) organizes a great challenge and keeps us all on track. While there is a tight timeline, we are left with wonderful rooms at the end of this six weeks to enjoy.

The talented line up below knows exactly what I’m talking about. If you’ve been following along with their posts, you’ve seen that they are all designing some super excited space. Personally, I’m watching Kelly Golightly’s ORC closely. I’m itching to design a teenage girl’s room - especially decked out the way I know Kelly will. Her style is super fun, bold and bright and I’m DYING to see how she transforms the existing space for her niece. Which rooms are you most excited to see unfold?

At Home with Ashley | Bre Purposed | Dabito | The English Room | Erin Kestenbaum

Harlow & Thistle | House of Brinson | J & J Design | Kelly Golightly | Linda Holt

Megan Bachmann | Michelle Gage | Mimosa Lane | Murphy Deesign | Nicole Cole

Old Home Love | SG Style | Shay Geyer | Sita Montgomery | Style MPL

Media Partner Better Homes & Gardens | TM by ORC

 

Get The Look: Vintage Boudoir

 

It’s been nearly a year since I revealed Alana’s Vintage Boudoir on the blog. If you recall, I designed Alana’s space as part of last Fall’s One Room Challenge. Right now, I’m in the middle of another ORC, but thought I’d throw it back a bit. Alana was such a dream to design for. I strive to bring my client’s personalities out into their spaces - and we did just that here. Her style is eclectic and sophisticated - and she favors a splash of vintage.

Since come time has gone by, a lot of the pieces we purchased are no longer available. The look I pulled together reflects the original bedroom design, but is slightly more updated with in stock items that you can run out and snag for yourself TODAY!!

Michelle Gage // Get The Look: Vintage Boudoir
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: Vintage Boudoir
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: Vintage Boudoir
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: Vintage Boudoir
Michelle Gage // Get The Look: Vintage Boudoir

It’s time to give the people what they want - the sources!! As with every design project, I get A LOT of questions about where I find everything. Typically, these sources are between myself and my clients. They are hiring me for a service - which costs them money - and I don’t want to then take the work that they paid me to do and spread all around the internet for others to copy.

For this project, however, I didn’t charge Alana. This was a collaboration and I provided her with complimentary design services in an effort to complete The One Room Challenge. For that reason, I feel comfortable showing you how to get the look yourself. A lot of what we chose for Alana’s space was vintage, so these links lead to similar options with plenty of stock. I’d love to hear from you - what pieces will you be buying for your bedroom makeover?

So onto the sources…

Brass Bed (half-priced option) / White Lacquer Nightstand / Black + Brass Sconces / Lavender Metallic Wallpaper / Oriental Rug / Blush Pillow / Baby Blue Pillow / Maroon Mongolian Fur Pillow / Wedding Blanket / Natural Leather Moroccan Pouf / Rattan Chair / Mini Gold Mirrors / Blue + Brass Velvet Vanity Bench / Sheepskin

 

ORC Week 1: Meet My Dining Room

 

Can you believe it, baby, we’re back at it again. The Fall 2018 One Room Challenge is in full swing, with a killer lineup of amazing designers and bloggers. This challenge is going to be unlike any other. Why you ask? Well, normally we have six weeks to transform one room of our choosing. However, this season, I’m practically gone for the whole month of October aka the whole ORC. I’m traveling A TON for work this month and have lots of (exciting) client projects to tend to in between trips. THE PRESSURE IS ON!!

Luckily, I have an amazing husband to tend to the home front. It’s no secret that Alex is the muscle behind my designs. He is my #1 contractor. I feel so lucky to have someone by my side who can add and remove walls at my whim. I meeeeeean, did you see our last challenge? The man turned a hallway into a closet, which makes him a hero in my eyes.

So what room are we working on? Well, I’m glad you asked - we’re making over our dining room!! If you’ve been checking in on Instagram, you would have seen that Alex started doing some framing for the killer built-in he’s making. That piece is going to be EPIC and totally transform the space. As of now, the room is pretty square. Usually, dining rooms are a little long and narrow - or at the very least obviously rectangular. Our dining room is square, which is proving challenging to design - but we’ll make it work.

Alright, the moment you’ve all been waiting for - THE BEFORE PHOTOS (& a video)!!

Disclaimer: This is what the space looked like when we moved in and we’ve done next to nothing to it (just refinished the floors) and it’s what the room looks like now. For the last few months, we’ve been eating at a folding table. While that sounds terrible, currently we have no table to eat at so I miss that folding table very much. AND NO, your eyes don’t deceive you, these walls are in fact a terrible butter yellow, accented with a ripe ketchup color. The previous homeowners had interesting taste.

Alex created a time lapse video of the work he started on this weekend. He did all the work, but I uploaded in to Youtube, which no joke, has me wondering if you’re reading the blog of the world’s next big Youtube star. First Youtube video here and BAM your girl nailed the upload.

Michelle Gage // ORC Week 1: Meet My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // ORC Week 1: Meet My Dining Room

Well, that’s all she wrote. Be sure to check out each featured designer’s blog post today and the participant’s tomorrow. I always feel jazzed and inspired when The ORC rolls around - people creating all around the world and web…ahhh magical!!

At Home with Ashley | Bre Purposed | Dabito | The English Room | Erin Kestenbaum

Harlow & Thistle | House of Brinson | J & J Design | Kelly Golightly | Linda Holt

Megan Bachmann | Michelle Gage | Mimosa Lane | Murphy Deesign | Nicole Cole

Old Home Love | SG Style | Shay Geyer | Sita Montgomery | Style MPL

Media Partner Better Homes & Gardens | TM by ORC

 

Perfect Pairings: 8 Round Dining Table + Chair Combos For Your Small Space

 
Michelle Gage // Perfect Pairings: 8 Round Dining Table + Chair Combos For Your Small Space
Michelle Gage // Perfect Pairings: 8 Round Dining Table + Chair Combos For Your Small Space
Michelle Gage // Perfect Pairings: 8 Round Dining Table + Chair Combos For Your Small Space
Michelle Gage // Perfect Pairings: 8 Round Dining Table + Chair Combos For Your Small Space

image 1: Chestnut Hill Charm / image 2: via Chairish / image 3: Eclectic Color in Manayunk / image 4: via Domino

 
 

If you’ve been following along for some time now, you’ve likely noticed that there have been a lot of changes happening around here. Among other things, the blog is getting a new life. Blogging has been something that I’ve always enjoyed but could rarely find the time to do. That said, I think it’s extremely important to consistently be sharing and telling stories related to design - and to do so, I knew I needed help.

About a month ago, I brought on a new full-time team member. Faith is my right hand woman, helping me with all things interiors. She wears many hats - from interior designer extraordinaire to social media strategist and all things in between. Together, we created an editorial calendar for the rest of the year so that we can continue to bring fresh content here and on other social spheres. We’re really excited about this endeavor and hope you’ll check in with us every Monday and Wednesday for the fresh content we’ll be cooking up.

Today, we’re sharing a new series - Perfect Pairings. In this round up, we’ll be putting commonly coupled pieces together that makes shopping super easy for you. These full-proof pairings provide you with a base to design your room around. Get your breakfast nook ready for fall with these awesome options. Sit down with some soup and sort through these selections; you’re sure to find something to help spruce up your space.

Michelle Gage // Perfect Pairings: 8 Round Dining Table + Chair Combos For Your Small Space
Michelle Gage // Perfect Pairings: 8 Round Dining Table + Chair Combos For Your Small Space

1 - table, chairs / 2 - table, chairs / 3 - table, chairs / 4 - table, chairs / 5 - table, chairs / 6 - table, chairs / 7 - table, chairs / 8 - table, chairs

 

'Tis The Season: Gearing Up For The One Room Challenge

 

Well folks, here we are again. The One Room Challenge is upon us and I’m entering my fourth season. I had so much fun participating in the last three rounds, that I came back for one more. For my very first ORC, I took on an e-design project. I chose my client from her Instagram profile and together we create a Perfect Palm Springs-Inspired Oasis. For the next season, I found an equally awesome client (she designs shoes, hello!) and gave her a glam bedroom makeover. Last spring, I finally worked on a room of my own and tackled my new home’s master bedroom.

This new season starts in ONE WEEK!! Can you believe we’re here again? I am VERY EXCITED about the space I am about to makeover. It’s going to be EPIC and dare I say - my favorite room to date? Sound off in the comments on what room your think I’ll be taking on. I’ll give you a hint, it’s in my home and there will be wallpaper (duh) - and maybe some cake. ;)

Michelle Gage // 'Tis The Season: Gearing Up For The One Room Challenge
Michelle Gage // 'Tis The Season: Gearing Up For The One Room Challenge
Michelle Gage // 'Tis The Season: Gearing Up For The One Room Challenge
 

That Time I Offered to Fly to LA to Hold Emily Henderson's Baby

 

HAPPY FALL, ya’ll, we have some exciting news to share with you today. We’re relaunching the blog!! It’s been a while since we connected on this platform and we have plenty to share. We felt it only appropriate to start things off with a reintroduction.

HELLO!! I’m Michelle Gage and I am about to humiliate myself on the internet.

Where do I begin? I guess I should start off my saying that I have been a die-hard Emily Henderson fan since her early days on HGTV. She’s frankly been a design icon for me and I’m utterly obsessed with everything creates.

Let’s go back to 2014, when I was working for Anthropologie’s Home Office here in Philadelphia. I was on the buying team; one of my main objectives was to scout and develop amazing home goods. I welcomed that opportunity and fancied myself as a person like Emily would want to meet. As most 24 year olds do, I thought too highly of myself.

Spring was approaching and my (then) boyfriend and myself had made plans to fly to LA to visit with some of our very best friends from our college days. I made a long list of all the design-related shops and showrooms I wanted to visit while there (House of Honey, Nicky Kehoe, etc). The Rose Bowl, of course, made the list - and you know who frequents The Rose Bowl? My girl Emily Henderson.

I somehow got the idea in my head that Emily and I were destined to meet - or rather that she would have any interest whatsoever in meeting me. Call it insane courage (or blind optimism), but I drafted an email to Emily with a detailed plan on how we should connect during my stay in LA. I suggested that - if she had plans to shop The Rose Bowl - we should do so together, alluding to the fact that I am in fact a skilled junk collector and lugger of said collected junk. I spent many nights editing my very frank email and attached some of the most horrific interior design work known to man.

Alex and I had just purchased our first home - money was tight- and the house looked like a cross between your grandmother’s fake antiques and the “crap you buy from Goodwill and promise yourself you will fix up but never do.” Back to the email itself - I believe I even offered to hold her newborn child so that she could have some focused shopping. In my mind, this was an offer she just couldn’t turn down - though I’m not sure what new mother could comfortably shop for vintage treasures while a stranger creepily holds her child on the sidelines.

24 year old me, to add further design embarrassment fuel to the fire…

24 year old me, to add further design embarrassment fuel to the fire…

Fast forward to a few days before the market, when I did actually get a reply from dear Emily. No, the reply didn’t have a restraining order attached to it, rather a promise. She said that if she wound up attending the market, we could meet. I almost choked on my overpriced LA street taco. I’d take a meeting, I thought.

(Very) long story short, we didn’t meet then in LA. We didn’t shop the flea market arm in arm and trot away with tales of how we became such fast friends. We did, however, meet a few years later at an event in New York (she was just as lovely as I had imagined) and I did go on to compile a few round ups for her blog. You may recall such notable contributions as this one about sofas, this one about wallpaper and (some of the best work I’ve ever produced) this one about toilets.

I’m taking this one as a lesson in perseverance and a reminder that you cannot be afraid to fail. Do I cringe when I think about my slightly stalkerish attempts to get the attention of my idol? Absolutely! Given the chance to go back in time, would I do it again? Absolutely! As I start my 29th year and march onto my 30th, I can only look back and smile at the 24 year old eager interior designer that I was then - full of excitement and completely unaware of the struggles to come.

Call it blind determination or naivety, but we all have to start somewhere. You don’t know what you don’t know - and in life and with work, you have to treat these experiences as the cost of tuition. You learn as you go, even if you have to pay for it with embarrassment along the way.

Well, folks, that’s all for the cringe-worthy blogpost. Be sure to return here on Mondays and Wednesdays, where we will be sharing about all things interior design!!