Home Concepts: Our Master Bedroom, Living Room + Studio Space


I am so excited to share a little bit more of our house plans with you all. When we bought this house, Alex and I were on the same page in respect to how we'd renovate it. What we couldn't envision on the spot was the overall design, which luckily (and rightfully so) he leaves 100% up to me.

A lot of designers will say that it's easier to design for clients than for themselves. If I agreed with that statement, I'd have to declare that I am indecisive - which I am not. I am finding it no harder to design for myself, but what I am missing is the feedback and collaboration. I often enjoy hearing client's thoughts on their vision for the space. Their dreams are usually my jumping off point. Perhaps I'm feeling a little less than inspired when it comes to the design, because I know it's such a long road ahead. See, Alex is handling 80% of the renovation work himself, on nights and weekends. In our last house, he handled EVERY.LAST.BIT - BUT this new house is MUCH larger (almost twice the size). We've been thoughtful and strategic with what he will work on and what we will hire out. However, what he will work on will take time.

When it comes to the design work, it's all me. Don't get me wrong, I prefer it that way, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a daunting task. Keep in mind, designing our 3,500 square foot house is something I'm doing ON TOP of growing my interiors business and living through a list of never-ending renovations. I'm not complaining; I asked for this. I just wanted to share my perspective on the situation. I guess, in short, since interior design is my profession, designing my own home feels like work. Again, don't feel sorry for the little designer who has to struggle through her dream...she'll be fine. ;)

Anyway, onto the concepts I've landed on for each room...

Since I've only share my ideas for our first round of renovations, which will be completed this spring, I'll continue to share parts of the story in pieces. Yes, I already have the kitchen designed in my mind, but we're not there yet. Baby steps, people!

Michelle Gage // Home Concepts: Our Master Bedroom, Living Room + Studio Space


Guys, we've never really had a master bedroom. When we lived in apartments, we had small spaces that served several functions. In our last/first house, we had a nice-sized space, but no walk-in closet, sitting space or attached bathroom. In this room, we have ALL THREE!!! We're calling it the MASSIVE MASTER. Now, we didn't just get lucky with that. We were "gifted" with this really awkward hall outside of the bedroom that we essentially converted into a the walk-in closet of our dreams. It's BIG, people, and I'm flipping out. 

I've always lived in (and loved) old homes. Anyone who has one knows that this almost guarantees that you will be lacking on closet space. Tiny closets have been my life for the last 28 years. Will I refer to time in the future as PWIC (post walk-in closet) and look back on the bitter memories BWIC (before walk-in closet)? We're taking "new year, new me" to a whole other level here.

Anyway, let's talk design. What am I thinking for this space? WELL I'm glad you asked! I want this to be a space that both Alex and I can enjoy - aka not too feminine. While I'd love an exploded floral wallpapered accent wall, I can save that for the guest room. This space will speak to both of us. 

I'm dividing this room into what I call "the sleep space" and "the sitting space." The sleep space will feature all your normal bedroom bits - (upholstered) bed, (leather?) nightstands, (woven?) bench, (printed) rug, etc. There's a half wall that separates the two rooms, so the other side will we more of a "get ready" or reading space. It'll have a pair of pink velvet chairs (I think...) and a banging coffee or end table. Perhaps it'll get dolled up with a vintage vanity and Moroccan rug. Pipe dreams, people. 

Michelle Gage // Home Concepts: Our Master Bedroom, Living Room + Studio Space


We're working with a really large living room here, people. See, the house is nearly double the size of our old one - but we don't have many more rooms - just bigger ones. Luckily, I think I have this room worked out from a floor plan standpoint. This living room is going to be a little different from the others I've designed in the past. To start, we'll need to bring in two matching sofas. They will face each other and live on opposite sides of the fireplace. 

On the fireplace wall, we plan to build a GIANT gallery wall. We're talking about the mother of all gallery walls here, guys! All of my artwork has been living in boxes since the move and I am so excited to have it back out. 

The living room already has two great built-in shelving units by this sweet set of French doors, so you know those are going to get SERIOUSLY STYLED UP! I plan to have this space be heavy on the vintage items. Of course, I have a lot of artwork and decor that fits into this category, but I also have a great teal desk and cream cabinet that will live in here. I also plan to hunt down the world's most amazing mantel. Know a guy?

Other than that, I want to get some soft pink tones in here. Currently, the walls are a Pepto-pink shade - which is going! BUT...I'm thinking I want a soft blush rug to break up the blue velvet. 

Michelle Gage // Home Concepts: Our Master Bedroom, Living Room + Studio Space


I saved the best for last. We still have a lot of decisions to make on this space, but it is BY FAR the room in the house that I am most excited about. In our last house, I turned a spare bedroom into a bright work room. In our new space, the previous home owners actually did us a favor by ripping out a wall that separated two bedrooms, creating a larger one. Now, I say 'favor', but I use that term lightly. They removed a load-bearing wall and left us with a ceiling shaped like a bowl.

I am happy to report that the ceiling has since been removed. Our original plan was to just replace it. Obvious right? Well, as we opened it up, we revealed access to a portion of the attic space above. I'm not big on dedicating rooms to solely store stuff you never use (hello holiday decor), so I was pleased as a peach to NOT add a ceiling back in. We now have a vaulted ceiling that reaches the third floor. In this process of demolition (thanks, Alex), we also unearth a stone wall. Now, I don't mean to make us sound like total novices here; we knew this all existed. However, it wasn't until we (Alex) started ripping things apart until the full potential was realized.

This space is going to take me out of my comfort zone a bit - as the exposed stone isn't totally my style. Don't get me wrong, I love old stone homes - which we have - I just don't know how I feel about it in the bright and bubbly room I envisioned. Needless to say, the inclusion of stone totally shifted my design plans for this space. I had this bubblegum pink wallpaper picked out, which would look HORRIBLE with the stone. I really don't know if any wallpaper would work with the stone (*gasp*) so I may just have to pick paint. Either way, I was always planning to bring in a live edge presentation (essentially dining) table and a blue velvet sofa. I may need to find clever ways to make this space a tad bit more colorful, but here's where we are for now. 

If you got to the end of this post, I salute you. Seriously, HATS OFF - this was a meaty one! I'd love to hear your thought so far - sound off in the comments. 


It's Time To Talk About The New House

Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House

I've been putting off writing this post for a while now. Not because I was dreading it, because I have so much to say and barely know where to begin.

In November, we sold our first house (of 3.5 years) and moved into our forever home. We spent the entire time renovating it, room by room. We started by painting the entire place ourselves then moved onto meatier projects, like renovating our kitchen. We truly enjoyed the process of fixing up our first place, but honestly came to the end of the project. We fixed up everything we possibly could, while not pricing ourselves out of the neighborhood we were in. The changes we made were worth it for us to enjoy while we were still living there, but also made for a sound investment when it came time to sell.

Our hunt for our second house started last spring. We weren't looking to move, rather for a place to fix up and flip. This would mean that we'd have two mortgages until the second property sold. We found a gorgeous (but poorly cared for) 4,500 square foot Victorian that was beaming with potential. As we started crunching our numbers, we realized that we were about two years away from being able to take on a second property of this size. We quickly came to the conclusion that, if we did this NOW, we'd need to live in flip and not just have it as a side project. We decided, however, that if we were to move, we were never going to move again. So, our focus shifted. We were still itching to take on another project; we just needed to find one we'd want to live in forever. For many reasons (bad schools, small yard, expensive sewer issues, etc.), The Victorian wasn't it.

I'll skip passed the part where we saw a bunch of beautiful houses that didn't work out for one reason or another - and tell you that we found the one we bought while searching on Zillow late one night. Alex was actually out of town for work and I sent him a link, claiming that I found our forever home. It checked ALL of the boxes - and was under our budget. Considering that our wish list was insanely long (and somewhat unreasonable), we knew this gem was rare. We scheduled a date to see it with our realtor on the following morning and put in an offer right away. With a bit of back and fourth, the home became ours within a few days. As luck would have it, our home sold on the same day - actually, within the same hour. It was really hard to say goodbye to our first place, but we were overflowing with excitement for this next step. 

I'll be sharing more on the project specifics as we get into the nitty gritty. I have every single space designed (in my head) and I'm eager to get those thoughts into posts. At this point, our projects haven't been the most interesting to document. We got a new roof. We converted our heat from oil to natural gas. We've started by crossing off the "needs" items from our list, before diving into the fun projects we just want to tackle. Alex has made plenty of progress on the master bedroom, which I've shown lots on Instagram. Once the renovations are completed in there, he will move onto refinishing the floors. Then, we will bring painters in to paint and wallpaper (lots, duh) the entire place. Our old home, which was 2000 square feet, was a much more manageable amount of wall space for us to cover ourselves. Our new home is 3500 square feet, so we're calling in the troops!

I'm SO SO excited to document more of this space. Stay tuned to follow along as we rip out walls and pull down ceilings! 


How To Work With An Interior Designer

Michelle Gage // How To Work With An Interior Designer — Michelle Gage

Alright folks, I'm going to let you in on a few designer secrets. While there is no real secret sauce, there are a few things that you can do to make your designer/client working relationship serve you best. I'm going to break down some tips on how to be an ideal client. I'm not providing these tips to imply that I need to school people on how to act. I just get a lot of questions from clients on how they can get the most out of their experience. Well, here's how...

1. Have a vision. Many clients will hire a designer for their creativity and ability to see a room's potential. Yes, designers are skilled at that - but keep in mind that you are the one who is most familiar with the space. If you're interested in redesigning your tired living room, you probably already have a long list of dreams for the space. If you have a Pinterest board, share it! Ultimately, a designer's goal is to have the space reflect the homeowner. Sharing your ideas sets the project off on the right track.

2. Have a budget. This can be a hard one. If you are working with a designer for the first time, you may not be familiar with what things can cost. However, I encourage you to try your hardest to come up with a budget. If your designer doesn't know where you stand on certain items, you are just making her job harder and setting yourself up for disappointment. Your designer needs to know if she is sourcing you a $3,000 sofa or a $10,000 one. Remember, you've hired someone to design a complete space for you. In order to do so, they need the complete picture. 

3. Trust your designer. Yes, you should have a vision - but you should also trust that you have hired a capable professional to execute that vision. You have to believe that your designer has the space's best interest in mind. Know that they bring many years of experience to the table and very aware of what is happening their industry.

4. Be decisive. This is especially important when you are using a designer that operates on an hourly rate. Being certain in what you want (and even in what you don't) keeps the project moving along. If you're getting hung up on every little decision, the space will stall. You just need to land on one item to get the ball rolling. That one item can be anything - sofa, rug or even a piece of art. That one decision informs the rest of the room's needs. If you are having trouble making a decision, let your designer do it!

5. Be patient. Things take time - especially in the design world. On average, a sofa can take 8-12 weeks to be made and sent to your front door. It could take some time to get a painter out to your space to even just quote the job. These factors are outside of your designer’s control and unfortunately a fact of life. Your designer will help you navigate these unknowns, but know that many delays you'll experience throughout the project have nothing to do with the designer’s ability to manage your project.

6. Play a part. If you aren't really concerned with each and every item selected, hand the reigns over to the designer. If you tend to be picky, try to collaborate. I always encourage my clients to participate in the design process. More often than not, the homeowner has been the one to suggest at least one piece we wind up purchasing for their space. Know that your input is valuable. At the end of the day, you will be the one living in the home, so work with your designer to ensure the space reflects your personal style.

7. Understand your contract. Be sure to read your contracts terms and conditions. As with any form, don't just sign on the dotted line. You really need to be familiar with how your designer operates. Her contract may have rules on late payments, photography and placing orders. If you have concerns about anything you read, be sure to ask for further clarification. My point - know who you are hiring!

If you can come to the table prepared, you'll be set up for success. The process takes a lot of focus and determination. I wouldn't say that it's a hard process, but it can be emotionally taxing. You pour so much into a project - as the designer and as the client - and care so much about the results. Even if you pass the project off to your designer completely, you'll need to review designs and orders along the way. Make sure you have the time to dedicate to such a project and be ready to be active in the process! 


How I Approach Interior Design

Michelle Gage // How I Approach Interior Design
Michelle Gage // How I Approach Interior Design
Michelle Gage // How I Approach Interior Design
Michelle Gage // How I Approach Interior Design

As a child, I was a HUGE Lisa Frank fan. I was a proud member of her club and received monthly mail packs of her colorful stationary and stickers. Her bold, bright and quirky style was right up my six-year-old alley. 

While my tastes have taken a turn for the better, I am still a fan of all things wild and whimsical. There are really no rules when it comes to interior design. Sure, there are some standards that I like to stick to - but when it comes to decor, I always say to DREAM BIG!

I always strive to have the homes I design reflect the people who live there. I guide the design process, but I am all about discovering the client's personal style. At the end of the day, you should come home to a space that looks like you and your family. 

That being said, there are certain elements that I favor. I totally dig a bold wallpaper. I love a good velvet sofa and always try to include vintage elements into the space. I love color and prefer to see more loud tones than neutral ones. 

A space should be a healthy mix of high and low furnishings. Introducing pieces of all price points is an efficient way to flex your budget - no matter what the size! Perhaps we invest a portion of your furniture fund into a dream sofa that is going to last you fifteen years. Then, maybe we skimp on the rug and find a $300 option that we know won't last more than three years. 

If you are in the camp of "buying the right thing once" - I hear you! Maybe you're wondering why we would spend so little on a cheapie rug and then replace it a few years down the line. Hear me out. If you have young kids or pets, no rug is going to hold up too long. Sure, some pricier options may stand the test of time - but if they are bound to get soiled, do you really want them in your house long term?

Accents, like your rugs, are a great place to save a little cash. Decorative textiles tend to be a little bit trendier than furniture styles. You can switch out your rug (pillows, bedding, etc.) when something that you like a little bit more comes your way. You won't feel guilty about this update when the original didn't cost you an arm and a leg.

Back to the vintage thing - I'm all about it - it's in my blood! When the room allows for it, I like to include at least one vintage item into a space. This item can be something that is a star in the space (like a blue vintage sofa) or something that takes on a supporting role (like a bar cart or end table). It takes a little longer to hunt down these vintage treasures, but it is so worth it. Antiques add character to even the most standard spaces. Another area where I like to layer vintage in is through decor. You can always toss in some worn hardback books, capped by brass bookends. 

While I try to attract clients that agree with my design philosophies, it doesn't always work out that way. It is a bit more natural for me to work with homeowners that align with my aesthetic. However, I enjoy the challenge that comes with working outside of my comfort zone. I work with and welcome all design styles. Again, at the end of the day, I want the space you reflect YOU and I want you to love coming home.