Home Renovation

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


  • 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


  • 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

One Room Challenge: I Finally Have Progress Pictures


In last week's post, you got a lot of text. I had a lot to say, but not a lot to show. Truthfully, we didn't make much progress in the master bedroom. All of my ideas were still on paper...or on order, but not yet received. 

This weekend was a whirlwind. We spent three straight days sprucing this space up. I would never say that interior design is "difficult" - but there are a million moving parts. If one thing goes wrong, it can throw off every intention you had for the space. It's a giant puzzle and you're always missing a piece - and it's never under the couch cushion. The missing piece is always hanging out in the kitchen cabinet, between the bags of chips, where you'd never think to look...because you've never put a puzzle together there. Make sense?

We dealt with a delayed dresser delivery, missing components to the bed and a busted bench. Even with the best laid plans, things can just go awry. You have to keep a clear mind. These things don't HAPPEN TO YOU, they just happen (insert shrugging girl emoji here).

To top it off, I spent the previous week away in Highpoint, North Carolina, shopping the market for furniture for my design client projects. While I was away, some pieces trickled in. THANK GAWD for Alex. He was home to receive and lug in this rug, pad and pouf from Overstock.com. THEY'RE GORGEOUS! He also put down the cork floor, from Globus Cork, in our new Elfa closet

With all those wrenches thrown into the mix, we still made major progress - and I finally have the pics to prove it.

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: I Finally Have Progress Pictures
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: I Finally Have Progress Pictures

Last week, I got to pick out some storage items from The Container Store, which was a dream come true. I selected some wooden hangers, black boxes and copper bins to outfit the space. I was like a kid in a candy store; I filled my cart up so fast. My twelve year-old self wouldn't believe what I get to do for a job now at twenty-eight. If you want to take yourself on a little shopping spree, The Container Store is running a 25% off sale now thru May 13th. GO GET YOU SOME!

In the closet, we chose to install a cork floor. It was super easy (I say, having not done it myself). Alex put the floor down all by himself. He's done tile work before - and has totally sworn it off. The cork, he says, went down much easier. Everything came pre-cut and ready for install. Alex has been DYING to get cork flooring somewhere in the house. The closet was the perfect place to give it a go. Why? Well, remember, he swore off tile so that wasn't an option. I don't like carpet. The hardwood floors would've been impossible to match. Also, I wanted COLOR. Globus Cork has a range of colors and patterns to choose from. We chose the sage green, nugget cork in pattern #8. We're pretty pleased with how it turned out. The color works with the birch wood drawers and soft grey walls very well. 

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: I Finally Have Progress Pictures
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: I Finally Have Progress Pictures

Are you following along on Pinterest? No?! Well you should be! I'm stashing all the juicy product information here. If you want to catch up on week one, two and three...be my guest. Be sure to check in on the progress from this uber-talented crew too!


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. 


Our House Project Plans | Spring-Summer 2018


By now, you know that we've moved into a new house - our second fixer upper and forever home. We knew we were moving at the end of September, so we've had plenty of time to think through the design plan. It has gone through a few rounds of edits, but I think it's finally in the place where I can share it with you all. If the plan seems intense, well, it is. We have A LOT of updating to do. This house is full of character. It was built in 1927 and has a stone exterior. There are two sets of stairs - the main stairs off of the entryway and the butler's stairs. The butler's stairs connect to the part of the house that used to be the servant's quarters. You can see the differences in that space - the floors and the moldings are less expensive than they are in the rest of the house. It's also a good bit colder. We're going to fix all of that, as that space will become my studio.

When we were house hunting, a design studio was a top item on the list. My business has been expanding - and I eventually want to hire a team to work with me. We looked at homes that had garages we could convert or land we could build on. Ultimately, we landed on this home, which had a separate set of stairs and a wall removed between two bedrooms (making it a massive space). 

Now that you have a bit of background on why we landed where we did, let me talk you through the changes. We already made some, that you can read about here. Let's look at the rest.

Michelle Gage // Our House Project Plans | Spring-Summer 2018
Michelle Gage // Our House Project Plans | Spring-Summer 2018

#GoodBonesAbode Our HouseProject Plans - Spring-Summer 2018

1. Master BedroomThis is the biggest project of the home. So, rather then work our (Alex's) way up to it, it's going first. This space started as two bedrooms off of a separate hallway. When we bought the house, the owners had already removed the walls that separated the two spaces. While it created a somewhat awkward space, it gave us a larger room to create a true master suite. We're working on removing the hallway, creating a walk in closet, sitting room and then designated sleep space. I'll be sharing more about this space soon. Right now, Alex is consumed with removing, building and repairing walls - and I have SO MANY progress pics to share. 

2. Living Room: Surprisingly, this is one of the rooms that needs the least amount of work. Structurally, it's sound. It features some great wooden beams (one of the reasons we fell in love with the space) that just need a little cleaning. We need to do something (tbd) with the fireplace mantel. After painting is complete in March, I can furnish and decorate. There are some amazing built in shelves, which I can't wait to get my paws on. 

3. Studio: I got a little bit ahead of myself by speaking about the studio earlier in this post, but it just might be the room I'm looking forward to finishing the most. Currently, we can't even go in this room, as the ceiling is sinking. Alex plans to tear down the ceiling and fix it's busted structure. When the previous owners removed the wall between the two rooms, they didn't realize it was structural. Luckily, this was the only room with carpet. Alex removed it this weekend. It's going to get wall to wall wallpaper and some built in shelving for props and samples. Then, it comes down to the decorating. I already have the furniture I need for the space; it's currently sitting in our soon-to-be ripped our sun room. 

4. Powder Room: This room just needs a little touch up. We're keeping the original sink, but replacing the toilet. Alex has to do some rewiring - and you know it's getting an amazing wallpaper makeover.

Keep in mind, every room in the house is getting painted. Alex will also refinish all of the floors. There's a lot of labor that goes into both, so we chose to hire painters, something we didn't do in the last house.

I think that about covers the first round of renovations. In the fall, we'll start tackling some of the other spaces. I can't wait to share more of the process/progress as we get rolling. I hope you enjoy following along!


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!