dining room transformation

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