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?

2018-12-16 17.42.33-1.jpg
2018-12-16 00.23.14-1.jpg

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.

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.

Our Round Two Renovations - Design Ideas from KBIS
Our Round Two Renovations - Design Ideas from KBIS
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!

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!


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

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! 


Before + After: Budget-Friendly Basement Reno

Michelle Gage // Before + After: Budget-Friendly Basement Reno
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Budget-Friendly Basement Reno

I am excited to say that this little basement renovation of mine is featured on Design*Sponge today! Hop on over there to read about how we transformed this space for just $1,000!!

Michelle Gage // Before + After: Budget-Friendly Basement Reno
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Budget-Friendly Basement Reno
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Budget-Friendly Basement Reno
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Budget-Friendly Basement Reno
Michelle Gage // Before + After: Budget-Friendly Basement Reno

Before + After: My Dining Room

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Dining Room

Our dining room tends to become our home's dumping ground. It's sort of like our temporary holding place. Too many bags of groceries? Dining room. Massive flea market haul? Dining room. I think this is mainly because it houses a large clean surface - our table. It is far too clean to not clutter up with other things.

This was one of the last rooms we tackled in our house. Three years ago, we moved in with a hand-me-down table and chair set. We even had an old (and really dirty) rug. I LOVED the existing wallpaper, so we chose to keep it. We wound up painting below the chair rail, but it truthfully wasn't too different that what the previous owner had.

We wanted to spruce the space up before our Apartment Therapy tour. That's where Wayfair came in. Our budget was bled dry from our last round of renovations. We needed some affordable and stylish options. 

Dark Wood Dining Table - sold out, similar / Wishbone Dining Chairs / Arteriors Zanadoo Chandelier / Blue Overdyed Rug - Be sure to get the right size!


Before + After: My Powder Room

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Powder Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Powder Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Powder Room

Alright, I will admit it, not every client wants a flamingo powder room. Heck, I have yet to have one make such a request. While it's not for everyone, it is for me. This is the wild wallpaper of my dreams and I am still so obsessed with it. 

To be transparent, wallpaper costs about 7x times as much as paint. There are a few places where your wallpaper really goes the extra mile. Your powder room is one of those places. Since it is such a small space, you don't have to make a huge investment/commitment. This space also allows the wallpaper to be the star of the show.

I've written a lot of articles on wallpaper and bathroom updates. Be sure to check each out. 

28 Simple and Budget Friendly Toilets

9 Powder Room Splurges You Won't Regret

20 Bathroom Wallpapers That Bring The Wow

My 63 Favorite Temporary Wallpaper Patterns

13 Bold Wallpaper Ideas For Your Powder Room

How To Choose The Right Sconces For Your Bathroom

20 Reasons To Be Entirely Obsessed With Pink Bathrooms


Before + After: My Home Office

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Home Office
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Home Office
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Home Office
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Home Office

When we moved into our house, there was this awkward little room off of the dining room. The room had gross, red paper tile. Kitchen cabinets hung on the walls. It was a tight space, but there was potential for it to turn into valuable square footage. We envisioned it being the perfect place to keep a computer and the piles of paperwork that comes with being an adult. 

To transform this space, we ripped the cabinets out to make the room feel more open. The floors were replaced with the same slate tile we used in our kitchen. Alex built this super cool shelving unit and the amazing white desk. The desk leaves us plenty of room to work side by side. We truly don't need much storage in this space and the tiny closet we have does the trick. The wallpaper sets the room apart and adds some interest to this otherwise neutral setting. 

We're totally pleased with how the room turned out. It's a small space, but it fits our needs perfectly. I encourage you to attempt a mini makeover like this in your own home. We use this room than I could've imagined when we first moved in. BONUS!


Before + After: My Kitchen, After Photos + Sources (and what the heck it costs!)

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, After Photos + Sources (and what the heck it costs!)
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, After Photos + Sources (and what the heck it costs!)
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, After Photos + Sources (and what the heck it costs!)
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, After Photos + Sources (and what the heck it costs!)
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, After Photos + Sources (and what the heck it costs!)

Let's jump right into Part Two of My Kitchen Reveal. We tackled this project about a year ago and it's finally time to share the sources we used to complete this design. Let me preface by saying, Alex did ALL of the work himself. While I'd like to say that I was right there with him after work ripping out cabinets and tiling the backsplash - it was all him. The one thing we did hire out was patching a roof leak in our ceiling. Truthfully, that could've been excluded from the budget since it wasn't a part of the design (or plan) - BUT - it's real life and that was something we needed to tackle as responsible homeowners (and ones who didn't want to watch our kitchen renovation get poured on). Same goes for the dumpster. That was a cool couple of hundred bucks that we spent JUST TO THROW OUR GARBAGE AWAY! Home-ownership, while rewarding, is pretty pricey, people.

Here's a snippet of our sources and budget breakdown (ya know, the good stuff):

Cabinets - local company, $9500

Granite Countertops - local company, $7500  

Custom Tiled Backsplash – in partnership with Mercury Mosaics 

Flooring - Lowe's, $550

Sink - Lowe's, $300

Lighting - Wayfair, $600

Hardware - Anthropologie + Lewis Dolan, $650

Refrigerator - Lowe's (Whirlpool), $2000

Oven - Lowe's (Whirlpool), $450

Dishwasher - Lowe's (Whirlpool), $300

Microwave - Lowe's (Whirlpool), $200

Dumpster - local company, $450

Ceiling Repair - local company, $1500

Additionally, we spent about $1000 on miscellaneous tools at Lowe's to get the job done. As you may have guessed, we practically live there. The Lowe's team knew us by name after this renovation.

Keep in mind, your budget breakdown can differ from ours quite a bit. You could spend more money on the appliances and less on the countertops. You might not have a roof leak that requires repair and you may choose to invest in a contractor to manage a labor team. This is just a glimpse at how we did it.

Note that these are all round numbers to give you an idea of what you can expect when renovating your own kitchen. I tried to include all costs - taxes, shipping, warranties - to give you a better idea of the true total. Again, my husband did all of the work himself, so we saved AT LEAST $15k on labor, if not more. We also didn't remove any walls or change the room's layout. Sure, we thought about it, but that costs a sh*t ton of money that we didn't think was worth the investment for this space. When tackling a large and costly renovation, study your neighborhood. We were careful not to price ourselves out of ours. If we spent more than our final cost of $25k, we would start to see less of a return on our investment. Kitchens are one of those spaces where you usually wind up getting the majority of your investment back when you sell. If you are looking to tackle a kitchen renovation, I'd LOVE to hear about it. I hope this post gives you some valuable tools to take with you for a project of your own! 


One Room Challenge: Are We There yet? The Unstyled Shots...

Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Are We There yet? The Unstyled Shots...
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Are We There yet? The Unstyled Shots...
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Are We There yet? The Unstyled Shots...
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Are We There yet? The Unstyled Shots...
Michelle Gage // One Room Challenge: Are We There yet? The Unstyled Shots...

Alright guys, we're almost there. It's week five! This project is wrapping up quite nicely and I am SO excited to have this space shot. We did have some last minute changes - as is common with interior design. There were a few tweaks to the original design plan.

We chose to skip the lamp selected for the sofa's end table, in favor of some plant life. Instead of choosing between two new rugs from World Market, we stole the pink flokati from Natalie's bedroom. It's size was right so we didn't need to purchase the larger jute layer. We didn't wind up installing the Ikea pendant - it just wasn't a needed change and it came down to a decision on time/priorities. Natalie chose to splurge on the bar cart of her dreams - this stunning one from Anthropologie and the space is better for it.

Lastly, one of the biggest changes made was with the wallpaper. We were sent a little bit less than we needed for the fireplace wall and chose to change its home. I honestly think this was for the best. That wall was attracting all of the good stuff! It had all of the character and great props. The back wall was feeling a little overlooked and now that we had a stunning bar cart, it needed a great backdrop. The switch was very welcomed and I actually think it improved the overall design. I can't wait to see shots of the sofa with that wallpaper in the background. 

The shoot is happening today and I unfortunately won't be able to make it, due to a family emergency. To fix this, I created a visual guide for the final styling of the space. Kyle, an amazing local photographer, is going to be there to ensure that the space is photo-ready! I can't wait to share the results with you next week. Stay tuned if you love wild wallpaper!

One Room Challenge

A Peek Into My Home With Apartment Therapy

Michelle Gage // A Peek Into My Home With Apartment Therapy

Hey, guys! I've been keeping this secret for some time now and I am finally letting the cat out of the bag. This has been in the works since November so this secret-keeping hasn't been easy. My home is currently being featured on Apartment Therapy! If you are ready to gawk at loads of vintage goodies, I suggest you click here


Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress

Let me start this post by saying that this renovation was a long time coming. When we first visited this home - as perspective buyers - we were instantly intrigued by this space. It was quite large and obviously hideous. EVERYTHING needed to GO! The floors were dirty and sticky. The appliances appeared to be original to the house. The counter tops were held together with tape. However, the most hated feature in this space had to be the tan rubber baseboard. It was a breeding ground for grime and gunk. 

Kitchens are a costly renovation. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Don't be fooled by house flippers on HGTV who completely transform their spaces for $8,000. That's not real life. In real life, sh*t is expensive. Our cabinets alone cost more than $8,000. I'll dive into "what was spent where" in my next post. My point is that we needed to save up for this renovation. After putting our 20% down on the house, we were feeling a bit strapped for cash. We waited two years to tackle this room.

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress

Alex, my handy husband, tackled this whole project himself - with minimal help. His ability to work his a** off after his 9-5 work allowed us to save a good bit. Labor costs can be pretty close to material costs. With this $25k kitchen project, we probably saved about $15k on labor alone. 

Luckily for us, Alex enjoys this sort of work - though he has since vowed to never tile again. That's the pits! 

To see more progress photos from our renovation, check out #gagekitchenreno.


Before + After: My Living Room Reveal

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal

Our living room is HANDS DOWN our favorite room of our house and I am so excited to share a little bit more about it! The "before" photos that you are seeing was what we walked into as potential home buyers. While the space didn't reflect our style whatsoever, there was a certain warmth and charm to the way the previous owner decorated. We saw that the space had potential. 

It is a long and narrow space, so coming up with the perfect layout was hard - I'm still not sure that this is it. When dealing with such a skinny space, you don't want to chop it up by placing a sofa dead center. Our Anthropologie sofa tucked in nicely next to the stairs. We flanked each side with a vintage trunk. The blue trunk is a find from college. Alex and I scored that baby for TWENTY BUCKS at our town's YMCA. The brown and more beaten up piece came from a local estate sale. It was one of the first pieces we bought specifically for this home. Truthfully, we didn't do anything to get it out of its weathered state. We liked it just the way it was and I'm not a big believer of restoring vintage finds - especially ones that cost just $75. 

Our first order of business when tackling this transformation was to rip up the hideous orange carpet on the stairs. We really wanted our entry way to be a focal point in the space. In order to complete that mission, we added a wallpapered accent wall. This print is one I had been coveting for years and makes me smile every day. It's one of the first things that guests notice when they walk into our home - that and the teal vintage table. While few people have actually spotted them, we do have a quirky pair of vintage roller skates at the bottom of the stairs. We picked them up at a local flea market last summer for just $15. 

We filled this space with our favorite vintage finds from the last few years. Each piece has a story. Nearly all of the artwork and decorative objects came from a thrift store, flea market or estate sale. The campaign dresser was a Goodwill find. The cream cabinet came from my parents unfinished basement - something that was neglected for over forty years.

The one thing that we loved about the original space was the vintage mirror hanging over the fireplace. We actually tried to buy the seller's off of her but she wasn't willing to part with it. We found a similar style a few months later at an estate sale and hung it up immediately. We knew we didn't want a TV in this space, so the fireplace was going to house either a mirror or art.

One of the features that drew us to this space was the fireplace and built-ins. Luckily, they were already in good shape and not in need of additional TLC. That section of the room is where Alex frequents; it's his reading corner. Fun fact, he has hand selected each and every vintage book in our house - we're talking about hundreds of books, people! Being the grandpa that he is, he actually reads them cover to cover. With such a steady hobby, I wanted to get him a special chair. This chair and ottoman set was a Craig's List find. The cushions were a terrible mauve paisley print and desperately needed an update. We ordered some soft grey yardage with a West Elm gift card and had a local shop stitch it up. We're pretty pleased with the results. 

You want your front room to show off your style. Our personality is certainly reflected in the other rooms of our house, but our living room captures "us" best. It's filled with Alex's favorite books and my favorite art. It houses the brass car horn we got at The Rose Bowl while visiting friends in LA. It holds the black and white ceramic dog, passed down from Alex's grandfather. This is a space that just makes us love coming home.