When Grace announced to our little team that 2019 would be the last year of Design*Sponge, we started brainstorming how to make this an incredible year of content. One of the first ideas we had was to revisit homeowners that we’ve previously featured on the site. Immediately, I thought of Michelle Gage. Her family room renovation was a huge transformation without a huge budget. Luckily for all of us, she’s since moved and has gotten down to business reworking rooms in her new home. Her vibrant, playful and modern style shines through and I’m absolutely in love with her living spaces.
Michelle and her husband, Alex, spent three years fixing up their previous home. “We loved our first home — and had no real reason to move — but we quickly learned it wasn’t our ‘forever home’ and we had run out of projects,” Michelle explains. “We wanted to make sure that this didn’t become a habit — moving every three years — so we spent months really looking for the right fit. We made a very long (and somewhat unrealistic) list of ‘needs’ for this new house. We saw a few contenders and put in a few offers, but nothing seemed to pan out.” They kept moving forward, looking for old homes with potential, and found the perfect one nearby in Villanova, PA. “One night, while Alex was away for work, I found this home listed on Zillow. I sent him a link and told him this was ‘the one.’ It checked almost all of the boxes. The home was old and in desperate need of repair, which is ultimately what we wanted. It was built in 1927,had a stone exterior, large yard, a butler’s pantry and separate studio space. Alex returned home from his work trip the next day and we set up a showing right away. The home was in pretty terrible shape, but it had wonderful bones and we just fell in love with its quirks.”
Michelle and Alex had tackled most of the renovation projects in their previous home themselves. They learned a lot but also learned that they’d like to hire out more of the labor in their next place. Michelle considered which projects they’d be hands on with, and which they’d let someone else handle when coming up with the renovation and design plan. They wanted the spaces to be comfortable for everyday living while also special for hosting. The living room‘s built-ins, fireplace, doors and beams remained the space’s focal points while getting a bright and airy facelift. For the dining room, there was hardly any architectural interest so they added it in with molding, built-in shelves and wallpaper. She’s balanced unfussy design with statement pieces like the pendant lights in the dining room and a gorgeous mix of mismatched seating in the living room. Michelle has been able to layer in such amazing texture, pattern and color into her spaces. These once neglected rooms are now beaming with interest and style. Scroll through the images for Michelle’s design process. —Lauren