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before and afterinterior designStudio Tour

Studio Tour: Michelle Gage

by Lauren Chorpening Day

After following Design*Sponge for 12 years and working for Design*Sponge for the last five, I didn’t expect that one of my favorite tours of all time would end up being published in the final months of the site. Michelle Gage shared her gorgeous living and dining room spaces with us a few weeks ago, and I still can’t get those rooms out of my mind. Her ability to layer old, new, mass market and one-of-a-kind pieces in a home makes each space feel so intentionally designed. Thankfully for her clients, she doesn’t just design this way for herself — Michelle is an interior designer by trade.

When Michelle and her husband Alex were looking for homes, they wanted a place that they could fully renovate, but they also had a design studio on their wishlist for Michelle’s growing design business. The home they found in Villanova, PA had the designated space but like the rest of the house, the studio needed some love to be functional and beautiful — in Michelle’s words, “It was a dump!” Today we get to peek inside her lovely, revamped design studio and a bit of the process that went into the look you see today. Lauren

Photography by Rebecca McAlpin

Studio Tour: Michelle Gage | Design*Sponge
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"First we ripped out the ceiling. The plan was to put a new one back in (fix the dip) – but once it was done we realized it would be best to leave it that way and keep it vaulted. We only ate into the attic’s crawl space so we didn't have to give up that much real estate in order to do so. Through that process, we toyed with the idea of removing the wall that covered the stone up," Michelle shares. "It made for a pretty awesome accent. The carpet came up and the floors were stained."
Studio Tour: Michelle Gage | Design*Sponge
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"The ceiling was caving in, due to the previous homeowners removing a load-bearing wall from the center of the room. There was nasty stained blue wall-to-wall carpet. The room is over the garage, so it was freezing cold or scorching hot, depending on the season," Michelle shares. "Long before we moved in, the room you see now was once two smaller spaces. Back in 1927, they were servants quarters."
Studio Tour: Michelle Gage | Design*Sponge
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"I wanted a large space to spread out. In previous home offices, I had just a small desk with no room to truly lay out my design work. I wanted a space that allowed me the room to be creative, which is where the large table comes into play. The table was in our former dining room before, but it was the perfect work surface for my studio. I also wanted a room that didn’t feel like a third bedroom. To make the space feel intentional -- like it was always meant for something more than sleeping -- we vaulted the ceiling and exposed the exterior stone wall," Michelle shares. "Now the room looks like a cool downtown office, rather than a spare bedroom."
Studio Tour: Michelle Gage | Design*Sponge
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Michelle isn't afraid of bold color. She has a talent for combining elements that could feel busy and balancing them with negative space and the right scale.
Studio Tour: Michelle Gage | Design*Sponge
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The exposed wall wasn't part of the original plan but once it was a possibility, Michelle ran with it in her design of the space.
Studio Tour: Michelle Gage | Design*Sponge
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"I love how spacious it is," Michelle says of her home studio. "Usually, I find myself working from the table. However, I have the option to sit at my desk or sofa as well. There’s plenty of storage for samples, so I feel like the space covers all of the bases."
Studio Tour: Michelle Gage | Design*Sponge
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Michelle's ability to find great pieces doesn't just add to the aesthetics --each element in her studio is beautiful as well as practical, like this inlay dresser that holds her samples. "Not only does the space function really well, but it also has pockets of color and pattern. It’s a space that allows for creativity but also sample storage -- which is a real need for an interior designer," Michelle says.
Studio Tour: Michelle Gage | Design*Sponge
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Michelle has turned a plain and wonky space into a hardworking, inspiring studio in which she can create.

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