Michelle and John's Handcrafted Family Home

Michelle and John's Handcrafted Family Home

Christine Lu
May 28, 2014
(Image credit: Christine Lu)

Name: Michelle, John, and Hattie Taylor
Location: Bon Air, Richmond, Virginia
Size: 2,500 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years; Owned

Four years ago, Michelle and John bought their split-level home in the neighborhood of Bon Air, a suburb of Richmond, Virginia. They appreciated the bones of the house, but it needed a lot of work, so they started renovating and they haven't stopped since. Their vision for creating a warm and inviting place to host their friends and family, as well as a practical place to house their growing family, is apparent in all of the thought and care that went into each room of the house.

(Image credit: Christine Lu)

Michelle and John make a great team: John is inventive and savvy with the tools, Michelle is visionary and creative. It was lovely to be in a space where the combination of these talents resulted in a home that is beloved and livable. Even though this neighborhood and house weren't where they initially thought they would make their home, Michelle and John have the house into a haven that works for them. They also ended up falling in love with their neighborhood of Bon Air, with its huge yard and proximity to downtown.

(Image credit: Christine Lu)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I would describe our style as classic and chic with an antiqued vibe. John would call it eclectic contemporary antiqued shabby chic with functional craft style design. And when you meet him, that makes sense.

Inspiration: We hadn’t anticipated moving out into the suburbs when we moved to Richmond, but after renting the home for 6 months, we decided to stay. There’s something really nice about how quiet and friendly the neighborhood is. When we lived in St. Louis, we lived in one of the city’s renovated schoolhouses, so you can imagine that it was quite different from our home now... aside from the similarity of three flights of stairs. It was modern with exposed brick, high ceilings, windows from nearly floor to ceiling, and polished concrete. We loved the idea of the space, but it wasn’t functional. Because of the many large windows, we froze in the winter and boiled in the summer. There was also limited privacy because no room was completely separated from the next. So, when we moved into our home here, we knew that we could create the space that we had been hoping for. The bones of the home were great, but the cosmetics didn’t reflect our style. Now that we had space and many rooms to hide away in, it was important to us that we created spaces that had their own personality.

I’d say that I am most inspired by walking through Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Arhaus. I’ve also been known to peruse Pinterest and even my friends' homes for ideas. The most sentimental inspiration for me is my mother’s home. While our tastes are very different, she always had knick knacks about that reflected the time of year, and her house felt like such a warm home to be in. I have wonderful childhood memories of coziness and the smell of vanilla in the air. Memories I don’t have often, so I’m thankful that this experience has allowed me to go back to there…

John pulls his inspiration from blogs and general DIY internet searches. He has an incredible imagination and is creative, too, so the pieces he creates are always major talking points when we share our home with others.

Favorite Element: We really love our backyard. It starts with a Florida room, and off of it is a deck with a built in hot tub and then a stone patio with landscaping all around it. It’s such a calming space, and when everything’s in full bloom in the early summer, we just can’t be out there enough.

Another one of our favorite spaces is our living room. This room was the last one that we renovated. When we found out we were pregnant with our daughter, Hattie, we decided that we needed a bright space with a lot of natural light to spend time as a family. This was so great for me because as I was ‘nesting’, I was lucky enough to create the nursery and our new living room. I had an idea of what I wanted the space to look like, but with it always being empty, I had a difficult time visualizing how it was going to come together. So, I called on my girlfriend, Sherilyn, which I often do, to help me create the space I wanted. What a hilarious process this was. I’m pretty sure I was in a Home Goods, Marshalls, Target, or TJ Maxx every day for five months. Seriously. And every location in Richmond, too! The look I really wanted was classic. Not my typical style. I wanted to use navy, white, and yellow. Yellow because the walls were already painted that color (and John was worried about repainting a room while I was pregnant), and navy and white because it was such a nice contrast to the yellow. Sherilyn made the navy and white striped curtains from scratch, and I consulted her on pretty much everything we put into the room. John and I have a tendency to go neutral with small pops of color, so I really needed Sherilyn to push us so that our room didn’t end up looking blah. And we did it. We’ve literally spent Hattie’s first year in our living room.

Biggest Challenge: We love our yard and the landscaping, but it can be a lot to manage, especially since we’re both particular about having a well manicured space at all times. While there are times that we spend entire weekends caring for our yard, we make sure to sit back and enjoy our hard work with some of John’s homebrew in hand.

Another challenge was the limited storage and counter space in the kitchen. When we renovated the kitchen, John had the idea to add a bar top and cabinets on the empty wall. I was very skeptical about this addition, but as soon as it went in, I was so thankful John had the vision for it. This part is the most used countertop in our kitchen!

What Friends Say: It’s hard to remember since we’ve been renovating for years now. I think initially they’re surprised because our home’s interior is so different than the 1970’s exterior. We’re at that age where we’re hosting baby showers, wedding showers, and birthday parties, so I love having new guests over to see their response. We both love the feeling of someone new asking questions about our home and the pieces in it. It’s nice to get compliments, too, but it’s the best to be able to tell someone, “John actually bought that at Habitat for Humanity for $15, repainted it, built the doors for it, and now it’s our tv stand.” People often think pieces like these in our home have come from Restoration Hardware or Arhaus.

Biggest Embarrassment: I hate the glass storm door on the front of our house. I want the typical Richmonder wooden, six panel glass door, but John can’t make that move because of its inefficiency. I want this type of door so badly that I actually had someone come out to give me a quote for a lookalike that was steel. I was hoping to convince John that it was our compromise — the look I wanted with the efficiency he desired. I thought it was genius. Until I got the quote for two grand. I forget about it most days, but there are some that I literally dream about getting one. I’d even take it for a birthday present!

Proudest DIY: Our kitchen. The kitchen had linoleum floors and a minimal number of dark cabinets and countertop space. Once we decided this was our next project, we spent many nights and weekends at Lowe’s planning our dream kitchen. After the fun of demolition, we purchased a unique tile from Morris Tile in Richmond and laid it ourselves with the help of John’s parents. Naturally, our A/C went out hours before starting this project and it was 90+ degrees outside. I had always wanted antiqued white cabinets in a kitchen, so I was so excited that John actually liked this look, too.

We are also proud of our mudroom doors. This room was cinder blocks and concrete all around. John transformed the space to be more comfortable and designed and built the sliding doors.

Our most recent DIY project was our farmhouse patio table. I have been wanting a unique patio table that reflected our style. So, I bought a door from Habitat for Humanity for $10, painted it, and asked John to build/add a frame and legs. He even drilled a hole in the middle for an umbrella. We love it!

Biggest Indulgence: The kitchen was the biggest change and our largest indulgence. Though it wasn’t essential, we agreed that we desired the change and it was during this process that we learned how aligned we are with our style. It was a ton of work though.

Best Advice: Peruse stores and magazines. And even better — find a friend who is creative and challenges your style. This will add to the effect and story of your space.

Dream Sources: Arhaus, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel.

(Image credit: Christine Lu)

Resources of Note:


  • Shelf - Ikea - We bought it from Ikea, but when we got it home, it didn’t fit. John cut off 12 inches from both sides and we painted it white. The joke around our home these days is, “what color should we paint it? oh. that’s right. white.”
  • Mirror - Home Goods in Short Pump.


  • Couch - Arhaus in Short Pump
  • Armchair - One armchair is from Marshalls in Midlothian, the other is from Home Goods/TJ Maxx in Midlothian.
  • Coffee Table - Home Goods in Short Pump.


  • Dining table & chairs - This is embarrassing. We bought this table at a place called Warehouse of Dinettes in St. Charles, MO.
  • Dining room hutch - our friend Michelle Westbay bought this and repainted/antiqued it. She was recently selling it and we snagged it from her!


John designed and built the doors for the space and his parents help him put up the paneling and build the storage spaces.


We bought the wicker furniture from the previous homeowners. But, recently, I had them recovered in white and painted the room the same color as our living room. I wanted to brighten the space and have it feel very fresh and clean. The random chairs are from vintage stores in Richmond and Chesterfield, VA.


This room is a hodgepodge of the things we have acquired that don’t seem to fit in our other rooms. It’s quirky, but still has a nice, cozy vibe.


I wanted to go neutral for Hattie’s room. My goal was for the space to be calm and comfortable because I knew we’d be spending a lot of time in it. Her changing table was a thrift store find and John bought soap dishes from Anthropologie to add as the drawer handles. The wall lamps were purchased online from Lamps Plus because I wanted a girly, vintage feel. This isn’t my typical style, but I knew it’d be so Hattie. I love them. The rest of the furniture and rug is from Home Goods in Midlothian. I swear they know me by name...


John built our the headboard and bed frame for our bed. I really wanted a fabric headboard instead of wood, so he built the frame and covered it. We have limited space in our bathroom, so instead of a cabinet, we bought another piece from Ikea, and John built a door to cover it. It’s perfect!

(Image credit: Christine Lu)

Thanks, Michelle and John!

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