A Couple Bought This Huge House for $95k and Have Designed and Built a Truly Maximalist Wonderland

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Bold, colorful living room with green walls and curtains, multi-patterned upholstered furniture, and two chandeliers
This is the home's original parlor. It's currently green. Before that it was pink. Before that it was purple. Before that it was yellow. The whimsical art is by Vic Lee (St. Victor's Diaries) and Stanaslavas Sugintas. The amazing furniture is by Kat Garrand, aka @thecrazychair on Instagram.

Name: Michelle Carder and Mike Ochs and dog, Levi, aka “The Bees”
Location: Cadillac, Michigan
Type of home: House
Size: 3,000 square feet finished
Years lived in: 4.5 years, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: Our home is a characterful, four-story Queen Anne built in 1902 during Northern Michigan’s lumber baron era by a local businessman named Charles Russell. We fell in love with the house in 2016 after seeing it online while we were living across the country in Southern California. We ended up buying it for $95,000 after it sat on the market for years due to rumors it was falling down (it’s not falling down).

This is my home office. It's full of unabashed whimsy and is a glorious and inspiring place to work and think.

The house retains almost all of its original woodwork, including magnificent and intricate hardwood flooring, large pocket doors, paneling, windows, and door hardware. Since buying the house, we’ve completely renovated the kitchen (which took 22 months), butler’s pantry, and two bathrooms in addition to adding numerous decorative and architectural flourishes.

Mike and I designed and built the kitchen.

To date, all of the work has been DIY designed and built by both Mike and me, although we’ve just retained contractors to rough in two large projects, which Mike and I will then finish. The first of these projects is a 240-square foot rear room addition which we will turn into a swanky lounge/bar. The second is conversion of an approximately 1,300 square foot allegedly haunted attic with soaring 20-foot ceilings into a master bedroom suite.

Here is our upstairs bathroom, which was my One Room Challenge project and was designed and built by Mike and me. The concept is a mashup of Chronicles of Narnia and the ladies' lounge at Annabel's London. The floor was hand painted by the artist Shannon Nelson.

I was an attorney specializing in insurance litigation for many years. The house (and the one that preceded it, which was equally exuberant in terms of color and theatrics) is the last thing people who knew me as a practitioner in my rigorously logical and stressful profession would expect. Because my work was consuming and combative, I needed a creative and positive outlet for my own mental health and I found that in decor, and specifically decor of a colorful, whimsical, and theatrical nature. Saturated, vibrant color, and escapist art truly were my therapies and kept me rooted and balanced during very stressful times.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Tony Duquette meets Hobby Lobby. My motto is “Half tacky is just tacky. But full tacky is haute couture.”

This is the upper hall. Art is by Debbie Allen, Stanaslavas Sugintas and Vladimir Kush.

What is your favorite room and why? Our favorite room changes as frequently as I repaint them. Which is a lot.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing we bought for our home was about 100 pounds of Christmas decor which currently is spewed in every direction.

Any advice for creating a home you love? My advice for creating a home you love is to push the envelope of your imagination, rethink your comfort zones, and honor the laws of attraction. Love is emotional, and so home decor should also be emotional if it is to be loved. Rooms should be immersive and tell stories about the people who live and love there. Above all, never be afraid to fly that freak flag loud and proud if you feel the inclination. We all have one, and thank God for that.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.