"Everything needed to go!" That's how interior designer Michelle Gage describes the Havertown house she and her husband bought three years ago. Because it's in the suburbs, they were able to get more for their money — 2000 square feet — but Michelle reports that though large, it was, well, hideous.
And she means all of it. "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," Michelle wrote on her blog. So everything did go. Slowly.
To get it done, Michelle and Alex used their own hard work. The whole house was an extremely hands-on project, thanks to the couple's tiny (read: non-existent) budget, after putting 20% down to buy the house. But though it's taken a few years to finish up, the results are phenomenal. Michelle's excelled at marrying her eclectic, contemporary tastes — like bursts of fun color or wallpaper pattern — with respect for the home's existing good bones. Each room has had a remarkable update, but Michelle cites the kitchen renovation as their proudest DIY, giving credit where credit's due.
"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," Michelle wrote on her blog.
The house no longer has the outdated stuffy '80s vibes it did when they first bought it, but the updates don't look out of place, either. Michelle was able to add personality to the space, while also respecting the original architecture.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Artfully Bold
Inspiration: Can I say flea markets? I'm inspired by the art of collecting and acquiring treasures over time. I love seeing what other people own — what they choose to keep and what they choose to get rid of.
Favorite Element: All of the vintage finds
Biggest Challenge: Renovating the kitchen after work — specifically, living without a sink for months while in project-mode.
What Friends Say: One of our best friends actually said, "Man, you have a lot of stuff. You must hate coming to our house."
Biggest Embarrassment: Our ceilings — I'm so ashamed! I have a hard time looking up, knowing that we didn't paint them when we moved in. EVERYTHING else got painted. We tried to color match for touch-up purposes and quickly realized that they are all a different shade of white (making the touch ups much more obvious than desired).
Proudest DIY: The kitchen, but Alex gets all of the credit — he gutted the whole thing and rebuilt it from scratch.
Biggest Indulgence: The wallpaper is where we splurged the most. Not only is it more expensive than painting, but it's also the only labor we've hired. We've tackled every other project ourselves, but we knew our limits here. The kitchen was the most expensive renovation, but we saved big time on the labor costs by doing it ourselves.
Best Advice: YouTube everything. If you are unsure of how to complete your own kitchen renovation, know that everyone else is, too. Before calling in a professional, turn to your computer. The experts can always come in after if things go terribly wrong.
Dream Sources: Everything Consort. They have the most beautiful furniture and décor. They put it together in the most magical and effortless way.
Living Room – Silver Leaf by Valspar
Kitchen – Belle Grove Victory Blue by Valspar
Office – Woodrow Wilson Putty by Valspar
Library/Basement – Bistro White by Valspar
Bedroom – Drizzling Mist by Valspar
Studio – Bistro White by Valspar
Guest Room — Belle Grove Victory Blue by Valspar
Wallpaper – Cole & Sons
Blue Entry Table – taken from my parents' basement
Chair and Ottoman – Craigslist rehab
Other Grey Chair – Urban Outfitters
Copper Bucket – flea market find
Green Vintage Ballot Box – Brimfield Flea Market
Mantel Mirror – estate sale
Yellow Interior Artwork — Blakely Made
All Other Artwork – thrift stores, estate sales, flea markets
Cream Cabinet — taken from my parents' basement
Campaign Dresser – Goodwill
Round Mirror – Target
Sofa – Anthropologie
Coffee Tables – IKEA
Trunks – thrift store and estate sale
Pillows – IKEA
Custom Tiled Backsplash – Mercury Mosaics
Brushed Brass Knobs – Anthropologie
Brushed Brass Pulls – Lew's
Pendant Light – Pelle
Faucet – Lowe's
White Chairs – Bend Goods via Wayfair
Live Edge Table for two – made by Alex Gage (professional handy husband)
Large Ocean Art – Brynn W. Casey
Oar + Other Art – thrifted
Flush Mount Light – Wayfair
Flooring – Lowe's
All Appliances – Whirlpool
Wallpaper – Anthropologie
Vintage Brass Duck Bookends – The Early Bird
Overdyed Rug – Anthropologie
Task Lamp – Anglepoise
White Lacquered Desk - made by Alex Gage (professional handy husband)
Desk Chair – yard sale
Shelf Accessories – 100% thrifted finds (Brimfield, Goodwill, etc.)
Sectional — Article
Ottoman — Article
Mudcloth Square Pillow – Wayfair
Blue Mudcloth Square Pillow — Wayfair
Amalfi Painting —Chairish, framed by Framebridge
Surveyor – flea market
Bar Cart – old typewriter table, left behind in shed
Peacock chair – dad's from the '70s
Built-in - made by Alex Gage (professional handy husband)
Bed – Anthropologie
Bedding – West Elm
Pillows – all from Bunglo
Nightstands – hand-me-down from neighbor, painted
Blue campaign dresser – Anthropologie
White campaign dresser – Goodwill rehab
White vintage dresser – from childhood bedroom
Pink velvet chair – estate sale
Brass framed sailboat artwork – yard sale, framed by Framebridge
Large Ornate Frame – flea market
Rug – Wayfair
Blue Velvet Sofa – estate sale
Live Edge Coffee Table — made by Alex Gage (professional handy husband)
White Nightstand — from childhood bedroom
Desk – Ikea
Blue Velvet Chair – Anthropologie
Dresser – Craiglist rehab
Wallpaper – Hygge & West
Vanity – yard sale, added new knobs
Round Mirror – flea market
Floor Length Mirror – made by my dad
Dresser – from childhood bedroom
Headboard – shutters from a barn sale
Rug – Anthropologie
Bench – estate sale