Antiquity a la Mode: See this Home's Fine Art Renovation

By Bernie Rodgers | April 29, 2021 | Feature Migration

Fresh off receiving a Tory Burch Fellowship in 2020, Bryn Mawr-based design firm Michelle Gage Interiors amplifies the character of an 18th century estate for a family with an eye for fine art.

A blue, tufted sofa occupies the corner of a communal space PHOTO COURTESY OF REBECCA MCALPIN
A blue, tufted sofa occupies the corner of a communal space.

When Michelle Gage ( received a request to renovate an aged Main Line property via a client’s serendipitous Google search, she was ecstatic. Her creative process is typically born from a collaboration with both her clients and the structure set to be restored. “[I] relish in working within the existing bones of the space,” says Gage, owner of the eponymous design firm. “Of course, an older home comes with quirks, but I prefer to embrace them rather than attempt to correct them.” Luckily, the home held an abundance of eccentricities to be accentuated, from sweeping vertical niches perfect for bookshelves to a sloping entryway with bone inlay. However, her clients desired an aesthetic focused on showcasing their cherished art collection. They were certainly in the right hands—to say the least.

A renovated living room with wooden flooring and paneling, complemented by neutral, natural finishes PHOTO COURTESY OF REBECCA MCALPIN
A renovated living room with wooden flooring and paneling, complemented by neutral, natural finishes.

The year prior to the project, Michelle Gage Interiors secured a Tory Burch Fellowship, an annual award given by the Main Line native of the namesake brand, that helps small, women-owned businesses. The opportunity granted Gage $5,000 and myriad connections relating to vital areas of business, such as finance, marketing and customer service, serving as a jumpstart for her growing firm. “It was a bright spot in a pretty dark year,” she says. “In a year where we’ve had to find new ways to network, this program has been lovely.” Undoubtedly, the fellowship strengthened her company, which, in turn, allowed her to fully actualize her vision of restoring the traditional Bryn Mawr property.

Interior designer Michelle Gage. PHOTO COURTESY OF REBECCA MCALPIN
Interior designer Michelle Gage.

Gage’s aesthetic is characterized by a bold, idiosyncratic style with a distinctly European flair. Her designs often feature striking, patterned wallpaper, velvet upholstery and statement brass light fixtures; these facets made their way into this project, of course. Her clients “embraced wallpaper with soaring birds, blue velvet upholstery and bold brass mirrors,” says Gage. However, the real showstopper of the renovation is the customized art gallery. “We hung a few gallery walls, some solo statement pieces and even styled their shelving with decorative pieces that we sourced, as well as ones from their personal collection.” Upon hanging the final installation, Gage and her team left with assurance that they accomplished their mission: to intensify the estate’s 18th century style, not silence it.

Photography by: Photos courtesy of Rebecca McAlpin