Michelle Gage Upgrades This Haverford Home With a New Layout

Photos by Brian Wetzel

With the help from designer Michelle Gage, a Haverford home gets a spacious new layout and an impactful addition.

There are two tried-and-true ways to add room in a house: Build an addition, or reconfigure existing square footage to make it feel and function like a larger space. For a Haverford family of five bursting at the seams, an artful combination of both approaches gave their circa-1920 Colonial Revival home a boost of energy, efficiency and elbow room. The owners took their wish list to Villanova-based designer Michelle Gage. “The existing floor plan featured a tight, cramped kitchen,” says Gage. “We ripped it out and designed an addition that featured a mudroom off the access to the back door, as well as an adjacent powder room, a small living room or den, and a coffee station.”

home kitchen by gage

Removing a wall between the kitchen and dining areas makes both spaces feel larger and lighter. Creative storage options also help, seeing as the owners gave up a bank of cabinets when the wall came down. “They were begging for more space in the kitchen, so we got clever,” Gage says. “In addition to reworking the layout so it felt more open, we added a large island that features cabinets on both sides. They went from having two tight spaces to having one large open space with much better function. They can all eat comfortably together as a family now—or hang out when they’re cooking. The space is also great for spreading out and doing homework.”

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The kitchen sink is now stationed in the island, which provides seating for three. White globe pendant lights are suspended from the ceiling, contrasting the angular black chandelier that hangs over the dining table. The cabinets have white uppers and black lowers (Gage calls it “tuxedo style”) with a mix of cupboards and drawers that reflect the family’s storage needs. Sleek, simple hardware helps the space feel less cluttered. “Cabinets are better for plates and cups, but drawers function well for Tupperware, linens and utensils,” Gage says.

dining room
Inviting colors, textures and patterns add life to the den, dining room and mudroom.

The kitchen’s subway-tile backsplash is a fresh, minty green, reflecting an appreciation for lively colors. “They have great style,” says Gage. “They love quirky prints, bold colors and artisan-made touches—and the whimsy and delight they offer. Honing in on their specific style helped us flesh out the functions of each room, down to the proper placement of coat hooks.”


A sense of fun and adventure was the inspiration for the powder room, where the walls are papered in an exuberant blue-and-white print depicting tropical birds. A Shaker-style vanity is painted pale blue and has a milky marble top. Vintage-style faucets are a soft, brushed brass that resists water spots.

home storage by gage

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Gage views any powder room as an opportunity to make an impact. At some point, everyone in the home winds up there. “You can select something super-punchy for a small space that might feel like a lot in a larger room,” she says. “For this home, we also chose a signature ceiling light and funky tile—elements that combine to create a statement.”

“The owners love quirky prints, bold colors and artisan-made touches—and the whimsy and delight they offer. Honing in on their specific style helped us flesh out the functions of each room, down to the proper placement of coat hooks.”

The mudroom is the engine that drives the addition, providing a cheerful welcome, thoughtfully organized storage, pantry space and a coffee bar the owners yearned for. Each of the three kids has a locker-sized storage area for school and sports gear.

Despite its practicality, the mudroom has a vibe that’s hip and sophisticated, with sleek, navy blue cabinetry and graphic black, gray and white floor tile. “We wanted to make sure all finishes in the space had a little sparkle to them, so we specified brass light fixtures and a funky floor tile,” Gage says. “The best thing you can do to make a mudroom work is to really think about closed and open storage solutions that encourage use.”

powder room by gage
The powder room


In the addition, color and pattern help to unify the newer rooms with the existing home. The navy hue from the mudroom cabinets is reinterpreted in the den, where a blend of textures contributes to the inviting feel. The tailored green sofa is soft and tactile, while a nearby round drum table is a cool contrast in brass-toned metal—with no sharp edges for active children. “Our goal was a cozy and cohesive space, with differing metal finishes to keep things interesting,” Gage says. “The spaces really flow together in such a natural and beautiful way. They belong with one another, without being too matchy-matchy or expected.”

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