Town Home and Garden was created almost out of necessity. When collector and vintage lover Michelle Feagles first moved to New Jersey, she found herself purchasing so many pieces that she was practically forced to open a store to share them all. With a husband in the NFL, Michelle had moved around the country multiple times — the New Jersey home was her 25th house, or so — so she had plenty of experience in extensive renovations, as well. That’s where her relationship with Renovation Angel began.
Wanting to renovate her kitchen but not create additional waste, Michelle found the team at Renovation Angel, which recycles high-end kitchens that would otherwise be discarded. By reusing show kitchens that would be wastefully tossed out, they’re able to renovate existing homes beautifully without an environmental impact. We spoke with Michelle about her own renovation experience, how Town Home and Garden is growing, and the things every homeowner should know before taking on a remodel.
Your store Town Home and Garden is known for vintage lighting and furniture… tell us a bit about it.
What started out as a necessity in terms of purchasing vintage and used items to decorate my own home became somewhat of an obsession. I got so consumed with finding all these great things that I was running out of space in my own house. My friends and family were constantly suggesting that I open up a shop. After many years of contemplating this idea, with two kids in college and two in high school, I decided to take the plunge and open Town Home and Garden in Midland Park, New Jersey, in 2014. After five years at that location, we moved to our hometown of Ridgewood.
How has business been over the last year, in light of the pandemic? Your town has probably gotten more popular than ever with folks relocating from the city, either temporarily or permanently.
For the first two months of the shutdown everything was very, very quiet. Buying and selling locally was done by appointment only, which made it difficult at times. With sites like Charish, people were able to purchase things online and in the safety of their own homes. This helped my business tremendously; however, it put a lot of pressure on me to find inventory. As we moved further along in the pandemic, estate sales started to open up again and I was able to start buying on a regular basis. Designers, in particular, were very happy knowing they could get product for their clients instantly since the supply chain was taking so long to get items. We were able to serve as a great resource for them and others.
How has being on Chairish and selling digitally affected your business as well?
Selling on Chairish has actually been a vital part of the growth of my business. THG is located in Ridgewood, New Jersey, a small town just 15 miles from New York. Because I can only reach so many people locally, being a seller on Chairish allows people all over the country to shop my store, including designers, set designers, and homeowners everywhere.
Since you’ve moved many times for your husband’s NFL career, you’ve renovated quite a few houses. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned doing that? What’s the biggest mistake people make (or that you yourself have made) with renovations?
I would say that the biggest lesson I have learned through the remodel process is that you really need to check regularly on the progress of the work being done. You have to be really proactive and hands on, checking and double checking with the contractors and tradesmen to make sure they are following the plans and asking questions. If you want your project to go smoothly and the timeline to go as planned, you need to be a few steps ahead and make sure things have been ordered way in advance and delivered on time so the project doesn’t slow down. I feel one of the biggest mistakes we made was over-improving. It is always hard to stay on budget, but you need to really pay attention to this. Your home is one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime, so you should always consider resale value and the comps in your neighborhood when remodeling.
When you decided to renovate your kitchen, how did you connect with Renovation Angel?
We found Renovation Angel through a couple of clients who came into the shop. We went to their homes and saw the finished product and were very impressed. We had in mind that we wanted something different, unique, and interesting, but we didn’t really know what that was going to be. When we stumbled upon the green Waterworks kitchen with the beautiful hinges and large stainless-steel sink, we knew immediately that this was it.
Tell us a bit about how you created the kitchen using existing cabinetry from Waterworks and second-hand pieces.
Once we purchased the kitchen through Renovation, we started our design. Our plan was to convert our attached two-car garage into a new kitchen, and make the small existing kitchen into a mudroom. Being that we are a family with four boys, we watch a lot of football and golf on TV. We wanted the feel of a sleek hotel or restaurant bar. We found a mid-century aluminum wall unit at a storage facility and then had it nickel plated and repurposed it into the bar.
Why was it important for you to renovate in a way that’s environmentally friendly?
Because we purchase and sell sustainable products at THG, we found it only fitting that we do something in our own home that would reflect our business model. The kitchen couldn’t have turned out any better. We also purchased a refrigerator from one of our clients who also purchased a kitchen at Renovation, since it came with two refrigerators and he could naturally only use one of them!
Any other big plans for Town Home and Garden for the rest of the year and beyond?
Since opening our shop in 2014, we have seen tremendous growth. Chairish has been an integral part of our success. As our business began to flourish, we began to run out of room, which has forced us to search for a larger space to keep up with demand. We are looking forward to opening our new space this month, in fact.
All photography by Geraldine Abdoo