When Kelsey DeLange and her family moved into their quaint Michigan rental, they knew they wanted to make certain design changes to ensure their vintage house felt like a cozy home for three. But as you can imagine, sprucing up a rental property comes with plenty of renovation restrictions like not being able to replace flooring, swap out light fixtures, or update countertops or the kitchen backsplash. Thankfully, illustrator Kelsey was inspired by that challenge and found creative ways to make her bohemian meets mid-century modern style shine within their walls.
As if those limitations and working with the footprint of an older house weren’t enough, Kelsey also runs a successful (and growing!) business out of her home, so finding additional space for her studio and supplies was another fun hurdle for the mom-of-one to tackle. But trust us, the DeLange’s home could not be cuter — just wait until you see what she’s done with the place!
Keep reading to get the details on their home’s renovations and design updates, find out how Kelsey worked around the quirks of their older space, and get a glimpse at a day in the life of this busy working mama.
Name: Kelsey DeLange, Illustrator
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Home’s Square Footage: 1,200
Years Lived In: 2
Rent or Own: Rent
Children: Dallas, 7
What was your first job and how did you land it?
My first real commission job as an illustrator came from a girl named Allie. She had seen the work that I was creating and sharing online and reached out to me about creating an original piece for her, which I had never been asked to do before! Over the years, we’ve actually become good friends, and she has the largest collection of my work — over 70 pieces, almost exclusively original paintings. It’s kind of insane! We joke around that her house is just a museum of my career.
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How has your career changed since you first started?
Oh goodness, where do I start? When I first started my business, Honey and the Hive, I don’t know that I was really expecting that it would turn into what it has. In the beginning, I was really just learning as I went along, both in creating art and in running a business. It was always a dream to be able to work from home full-time alongside my son as he grew up, but back then, it definitely felt more like a pipe dream. In the early days, I would stay up late after putting my kiddo to bed and paint at the dining room table of the tiny apartment we lived in at the time. I got prints made at a local print shop long before I dreamt of being able to afford a printer of my own, and I packed orders literally wherever space allowed.
As my business grew, products and shipping materials quickly began to fill up every nook and cranny of that tiny apartment. We actually had to clear out the linen closet in our bathroom to house my shipping materials and supplies because there was nowhere else for it to go! It was a truly humble beginning.
I’ve definitely learned a lot over the years, both in terms of developing my art and in running my business. We’ve long since moved from that tiny apartment, and my business takes residence in a designated space within our home, which was a really nice transition. Two years ago, I was able to quit my part-time job and really live out my dream of being a full-time artist, working from home with my little dude, and it’s been such a blessing. These days, I’ve shipped my art all over the world, it’s stocked in several boutiques across the United States, and I have gotten to work with some of my absolute dream clients — it’s crazy to look back and remember where it all started from.
You and your husband rent a home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. What was the biggest challenge that you faced in renovating a rented space?
I would have to say the biggest challenge we have faced is in navigating how to bring a vision for a particular space to life while still respecting the limitations set forth by the homeowner. For example, we can’t make major, irreversible changes to the home, meaning we can’t replace flooring, swap out light fixtures, or replace things like countertops or backsplashes. When we began the process of renovations, it felt very limiting and as though we didn’t have much creative liberty, but I’ve since learned to use the rules that have been set for us as a bit of a creative challenge, and I allow myself to focus on the things that I can change and the differences we can make to create a house that feels like home instead of getting so hung up on the things that we can’t. We’ve really learned to start with what we have and make a space that is beautiful, functional, and a reflection of our personalities. It’s also taught us what a huge transformation can be made just by painting walls and being strategic with furniture and decor.
How would you describe your design style?
My style can best be described as bohemian meets mid-century modern. I love pairing the eclectic, whimsical nature of bohemian style with the really clean lines and shapes found in mid-century modern pieces. It’s a really beautiful juxtaposition.
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Were there any quirks in the home when you moved in that you had to design around?
Oh my goodness, yes. We live in a pretty old home, and it definitely has its share of quirks. The first room we ever tackled, our living room, was probably the hardest space I have ever tried to work within. When we initially toured the house, the first question I asked was whether we would have the ability to paint — this room had the dreariest beige and burgundy walls; it just felt so heavy! A fresh coat of paint totally transformed this space, but figuring out a footprint of this space was another huge hurdle to jump. Our living room is really huge, but it’s a very long and narrow space which makes furniture arrangement and space planning really difficult. It took us several tries to get it right, and at times, I thought my husband was going to lose his mind if I moved the couch another time. In the end, we’ve found a way to maximize the space that our living room provides while making it functional and serve our family well.
Our house also has very small bedrooms, which is another perk of the time it was built. Navigating these tiny spaces while renovating was a challenge, but we’ve really learned to utilize every inch to create spaces that function well and are beautiful and relaxing. Perhaps the biggest challenge we have faced in designing our home is lack of a dining room. I have always felt that sitting around the table and sharing a meal as a family is really important, so this was something that always really bothered me, especially around the holidays when all I wanted was to prepare and enjoy a big, beautiful meal with my guys. Over the past few weeks, we’ve actually transformed a corner of our living room into the cutest, coziest dining nook. I am absolutely in love with how this space turned out, and it has completely transformed our evenings as a family.
What is your favorite part of your home?
I really love our living room. It’s the space that we use the most, the space that we spend the most time in as a family. I really love the work that we’ve put into this space to make it our own and to reflect our lifestyle and our personalities. Cuddling up on the couch to watch movies on Sunday night is one of my favorite traditions. This space is just the perfect spot for making some of our most cherished memories.
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As a working mother, how do you manage your time to find a healthy work-life balance?
This is something that I’m constantly learning, but setting boundaries has been paramount. I set specific working hours for myself and limit the amount of time spent working when my son is home from school. Generally, I work from 9am to 2pm, pick Dallas up from school, and allow myself one hour after he gets home to tie up any loose ends for the day. Learning to say no to jobs that don’t spark my soul to leave that space open for the things that do fill me up has been very important too. Early on in my career, I was a total “yes man,” which left me working crazy hours (I’ve pulled more all-nighters over the years than I care to admit), but I learned that when I said no to things that weren’t a perfect fit, not only was I not burning myself out, but the right job would quickly come along, and that felt much, much better.
I also do not work on weekends. Saturday and Sunday are sacred time with my family (and I work a half-day on Mondays which is my husband’s day off). Having these days with my family, allowing myself to disconnect from working, reset my mind, focus on self-care, and just be mom has completely transformed the way I work, making me much more efficient and, I’d say, much more successful in my working time.
What does a day in the life of Kelsey DeLange look like?
Being a business owner and a mother has meant that my days are ever-changing depending on what is needed both in my work and in my family life. But generally, I’ll start the day off with a big cup of tea while my husband makes my son’s breakfast and he gets ready for school. I like to start my workday off by answering emails, and then I’ll generally jump into whatever tasks I have for the day. Some days, this means photographing products or other types of content, other days this means I get to spend the whole day drawing and painting new pieces for my shop or fun client projects. Other days, th is means turning on my favorite playlist and packing orders for a few hours, but that’s one of the parts that I like the most about owning a small business — it’s a little bit different every day.
After I pick my son up from school, we generally have about an hour for him to unwind from the day and have a snack while I finish up any loose ends from my workday, and then it’s full-force family time. We’ll play games or watch movies, cook dinner together, and we like to read lots of books before bedtime. Right now he’s reading The Goblet of Fire from the Harry Potter series which we both absolutely love, it’s been so fun sharing something that was so important from my childhood with him, so we’re really leaning into that right now.
How has parenting helped your relationship with your husband evolve?
Navigating the world of parenting has been the most rewarding, but also the most challenging thing that either of us has ever done, and it has definitely transformed my relationship with my husband, Alex, over the years. We had our son when we were still relatively young — we were still very much figuring out who we were as people in that season of life, and so much growth has come since. Parenting together has definitely taught us to communicate better, even when it is hard, and it’s really taught us to work together as a team. It’s taught us to work even harder toward our goals and to be more flexible and patient. Raising our son has been the greatest joy of our lives, getting to share each milestone and memory together has brought us so much closer.
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If you had to pick just one, what has been your favorite memory of motherhood so far?
Oh goodness, what a tough question, I have so many! If I had to pick just one, I think it would be the first time that Dallas ever laughed. We were playing with one of those soft, plushy books that has the “peek-a-boo” flaps and mirrors in it, there was a little tree that squeaked when you squeezed it, and when he squeaked it, he just burst out laughing. Hearing his laugh for the first time was such a sweet and special moment, I can just close my eyes and remember it all perfectly. Definitely a moment that I’ll never forget.
What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?
If I could go back and talk to my 22-year-old self, I would just want to give her the biggest hug and let her know that it’s all going to be OK. I would tell her to be confident in exactly who you are, and that you don’t have to make yourself small to fit into anyone else’s molds or to live up to anyone else’s expectations. I have a pretty big personality, a lot of times I’ve been told I’m “too much” (too loud, too passionate, too strong-willed, too emotional), and I spent a lot of years trying to edit those parts of myself back; if I had just embraced them and loved myself for exactly who I was, things could have been so much easier.
Kelsey DeLange is The Everymom…
Favorite date night activity? Something fun like bowling and then dinner at our favorite arcade bar.
I wish I knew how to… sew!
Biggest mom fail? Not always being the most patient. I have always moved at a really fast pace (I’m practicing slowing down), but I’ve definitely had weak spots as a mother when it comes to patience.
Guilty pleasure? Cozy leggings, wine and chocolate, and bingeing my favorite Netflix show.
Dream vacation? Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter + Disney!
Ideal way to spend a Sunday morning? Slow and steady, cuddled up on the couch with a good cup of coffee, reading books with my tiny guy, and easing into the day ahead.
Favorite instagram account to follow? This is so hard, I think right now I’m really obsessed with @theeverco. They post the greatest holiday content and the woman behind it, Amy, is just an absolute gem.
App you can’t live without? Instagram. It’s the platform that jumpstarted my career, and it’s still the #1 way that I connect with people. I’ve met so many of my greatest friends through the platform, and it’s the one I find myself spending the most time on.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why? Stevie Nicks, definitely. I’m endlessly inspired and encapsulated by her. She’s such a free-spirited woman who isn’t afraid to be exactly who she is and encourage others to follow their passions and do the same.