Designer Influence: Fresh. Fun. Funky.

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Designer Influence: Fresh. Fun. Funky.

interior design

After establishing herself as the go-to person for bespoke wedding invitations in Connecticut and beyond, Nichole Michel has turned her eye for style and mid-century mod into a new venture.

It takes a certain kind of panache – and confidence – to rock vintage $2 plaid pants at a swank holiday soiree. The same can be said for creating a wedding invitation suite that pairs cognac-colored leather and rich burgundy envelopes that are lined with a classic chintz pattern.

This is Nichole Michel.

Since starting Coral Pheasant Stationery + Design in 2009, Nichole’s innate ability to combine unexpected materials and fonts has made her the stationer of choice for engaged couples who are in search of creative flair and design joie de vivre.

That joie de vivre is shared with her husband, Tim, co-owner of the House of Michel, the retail business the couple established in 2015. House of Michel sells vintage furnishings that were purchased at estate sales, flea markets, thrift shops and antique stores. Although Nichole and Tim pick up pieces from all periods that grab their eye, they tend to be drawn to funky mid-20th century mod items.

But their most recent project has been of a more personal nature; refurbishing and furnishing their new home. After searching fruitlessly for several years, the couple had pretty much given up on finding a house that captured their imagination. But thanks to a random Zillow search, they fell in love with a circa 1958 property located in the Westville section of New Haven, Connecticut. 

The house features a kitchen with original St. Charles metal cabinets, which were then considered the “Cadillac of cabinets,” says Nichole. The cabinets were restored by the previous owners and are painted in shades of periwinkle and seafoam. Inspired by the cabinets, they began designing the home in what Nichole describes as “a mashup of mid-century mod, Hollywood Regency, Asian and taxidermy.”

You read that right: taxidermy. Their home is dotted with stuffed animals. There’s even a squirrel.

“Most of the upholstered pieces, like the couch and the blue club chairs, are from big brands like Crate & Barrel and Jonathan Adler,” Nichole says.

More than 75 percent of the items were vintage finds, with a handful making the move from their previous home. That includes a Gampel-Stoll elephant console table, which was the first item the couple bought together. It is now prominently displayed in the dining room.

“Elvis [Presley] had the console in his entry hall,” Nichole says proudly of the pachyderm-inspired table legs.

As House of Michel continues to grow legs of its own, Nichole has no intention of parting with Coral Pheasant Stationery + Design.

“I have great clients with the stationery, but I also have time to go to estate sales,” she says. “I enjoy the balance of stationery and design.”

All photos by JMA Creative.