PM360 recently spoke to Julie Millon, Senior Director Marketing, U.S. CAR-T at Novartis, about renovating old homes.

PM360: I hear you have a passion for fixer-uppers?

Julie Millon: Yes, my husband and I are kind of crazy about house renovations. We bought our first house in Verona, NJ, and we gut-renovated the whole thing. Then about five years ago, we moved into our house in Montclair, NJ. It was a total fixer-upper, and we’ve been working on that ever since we moved in. Anytime we finish one project, we’re like, “Okay, what’s our next project?”

What was the house like when you first moved in?

We basically bought the worst house on the best block. It was just in really bad shape. The house was built in the 1800s. It was pink with purple shutters and overall it looked like it hadn’t been touched in probably 50 years. But that allowed us to go room by room and turn it into what we wanted.

Julie at home with her family—husband, James, and kids, Madison (6) and Jack (5).

So what kind of improvements have you made to the home?

I really love old, charming homes, which is something Montclair is known for. I grew up in Pennsylvania where everything was Toll Brothers-like and looked practically the same. You could pick one of five models and they were all brand new, which had its benefits, but also makes me appreciate the uniqueness of these historic homes. So one of the things we try to do is keep the original integrity of the home. They don’t make homes like this anymore. Our goal is always to try and maintain that original charm and character while updating it over time to better fit the life of our family.

What was your most recent project?

The house had this old cellar that we originally didn’t even think we could do anything with down there. You couldn’t even walk because the ceiling height was so low. There was also an old furnace and boiler and just a mess of wires. But we were able to turn it into actual living space.

What other changes have you made that you are particularly proud of?

Our biggest project was our first floor, which we changed into an open concept living area. But I also like how we redid the backyard. My husband and I are really big into football. He played in college at Penn State, which is where we met, so we made this outdoor hang out and viewing area. It’s great for entertaining and we like to host a lot, so it has worked out great.

What do you enjoy most about doing these projects?

It’s a shared passion for me and my husband, and something we enjoy doing in the limited time we get to spend together between work and raising our kids. But it also allows us to shape how we want to live our lives and provide a special home for our kids.

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