Villanova Kitchen Renovation: Part 1

Last year we were lucky enough to design and build a really stunning kitchen.  One of my favorites so far.  In my opinion, this space is the perfect blend of a remodel- making for a dramatic improvement of form and function.  We were able to open up the space and make it more inviting, improve the layout of the kitchen, and just choose really beautiful, classic yet interesting finishes.  Before I get into the wow-ee after shots (saving that for next week,) I thought I would share some of the planning and insights that went into this design.

So lets start with the Before situation.  It was a really dated and dark kitchen in a lovely, old traditional home.  Besides the old finishes there were a few things off the bat that I noted as design “problems.”

#1 Commuting Issue: The refrigerator was across the room from the cooktop and sink.  You had to traverse the kitchen, going around the island to get from one to the other.  This interupted traffic flow and just was not an ideal work zone.  I needed to find a way to move the refrig over to the “work” side of the kitchen.

before 4 kit frig wall

(hey Dad!)

#2 Unwelcome Entrance:  When entering the kitchen from the foyer, you walked right smack into the side of the refrigerator.  I wanted to get rid of the tall cabinet and design something that was functional, but a little more welcoming.

kit 2

#3 A Room, or a Closet?  There was this small little room that housed a few extra cabinets just off of the kitchen.  It was too small to be functional… you could barely fit a body in there!  Would we use it as a pantry?  Would we get rid of it and open up the space?  We needed to keep an open mind and assess our clients’ needs.

before 1- kit from dining room

kit alcove

#4 The Abandoned Eating Area.  Just off of the kitchen was a space that would perfect for casual dining, but the family never ate there!  Turns out it felt so closed off and disconnected from the kitchen so nobody wanted to hang out in there.  How could we open up the space and incorporate this area into the kitchen?

laundry room and eating area

wall to be removed

#5 The Window Wall of MEH.  A wall of windows is typically a good thing, right?  Yes and no.  For one, you lose the ability to have upper storage.  Not such a big deal here as we could allocate storage elsewhere.  But these windows are kinda small and lacked wow factor.  Both budget and architectural elements limited our ability to change them.  So how could we enhance this wall and make the most of the windows?

2-kit window wall

Continue after the jump to our proposed layout.


Cottage Update- Graphic Kitchen Wall

Now that our PureWow video is out (see it here!) I thought I would share some easy/colorful updates we did in the kitchen.  I’m still a ways off from doing a proper kitchen remodel, but I was sick with living with an ugly-unfinished mess in the meanwhile.  So we whipped out some tape, some paint and re-hung some shelves and now I’ll be good to go for a few months.

Here is the embarrassing BEFORE.  We lived in this state for SO many months.  Random pink paint swatch.  Two shelves taken down to accommodate the new-to-us larger fridge.  (A cast-off from a client who upgraded!)  The dishwasher was another client acquisition and the maple wood panel stood out like a sore thumb.  Random stuff clogging up the shelves and an array of mess in the open cabinet over the fridge added to the disorder.

kitchen before

Once I learned PureWow would be visiting my home and filming it I had a fire under my ass the pull this corner together.  I was about to be gifted a Delta Trinsic faucet and I there was no way I could show it next to this sad mess.

So we made a To-Do list and went to work sprucing up the kitchen.

1. Paint wall behind sink.  Something colorful and geometric.

2.  Re-Hang shelves.  We had to cut them narrower to fit next to the fridge.

3. Paint dishwasher panel to match cabinets.

4.  Make and Hang door for cabinet above fridge.

After just one week of manic work, the space turned into this…


It’s bold, playful and best of all not-permanent!



I love how the Pink striped wall turned out.

Pink was a no brainer for me for this wall because …

A) I love pink and blue together

B) My gold accents and faucet POP brilliantly off the pink wall

C) It’s just paint!  Why the hell not?

Now I’m not an artsy person at all.  Seriously, I can’t draw a straight line.  So how did I pull off this relatively easy DIY?  Keep reading after the jump for my step by step process.


PureWow, Delta Faucet and Naomi- Catch my First ever Video!!

I’m bringing you a special Friday Blog Post because we have an exciting announcement!!

We are thrilled and honored to have partnered with Pure Wow and Delta Faucet to participate in their Passion Project Series.  It’s a really fun 90 second video that shows you a little behind the scenes look at my life as a designer.  You get a sneak peek of my studio, kitchen and a client project install.  I share a little about how my life and work can be a total #happimess.

passion projects design manifest delta faucet pure wow

It was extremely exciting and flattering that PureWow chose me as a tastemaker.  The day of filming was really fun and I think they did an awesome job editing it down to a minute and 18 seconds.  Watching it is super surreal.  My voice!  My mannerisms!  Why am I so awkward!?  I’m trying to just enjoy the moment and be grateful for the experience.

Watch the video below and let me know what you think!!




See the original post HERE.

Sponsored by Delta Faucet

………….. What I’m Working on Right Now………….. Gladwyne Master Bath Sink Wall

We are working on a variety of projects right now, one of which is a master bathroom design in Gladwyne.  The owners reached out to me requesting a space with a little pizzazz.  You know, more than your builder grade master.  They were also looking to achieve a more modern style in the bathroom but struggled with how to blend it seamlessly with the rest of their traditional home and furnishings.

All of this is music to my ears.  I love working in special details in a bathroom.  Mouldings, Tile, cabinetry, fixtures and finishes… there are lots of ways to take design (and function!) to the next level.  As for aesthetic, I love my modern mixed with a little traditional.  Tailored, classic yet clean lined.  It’s been fun to work on.

Here are some of the rooms and details I am using for inspiration for the sink wall:

floating vanity between walls

Design by Erin Martin

There are a lot of elements that I love about the bath above.  The simple arch over the vanity.  I like enclosing this space a bit and making it more intimate.   (The bathroom we are working on happens to be large and could use a little intimacy.)  I also like the darker vanity and mirrors hung from chains.  Not sure if we will do that, but its pretty stunning.  The last element I like is the stone on the back wall.  This looks to be slab marble behind the mirrors.  We will probably do a marble tile instead of slab to save a lot of money.

vanity and arch detail

arch sides

Design by M E Beck

Here is another arched vanity top I liked.  This one feels a little more dressed up with extra and molding atop the arch.  My clients may actually favor the simpler style and that’s fine with me.  What I also like here is that the arch is stepped in from the vanity base, so it’s not quite so imposing.  This may be beneficial to our layout.

chevron wall

Design by Melanie Turner

My clients were pretty jazzed to do a floating vanity and I was happy to jump on that gravy train.  I like the combination of the floating vanity with the tiled wall above.  I like that the tile peeks out underneath the floating vanity.  The underneath portion is also a great place to tuck accent lighting.  Both my client and I were really into the idea of herringbone tile.  Ultimately I felt it made a better statement on the floor, with something simpler behind the sinks.

As for the actual cabinet style, its needs to be something clean, yet interesting.  We are still figuring that part out.

Should it be a mix of wood (or perhaps painted gray) drawers and metal?

floating vanity with wood and metal

designed by Juniper Tedhams via House Beautiful

Or have a thick stone apron and then standard drawers?

thick marble apron with drawrs below

via Riviera Fine Homes

I love the two-tone tailored look of the vanity below.  The drawer faces are parchment-clad.

tailored vanity style.peter-marino-08-master-bath

designed by Peter Marino

I may re-interpret a few designs we have used in the past.  I love this stepped drawer detail we did in this Gladwyne Girls Bath.  (I haven’t shared this reveal yet!)

stepped drawer- custom cabinet by design manifest

Design by Us, photo by Courtney Apple

I love the idea of a simple vanity trimmed with a little metal with some fabulous hardware.  Since we are discussing doing gray and chrome, I don’t think it will pop the same way it does as below with the stained wood and gold.

vanity trimmed with metal

source unknown

While we are still working out the exact style of the cabinets I’m pretty excited about the direction.  Arched wall with tile alcove, floating modern vanity with special details, gray paint, white marble (or quartzite) and low lighting.  Hopefully my client’s desire for pizzazz will be answered.  Wish me luck- I’m off to present final design ideas this morning.


One Room Challenge

I’m gonna keep this post short and sweet today and instead suggest that you check out the One Room Challenge rooms being revealed today.  If you read this blog consistently then you know that I have participated in the 6-week makeover several times.  I’m not involved this season and it’s a good thing because there is NO way I could have juggled it.   I’m looking forward to seeing what the 20 design bloggers have come up with this time!  The list of participants can be found on Calling It Home–> HERE.

Some of my favorite spaces have been designed for/along with the One Room Challenge.  Here are just a few pictures of rooms I have designed in past seasons.

blue greek key rug sputnik chandelier mid century blue and white dining room by design manfiest

tribal rug layered over jute- design manifest

gold etagere with wood back and glass shelves by design manifest


Design-Manifest-Kitchen-Waterfall-island-Quartzite-countertop 1500

Curved-White-hood-gradient mosaic backsplash by design manifest- 1500

Tree and Flower Wallpaper in white office space by Design Manifest

Design Manifest Lounge with  barn wood day bed

Design Manifest wood planked wall with bar cart

In the past few months my lounge has evolved into our full-fledged design studio.

I will have to show updates soon!


All images by Courtney Apple