Taking on Design Projects for 2016!

kitchen renovation experts

The holidays are fast approaching and while I’m looking forward to a little break (and my amazing trip to Morocco!!) I’ve also got my eye on 2016.  It’s looking to be a fabulous year of renovations!  We are starting to schedule our new design projects for January and February and still have spots left.  We specialize in several types of design- decorating, bathrooms, additions, but my favorite is kitchen design.  I LOVE me some kitchens and I think our plans and finish specifications are the best around the Philadelphia area.  For smooth, stress-free kitchen renovations, we recommend beginning the design process 6 months before you plan to begin construction.  So if you are planning to bring your dream kitchen to life this summer, this winter is the best time to begin the design process with us.


Here are a few of my favorite kitchen designs.  I’m really looking forward to taking on more fabulous kitchen remodels next year!


North Ardmore Kitchen by Design Manifest

design manifest kitchen featured in consumer reports

Villanova Kitchen by Design Manifest

Design-Manifest-Petite-Kitchen-Makeover-one room challenge

Havertown Kitchen by Design Manifest

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


Bala Cynwyd Kitchen by Design Manifest

What we do:

Space Planning Solutions: Re-working floor plans, removing walls, maximizing space.

Construction Documents:  Clearly specified drawings, Floor Plans and Elevations, Electrical Plans.

Cabinetry Specification:  Custom Design, Detailed/ Itemized Cabinet Plan,  Style and Finish Specification.  Cabinet Sales & Installation.

Kitchen Specification:  Appliances, Plumbing Fixtures, Flooring / Window / Wall Treatments, Countertops, Backsplash, Decorative Lighting, Cabinet Hardware to complete the room.

Project Management:  Assist clients in selecting qualified contractors.  Job site visits.

villanova kitchen 4

Villanova Kitchen by Design Manifest

Designer Tip:

Shallow pantries are my favorite!  I want to open the doors and have every item within eyesite.


Feel free to reach out to us at naomi @ designmanifest.com  or give us a call at the office 610-667-7711

Before and After- Condo Kitchen Details

Wow, can you believe Thanksgiving is tomorrow?  I don’t know where November- or this Fall for that matter- has gone.  Something weird is going on with me this year.  I’m feeling the urge to decorate for the holidays.  I am never into seasonal decor.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m always so crazed and behind on the personal front.  Or maybe because so much seasonal stuff is cheesy.  But it can be lovely and festive too.   So I’m just putting it out there that I may add some greenery and cheer to mantel and maybe string up some lights outside.  I need a little holiday joy in my life.  The best place to start is at home, right?

On a completely unrelated note, I thought I’d share some details about my condo kitchen.  The steel countertop in particular seemed to be one of the most popular elements of the condo remodel.  (See the full condo/ one room challenge reveal here.)  George made the raw steel countertop for me and even I was surprised at how much it transformed the kitchen.

The kitchen renovation was purely aesthetic.  After reviewing the layout and my budget, I decided the cabinets would stay.  So things like function, storage and flow were not improved.  Honestly though, for a city kitchen, this functions pretty well.  I just wish there was a pantry in place of the washer dryer.  Yep, there’s a washer dryer in here.  I digress.

kitchen before wide

So as I mentioned above, I was just looking to update the space.  My makeover list included the following

  • Stainless appliances.  This meant new refrigerator and microwave hood.  (The range was upgraded after the above picture was taken.)
  • New countertop.  (Perimeter.)  Upgrade from laminate to granite.  Black absolute to be specific.
  • New Sink (stainless undermount) and new faucet
  • New tile backsplash.  White subway with gray grout.
  • Perimeter Cabinets painted gray with new (nearly) full-overlay doors and drawers.
  • Island cabinets painted gray.  All cabinets to be Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray
  • New island countertop- Hot rolled steel.
  • New cabinet hardware.  Brass
  • New kitchen light. Brass
  • New floors.  Wood to match the rest of the apartment.
  • New counter stools.
  • New shelf over island
  • New art
  • New rug

Condo Kitchen Makeover- Coventry Gray cabinet Hot rolled steel countertop

My list sounds pretty linear and straightforward, but if you followed around with the challenge then you know that I decided somethings early on, made adjustments as we went, and threw in curveballs at the end.  Per usual, my project was done on the fly with not enough budgeting, pre-planning, and a few mistakes.  This is the complete opposite of how I strive to do it with clients.  It’s so funny to me that I can’t get it right with myself.  Here are a few examples of how lack of planning hurt me- the general theme is being penny wise and pound foolish.

  • Late decision to paint the island.  I initially wanted to keep costs really low so I  didn’t plan to make changes to the island.  Once everything else was painted, I realized I really wanted the island cabinets gray as well.  Since it was last minute, I painted them myself.  I really wish I would have had them painted professionally at the the same time as the perimeter cabinet doors.  The factory finish is SO much nicer than hand painting.  I know this will continue to bug me.
  • Cheaping out on polished granite.  I found the cheapest remnant of black absolute out there and rushed to have it installed.  Had I spent another $150 I could have I could have had it honed.  I really prefer the softer look of honed black granite.  Plus the polished stone shows everything.  I’m still happy with it, but if I could do it again, I would have it honed.
  • Hardware switcheroo.  I ordered my cabinet pulls way early on before I had finalized the apartment scheme. After I stepped back and realized the rest of my apartment elements were leaning more simpler and contemporary, I wasn’t very happy with my over-embellished pulls.  I ended up switching them out for something cleaner that I really love.  Had I waited to order, I could have save my self a set of pulls.cabinet doors and hardwareThe Old Pulls were popular with a ton of you readers.  I have 17 of them sitting in a box.  Anyone want them for half-off retail?

brass modern cabinet hardware gray cabinets black countertop white subway tile- Design Manifest

The new pulls.  They are really nice in person.

  • Lack of thought with the shelf.  My shelf over the island is white with brass brackets.  This is the exact same style as my shelves at my cottage.  I did it because it was easy.  Looking at it now I wish it was less matchy with the brass.  I think a woody shelf with iron bracket could be nice here to mix it up.  It’s not the end of the world, but I would have thought about it and make it for perfect if it were for someone else.

Kitchen Island with steel top

All in all I’m really happy with the kitchen!!  I just like to keep it real and I do feel that by rushing a being cheap I made a few mistakes.

And then there were the hits.  Like the awesome countertop.  I have to admit that when George first presented his idea to me, I didn’t buy it.  I was worried it wasn’t practical, or it would be “too industrial.”  As it turns out, I like that the top patinas with use and it has a great warmth and depth to it.  It’s not granite, it’s not indestructible and it’s not trying to be.

As for the sleave, it was pretty genius to fit right on top of the old granite top.  George is an industrial designer and he is pretty good at coming up with solutions that I would never think of.  The top was pretty easy to make (for him, he’s a welder!)  I also love that the original granite is protected.

Here’s a little slideshow of putting the top together.

natural steel countertop

Other popular elements-

  •  The counterstools.  They are from Wayfair and I had the metal bases powdercoated gold.  We used “spun gold” for the powder coat colors.
  • The Rug.  I found this vintage overdyed Anatolian rug on Ebay from this seller.

kitchen rug

  • The art and accessories.  The chalk print is from here and heart mugs are from here.

kitchen art detail

FULL SOURCES- Cabinet color: Coventry Gray, Cabinet Hardware:  Atlas Hardware,  Countertop: Absolute Black Granite, Subway TileRefrigeratorFaucet, Steel countertop by George Coldren, Ceiling Light by CrystoramaCounter Stools

Happy Thanksgiving!  I’m so grateful to my readers and especially my wonderful clients.  You have all been so supportive while I’ve been temporarily distracted by the condo.  While I may blog about it a few more times, I assure you that behind the scenes we have moved on at DM.  We have so many awesome projects going one right now!  I think 2016 is going to be a big one for DM.

Thank You!! {Post One Room Challenge}

Hey guys.  Thank you SO much to everyone who took the time to check out our One Room Challenge Reveal.  Your comments and support really meant so much to me.  We worked so stupid hard on this place and I’m just so happy to be done and have a space I really love.  I’m hoping some of you might get to use it and enjoy it as well.

As I mentioned last week, the apartment is available on a select basis on AirBnb!

See our listing HERE.

Psst- We offer 10% off for 3 day stays and more.  (Just email me through airbnb site for special offer.)  20% off if you stay over 7 days.  It would be so cool to get to meet some blog readers and give them the tour.  I also have quite a few good Philadelphia restaurant recommendations as well.  The place is nearly booked up for December, but we still have a few weekends in November open 😉

As for the condo design, I’m planning several detail posts for each room.  We covered so much ground that I really couldn’t get into the nitty gritty last week.  Lot’s of DIY’s and tips and insight I’d like to share.  Just not yet…. really need to get caught up on client projects first.  So please give me a pass on the blog post this week.  I promise to jump back to it next Wednesday.

Here’s one little behind the scenes- The art wall in the guest room.  I never did buy the narrow console table, but I started to hang art across from the bed.  It’s not really done yet, but I think it’s a good work in progress.

Guest Room Art wall Design Manifestjpg

Feathers / Love / Nude / Lips / Painting (original)


I know many of you had questions about sources.  I’ve slowly been filling in sources on the original post.  If you want to know more, just leave a comment!



ONE ROOM CHALLENGE ~ The City Condo ~ Week 6

Party Time!  It’s finale day of the One Room Challenge and the condo is done.

The condo is actually DONE.  You have NO idea the feelings that come up when I say that.  Giddy exhausted disbelief.  I don’t think I can properly convey just how hard George and I have worked, or how much stress I have felt over this renovation.  I have poured my heart, soul and sanity into this project.  Despite my many doubts, we survived and our reward is a gorgeous, updated, furnished apartment.

Instead of the One Room Challenge, I took on the One Condo Challenge.  I know I “broke the rules” a bit here, but I had an empty, half-renovated apartment that needed to be finished, and QUICK.  I’m so grateful to the Linda  for inviting me to this ORC and giving me this amazing opportunity.  Without the 6-week structure, the audience and the sponsorships there is no way we could have taken on a project of this magnitude.

We saw a chance, we had a dream, and we went for it.  I said in week one, if I decorate it, They will come.  Who is THEY?  We hope it’s YOU.

More on that below, but let’s get to the reason why you are here…. the pictures!

(See Week 1 / Week 2/ Week 3 / Week 4 / Week 5)

Welcome to our pied-à-terre.

modern neutral eclectic living room - Design Manifest- One Room Challenge

This is the living room, but perhaps the proper way to give the tour is to start when you walk in the door…



ONE ROOM CHALLENGE ~The City Condo ~ Week 5

Ikea to the Rescue.  

We have a sofa.  It’s not my dream sofa but it has mid-century lines and it’s leather which should make it easy to maintain.  I waffled back in forth at the store between the black and white version.   As soon as it was carried up three flights of stairs and dropped into place it I immediately regretted my choice.  It feels a little too “Miami” and not enough “Naomi.”  

But time is running out and George literally might kill me if I make any more changes or ask him to move more furniture.  So I am making the best of it and trying to create a beautiful, if imperfect room.

It’s week 5 of the One Room Challenge and despite the occasional melt-down, I am pulling all of the pieces of the condo together.

(See Week 1 / Week 2/ Week 3 / Week 4)

We went to the Swedish Wonderland and zeroed in on the Landskrona because the lines, measurements and price were right.  While the black felt more my style, I was swayed more towards the white version because I wanted a little more contrast.  (The floors are really dark, the lounge chair is dark brown, the credenza is rosewood, I felt we needed something lighter to balance them out.)

ikea leather tufted sofa black white

After furiously searching pinterest while still in Ikea, I was convinced that a white leather sofa could still give me a warm layered look that I desired.  So we went for it.

white sofas

Now I need to figure out the right combination of pillows to make it feel “Me.”  I want it to feel warm and layered, but don’t want to overdo it on the color.  Also, our prized chairs- won at an auction- feel way too similar to the sofa :(  Both have tufting on the seat and back and that drives me nuts.  So we may need to dig into our furniture vault for another option.

sofa- ikea with danish chair

Another angle with dining area in background.  The danish chair is kinda blocking the table, so I want to think about that as well.  This is the view when you walk in the door.  I really want it to be compelling and grab you the minute you enter the condo.

sofa with dining room in background

Part of a fine tuning the focal point meant re-evaluating my chandelier.  While my pendant light is new, we have some wonderful sponsors on board, so I decided to take advantage and get the statement lighting I really wanted.  I went searching for something that wouldn’t visually block the space yet was still really striking.  I found the perfect chandelier at Bellacor.

dining lighting hudson valley

Marlow aged brass pendant from Bellacor

When it went up I was pretty much giddy with joy.

(And PS- don’t worry about the old light- I gave it to my assistant, Rachael.  Pay it Forward!)

Photo Oct 30, 5 17 22 PM (2)

See the beautiful mirror above?  That’s my winning selection for the dining area.  It’s from Bassett Mirror and I lurve it.

Rachael and I also gave the old docksta table a little makeover with marble contact paper.  The faux finished paired with my new chairs make me quite happy.

docksta with marble contact paper black eiffel chairs- design manifest

The kitchen also got some big upgrades this past week.

kitchen pre-island painting

The island needed an upgrade.  The warm stained wood felt really out of place,  so I painted the base gray to match the rest of the kitchen cabinets.  Then George, the magician that he is, came up with an awesome solution to my green granite conundrum.  Here’s a little peek of his creation below.

countertop sneak peek

I worked with Lowe’s to give the kitchen a few other essential upgrades.  After reviewing several refrigerators, I chose this sleek stainless LG unit.

Kitchen - NewRefrigerator

I know I’m going against trend with a (gasp!) top freezer model, but this just made the most sense for me.  I only had 33″ to work with and I wanted the biggest unit possible. Since this refrigerator doesn’t have handles, I am able to open it fully.  Had I chosen a french door fridge with handles, I would have had to go down to a 30″ model.  This is always something to consider when your kitchen layout has a refrigerator next to a wall!

LG refrigerator inside

So much storage!  Refrigerator from Lowe’s

The last kitchen upgrade was the faucet.  At first I planned to leave my existing faucet but it just felt little and sad in the space.

kitchen faucet old

So I again turned to Lowe’s and perused their site.  I ended up selecting this industrial modern faucet from Giagni Fresco.  It makes more of the statement that I wanted!

kitchen faucet new

Faucet from Lowe’s

There was also big action in the master bedroom.  My custom headboard was delivered as were my nightstands from Urban Home.  With these items in place, I could finalize my lamp selections.  I initially planned to use these blush beauties in the master, but I prefer the smaller scale of the black lamps.  So pink lamps will go to the guest room where they work perfectly into the mix.

nightstand lamp debate

Also, the handles on the night stand were much darker than I was expecting.  Nothing a little gold spray paint can’t fix!

I have two days before the photo shoot.  Just enough time to figure out styling, but hopefully not obsess too much.  Speaking of obsession, I’ll leave you with my art wall conundrum.  The three pieces felt too small on the wall so now I’m scrambling to fill the blanks.  Holy headache.

art wall options

One week left for the rest of my ORC compatriots.  Check out their progress below!

Follow the 6 week Progression