Before & After: New Kitchen Light for City Condo

A few moons and many lifetimes ago I owned a cute little condo in downtown (Center City) Philadelphia.  While I’ve moved on to a few homes since then, I held onto the condo and rented it out to a nice string of tenants.  The most recent tenant just moved out and I walked into the unit I was horrified at how dated and beat up it was.  Obviously this hadn’t happened over night (more like 7 years of use and abuse,) but looking at it more closely with my refined and discerning eyes, I knew a little updating needed to be done.

The kitchen in particular was just short of terrible.  Years of accumulated oil had stained the walls and cabinets.  There is no natural light in the kitchen and it felt DARK and DATED.  While a full renovation felt way out of reach, I knew I could immediately improve the space with a new kitchen light.  It’s such an easy change that can improve both looks and function.  When the fine folks at Del Mar Fans reached out to me about partnering on a lighting post I really felt like the universe was giving me a personal high-five.  My kitchen was getting a mini-makeover!

I’ve always cringed at the site of my old kitchen light.  Due to the construction of the condo, it was not feasible to recess cans into the ceiling, so instead the previous owner chose an unfortunate fluorescent moon dome for kitchen illumination.  Here is the kitchen before we started our makeover…


Did you miss the light?  It’s right past the soffit over the island.  (The dropped ceiling there allows for two recessed lights.)

BEFORE KITCHEN- offending light

kitchen light before 1

When it’s off, it’s sort of just bland and un-cute.  But when it’s on…. the fluorescent lighting feels like you are in a hospital room.  Hello Moon Dome!  This pic doesn’t even do justice to the ickyness.

kitchen before- light on

When searching for my new kitchen light I had a few requirements

1)   Close-to Ceiling fixture.  Unfortunately my condo is not blessed with high ceilings, so I needed a light that would leave 80″ of clearance below it.

2) Max Wattage.  As the only light in the room, I couldn’t just chose something with one 60 watt bulb.  I needed something that would brighten up the space.  My goal was at least 180 watts

3)  Stylish Finish.  I waffled back in forth on whether I should do nickel or brass.  What if I went to sell it and potential owners weren’t as trendy as me?  Ultimately I love brass, so I went for the gold.

4)  Good Scale.  While I couldn’t have a light that hung low, I didn’t need a pip-squeak diameter either.  I wanted a light that would command the space and make a statement!

5) Sexy.  With the short ceiling, I would never be putting a pretty chandelier in this space.  That’s fine.  Not every room needs a chandelier.  Instead I wanted something tailored, classic and grand enough to make a little statement.

Taking my requirements into consideration, I perused Del Mar Fans’ website for some potential lights.

Close To Ceiling Kitchen Lights

1 / 2 / 3

4 / 5 / 6

7 / 8 / 9

I ended up choosing Minka Lavery’s Harbour Point semi-flush light.  At 19″ in diameter I liked how it was bigger than flush mount lights so it commands the space.   The brass finish or “Liberty Gold.” feels very now, but I like how the lines of the piece feel very classic,     Also with 3 bulbs at 100 watts each, my kitchen would be getting decent light!  You can find the light I purchased HERE.

While kitchen updates are still in progress, the light has been hung and I’m super happy.  It’s Stylish, It’s Bright, and its Brass.  What’s not to love?

Habour Point Semi Flush Brass kitchen Light

kitchen light 3

Besides changing the light, we are also painting the ceiling.  Previously it was a dark cream and now its a really light blue.  It’s so subtle you can barely tell against the newly gray cabinet frames.  Perhaps I need to go a shade darker to really make the ceiling shine?  In small defined spaces like this I love doing a subtle color on the ceiling.  I think it makes the space more fun and draws attention to my new pretty light.  There is still a lot more to be done in here, but it’s feels so good to be well lit.

This one actually makes me happy when its lit.  Hard to photograph, but easy to enjoy in the kitchen.

Gold semi flush lamp lit up

As you can see, we will be doing a gray and brass kitchen.  I just love that combo.  The light was such a great jumping off point.

kitchen light 6

Do you approve of my new kitchen light?

Do you have an offending light you wish you can replace?

If so you are in luck because Del Mar Fans is doing a giveway on their Facebook Page!!  Seriously, who couldn’t use a new light in some kind?

It starts tomorrow and you have 7 days to enter.  Please head over to their page for details.

This post is sponsored by Minka Lavery & Del Mar Fans & Lighting.


A few thoughts on my home and my dreams…

house settlement day

{Settlement Day, September 2012}

I’ve owned my little cottage for almost 3 years now.  It seems unfathomable it’s been so long, yet at the same time I’m already itching to move on.  I have that sort of real estate affliction where I fall hard fast, make all sorts of changes to tailor it to perfection and quickly become tired of it.  I haven’t even “finished” the house yet, so leaving now feels like I would be quitting prematurely.   But I’m not sure if my heart is in it any more.  I feel like I need something else.  I feel like it would just be easier to start over.

When I bought the cottage I had such big dreams.  Coming off a break-up, it would be my place to re-build.  I felt so raw and empty back then, but also incredibly hopeful.  I was going to design a comfortable and beautiful nest that would host dinner parties, family gatherings, late night dance parties with friends.  I was going to garden, walk my dog around my cute little town and talk to my neighbors.


{Converting my third floor attic into a livable space}

I had this fantasy I would document the entire process, put it up on You-Tube to a catchy soundtrack and become an internet sensation.  (Seriously, I filmed several segments of the remodel, but eventually fell dropped the ball. Womp womp)

I was going to fall in love again and maybe, just maybe, my guy would share this home with me.  I would I feel full and happy and peaceful in this cottage of mine.

Besides becoming a break-out YouTube hit, most of my dreams came true in the past few years.  So why have I started to hate the house.  And why do I feel unhappy?

The truth is I’m probably using the cottage as a scapegoat.  Overworked, stressed out, disconnected, unclear on the future, I find myself channeling my frustrations towards the house.  IF we had more space to store stuff, THEN I would be more organized.  IF we didn’t have a big tent full of furniture in the back yard THEN we could host a BBQ and enjoy that space.  If I finished the guest room, THEN maybe I would get up early each morning and meditate.  IF we weren’t in a twin, THEN  I wouldn’t get so mad at my neighbor’s noisy dog.  IF the house were located in the city, THEN maybe I’d connect more with friends.  IF it got more natural light, THEN maybe I’d feel more inspired and happy.

If the space were finished and pretty THEN maybe I’d just be able to enjoy myself.

Maybe for once I would stop thinking about things I would change, re-arrange and improve and just RELAX.  Just BE.  When is enough, enough?

design manifest lounge space reclaimed wood daybed

{Third floor turned into a lounge… which has since been turned into our work studio}

Sorry for the lack of pretty pictures this week, but I just don’t have it in me.  Instead, I choose to be real.  My name is Naomi and I am a work in progress.  My house is not perfect, and I am even less so.  And hopefully I’ll find a way to accept that.

Our homes cannot make us happy.  All they can be is vessels to have those life experiences to make us feel real and loved and fulfilled.  So, I’m sorry little cottage, I think I’ve been asking a little too much of you.


But seriously though, I REALLY could use a proper storage shed.

What We are Working on Now ….. PART 3….. *** Current Interior Design Projects *** “Station Road Project”

Hello, Wednesday, how do you arrive so quickly?

So I’m back to talking about projects we are working on  right now.  Station Road is the last of the major decorating projects to discuss.  (Though we did just begin a new project in Chestnut Hill, so I guess it isn’t the last!)  I would describe Station Road as my Pretty Project.  Not that they all aren’t beautiful, but when I think of our choices, they are all so PRETTY.

What does Pretty mean?  A mix of jewel tones.  Soft patterns.  Feminine touches with just enough of glam to make her happy.  A bit of mid-century and boho mixed in to speak to the Mister.  Fresh Traditional with just enough edge to not be saccharine or sterile.

My clients bought their house in Wynnewood, making the typical migration from the city to the burbs.  She reached out to me before settlement and had us jump on designs as soon as it was theirs.  They were hoping to have minimal home overlap and to be able to renovate the new home and move in as soon as possible.  With big changes happening on the first floor sometime soon (fingers crossed) we focused on the bedrooms.

This was the master bedroom as the old owners had it…

bedroom before

My client was interested in adding more color.  She was down for pattern, metallics, mirrored, lacquer, wood, chinoiserie… just nothing too busy or ultra contemporary.  Since the bed wall was large and bare, I suggested we add wallpaper.  I wanted a soft pattern that work well with the other textiles, but not be too bossy.  Instead, we chose a pattern for the head pillow that would serve as our focal point/inspiration for the design.


I’ve long wanted to use this birdy floral by G&J Baker.  I LOVE the colors.

We had so much to pull from- soft blue, teal, lavender, fuschia, yellow, pale green… the design could have gone in a dozen of different directions.

Wanting it to remain gender neutral, we took it easy on the pinks purples and layered on different shades of blue and a pop of citron.

Bleached woods, a touch of brass and mirrored nightstands finish off the room.

bedroom mood board 1B

bedroom textiels

So far the wallpaper has been installed and it’s so pretty!

wallpaper detail station road

We also added a little softness to the adjoining master bathroom in the form of more wallpaper.

bedroom into bathroom

Bedroom wall into bathroom

The master bedroom has a sitting room off of it and we created a complementary design for this space.  While the bedroom is decidedly more feminine and glam, the sitting room takes on a more casual, bohemian vibe.  I found a faded turkish rug that had many of the same colors as our bedroom inspiration fabric and built the room from there.  Bonus points- Hubby enjoys the Turkish rug!  See, designing for both sexes is so easy.

Sitting Room BEFORE as the old owners had it

sitting room before 1

The Turkish Rug…

sitting room rug

We also had to figure out how to use this long skinny room with lots of windows.  The request that it be a den for TV watching, with an office AND a vanity area.  A lot to pack it, but I think the floor plan laid out nicely.

Station Rd Sitting Room

We’ve finalized nearly every decision, just need to figure out which fabric we will use to recover my client’s Bergere chair.

sitting room textiles for chair

If all goes as planned, we will be installing the majority of the items in two weeks!  I’m pretty excited to see it come together.  Next up is finalizing the daughter’s room, and it just may be my favorite bedroom yet.  Don’t worry, we will be sharing that design soon!

Before & After: Indian Creek Living Room

I’m taking a break from current project happenings to share a reveal of a living room we finished last year.   I’ve been holding onto this one for awhile, and I don’t feel like waiting anymore!   We took my client’s formal living room from dark, dated and deserted to a vibrant,  relaxed retreat where everyone actually wants to hang out. The best part? We re-used most of my clients furnishings.

It’s amazing what a slipcover, paint and a new mix of textiles can do.


I was called to do this project after we successfully updated their family room last year. I find a lot of people like to give me a “tester room” and once that goes well, we move on to a few more. Most of my clients are working with an interior designer for the first time and it can be a little daunting. I have no problem taking it slow and learning how to best bring their design goals to fruition. This being our 2nd time, I had a good sense of their style and the design came together quite smoothly.  We did this room in conjunction with their dining room, which I shared a few months ago.  (See it HERE.)

Here are the BEFORES

living before indian creek


As you can see the room was very green.  Green carpet, green chairs, green swagged curtains.  And a big floral sofa.  Look, I like me some floral, but this just wasn’t feeling fresh any more.

My clients were interested in updating and making the space more inviting.  They wanted to make improvements that would help the house sell.  They also wanted to re-use what furnishings they could as they had invested in quality pieces years ago.

See the whole transformation HERE!


What We are Working on Now ….. PART 2….. *** Current Interior Design Projects *** “Swarthmore Project”

We are back for another week of the behind the scenes action at DM.  I’m glad to hear a lot of you enjoyed these progress posts!  One thing I really try to do on this blog is “keep it real.”  It’s not all about glitz and glamour of the after shots.  There is a laborious process behind it too.  My hope is by sharing a bit of the development I might inspire or help others with their homes.

Last week we talked about a large decorating project in Malvern, this week we will talk a bit about our plans for a family room renovation in Swarthmore.  I’ve shared just a few peeks of this project on instagram under the hashtag #swarthmoreproject.  I also talked about inspiration for this project this post on denim and stripes.  If you read that post, you know we are planning a blue and white striped sofa.  But how did we get there and what are we building around it?  Read on!


family room before

FAMILY ROOM before 3

From an architectural standpoint it was a great room to work with.  It’s a nice size- 18′ x 21′- which is good because we need to fit both a sitting area AND a table for casual meals.  While the ceiling isn’t high, the thick wood beams add character without closing in the space.  And the floors are beautiful wide planked wood.  The space feels a little bit rustic country, yet also traditional at the same time.

After to talking to my client and getting a sense of her style – lover of all things blue, open to pattern, bohemian touches, pretty much anything Design Manifest (yay!)- I began to build a vision for the design.  Since the architecture was so rustic, I knew I wanted furnishings that complimented it but didn’t feel too “farm housey.”  We needed to add classic traditional elements with a few more modern pieces.

bronchetti textile

{A textile scheme at mid-way through design.  Close, but not final.}

Early on I got a big hit that this room needed to have the streamlined feel of traditional Ralph Lauren Americana mixed in with some bohemian touches.  Denims, stripes, leather, braided jute rugs would be the base of the room with a great pillow mix thrown in.  Color was definitely welcome, but layered onto a neutral base instead of a color explosion.  The overall feel needed to be edited, classic and comfortable.  Comfort and Practicality.  Aren’t those two the most important things in a family room?  This space will be for a family of 6 including young children, so that was always on the forefront of my mind when creating the design.

With every project, we start with the floor plan.  After reviewing and editing a few options we ended up with the plan below.  You can see that it’s similar to the arrangement they already had, only I tweaked placement to allow for a larger table and larger loveseat for additional seating.

swarthmore family room layout

With the plan finalized, we started paint and minor construction.  I knew the walls had to lighten up.  It’s amazing how much brighter and crisper the space feels now that the room is white.  The ceiling beams really pop now.  It’s such a great neutral base to build our room.

family room painted

The built-in bench was also installed early.  We upholstered it in a Ralph Lauren denim which we had treated with a fabric protector.  It should hold up well to abuse from kids and adults.

window bench

Next week we are installing the room and I cannot wait to see it come together!!  I’ll leave you with a few of the pieces we will be putting in the room…

swarthmore furnishings