One Room Challenge {Cottage Kitchen} Week 3

So it’s week 3 of the One Room Challenge which means we are at the half way point.  BANANAS.  My kitchen has been demolished and the new cabinets are installed (except for crown moulding.)  While that feels very exciting we have a long way to go.  For one, we are still without countertops and more importantly NO sink.  Life without a kitchen sink is really challenging.  Obviously we’re talking about #firstworldproblems but still I’m a mess and I have been doing a lot of take out.

Two quirky things about me as a kitchen designer are

1) I don’t cook much myself



Stainless has been the “luxury” appliance finish for the past several decades, but I personally see it as more “the standard” rather than luxurious.  (Plus the finger prints!  Ugg.)  For my own kitchen, I wanted to do something a little more special and stylish, yet also classic  I am using black and white as my main colors with a few brass accents, so I had to keep this in mind when selecting my appliances.  I don’t mind mixing in a little stainless with brass, but I didn’t want the strong visual effect of a stainless refrigerator.  Instead I decided to mix up the finish appliances.

My appliances were delivered and minus the fact that the microwave is MIA, I’m very pleased with my selections.

Naomi's Cottage Appliances Black and Stainless Kitchen Aid Bosch

A mix of black and stainless plus a paneled dishwasher that will also be black.

Hood (no longer available)/ Stove

Refrigerator / Microwave Drawer / Dishwasher

EXHAUST HOOD // When selecting appliances I started with the range hood.  To me, the hood is the biggest style setter in the kitchen.  I generally prefer custom hoods (wood, metal, plaster) but that was prohibitively expensive for me, so I decided to keep my beloved black chimney hood.  It is the Datid from Ikea, but it looks like it is no longer available :(  I love that the black finish just gives it a slightly different twist than your typical stainless chimney hood.  George MAY add a small decorative treatment to this.  Stay tuned…

re-use black chimney hood in black and white kitchen

MICROWAVE // I don’t care how small your kitchen is, I don’t want to ever see a microwave over a stove.  Micro-hoods are the absolute worst.  Functionally it’s hard to use both at the same time.  Plus it’s visually crowded and cheap looking.  I don’t mean to offend anyone, but nothing says Budget Kitchen more than a microwave hood.  I’d much rather see the microwave built into a wall cabinet, or better yet, placed under counter.  For my own kitchen, I made room for a microwave drawer because a lot of re-heating goes on in this house and I enjoy the ease of the drawer.  (vs bending down to open a door.)  Mine is still missing in action, but I’ll be sure to post about it once it’s installed.  I’m pretty excited about its flush design and the drawer that opens and closes with a touch of a button.  (Fancy!)  I’m thinking it will be definitely worth the splurge.


DISHWASHER // My dad raised me to be a Bosch girl, so selecting the dishwasher was a no-brainer.  I prefer them for quality and quiet operation.  I will be adding a full overlay cabinet panel onto the dishwasher so it will match the rest of my base cabinets.  (BLACK) I cheaped out a bit and bought the 300 series but I’m already kicking myself for not upgrading to the 800 and getting the 3rd rack.

dishwasher detail

REFRIGERATOR // The real drama began when I started to shop for a refrigerator.  I knew I wanted a french door model with nice handles.  At first I assumed I would just do stainless since cabinetry panels were not a good option.  (I’ll save fridge panels for another post- lot’s of thoughts there.)  But then I found this Maytag and became very intrigued…

white maytag

Would a white fridge with clean metal handles bridge my gap between cottage and modern?  I loved the idea that it would blend well with my white upper cabinets.  It’s also pretty well priced, so that helped the budget.  I even started thinking about DIY’ing fancier handles.

But so many questions filled my head.  Was it chic, or too vintagey?  Was the white bumpy?  Or modern like glass?  After calling dozens of appliance stores in the area, I finally tracked down a white Maytag and was able touch and see it.  In person, the white finish was OK- not glass (bummer) but also nut bumpy/cheap.  The doors are rounded on the ends, which added to the vintage feel of the unit.

kitchen aid handle

Kitchen Aid Handle

I compared that to the Kitchen Aid, which is also offered in black and white.  The Kitchen Aid doors are more clean lined/ square edged.  Plus KA handles are chic!  The stainless handle have a decorative textured style that I really liked.  So basically I purchased the refrigerator that had the cutest handles.

kitchen aid refrigerator

In the end I decided that a black refrigerator was a better choice than white.  It felt a little more modern, a little more glamorous, plus it seemed more consistent with the rest of my appliances.  It’s not a black glass or black stainless- more like something in between polished and matte.  It’s finish actually works really well with my cabinets.  Had it been super glossy, it wouldn’t flow as well.

Just a small aside about refrigerator practicality and planning the proper size for your remodel:

One of my limitations was my size; this kitchen only fits a 30″ refrigerator.  When laying out my kitchen I consciously chose to shrink my refrigerator to fit a trash cabinet next to the sink.  I decided to do a full depth fridge to gain back precious cubic feet.  With my layout, it really doesn’t matter if the refrigerator is full depth or counter-depth, so this was an easy decision to gain storage.  To compare- my 30″ wide full depth refrigerator is 20 cu ft, yet many 36″ wide, counter-depth models are also only 20 cu ft.  I really didn’t give up that much to gain storage for trash and cutlery.

inside kitchen aid 30' refrig

Also, I CANNOT talk about refrigerators without talking about clearances.  If your refrigerator is next to a wall (like mine) then you need to leave yourself several inches clearance from the wall to allow the doors and interior drawers to fully open.  3″ minimum, 6″ is better.  In my case, every inch was so tight.  I left a 3″ gap and it’s just barely functional.


STOVE // The last piece of the puzzle was the stove.  When stove shopping I had a few requirements

  1.  Gas on top / powerful burners
  2. Convection Oven
  3. Slide-In.  (Controls are in front- I hate the look of the high back of free standing ranges.)
  4. Clean style/ Nice handles

Had the budget allowed, I would have gone for a duel fuel range, because (most say) an electric oven is superior to gas oven.  I’m not a baker so I don’t really care.  As long as it heats the pizza or roasts the veggies, I’m happy.  So I saved by doing an all gas range.  I initially selected this Bosch range because I think it’s a great product at a moderate price.

bosch range

But once I finalized the refrigerator, I switched the stove to Kitchen Aid as well.  This was purely a stylistic choice- I liked that the handles matched.  I usually don’t care at all about my appliances matching, but the KA handle is pretty distinct, so I felt it was appropriate in this instance.  Also it’s nice that it has 5 burners in only a 30″ space.

kitchen aid gas range

PS- I would have bought this in black if they offered it, but I’m fine with the stainless here.

With the appliances delivered, suddenly the kitchen has grown crowded REAL quick.

kitchen after appliance delivery



Next Week: I’m going to dive into the rest of my finishes: countertops, backsplash tile, sink, faucet and cabinet hardware.  My counterops are supposedly getting installed Tuesday, so that means I may be a very happy girl in week 4.


Be Sure to check out my fellow ORC participants below!

Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by CIH

Catch Up on My One Room Challenge Kitchen Renovation

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

Week 4 / Week 5 / Week 6


*** Edited *** I want to apologize if my words about microwave hoods were insensitive. I was speaking candidly about luxury kitchen design. I’m really not trying to crap on anyone. Renovation in general is a huge luxury. Most people really don’t “need” to renovate. I think no less of someone who has a small, old, “cheap” kitchen than someone with a super fancy expensive designer kitchen. It’s mostly about the meal and company anyway.  


One Room Challenge {Cottage Kitchen} Week 2

Warning:  This Post is All About Nerding Out on Cabinetry

Welcome to week 2 of my kitchen renovation.  I’m happy to report that real progress has been made!  We spent the ENTIRE weekend emptying out the kitchen.  Like hours upon hours of sorting and packing.

packing up kitchen

{Saturday April 9th}

Then my carpenter, Angelo shows up on Monday and rips out the old kitchen in a matter of hours.  By Tuesday morning my new kitchen has already taken shape.  Crazy.  (It helps that I am keeping my wood floors and not changing electric or plumbing!)

base cabinets installed

{Tuesday April 12th}

The cabinet delivery is such an epic moment in a kitchen renovation because you can finally see the room take shape.  But BEFORE the cabinets arrive they need to be laid out and specified.  After much floor plan finagling I decided my current layout (designed by me 3 years ago) was the best set up for the room.  The central door and window locations are really killer but there was no way I was cutting into my stone walls to relocate them.  I also really enjoy having the island and was not willing to give that up.


Since the floor plan is mostly the same and room is very small it is imperative that I be efficient with my cabinets.  I decided custom cabinets were the best way to maximize every inch of storage.  I worked with a company in Pennsylvania to build my cabinets to my exact specifications.  I was able to draw out the layout of my utensil dividers, completely customize my spice cabinet and make my two dish cabinets be exactly symmetrical  (31.5”W x 35”H to be exact.)

We are including all the bells and whistles you would want in a small kitchen.  Every drawer and roll-out shelf has full extension, undermount guides to allow for easy access to the contents.  Doors and drawers are soft close, so no slamming shut.  Drawers are solid wood, dove-tailed and sturdy.  The pricing of my cabinets ended up being similar to a good stock cabinet, but I think the quality is much better.

Here’s me testing out the new cabinets before they’ve even gotten their adjustment.

Beyond hardware and construction, the cabinets are designed to be well-organized.  Stuff will be stored where I need it.  On the “cooking wall” we have allocated roll out shelves for pots and pans, organized drawers for cooking utensils, bowls, and pot holders.  And all are within reach from the stove.


We were able to pack a lot into the small Sink Wall.  We added a floor above the trash pull-out so that cutlery could be contained and sanitary above there.  All of my dishes, glasses and eating utensils should be able to be stored right around my sink and dishwasher.


I decided NOT to upgrade the island for this renovation.  It is a painted Ikea piece that works well enough for now and is the perfect dimension for the room.  When the budget allows I will customize the island cabinets to improve storage and certainly upgrade the hardware because the slamming drawers drive me nuts.  I did, however, just splurge new cabinet pulls that probably cost more than the entire island… but we will save that for another post.


I’m lucky in that I have a large (39Wx 93H x 24D) cabinet just outside the kitchen.  We use this as a pantry plus storage for excess kitchen items.  It’s pretty essential to keeping our small kitchen functional and it will stay.

For me picking the style of the cabinets was very easy and clear cut.  I wanted clean and classic so I went with a simple shaker door with no embellishments.  (Machine Edge, Square Bead.)  My knobs and pulls will add character to my cabinets so I prefer that my doors are more simple and timeless.  My deeper drawers will match the door style while the shallow drawers will be slab.  This was an easy place to save in my cabinet budget and I’m fine with the clean look on top.

base door        wall door

For colors, I was pretty set on black cabinets from the start.  I love black because it’s classic, dramatic, rich, and just a little edgy.  Wanting to keep the room light and bright, everything above eye level is white.  So that means the wall cabinets and tall refrigerator panel are white.  I like the mix and match of black and white.  This theme will continue with the rest of my materials.

With the cabinet delivery also came our first rounds of WHOOPSIES.  There are always mistakes and problems in renovations.  It’s just part of the game.  I thought I was ordering my dish cabinets to be glass doors with mirrors on the back of the cabinets.  Instead I got mirrored doors and plain insides.  I’m gonna need to troubleshoot this issue because I’m not feeling it.  I love a good mirror, but staring at myself in the kitchen feels a little weird.  We shall see.  It’s my policy to live with things for a few days before making a decision.

mirrored cabinet door mistake

Oh Hello there.


How are the other participants fairing in week 2?  Check out their posts below.

I personally have so much catching up to do!

Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by CIH

Next Week: My appliances are coming soon, so I will divulge all the details on those.  Picking my appliances proved to be pretty challenging for me.  I really dislike stainless so refrigerator shopping ending up being a little more intense than I thought.


Catch Up on My One Room Challenge Kitchen Renovation

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

Week 4 / Week 5 / Week 6

One Room Challenge {Cottage Kitchen} Week 1

one room challenge

Renovating a room in 6 weeks.  Sounds fairly easy, right?

It’s actually ridiculously hard, but it’s also a mighty fun ride.




It’s that time of year again when I get super intense and overwhelmed while my friends and family start to worry about my well-being.  But I’ve done the ORC before (5 times actually) and I know I’ll get through it.  I have 6 weeks to makeover a room and I’ll be sharing the design process and construction progress with you every Wednesday.  I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time because I finally get to renovate my KITCHEN!!

Before Kitchen

Do you like my blue tape “trim” around the door.  No joke, that’s been up there for over a year.

For those new to Design Manifest, Hello and Welcome!  I’m Naomi and I’m a kitchen designer and decorator by trade.  I design dream kitchens for my clients but my own kitchen is a MESS.  It is a small room (15×8) and it’s really challenged by a lack of storage and dysfunctional cabinetry.  Our first floor has an open floor plan and we hang in the kitchen all the time so I am Really looking forward to pulling this room together.




I am planning to maintain a similar layout but get new and improved cabinets, appliances, countertops, backsplash tile and a few other finishing touches.  My goal is to improve functionality and update the aesthetic to best suit the home yet also feel like ME.  I’m going for a modern, glamorous, cottage look.

What does that mean?  Well you’ll see in 6 short weeks.  But I’m using these spaces as a little inspiration.

design manifest cottage kitchen inspiration

image sources: 2016 HGTV Dream Home / Jessica Helgerson / via Domino

And these are some of the materials I plan to use in the new kitchen…

design manifest cottage kitchen material mood board


My current kitchen is actually pretty cute from certain angles.  I like my sink wall.  We painted the original cabinets turquoise and DIY’d a pink chevron wall.  I knew this kitchen would be temporary so I had some fun with it.

design manifest turquoise kitchen

This was the kitchen when I bought it 3 years ago.  Check out those 80’s cabinets.  I actually saved them and painted them.  That’s right- those are the same cabinets above and below.

kitchen before

The problem with the old cabinets is that they are not efficient. I do not have enough storage around my stove and it results in chaos.  I need to really maximize the inches here.  So bye-bye turquoise, hello new cabinetry plan.

old kitchen range wall and stove storage

And while my sink wall is “fun” the open storage has not proven very practical for us.  Also, how bout the “cubby cab” above the fridge?  That was our home-made solution for extra storage.  But why am I keeping tinfoil and plastic baggies all the way up there?

Old sink fridge wall

As of today, the old kitchen has yet to be demolished.  I haven’t emptied the cabinets.  I haven’t finalized my appliances or picked out my hardware.  Work is so busy right now that my own kitchen has come last.  I plan to bunker down this weekend and finalize my selections and orders.  6 weeks goes real fast and I can’t have delays threatening my beautiful reveal :)

Tune in next week I’ll be talking cabinets, cabinets, cabinets.  I really love this stuff.


Until then, check out the links below to my amazing ORC teammates.  The talent is just ridiculous.  I can’t wait to see their designs.  Also, a huge thank you to Linda of Calling it Home for creating this event and inviting me yet again.  House Beautiful is our media partner this round which is really frickin exciting.  The ORC has become like the Superbowl of decorating and I’m suited up… Wish me Luck!


Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by CIH

Catch Up on My One Room Challenge Kitchen Renovation

Week 1 / Week 2 / Week 3

Week 4 / Week 5 / Week 6


Spring Pillow Favorites

Something about the Spring makes me want stow all my winter pillows away and indulge in major retail therapy.  While my orange crush continues, I also find myself drawn to blush and aqua plus my standby of black, white and gold.  I’m craving texture in my pillows.  Whether it be the glisten of metallic, or the woven hand of a vintage rug-pillow, I just want something that pops off my sofa.

Here are a few of my current crushes…


abstract lumbar  /  black blush ikat lumbar  /  velvet multi lumbar

gold raindrops pillow /    guns and roses pillow /  blush and gold triangle pillow

Magenta Vintage Rug Pillow / Moroccan Multi-Color Pillow / Black and White Striped Rug Pillow

Also, I wanted to announce that next week kicks off the next round of the One Room Challenge.

I’m very thrilled to be participating, yet again.

I can’t share what I’m doing until next week, but I can reveal that I have not started yet and I am SUPER stressed out about it.

You, know, just the usual. 😉

Happy Spring!

InstaProjects #BalaCynwydModernBoho

If you follow us on instagram  (and you absolutely should, you can find us @designmanifest) then you may have spied a new project: #BalaCynwydModernBoho.  We are remodeling the kitchen of a longtime client and it is going to be really good :) It’s pretty awesome working with someone who you’ve known for years.  I have designed every other room in their house. (You can see a few here.)  The kitchen is the last room to get its makeover and it’s well overdue.  We are actually doing the master bath too, but I’ll have to save that for another post.

Working on this design was like playtime.  My client has so much trust in me that I would just throw out ideas and she would just be totally game.  I know what the house needs.  It wants to be classic, yet funky.  Colorful yet refined.  Pretty much the place you want to BE.  So we are turning this kitchen into the heart of this home.

Kitchen before


KITCHEN rendering


This is mostly a cosmetic upgrade with some crafty layout improvement.  We initially hoped to take out the back stair and gain some critical square footage in the kitchen.  Sadly complex structure and high construction bids thwarted those plans.  Instead we working within the existing walls to improve the kitchen.

Demo Plan

We are removing these cabinets to make way for a bigger island.  They were shallow and non-functional, so we are able to re-gain this storage elsewhere.  It’s a win-win for me to gain a bit of wall space and have a better looking island.  Shapely islands make  me weary.  A rectangular island is much more clean and classic.

basement door

We are also removing this door and moving the refrigerator and pantry to this wall.  It will be nice so have them tucked out of the way here.

refrigerator wall rendering

Before you would walk into the kitchen and stare at the fridge and oven.  Now, you will see the custom range hood and marble herringbone backsplash.  We have a focal point and we have a good functional work triangle.  We have a winner.

Warden Deanna Kitchen 2B 11x17-Layout

Like the renderings indicate, the base cabinets will be blue (Ben Moore “New York State of Mind”) and the upper cabinets will be white.  The countertops will be white quartzite and the backsplash tile will be white herringbone marble.  I think it will feel  unique yet classic.

We drew a bit of inspiration from the following kitchens…


Kitchen by Studio Mcgee

jillian harris blue and white kitchen

Kitchen by Jillian Harris

brittany makes kitchen

Kitchen by Brittany Makes

We will be doing just a touch of brass (pendants, counter stools) but not on the cabinet hardware or faucets.  I think polished nickel will pop much more against the blue and it felt more timeless to me.  My goal is for this kitchen to look fantastic and new in 10 years.

While the planning and design have been in works for months, construction finally kicked off two weeks ago.  We partnered with Integrity Design and Build to remodel this kitchen.  So far everything is going very smoothly.  I know cabinets are due to be delivered early April, so I am eagerly awaiting that moment.  I will post a few project updates on instagram when I stop by the site.  Right now it’s pretty much just a mess.  You’ve got to make it ugly before you put it back together again.

kitchen after demo

Actually, that’s a pretty neat jobsite, isn’t it?  Way to go, Integrity!