Seasonal Rug Switch

With the hot days of summer upon us I have adapted my living room to better suit my mood and season.  Gone is the layered jute/cowhide look and layered ottoman.  I wanted something a little more minimal, a little cooler.  So we just have the cowhide down and I’m really enjoying the wood floors for a change!  I also switched up my La Fiorentina bench for my vintage live-edge table.  I love the organic feel of the table and it’s a nice scale for the petite room.

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BEFORE

DM Living room- Layred cowhide with jute rug, patterened ottoman, slipcover sofa-

NOW

Cowhide rug slipcover sofa and bamboo chair

One of the benefits of the smaller rug- besides enjoying those wood floors- is that my entry mat and rug no longer overlap.  I have a teeny house with no foyer so the front door walks right into the living room.  It’s nice to have a little visual space there.

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Next up is a little pillow and art change up.

But I’m in no hurry… it’s summer after all.  Let’s go outside!

Living Room with cowhide and vasarely

Dish: Do you change up your decor for the seasons?

It makes all the difference.

Profile Piece on Design Manifest

Recently my dad and I were featured in a great article in Inside Magazine.  I was so happy for my dad to share his story and get a little bit of the glory around here.  My father is so humble and generous that he is perfectly happy for me to prance around in the spotlight like some kind of puffed up peacock.  The fact of the matter is that we are team and each project we create is a collaborative effort.  Without him there would be no Manifest in Design Manifest.  Our pairing is complex: father/daughter, contractor/designer, traditionalist/innovator,  old/young (sorry Dad!) but I truly feel that together we are able to give an excellent service to our clients.    I’m so lucky to have Andrew Stein in my corner.  Love you, Dad.

Below is the article, originally published in Inside Magazine and also viewable Here.

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As far as Andrew Stein knew, none of his four children were anxious to join him in the family business.

Stein, who was born and raised in Lower Merion, founded Design Manifest, a full-service residential contracting firm with a specialty in artisanal craftsmanship, in 1974. Stein and his wife, Carol Parker Stein, always encouraged their children to follow their dreams, which led his oldest daughter into fashion design, his youngest to teaching and his middle daughter, Naomi, into the mortgage business. Their son is still in school, but other than working summers, he isn’t planning on following his dad’s lead. “It’s a tough business,” said Stein. “It’s dirty and very physical — it’s not for everybody.”

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So it is easy to imagine his surprise when Naomi, the middle daughter, came to him “completely out of the blue” with a written proposal in May 2004. “She was doing well selling mortgages, but she didn’t love it,” recalled her dad. In the proposal, Naomi outlined what areas of the business needed improvement and why she should be the fixer. “She even proposed how much I should pay her. Turns out, she was right about everything.”

“I didn’t want to rest on my laurels and join my dad’s company right away,” said Naomi, 32. “But I found the mortgage business stressful and boring. I wanted to get my hands dirty.” Although her idea was to “turn the business around in a year or two,” Naomi found it took more like six or seven — not to turn the business around, but to learn the necessary skills and make her mark on the company.

Dynamics between fathers and daughters are always interesting. Add working together on a daily basis into the mix, and there can be challenges. The road’s been a relatively smooth one for this family duo, though, with Stein leading the charge on the construction side, working closely with Naomi as she’s gradually taken over and developed the design aspect of the business.

EUROPEAN CRAFTSMANSHIP

Stein’s own parents weren’t thrilled when he informed them that he was pursuing construction as a career. “They’d been grooming me to be a lawyer or something like that,” he recalled. His dad was in the financial business, and tinkered around the house as a hobby. “Growing up, I was always helping him. He was always building something and I took an interest in it. By the time I was 13, I was better at it than he was.” What his folks considered a temporary summer job as a teen turned serious when he apprenticed with Otto, an old-school, Old Country carpenter from Czechoslovakia.

“Otto taught me some of the old methods of working that a lot of people aren’t doing anymore,” said Stein. While he is constantly staying up to date with new advances in his field, knowing traditional methods is something that has set his career apart for more than four decades. Stein, 60 (“Sometimes at the end of a hard day I feel 80!”), is a veteran carpenter, as well as a skilled tile-setter, cabinetmaker, craftsman and designer. The company maintains a wood shop to handle custom work. Recognized by the National Kitchen and Bath Association as a certified kitchen and bath designer, Stein works primarily in the Main Line and takes tremendous pride in personally overseeing all projects.

Like virtually every other contractor, Stein said that working on a renovation while the clients are living in the home is especially challenging, with the care and management of the construction dust the No. 1 concern on all sides. “It’s very important to communicate to the client, prepare them for what to expect and how to live most comfortably through the project,” he elaborated.

Job costs include equipment and time to set up exhaust fans to maintain negative air pressure and prevent dust from migrating. Main Line clients have a reputation for being particular, which suits Stein just fine. While working on a full-home mold remediation job in Gladwyne, the crew covered all of the house’s beautiful wood floors with 160 sheets of 1/8-inch Masonite, a steam-cooked and pressure-molded hardboard. “The floors were perfect at the end, and that cost just got built into the job,” Stein explained. “The end result — a happy client — is paramount to us.

“Everybody is in such a hurry to get things done with a close eye to costs,” he continued. “Obviously, I’m in business and I’m conscious of costs, too. But there’s a way to do a job properly without cutting corners. It’s about educating yourself, knowing what works and giving a damn.”

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OLD SCHOOL MEETS NEW SCHOOL

When Naomi first approached her father, the idea was to put her business degree to use by managing the office. “She wasn’t a great office manager,” her father said. “Both of us are creative — we don’t like doing the paperwork. Naomi found her passion with design, and I hired an office manager. It was the right move.”

Unflappable in the face of the problems inherent to construction, Stein considers himself a practical contractor at heart. Although trained in design, it isn’t his favorite flavor. “It turns out, with Naomi’s talent with design, we make a great team,” he said. Naomi jumped in with both feet, learning skills like CAD on the job and taking classes through the National Kitchen and Bath Association and Moore College of Art & Design. “I trust my dad completely,” she said. “If there’s any way to make my vision a reality, he can do it.”

As is the case in every successful family business, keeping home and work separate is critical. “We’ve always gotten along well,” said Andrew. “That being said, there’s a built-in tension between designers and builders. Builders always want to build and get it done efficiently; designers want to elaborate with detail, to pursue all options.”

Longtime clients get a kick out of the father-daughter dynamic at meetings. “We sometimes bump together in a good way even if we don’t always agree,” he said. “It produces the best compromise between design and practicality.” Now the company’s vice president and principal designer, Naomi admits that sometimes she finds her dad set in his ways. “The problem is that a lot of times, his ways are right. I bring a different energy into the mix, though, which is good.” One area of disagreement has to do with the locations of the company’s jobs. Her dad doesn’t like commuting past the Main Line; Naomi is interested in working in Philly. “I sometimes take on design projects outside of our usual area if the job is really special,” she said.

Another way Naomi has impacted the business is through her design blog on the company website (www.designmanifest.com/blog/), an approachable, chatty forum for her experiences with everything from rugs and color schemes to lighting and girly glam. “Both my dad and I like interesting custom details and beautiful finishes. We may have different tastes, but together, they mesh perfectly.”

Beth D’Addono is a longtime contributor to Inside. This article originally appeared in Inside Magazine, a Jewish Exponent publication.

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Project Dream Kitchen Before and After

Last year we designed and built this amazing kitchen in North Ardmore.  This was our second time working with our lovely client, having done two bathrooms and a few decorative projects the year before.  Most of our clients are repeat clients (or referrals) and we find the more we work together, the easier the process is and the more beautiful the result.

Hopefully by now you have seen the feature in Lonny Magazine from last week.  (Thanks to all who left sweet and supportive comments!!)  Today I wanted to talk a little about the design process behind the kitchen and share before photos.

The before kitchen wasn’t so bad, but the cherry cabinets were about 20 years old and had started to come apart.  We took the opportunity to refresh, tweak the layout, improve the quality of cabinetry & appliances and make the space better suit my client and her family.  When you enter from the dining room you see long back wall of the kitchen and kitchen island.

cooktop and island

Before there was no real focal point.  We decided to add an industrial range and statement range hood.  We also moved the sink from the corner into the island and added pendant lights and seating at the island.  The back wall felt very boxy with all of the those wall cabinets, so we broke it up with some open shelves.

design manifest kitchen in lonny magazineimage via Lonny Magazine

Design Manifest Kitchen Black and Brass Hood Lucite Pendantsimage by Design Manifest

After careful research we selected a 48″ blue star range.  My client loved the powerful burners and I loved that we could do it in black and brass.  We both agreed that we were over the stainless craze in kitchens (hello finger prints!) so we used very little in this kitchen.  Vogler Metalworks made us a custom black hood with brass strapping.  It definitely sets the tone for the kitchen- classic yet bold and updated at the same time.

black and brass hood by design manifest image via lonny magimage via Lonny Magazine

design manifest kitchen hood

image by Design Manifest

Functional storage is even more important than looks in the kitchen, so we made sure to fill this space with all the necessary bells and whistles.  A pot filler in matte black finish means my client doesn’t need to carry her heavy pots from the sink to the range.  We built in two “garages” to hide away small appliances to keep the countertops clean.  We also placed a spices, cooking utensils and pots and pans conveniently close to the cooktop.

design manifest kitchen spice drawerimage by Design Manifest

BEFORE- The sink was in the corner (I rarely like that,) the eating area was raised to bar height (I never like that) and an awkward structural post sat on the counter.

kitchen with post

AFTER- Sink moved to island, counter height lowered to open up the space and we were able to move and conceal the post into cabinetry.  I don’t usually love countertop garages, but in this case it was functional for storage and to hide the post, so it was definitely a win.

design manifest kitchen with corner garage concealing postimage by Design Manifest

To balance out the heaviness of the black range and hood we opted for white cabinets (painted in BM Decorators White.)  The base cabinets are a standard shaker with ogee bead at the inner edge.  For the upper cabinets, I wanted a something a little more special.  I sketched out a clean, yet more intricate pattern and Christiana Cabinetry brought them to life.  I call it the Design Manifest Door and I love it.

Design Manifest Cabinet Door- Detailed stepped shakerimage by Design Manifest

We searched high and low for a backsplash tile that would compliment the soft blue gray accents in our quartzite counters.  We ended up Quemere subway tile in the Ash color.  It’s subtle and so pretty.  The 2×6 size is classic yet also a little different.  The quartzite is Namibian Sky.

lonny shootimage via Lonny Magazine

BEFORE- the kitchen counters wrapped the corners at the end of the kitchen.  I hate short stumpy corners.  No one uses this area to work in and they become junk collectors.

kitchen before 2

AFTER-  We eliminated the corners, allowing for a longer island and more straight counter space.  Note the second storage garage on the left.

lonny shoot horimage via Lonny Magazine

BEFORE- To the left of the dining room door were the double ovens and a stupid little corner.   This area was neither very functional or pretty.

ovens

AFTER- Our double oven is now part of the range, so this wall was turned into the refrigerator and snack zone.  I always like a dedicated section of the kitchen for the toaster, microwave and coffee maker to live.  They should be out of the main work area.  We used a 42″ Kitchen Aid Refrigerator and added panels to make it a little softer.

design manifest kitchen paneled refrigerator and snack zoneimage by Design Manifest

This area also has a bread drawer and baskets for snacks!

design manifest kitchen snack zone

image by Design Manifest

You may have noticed the soffit on the left side in the image above.  This kitchen had several structural issues we had to work around.  Besides the post I mentioned earlier, there was also a structural soffit we could not remove and the roof line cut into the ceiling of the kitchen.  We concealed the issues with cabinetry the best that we could.

BEFORE-  The previous kitchen designer kept the wall cabinets short to avoid the sloping roof line.

kitchen before with roofline

AFTER- Dad and our carpenters took those cabinets up to the ceiling.  This was no easy task as we had to cut out the backs of the wall cabinets to cope them to the roofline.  Note that the hood had to be cut on an angle too.  These details might not be as glamorous, but I feel like they really help the kitchen feel finished and luxurious.

Design Manifest Kitchen with black and brass hood and industrial rangeimage by Design Manifest

The island was a fun moment. You may have noticed the black and white doors.  Christiana Cabinetry hand painted the white accent on the inner trim of the doors.  I love how its tailored and bold yet still feels classic.  Notice a theme here?  We really wanted to do something different in this kitchen yet not have it be too outlandish.  It’s tough to take risks in kitchens.  They are very expensive, so most people don’t like to overly personalize the space.  I’m so proud of my client for taking a few design risks.  I think it paid off well in this space.

design manifest kitchen island doorsimage by Design Manifest

The hardware on the island is vintage and was found on ebay.  My client polished each piece herself.  We did a double laminated counter on the island for extra thickness.  It’s a single eased edge elsewhere.

lonny cabinet detail

image via Lonny Magazine

Sorry for the terrible pic, but I wanted to show the foot detail.

I love little things like this… they add so much to the cabinetry.

island foot detail

The faucet at the sink is the one place we chose to do stainless.  It was practical, durable and just felt right.  Not everything in a kitchen needs to match.

design manifest island sinkimage by Design Manifest

Besides the sink, the island also houses the dishwasher (its paneled,) a pull-out trash and recycling bin,  a bookshelf and additional bonus storage.  But let’s be real, the real star of the island are the statement pendants- the Alpine by Hudson Valley.  They were a bit of a splurge but they provide excellent light and are so stunning in person!

Black and White island doors by Design Manifestimage by Design Manifest

Now instead of that stupid raised bar outside the kitchen proper, the island has seating for two!  People actually sit at islands.  I feel like no one sits as raised bars.  That’s why I’m such hater about them.  PS- I love these stools from Ballard Designs.

design manifest kitchen island stoolimage by Design Manifest

BEFORE- The refrigerator was cramped to the right of the dining room doors.  There was also NO dedicated pantry in this kitchen.

ovens frig

AFTER- Since we moved the fridge to the left of the dining room doors, we were able to make the right side be a full pantry.  This kitchen is a dark space and we wanted to bring light however possible, so we opted to add mirrored fronts to the pantry.

design manifest kitchen island with mirrored pantryimage by Design Manifest

lonny pantryimage via Lonny Magazine

We also updated the eating area which is open to the kitchen.  Before, the table was a little large for the space and it felt crowded.

BEFORE

eating area

We lightened up the walls with Ben Moore’s Horizon, removed the window treatments and started fresh with furniture.  A 48″ round table fit best in the space and was big enough to fit the family.  We mixed a cozy tufted banquette with french Louis XVI square back chairs.  The floral pattern on the chair backs provides a nice hit of pattern in the otherwise neutral room.

AFTER

Design Manifest Breakfast room with banquette and pattern backed seats

image by Design Manifest

design manifest kitchen chair detail

image by Design Manifest

BEFORE- Dad taking notes on the first day of our design interview.

from eating area

AFTER

design manifest kitchen 10

The Floor Plan

dream kitchen floor plan by design manifest

And THAT is project Dream Kitchen.  What a dream it was to design and build it!

I want to thank my client for trusting us with her home and allowing me to share the results.

Clare, You are awesome and I hope you continue to enjoy the space.

Design Manifest in Lonny Magazine!

Pinch Me.

Today one of my dreams has come true; a Design Manifest project is being featured in Lonny Magazine.  Last year Dad and I had the pleasure of designing and building a beautiful kitchen for the sweetest family ever.   Custom touches were used throughout and each detail was planned with care.  From the black and brass strapped hood, to the two-tone island to the custom cabinet doors, working on this space was truly a dream.  In fact, I shared a few peeks last year on instagram which I dubbed #projectdreamkitchen.  Today, finally, I am so thrilled to share the results.

You can see the article HERE.

design manifest kitchen in lonny magazine

(image via Lonny Mag)

I want to thank Lonny Magazine for the pleasure and honor of gracing their online pages.  Working with photographer, Genevieve Garruppo, art director, Wendy Scofield and writer, Mackenzie Schmidt was such a thrill.  I’ve never had one of my projects shot by magazine before so it was very very cool.

I hope you all love the space.  Kitchens are my absolute favorite rooms to build.

 

Chestnut Hill Family Room Before and After

Here’s the design story of our Chestnut Hill Family room renovation.

When our clients first came to us their family room furnishings were a collection of randoms and hand-me-downs.    An old sofa, an assortment of uncomfortable chairs  and a rug that didn’t suit their style were all given the boot.  We also didn’t like the television over the fireplace.  It’s the first thing you see when you walk into the room.  We needed a better focal point.

family room before

My client’s have a family of 6 and wanted a space that was elegant yet comfortable, kid friendly yet chic.  They favored neutrals, but weren’t opposed to  pattern or a the use of selective color.  The goal was clean, bright classic, beachy but not beachy.  “Hip traditional” is how I like to think of it.

The room is pretty large with high beamed ceilings and two sets of french doors.  We wanted to keep the walls white, the windows bare and beef up the architecture in the room.  Here’s what we came up with…

Design Manifest Chestnut Hill Project- Family Room built-in bookshelves

We built white bookshelves along the empty wall that previously housed the American Flag.   The television was relocated from the fireplace to the bookshelves.  I love placing the TV amongst books and personal items… it’s such a good way to “hide it.”  Now this wall gives us great storage, display and TV viewing.   Oh and the built-ins provide for that stronger architectural presence we wanted.  Quadruple winner.

Design Manifest Chestnut Hill Project- bookshelf detail

While the walls are an off-white, we did the back of the bookshelves in a very soft blue.  It’s pretty and subtle and adds a cheerful touch in the room.

Design Manifest Chestnut Hill Project- Family Room bookshelves

You might be thinking that a sofa facing away from the Television is not very practical.  Don’t worry there are two sofas!  While TV watching definitely goes down in the room, we also wanted a space that was conducive to conversation and socializing.  We placed two sofas facing each other in front of the fireplace.   This is the heart of the family room.

Design Manifest Chestnut Hill Project- Family Room fireplace

 I love the look of two sofas with an ottoman in between.  So classic.  The stools in front of the fireplace are the perfect cherry on top.

BEFORE

family room before 2

AFTER

12 family room 3

There are a lot of neutrals, woods and irons layered in this room.

Linen Sofa, tufted linen ottoman, sisal rug, cowhide, reptile velvet  stools… ALL neutral.

Yet it interesting and rich.  I believe it’s because all all the textures and finishes.

ottoman with rugs

family room sofa ottoman stools

Design Manifest Chestnut Hill Project- End table detail

Design Manifest Chestnut Hill Project- Family Room sofa detail

I really enjoyed selecting my neutral pillows!

Luckily my clients were down with a a little chinoiserie and greek key.

Who says you need color to have fun?

Design Manifest Chestnut Hill Project- Family Room Chest

Speaking of neutral and beautiful, I’m still in love with this chest we selected for under the stairs.  Hexagon antique mirror on wood.  It’s really a special piece!

paisley bergere chair by design manifest

Just because the room is neutral, doesn’t mean it’s boring.  We went bold on the bergere chairs with a black, white and caramel paisley.

I love black, white and caramel.  I could do that scheme over and over again.

Design Manifest Chestnut Hill Family Room

I just love how this room turned out.

It’s such a happy, beautiful space.

I know the whole family uses it and enjoys it too!

What a fun one to work on.

I’m hoping there are a lot more hip traditional projects in our future.

***

Thank you to Courtney Apple for the beautiful pictures.

Sources for this room can be found on the Style Me Pretty Living Home feature.