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

What We are Working on Now ….. PART 1….. *** Current Interior Design Projects ***

Depending on which manner of social media you follow Design Manifest, you end of seeing different aspects of of our work.  I tend to save the blog for the Before and After’s featuring dazzling professional photography and larger scale photos.  On instagram however, I’m much more prone to share jobsite photos, mood boards and progress shots. The result is that the projects I “tease” on instagram and twitter end up taking months (occasionally years) to make it onto the blog and portfolio.  Today I thought I’d bridge the gap a little and fill you in a few of the decorative projects we are designing right now.

If you follow me on instagram (@designmanifest) than you know that I often name projects with a hashtag, so you can follow along and see all of the pictures in the progression.  The three main interior design projects we are doing right now are #malvernreno #swarthmoreproject and #stationroadproject.  Each is a completely different type room, style of architecture and decorating style.  Really the only thing these client’s have in common is that they are awesome and trusting.  I honestly feel so lucky to be able to work with such great people on such varied designs.


malvern reno textiles

The Living Room Rug with a few Textiles we May or May Not Use

“True Fans” (just can’t say with a straight face) will recognize Malvern Reno because this is the 3rd time I’ve worked on this house in as many years.  What started as a very styling hall bath moved onto a complete master suite renovation last year.  This year we are tackling the formal living room, dining room, foyer, office, possibly now powder room, probably soon family room and kitchen… I’m never leaving Malvern.  (Ha!  kidding C ;)  Seriously though, someday this house will be finished and professionally photographed and hopefully splashed across some fabulous magazine.  Until then, I’m just sharing pieces and enjoying the process.

living room wide

Living Room, Before

The jumping off point for this project was the under-used formal living room.  Umm, does anyone really use a traditional formal living room?  We are hoping to re-invent it as a lounge, a cozy TV watching space, and place to entertain with a few couples.  The goal is to make it much more casual, but still totally elegant and stylish, of course.

In an effort to make the space more intimate and cozy, plus to better serve the furniture layout, we ended up altering the openings from the foyer and into the dining room.  This allowed us to add built-in bookshelves and a fireplace along the former sofa wall.  This is going to be such a welcoming entrance and focal point!  By reducing the doorway to the foyer (still a generous 4′ opening) we will be able to tuck a sectional sofa along the stair wall.  We are having this custom made in a rich, soft caramel leather and I am very excited to see it in 8-10 weeks!

belgian track arm leather sectional

Our Inspiration Sofa

From the start I had a strong vision for the overall feel of this space.  We would bulk up the traditional feel of the home through architectural elements, mouldings, built-ins, fireplace mantel, but then balance the room out with more modern furnishings and a few classic vintage mid-century pieces.  As my client has worked with me, I’ve watching her tastes grow more and more modern, but I felt maintaining traditional elements were necessary to tie into the rest of the house and provide some depth to the more contemporary furnishings.

living room in progress

Living Room, This Week

So last week we started working and its been mouldings, mouldings everywhere.  (I think my Dad may think I’m nuts.)  I’m very excited that we are doing full height picture mouldings in the living room.  We even matched the cabinetry doors to mimic the same style.  The whole room will be the same gray as the cabinetry, Benjamin Moore CW715.  It will provide the perfect neutral backdrop with just enough moodiness.  As much as I love an all white room, this room just doesn’t have the right lighting for it.  So light gray with just a little bit of taupe was the winner.


This is the sofa/sectional wall.  The holes in the walls will be wall sconces.  We will hang art right over the upper mouldings.  Still figuring out what the perfect piece will be….

living room mouldings

Another big part of the architecture is the lighting.  We are doing two sconces over the sofa and two more sconces over the bookshelves.  The center of the room will have a chandelier.  We decided to mixed brass with oil-rubbed bronze. I enjoy this mix and it will continue into other parts of the home.  All brass is beautiful, but it felt just a bit too trendy and matchy to us.

malvern reno lighting

Living room fixtures plus the dining room chandelier.

We will be doing TWO of the bottom right over the table!

What’s better than a chandy?  A double chandy.

albed pink rug 2

As I showed above the rug is the gorgeous patterned pale violet wool number.  We will be using color judiciously in this room. Only where it makes a maximum impact and layering the rest with a great mix of neutrals.  We are striving to make this space feel “undecorated” which definitely has its challenges.  Honestly it’s so much easy to pick a inspiration fabric and pull colors from it and make it all coordinate nicely.  Here I’m trying to take it a step further.  Pairing things that aren’t expected and colors that don’t necessarily match.  Hoping it all comes together seamlessly and beautifully.

One piece of the puzzle got dropped off at my house today.  Vintage Milo Baughman Parsons armchairs that we we had recovered in a green velvet.  I’m loving that pop of green.  That is one of the colors that has been carried throughout the house and helped with continuity.  Bonus- They are really comfy.

milo baughman chair before and after

I’m very much looking forward to about 3 weeks from now when all painting is done, dining room paper is hung and floors are refinished.  That will give us a great sense of the new spaces and allow us to make some final decisions.

Woof, I was supposed to talk about three projects, but just the bit about the one feels like a full post.  I think I’ll continue this next week where you guys will see either a behind the scenes into #swarthmoreproject or #stationroadproject.  Each has an install happening in the next month so its a busy time for us!

As always, thanks so much for reading and your continued support of our work.


Project Wayne Fabulous: The Foyer

It’s time to get Fabulous.  Project Wayne Fabulous.

I went back and did a little review of the blog and I noticed I’ve been heavy on kitchen and bath posts the past several weeks, so I figured it was time to share another decorating project.  We do a lot of interior design at Design Manifest in addition to kitchens and bathrooms!

The room below was an extremely fun and rewarding project we completed this spring.  The first-time clients called me in to work on the house and after some discussion of timing, budget and logistics, they decided to spread out their projects and really do them right.  The first room they gave me could perhaps be viewed as the tester; the foyer.  You might think it’s an easy room, as its quite small in size, but it also has the task of setting the tone for the home.  We set out to create a vibrant, fun, colorful space that still felt appropriate in an old, traditional-style home.  The clients were an absolute dream to work with… open to my crazy ideas, willing to take risks, trusting and just so damn nice.  I CANNOT wait to work with them again soon :)



I will never forget our first meeting.  My client brought out this juice box container and told me she loved the colors.  Honestly I was a little worried.  Sherbet and pink and blue…. how could I make that classy and fun?  But I kept it in the back of my mind and used it for inspiration.


Once we were given the GO, we focused on the foyer, which is actually is split into two teeny-tiny spaces.  When you walk in the front door there is an extremely petite vestibule and once you pass through that space there is a hallway that leads to the various rooms on the first floor.  Our task was to give these two spaces style, function and a whole lotta fabulous.

BEFORE {The Vestibule}

vestibule before 1

BEFORE {The Vestibule}

vestibule before

Let’s discuss:  Teeny tiny space.  How could we use it functionally without easily overcrowding it?  The brown tiles had to go.  My client was down to make a statement with pattern and color.  The idea of going bold definitely excited me, yet I also wanted to maintain some traditional elements to tie into the architecture of the home.

vestibule before 2

I decided the best way to tie into the traditional bones was to select more classic flooring and light fixtures and get funkier on the walls.  I found this fabulous marble mosaic that had a bit of a deco feel and was a great scale for the space.  I loved how the multi-colors (white, brown and black) made a graphic statement in the small room, yet still maintained a neutral feel.  Luckily the client agreed, so we said bye bye to the big brown tile!

tile floor


vestibule light

For the vestibule light we chose a classical globe lantern.  It’s just enough fancy to dress up the space without overwhelming it.

Keep reading after the JUMP for the finished room and details!


Villanova Kitchen Renovation: Part 2

Last week I shared the details about a kitchen in Villanova we designed and remodeled last year.  We showed Before Photos, talked about the issues and shared the new floor plan.  If you missed that post and would like to know more about the design you’ll see below, please check it out HERE.

Today you are in for a treat because we are revealing the stunning AFTER shots, photographed by Courtney Apple.  This project was a real treat for me.  From the two tone cabinets, to the reclaimed wood island to the swoonworthy lighting, I think it came together quite nicely.  Kitchens are always a challenge when it comes to personalizing design.  Most of my clients want something stylish, distinctive yet also not so unique that it won’t be appealing to the next homeowner.  I love walking that fine line and coming up with designs that are beautiful, functional, classic and really special.  This kitchen below may go to the top of my growing list.

Picture Time!


before 1- kit from dining room


1-kit window wall from dining


Villanova Kitchen- Charcoal Gray cabinets paired with Light Gray Cabinets White Quartzite counters Reclaimed Wood Island Gold Hardware

{Removed the Aqua room, removed the half wall and raise the opening into the eating area.}

See all of the details after the Jump.


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.