A Trip of a Lifetime and an Exciting Announcement

Hi Guys.  Sorry I missed you last week and for the late post today.  I always write my blog posts Tuesday evening.  Usually starting around 10pm and finishing up by midnight if I’m lucky.  Last Tuesday was a really terrible day.  We had a custom sofa arrive damaged that required me scrambling up to the great Northeast to assess and determine the best solution, then my car broke down on the way home, then I had a late meeting.  By the time that was over, well there was just no energy for the blog.  I’ve been strongly committed to my weekly posts (and doing a good job if I do say so myself!) so last week was just a slip up and not an indication of future behavior.

Before I get into this week’s topic, I want to announce an exciting adventure you can follow starting next Wednesday.  I will be participating in the One Room Challenge again!!!  That’s right the 6 week makeover challenge is back and with a vengeance.  What room will I take on this time?  You’ll have to tune in next week to see.  Wish me luck… adding this onto our work-load is going to definitely stretch me, but I’m really excited.

Speaking of excitement- I just booked myself a trip of a lifetime.  I will be going to Morocco in Decembember!  It’s pretty much a dream come true.  I’ve long lusted after textiles, tiles and architecture of Morocco.  I can’t wait to get away, relax and be completely inspired.  I plan to bring back lots of goodies too.

I will be traveling with a dear friend and she planned the most amazing itinerary for us.  We will fly into Tangiers, travel to the ancient blue city Chefchaouen,  do a quick stop in Fez, and then do a few days in the desert over New Years Eve (camel rides!)  We will finish up in Marrakech where I can’t wait to do some serious shopping.

Based on pictures, everything looks amazing.  I have no doubt it will be even better in person.  A few things I hope to see….




chefchaouen 2





tangier 2



fez hotel


fez garden


Desert Tour

{Dadas Gorge}

dadas gorge




camels in desert



marrakech souk







Have you been to Morocco??  If so, I would love your input!!  What should I definitely see?  Best places to shop?  Dish it.

And don’t forget to tune in next week for the first week of the One Room Challenge.

ART ART ART and it’s impact on room design

When I find myself captivated by a pretty space, one of the first things I study is how the art is influencing the room design.  It’s crazy how much art changes the feel of a room.    Yet lots of people leave it as an afterthought when putting together their home.  It’s the cherry on top, it’s the finishing touch.

In my opinion, there is no wrong way to design.  You could start with a sofa, a painting, a fabric, rug,  photograph, whatever.  Art doesn’t have to be driving force, but it IS a strong influence.  Art is great way to contrast, soften, add color, add graphic emphasis.  You can use art to get more serious, or get a little cheeky.   Design for me is always a bit of a balancing game.  Adding a bit more traditional to a modern space,  a little bit of rustic to soften a glamorous one, etc.   A little thing like a picture on a wall can totally sway the vibe of a space.  I love seeing the way the designers below have decorated their walls.  Each room is quite different and the art really influences the personality.

loren taylor symphony house

Atlanta Symphony Associates’ Decorators’ Show House / Loren Taylor

flower print veranda


parker kennedy for atlanta homes

Atlanta Symphony Associates’ Decorators’ Show House / Parker Kennedy

Gabriella Palumbo living room

Design Sponge (Gabriella Palumbo)

yellow sofa art on bookshelves house and home

House and Home

mindy kahling ilving room


liz damrich smpl

Liz Damrich via Style Me Pretty

Gabriella Palumbo bedroom

Design Sponge (Gabriella Palumbo)

amber lewis domaine

Amber Interiors / Domaine Home

symphony showhouse'

Atlanta Symphony Associates’ Decorators’ Show House / Matthews Furniture  & Design

natural wood and black wall no art house and home

House and Home

How bout that last one?  No art at all.  Sometimes bare wall are sexy too.

Quickie Tile Update- Gladwne Master Bath

Whoa, Wednesday, you snuck up on me fast this week!  Sorry guys, I did not make time to properly prepare for a blog post this week, so instead I’m posting some progress shots from the Gladwyne bath jobsite.  This is going to be our client’s shower and I’m already obsessed.  A subtle geometric pattern, marble baseboard, crown moulding, a “floating leg” bench… this one has a lot of fun details.  See more posts about this project here and here.

shower pre tile

Shower pre wall tile- You can see 2″ hex shower floor and wood-look porcelain outside shower.

bathroom floor

Another shot of the bathroom floor.  That’s porcelain tile.

design manifest shower bench

Shower bench gets set, plus starting marble base moulding below.

design manifest tile work- shower niche

Shampoo niche.

design manifest tile work- crown moulding

The ceilings are so high in here that we could run wood crown throughout the whole room without concerns about moisture.

design manifest tile work- patterened tile and basemoulding

Pretty, Pretty.

So that’s just a little something the guys have accomplished in the past few days.  As for me, some projects are starting to wind down, while new ones are going full steam ahead.  If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen my post about being super overworked and tired.  While our schedule remains quite busy,  I’m happy to report I spent 3 days of Labor Day weekend doing zero design work at all.  Instead I went to a football game, swam in a lake and sipped cocktails by the harbor.  It was awesome and reinvigorating.

On a note about busyness, Sometimes I do worry my transparency about work load and my own personal state may scare people away, but it’s the only way I know how to be.  I always try to conduct myself and business practices in the most honest and accurate way possible. I’m not interested in portraying some facade of perfection… I just don’t have the energy or interest in that.  For those who hope to work with us in the future, we ARE taking on new clients.  We are 8-10 weeks out … which is so worth the wait!  We try to keep our project load smaller to give our current clients the best possible service and attention.

Thanks to all of you who check in on this blog.  See you next week!

What We are Working on Right Now… Historic Gladwyne Renovation

It is extremely convenient that both of our major renovation projects right now are in Gladwyne (like 2 minutes apart) which happens to be a 10 minute drive from my house.  I talked about the master bathroom remodel we are doing two weeks ago (see this post here,) and today I thought I would share about our other project.   It’s a doozy.  A historic home… pretty sure the oldest section was built in 1690… in need of a complete gut job.   We have been working on designs for months and now demolition has begun.  It’s pretty awesome to work on this kind of project and I’m really looking forward to the transformation.


{The Oldest Section of the House}

As most old houses go, this one has seen a lot of renovations and sadly was stuck somewhere between the 80’s and plain dilapidation.  This is the kitchen.  Not exactly fitting for a historic home, right?

kitchen before

Before hiring us, our clients worked with a team of architects for several months on plans for the remodel.  Items to be revamped included a new grand front staircase, major wall removal (including a chimney removal,) kitchen, master suite and 2-3.5 bathrooms.  When we came to look at the project, the first thing I zeroed in on were the plans for the kitchen.  The kitchen is the heart of the home and my opinion its the most important room when remodeling a house.

Here is the original design plan.  Note where it says “New Door” A- that is the main entrance for the homeowners.


Reviewing other people’s design plans is always a little tricky.  I didn’t want to insult the architects or poop on a plan that my clients’ were really happy about.  But, the fact of the matter is that I thought I could design something better.  I thought the kitchen felt RRRRREALLY far from the family room.  Also there was no mudroom, no pantry and I didn’t like how the entry door split right through the work area- cutting into travel zone from fridge to sink to cooktop.  And then there was the breakfast bar… that eating area was also far from the kitchen.  The peninsula eating area with one  sided entry felt way too contemporary to me.  I would want a kitchen that had all of the modern amenities, but also felt right at home in a very old home.  Luckily my clients were open-minded to new ideas and they let me play.

Here is the future “Breakfast Area.”  The fireplace and wall will come out and open up to the family room.

breakfast area before

And here is my kitchen design that our client’s approved…

naomi's kitchen design for historic home

We plan to move the kitchen into the former “breakfast area” making it more centrally located and closer to the family room.  The back wall, which housed the range in the original plan will be closed off and turned into a mudroom/ pantry.

old house kitchen rendering

As I mentioned above, demolition began a couple of weeks ago.  The wall with chimney is now gone!  Hello family room.

kitchen demolition

Seeing the space opened up was amazing!!  Now our client is re-thinking a few things.  Do we relocate the bathroom above the kitchen to allow for a cathedral ceiling?  Do we spend the extra money to lower the kitchen floor to make it level with the family room?  Do we remove the back stair to allow for a slightly larger kitchen space?  These are all up to our clients, but we will be there to make adjustments as needed.

This project will take several months, so no quickie reveal anytime soon.  Nevertheless, it’s a fun one for me and Dad :)

Before & After: New Dining Room Light for City Condo

I have good news and bad news about my quickie update to my Philadelphia condo.

The good news is that I have partnered again with Del Mar Fans to give a much needed update to the dining room chandelier.   Thank you Del Mar- You rock my world.

The bad news is the rest of the project is totally stalled.  My “small” renovation started to feel kinda big and I really had to step back and think about the money being spent.  Adding to my stress is my complete uncertainty with the space.  Do I want to rent it?  Do I want to sell it?  Do I want to use it for myself?  We are just so busy right now with REAL work, that unfortunately the condo has taken a back seat.  It is sitting, mostly torn apart and unfinished, like a big ole black cloud looming over me.  I literally had to haul in furniture from my own house to stage around the chandelier like it wasn’t a disastrous job site.  Note the pictures below are pretty tight… that was to avoid a massive table saw just off to the right.

While the place is a mess,  I’m seriously thrilled and so thankful for the new light.

Let me back you up and show you the dining room before.  It’s a open floor plan with just a small space carved out for the table and chairs.

dining room capiz chandelier mirror houdstooth rug

Years ago (2009) I had DIY’d myself a capiz shell chandlier.  It’s been hanging in the apartment ever since.  While I’m still fairly happy with my little project, it wasn’t feeling fitting for what I wanted in the condo.  I wanted something a little more modern, glamorous and appealing to several types of people.

Here is the space right after my tenants moved out in June.

condo light before

And here it is again a couple of weeks ago.  Heaven help me.

Photo Jun 08, 10 12 35 AM


Choosing a chandelier for the condo was challenging because I didn’t know how I would be using the space.  I knew most likely I would be trying to appeal to a renter or buyer, so it was important I choose something not too wacky or impractical.  Also, since it’s a tight dining area, I wanted something smaller, but still felt visually commanding.  Since I chose a brass fixture for the kitchen (which is open to the dining area) I thought it made sense to continue the brass theme in here.  (You can see my previous Del Mar Kitchen Light post HERE.)   Also, this is the only light in this general area, so a good wattage was important as well.

Here are various lights I considered for my kitchen table.  I choose my kitchen light and dining light at the same time- so I considered all sorts of finishes before settling on brass.

Dining Room Chandelier Lights by Design Manifest

1 / 2 / 3

4 / 5 / 6

7 / 8 / 9

I ended up selecting the Cadence 2-light Pendant from Murray Feiss.   I just adore a mix of brass and black.   And it’s not overwhelmingly brass in your face- just a touch of it.   It has the feel of the popular Hicks pendant by Visual Comfort, but at a much better price!  At 13″ wide, it is small, yet still feels substantial.  And it has 150 watts, which was my minimum for lighting a table.  I hung mine 30″ above the table top.

tulip table with panton chairs black and brass pendant light

black and brass pendant light with tabletop

pendant detail

Cadence Pendant with tulip table and panton chairs- Design Manifest- black and brass pendant light

pendant 2


Seeing the light installed this week made me really happy.  Will this be the inspiration we need to finally finish this space?  Even though it’s still deceptively a construction site, now it is a stylish and well lit one!

One more piece of Good News. Del Mar Fans is doing a another giveway on their Facebook Page!!  Free pendant light, people!!

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

This post is sponsored by Murray Feiss & Del Mar Fans & Lighting.