Reasons to Celebrate

I’m feeling celebratory.  Business is fantastic, Winter is (please. God. hopefully) ending soon, Romance is alive and well in my life, and my house is FINALLY coming together.  I’ve given myself a summer deadline to complete The Cottage.  Finishing in 4-odd months feels pretty daunting when I feel like it’s so far from perfect, but I’m trying to tackle in one small element at a time.  With each new step I celebrate.  A glass of wine, a happy dance, whatever.  My home is starting to make me feel giddy again… and shouldn’t our homes be our happy place?


Here are a few small reasons I’m celebrating today:

1.  Black Bamboo Chinese Chippendale Chairs Reupholstered!

I picked up a pair of these vintage chairs years ago and let them sit with ugly upholsltery because I didn’t want to spend the money to recover them or pick a fabric.  I discussed fabric ideas HERE but ended up choosing something different.  I found this great vinyl faux ostrich fabric down on Fabric Row of Philadelphia ans snagged 1.5 yards.  I love that it’s light, textural and totally durable.  The brass nailheads are a nice touch too, I think.

Black Bamboo chair with Ostrich Upholstery

chinese chippendale chinoiserie chair with ostrich upholstery les touches pillow (1)

2.  The slipcover has made its triumphant return!

After 4 months of sitting crumpled in a bag I finally accomplished my personal goal of getting my slipcover dry cleaned.  I spent the winter with snowy boots, dirty dogs and my old gray original upholstery on my sofa.  IT IS SO NICE HAVING OPTIONS WITH THE UPHOLSTERY.  The gray was perfect for winter but now I’m welcoming the natural linen again.  It feels so fresh and clean that I can almost feel the spring air wafting through my cottage.

DM Living room- Layered cowhide over jute rug, patterened ottoman, slipcover sofa

3.  The Fireplace Mantel has been Refreshed

I loved my holiday mantel and kept it a little too long, but it was time to mix it up.  I needed a little less gold and shimmer and a little more softness.  I’m simplifying things all over the cottage and being a little more selective with what I display.  Less is more.  Just don’t call me a minimalist.

DM Fireplace Mantel simple styling

Design Manifest Fireplace Mantel Gold Mirror

So there you go- just a few small tweaks to the living room and I already feel like I’m on my way to a finished home.  Fingers crossed I can continue to pull it together.

Chinese Chippendale Chair Upholstery Options

With my multiple dining room schemes still up in the air, one thing is clear to me: my black Chinese Chippendale chairs will no longer be used around a table.  This frees the pair up to be used as accent chairs in the living room.  Ever since I found these chairs, I’ve wanted to recover the chair cushions, and now I’m finally motivated.  My instinct was to reupholster the chairs in a black and white pattern because I’m so fickle when it comes to color and I love the flexibility and layering ability with neutrals.  I prefer a small scale black and white pattern as I’ve already used a larger scale zebra on my wood chairs  in the same room.

Here are three fabrics I’m considering as well as a colorful wild card.  (Just can’t help myself!)

chinese chippendale upholstery orangerie black white

#1 Highland Court “Leopold” in charcoal:  My initial favorite.  It’s a thick weave with a really nice hand to it.  I like the loose spots… it reminds me a bit of Les Touches.  I also think it would hold up well.  (Look at me being all practical in my own home.)

#2 John Robshaw for Duralee “Bindi” in indigo:  An easy pattern to pair with ANYTHING.  It’s simple. clean and also a weave (read more depth and texture.)  It’s also technically deep blue, but I treat that as a neutral.

#3 Stone Textile “Signature Print”:  I’m in love with this design by Elizabeth Mollen!  It’s whimsical, modern and traditional at the same time.  While its a printed cotton, it has a nice hand-drawn quality to it.  I’m using it for a project elsewhere in my house and MAY have enough leftover to do the chairs.  If not, the fabric is really well priced!

#4 Designers Guild “Orangerie” in rose:  I love this fabric.  Yes, its neither small scale, nor black and white.  But its gorgeous, with nearly a hand painted quality and has so many colors in it that it could be paired with many different schemes.  I probably wouldn’t have thought of it, but I have two scraps that MAY be enough cover the chairs.

Here are all of the fabrics on the chairs to give you a sense of scale and depth.

upholstery fabric options orangerie bindi signature print highland court leopold

Right now I am testing out the chairs in front of the fireplace.  I like the little change up.

white brick fireplace chinese chippedale chairs and  ornate gold mirror in design manifest living room

The color slut in me is just dying to use the Orangerie as it goes surprisingly well with my current coral, red and black scheme…

Design Manifest neutral living room with coral black and red accents

But what happens in 6 months when I decide I hate red and banish it from my home?  It’s inevitable.  The good news is Orangerie also has blue, green, yellow and lilac in the pattern.  Or do I keep it clean and classic?  I can always do black and white upholstery and two floral lumbar pillows.

Decisions, decisions.

Stay tuned Wednesday, there is a biggie post coming.  I have a new project and its going to be a lot of fun.

It’s my Cottage One Year Anniversary!

It’s hard to believe that’s its been exactly one year since I signed on the dotted lines and bought myself a little cottage.  Part of me feels like the time has gone by in a wink, but when I think about it,  SO much has happened since those early days.  I feel like a different person and the house has been transformed into a whole different (better) kind of home.

Highlights of the renovation include a bathroom gut job, painting my existing laminate kitchen cabinets turquoise, removing all of the walls (and half walls!) on the first floor and creating an open concept plan.  I also used a heck of a lot of paint.  I ripped up maroon carpets to discover antique pine floors. I attempted to make a headboard and subsequently burnt out on DIY’s for the next 6 months.

Here’s a little round up of my project so far.  You can click on the title or the picture to see all posts related to each room!

the living room

living room before and after

living room before and after 2

the dining room

design manifest dining room before and after

design manifest dining room before and after 2

the kitchen

design manifest kitchen before and after

design manifest kitchen before and after 2

the bathroom

design manifest bathroom before and after

the master bedroom

design manifest master bedroom before and after

the guest room

design manifest guest room before and after

the lounge

design manifest lounge before and after

Reading this first post I wrote the day after settlement still puts a big smile on my face.  I was so hopeful and excited.  Six months of waiting and renovating tested my patience and honestly, my self esteem.  (Who wants to live and work with their parents 24/7 ?)  October  through December were NOT good months for me as I sunk into a anxious state of depression.  (I talked about it in this post here.)  I impatiently moved in mid-February (even though the house wasn’t finished) and quickly began putting my decorative touches on every little nook and cranny.  Work, life and exhaustion plagued my progress, but I was happy just to be doing my thing and living in my own home.

I still have a lot to do, but I’m grateful that I’ve been able to take my time and allow the space to evolve as I live in it.  The more I use the cottage, the more I learn what it really needs.  Some rooms I love (bathroom, guest room,) some rooms I can’t seem to get right (master bedroom,) and some rooms I’ve barely touched yet (lounge, dressing room.)  I think year two is going to be a lot of fun and I look forward to sharing it with all of you!



Should I add cornices in my living room?

In my incredibly slow quest to “finish” my cottage I’ve had a reoccurring, often late at night, nagging thought that I should add cornices over my living room windows.  I love the way the simple white Ikea curtains look with the added black grosgrain trim, but the cheap Ikea hardware does not make me very happy.  So my thought is I have two options: 1) Invest in nicer hardware or 2) cover up that hardware with matching cornice boards.

DM living room corner white curtains black trim{ My current living room curtain situation }

Cornice PROS:

I like the clean tailored look

It would make my windows seem higher

Cornice CONS:

I’d have to make it.  Uggg.

Too busy? / Stuffy?

Here are a few of my favorite rooms with matching trimmed cornices and curtains…

cornice coral trimmedBetsy Burnham

cornice boards and white curtains anna burke lonny


cornice coral trimmed caitlin wilson

Caitlin Wilson

cornice with black tape trim

Courtney Giles

That last one is pretty fancypants, right?

PS- I now want to paint my bedroom black.


And I didn’t show any shapely cornices… just doesn’t feel right in my space.

Happy Tuesday!

Cottage Update: The current state of the Living Room

My living room is one of my favorite rooms in the house even though its not intentionally decorated.  It’s just a mix of stuff that I already had placed together.  It’s simple enough: a neutral base, black trimmed curtains to add a little formality, a mix of textiles to add a little color and fun, vintage pieces to add a little soul, and family heirlooms to add a little heart.

It’s not my vision, its not some kind of design thesis statement, but its a happy comfortable space.  I didn’t style anything when I snapped these pics- this is literally just the way I live.  So if it doesn’t look perfect, like something out of a magazine, you’ll just have to understand that I’m not going for that.  It’s all just a work in progress that I tweak and move around on a continual basis.  But for now, here is my living room, plus a few snaps of what it used to be.

Neutral Boho living room Design Manifest

My sofa, with its mid-century lines, isn’t sink-into-it comfortable, so I replaced my coffee table with my ottoman/bench.  Putting your feet up makes everything more cozy.  I’m pretty anal about damaging the delicate La Fiorentina upholstery, so I layered a vintage suzani over it.  I like the look and the practicality of it.

DM living room sofa end table art DM living room embroidered pillow DM living room wood brass end table DM living room art

On the right side of the sofa I mixed Caitlin Wilson’s coral fretwork pillow with an embroidered steal from Urban Outfitters. (No longer end available.)  The end table is a great brass/wood/white mid-century piece that I won at an auction awhile ago.  (I used to be obsessed with furniture auctions… I guess I still am, but no longer have the free hours to stalk.)  The Indian piece of art is one my favorites- it’s actually 3D, with fabric and beading embellishing the piece.  I like to mix brass, gold and silver and you can see that clearly in this vignette, with the brass elephant (a thoughtul gift from Miss Tobe,) silver tray, brass sconces etc.  I like that it feels more collected.

living room before

living room before with door

The original living room was quite teeny: 10×15 with the front door opening right into the space.  When we removed the half walls it felt so much more open!!  The front store is still right there, but it works.  It’s cozy.

DM living room corner

DM living room black front door and sofa

I painted my front door black.  I love it.  When in doubt, paint it black.

DM living room round end table DM living room pillow detail chinoiserie pink fretwork DM living room black trimmed curtains la fiorentina ottoman

The left side features a vintage round table loaned to me by my sister, Megan.  My family is often rotating furniture around among ourselves.  I traded this piece for my wicker stools.   The pillows are different over here, but balanced out by the use of the coral fretwork again.  I have a few general rules for pillows- 1.  Don’t match patterns exactly- ie do one the same, and one different.  2. Don’t match the quantity of pillows on each side.  I lean towards the 2-3 combo.

DM living room front door and fireplace

On the other side of my front door is the fireplace.  It has yet to be used, but I’m really hoping I light her up this winter!  I gave myself a few coat hooks and built-in some shelves in what used to be an awkward alcove.  I keep my keys, dog stuff and various trinkets right there.  It’s pretty handy.

naomis fireplaceFireplace Before

DM living room fireplace alcove shelves

Fireplace After

Ain’t it great what a coat of paint can do?

DM living room fireplace wall

I was extremely insistent that a mirror go above my fireplace instead of a television.  One, because I wanted to reflect the light from the windows and two, because I didn’t want the TV to be the first thing you saw when you walked in the door.  So I mounted it just to the left instead.

DM living room fireplace tv art wall

I surrounded the TV with art.  Just stuff I already have.  I’m still tinkering with this area, particularly what’s on the bar cart.  It’s kinda lame right now… but I’ll get around to it when I feel inspired.  Maybe I’ll add art, maybe I’ll take some away.  I like that many people don’t notice the TV at first… that was the idea.

DM living room television art wall

Wide shots kinda suck in this format, but here’s a better perspective of this wall’s before and after…  Ugly old fireplace again:

naomis fireplace

New configuration with half wall gone, stairs re-built, fireplace painted and shelves installed.

fireplace wall wide

And that’s the end of my tour!  This space will continue to evolve for sure.  I still want to find or refurbish to chairs to go to the right of my sofa.  I do entertain quite regularly and there never seems to be enough seating.  Fingers crossed that I stumble upon something good that works with the space. xx


Hope you enjoyed the long post.  I’m finishing up a vacation and it seemed the easiest time to share something.  What do you want to see next?


xo Naomi