ONE ROOM CHALLENGE ~ The City Condo ~ Week 6

Party Time!  It’s finale day of the One Room Challenge and the condo is done.

The condo is actually DONE.  You have NO idea the feelings that come up when I say that.  Giddy exhausted disbelief.  I don’t think I can properly convey just how hard George and I have worked, or how much stress I have felt over this renovation.  I have poured my heart, soul and sanity into this project.  Despite my many doubts, we survived and our reward is a gorgeous, updated, furnished apartment.

Instead of the One Room Challenge, I took on the One Condo Challenge.  I know I “broke the rules” a bit here, but I had an empty, half-renovated apartment that needed to be finished, and QUICK.  I’m so grateful to the Linda  for inviting me to this ORC and giving me this amazing opportunity.  Without the 6-week structure, the audience and the sponsorships there is no way we could have taken on a project of this magnitude.

We saw a chance, we had a dream, and we went for it.  I said in week one, if I decorate it, They will come.  Who is THEY?  We hope it’s YOU.

More on that below, but let’s get to the reason why you are here…. the pictures!

(See Week 1 / Week 2/ Week 3 / Week 4 / Week 5)

Welcome to our pied-à-terre.

modern neutral eclectic living room - Design Manifest- One Room Challenge

This is the living room, but perhaps the proper way to give the tour is to start when you walk in the door…



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 :)

What We Are Working on Right NOW- Gladwyne Master Bath

Well it’s our Family vacation week, so dad and I should technically be down the shore, but both of us snuck back mid-week  to get a little work done.  There is just SO much going on right now!  We are collaborating on a lot of exciting projects.  We’ve been hired to design and specify two different major additions.  They will both be two-story expansions with new kitchens and master suites.  I just love juicy renovations like this mixed in with smaller decorative projects.

On the Manifest (Build) front lines, the guys remodeling a showstopper master bathroom.  I’ve been giving little teases of it on instagram (#blackrockmasterbath) and I’m thrilled to see the design finally come to life.  This is the best part.  (For me…. I don’t have to live in the house during the renovation.  Ha!)

I would describe this bathroom design as modern, yet it blends really well into their more traditional home.  I did a blog post back in May while I was designing the vanity wall.  (You can see the post HERE.)  As I mentioned in that post, my clients wanted a space with pizzazz.  Of course we wanted to add function (better storage, improved lighting, window treatment solutions,) and luxury (multiple shower heads, heated floors, stone pedestal bathtub) but mainly we wanted style.  We decided to frame an arch over floating vanities.  It will be the focal point when you walk in the door.  We are also doing a fabulous patterned (neutral) tile in the shower.  There are so many good moments here- the plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, countertops, lighting(!), hardware, wallpaper… its goood.

This is the bathroom layout.  Same as before, we just made the shower larger, switched the tub and re-worked the vanity wall.

gladwyne master bath layout


master bathroom before


vanity wall before

(OH GAWD remind me to dress better on BEFORE photo day!)

This is a little rendering of how the bathroom will look…

gladwyne master bath rendering

We are currently in week three of the renovation.  The old bathroom is all gone, new plumbing and electrical lines have been run and all framing and drywall is done.

Here is the sink wall now:

master bathroom framed out

Once the painter primes we will begin tile work!  We were over there yesterday looking at the layout together.  We’ve already had our first “challenge” in that floor tile came in slightly different than we expected.  These things happen and what’s most important to us to deal with it, find a solution and keep our clients happy.  It looks like we will be keeping the tile, but dropping the plan to do a herringbone pattern.  The dark wood-look porcelain is so pretty on it’s own, it doesn’t need the extra pattern.

dad with tile

Here is a pic I snapped of the cabinetry sample (two-tone gray!) with the floor tile (left,)  vanity wall tile (upper right,) and shower wall tile (lower right.)

tile materials cabinetry sample

A few weeks ago I went to my favorite stone yard to tag stone for the countertop, shower bench and sills.  Here are a couple of options we considered.

quartztie 1

quartzite 2

quartzite 3

Which would you choose?


And here is the delicious stone tub I mentioned above.  I would SO love to soak in this baby.

stone pedestal tub

Stay tuned while we make progress on this project.  In the meanwhile, I’m heading back to the beach!

What We are Working on Now ….. PART 3….. *** Current Interior Design Projects *** “Station Road Project”

Hello, Wednesday, how do you arrive so quickly?

So I’m back to talking about projects we are working on  right now.  Station Road is the last of the major decorating projects to discuss.  (Though we did just begin a new project in Chestnut Hill, so I guess it isn’t the last!)  I would describe Station Road as my Pretty Project.  Not that they all aren’t beautiful, but when I think of our choices, they are all so PRETTY.

What does Pretty mean?  A mix of jewel tones.  Soft patterns.  Feminine touches with just enough of glam to make her happy.  A bit of mid-century and boho mixed in to speak to the Mister.  Fresh Traditional with just enough edge to not be saccharine or sterile.

My clients bought their house in Wynnewood, making the typical migration from the city to the burbs.  She reached out to me before settlement and had us jump on designs as soon as it was theirs.  They were hoping to have minimal home overlap and to be able to renovate the new home and move in as soon as possible.  With big changes happening on the first floor sometime soon (fingers crossed) we focused on the bedrooms.

This was the master bedroom as the old owners had it…

bedroom before

My client was interested in adding more color.  She was down for pattern, metallics, mirrored, lacquer, wood, chinoiserie… just nothing too busy or ultra contemporary.  Since the bed wall was large and bare, I suggested we add wallpaper.  I wanted a soft pattern that work well with the other textiles, but not be too bossy.  Instead, we chose a pattern for the head pillow that would serve as our focal point/inspiration for the design.


I’ve long wanted to use this birdy floral by G&J Baker.  I LOVE the colors.

We had so much to pull from- soft blue, teal, lavender, fuschia, yellow, pale green… the design could have gone in a dozen of different directions.

Wanting it to remain gender neutral, we took it easy on the pinks purples and layered on different shades of blue and a pop of citron.

Bleached woods, a touch of brass and mirrored nightstands finish off the room.

bedroom mood board 1B

bedroom textiels

So far the wallpaper has been installed and it’s so pretty!

wallpaper detail station road

We also added a little softness to the adjoining master bathroom in the form of more wallpaper.

bedroom into bathroom

Bedroom wall into bathroom

The master bedroom has a sitting room off of it and we created a complementary design for this space.  While the bedroom is decidedly more feminine and glam, the sitting room takes on a more casual, bohemian vibe.  I found a faded turkish rug that had many of the same colors as our bedroom inspiration fabric and built the room from there.  Bonus points- Hubby enjoys the Turkish rug!  See, designing for both sexes is so easy.

Sitting Room BEFORE as the old owners had it

sitting room before 1

The Turkish Rug…

sitting room rug

We also had to figure out how to use this long skinny room with lots of windows.  The request that it be a den for TV watching, with an office AND a vanity area.  A lot to pack it, but I think the floor plan laid out nicely.

Station Rd Sitting Room

We’ve finalized nearly every decision, just need to figure out which fabric we will use to recover my client’s Bergere chair.

sitting room textiles for chair

If all goes as planned, we will be installing the majority of the items in two weeks!  I’m pretty excited to see it come together.  Next up is finalizing the daughter’s room, and it just may be my favorite bedroom yet.  Don’t worry, we will be sharing that design soon!