InstaProjects #BalaCynwydModernBoho

If you follow us on instagram  (and you absolutely should, you can find us @designmanifest) then you may have spied a new project: #BalaCynwydModernBoho.  We are remodeling the kitchen of a longtime client and it is going to be really good :) It’s pretty awesome working with someone who you’ve known for years.  I have designed every other room in their house. (You can see a few here.)  The kitchen is the last room to get its makeover and it’s well overdue.  We are actually doing the master bath too, but I’ll have to save that for another post.

Working on this design was like playtime.  My client has so much trust in me that I would just throw out ideas and she would just be totally game.  I know what the house needs.  It wants to be classic, yet funky.  Colorful yet refined.  Pretty much the place you want to BE.  So we are turning this kitchen into the heart of this home.

Kitchen before


KITCHEN rendering


This is mostly a cosmetic upgrade with some crafty layout improvement.  We initially hoped to take out the back stair and gain some critical square footage in the kitchen.  Sadly complex structure and high construction bids thwarted those plans.  Instead we working within the existing walls to improve the kitchen.

Demo Plan

We are removing these cabinets to make way for a bigger island.  They were shallow and non-functional, so we are able to re-gain this storage elsewhere.  It’s a win-win for me to gain a bit of wall space and have a better looking island.  Shapely islands make  me weary.  A rectangular island is much more clean and classic.

basement door

We are also removing this door and moving the refrigerator and pantry to this wall.  It will be nice so have them tucked out of the way here.

refrigerator wall rendering

Before you would walk into the kitchen and stare at the fridge and oven.  Now, you will see the custom range hood and marble herringbone backsplash.  We have a focal point and we have a good functional work triangle.  We have a winner.

Warden Deanna Kitchen 2B 11x17-Layout

Like the renderings indicate, the base cabinets will be blue (Ben Moore “New York State of Mind”) and the upper cabinets will be white.  The countertops will be white quartzite and the backsplash tile will be white herringbone marble.  I think it will feel  unique yet classic.

We drew a bit of inspiration from the following kitchens…


Kitchen by Studio Mcgee

jillian harris blue and white kitchen

Kitchen by Jillian Harris

brittany makes kitchen

Kitchen by Brittany Makes

We will be doing just a touch of brass (pendants, counter stools) but not on the cabinet hardware or faucets.  I think polished nickel will pop much more against the blue and it felt more timeless to me.  My goal is for this kitchen to look fantastic and new in 10 years.

While the planning and design have been in works for months, construction finally kicked off two weeks ago.  We partnered with Integrity Design and Build to remodel this kitchen.  So far everything is going very smoothly.  I know cabinets are due to be delivered early April, so I am eagerly awaiting that moment.  I will post a few project updates on instagram when I stop by the site.  Right now it’s pretty much just a mess.  You’ve got to make it ugly before you put it back together again.

kitchen after demo

Actually, that’s a pretty neat jobsite, isn’t it?  Way to go, Integrity!

Best of 2015

Well just like that it seems the year is over.  Today is Dad’s birthday, then Christmas Eve, then Christmas then off I go to Morocco.  2015 has truly been a standout year.  The wallpaper alone has made it a magical one for me.

Thanks so much to our clients and supporters for letting me do what I love.  I feel so fortunate to work with such great people.  Sweet, cool, excellent taste, trusting… Our clients are the best!

I cannot wait to professionally photograph this year’s projects and show them off proper.  Until then, here is my best of 2015.

Best of 2015

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you all.

See you in 2016.



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…



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 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