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

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.