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!

A few Peeks at my favorite Bathroom Yet

Last Friday Dad and I were out at our Malvern Project reviewing final details for a master suite renovation we plan to begin soon.  We’ve been designing it for months and its full of stunning details and finishes.  I’m really quite excited to see it come to life.  This will be our second project with these clients as we designed and renovated their hall bath last year.  The hall bathroom went from standard builder-grade hum drum to a classic, collected beauty.  Our goal was traditional with a twist: natural woods, marbles and subway tile combined with mixed metals, stand-out lighting, interesting shapes and delicious textiles.  Every time I visit this bath I can’t help but smile.

Here is the BEFORE…

Malvern Reno Hall bath before

A closet crowded the entry, The shower was tucked to the left (not seen) and the whole space felt long and narrow.

This is how it looked when I visited last Friday…

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We flip flopped the toilet and the shower making the shower to focal point at the end of the room.  

(And yes with a window in the shower!)

The toilet is now tucked into the old shower alcove, quite inconspicuously.  (Not seen.)

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Library Sconces provide unexpected lighting for the round iron-rope mirror.

All fixtures are matte black- Jason Wu for Brizo.

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My client was down for open shelving instead of your typical linen closet, so we chose a faux bamboo etagere.

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I just love the way she has styled it!

I helped her select the navy Serena and Lily towels.

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We designed the sink cabinet to look like a classic chest.

The bottom two middle drawers are actually one deep drawer.  Gotta have a place to store bigger items!

The rug is vintage and I love how it pops off the Carrara hexagon floor.

* * *

Once we finish the master suite I plan to have both bathrooms shot professionally, but until then I thought you guys might enjoy this little peek.


Happenins’ 4/19/13

Another busy week here at DM!  We have so many great projects going on that I am constantly feeling inspired, excited, stressed, challenged and rewarded.  I don’t know about you, but time is just flying by and I’m just trying to eek out a moment here and there to stop and admire the flowering trees.  Work is great, but there is more to life than renovations, right?  After working through last weekend, I’m really excited to totally unplug this weekend.  I’m hosting another guest (my third in three weeks) and I also have plans to BBQ, dine downtown, get a manicure and work in my garden with mom.  I can’t wait!

Here are some bits from our week.  (Some from instagram and some seen here first!)

breakfast bar and kitchen

We started a new kitchen project that I am EXTREMELY excited about.  It has so many special details… I just can’t wait to see it come to life.

On Monday, the room looked like the space above, and by yesterday it was the blank slate below.  More on this one soon…

kitchen empty

naomi with steamer

I had a bedroom install yesterday and spent much of the day steaming and stuffing pillows.  I kept saying I was a “lean, mean, steaming machine” and giggling about it.  Mind you, I was alone.  Nerd Alert.  Anywho, we aren’t done the room yet, but I’m very pleased with what we have so far!

bed with nightstand

{That’s a custom blue velvet bed}

sitting area design manifest

{Cute reading area in what used to be an awkward nook}

stairs before

This foyer got updated this week.  Tile, pickled oak and purple carpet are all gone!  I will be overseeing the installation of a new runner today.

stairs after

My baby niece is in town, so there have been lots of stolen moments to kiss her cheeks and nibble on her legs.  I haven’t gotten a photo of her and I yet on this trip, but here she is with Grammy.

mom and eliana

And one last one for you.  Technically this was last week, but on Friday I installed the major furniture pieces for this dining room.  This whole home is amazing and I am bursting at the seams to get in there and photograph it proper.  We just need a few more final pieces and then I’ll share for realz.

dining room wallpaper wainscot design manifest

And there ‘ya have it: 7 Days of DM.

Have a great weekend!

Project Modern Organic Update

Guess what?  In 24 hours I will be down in Mexico with my family and I am SO excited.  It’s perfect timing because we are wrapping up our most recent bathroom renovation, #ProjectModernOrganic.  It still needs its finishing details but I thought I’d share what has been a really fun design project for me.

The sink cabinet is a modern gray stain wood with an awesome concrete trough sinktop.  

It’s seamless and beautiful.  I love the concept of two faucets and one sink- really clean yet elegant.

The simple slab drawers will look more tailored and finished once we install the hardware.  
Wall sconces set into the mirror will also finish this look.

Instead of a traditional linen cabinet, we built this tall narrow depth piece.  
The top doors are antique mirrors.  The unit also houses a hamper.  

The floors may look like wood, but they are porcelain tile!  So gorgeous in person. 

The dedicated vanity/make up area is coming together nicely.  
It’s hard to see, but that’s a wood counter wrapping down the sides of the desk.

Our area of Philadelphia is pretty traditional, so I always have a blast when my client’s are down for a modern look.  I love how the clean lines blend nicely with more organic elements, like the “wood” floors and pebble shower.  Once the accessories and textiles are in, it will really shine.

I’m off for now, but have planned a few posts for next week while I’m relaxing in the sun.  You will DEFINITELY want to check back here on Monday.  I have an exciting announcement.