One Room Challenge {Cottage Kitchen} Week 4

I’m laughing at myself because I was up late last night manically culling marble tiles for my kitchen.  I sorted through box after box pulling too-gray tiles into reject pile.  I am literally THAT client.  No doubt my dad is rolling his eyes (and hopefully smiling) while reading this .

It’s week 4 of the One Room Challenge and I am soooo ready to get my kitchen back.  My entire first floor is a construction zone complete with tools, drop cloths, boxed up belongings and dust.  Lots of dust.   And NO functional place to live.  It has me a little on edge. The good news is there’s been a lot of activity and progress and its all very encouraging.  I may get my sink back today!  Fingers crossed.

I’ve talked about my cabinets in week 2 and appliances in week 3, so this week I’m covering the other essential kitchen materials.


I usually choose countertops and wall backsplashes at the same time because they are closely visually related.  Since I now have black base cabinets, I knew I wanted white tops and white walls.  White with a bit of gray and caramel was definitely welcome.  I narrowed my combinations to the following:

Option 1- Carrara Marble Countertops (Honed) with gloss Ceramic White Subway Tile

Option 2- Arctic White Quartz (Polished) with Venatino White Marble Subway Tile

Cottage Kitchen cabinet countertop backsplash options

DESIGNER TIP // Take a look at your kitchen and evaluate if your horizontal surfaces (countertops) or vertical surfaces (walls) will make a bigger impact.  Focus on the stronger element when choosing your focal point.

I decided the walls should be more visually stunning, so I chose Option 2.  We will do marble tile on the wall and keep the countertop very simple and clean. I selected Arctic White Quartz which is a man-made product that is very durable, practical and neutral with just the faintest of pattern to give it a little depth.  I would describe it as a warm white.  I upgraded to a double thick top so it’s a bit chunkier and substantial.  It was installed yesterday at 6pm and I’m still pinching myself.

design manifest arctic white quartz double laminated mitred edge

They mitred the edge so there is no seam between the slabs.  It was an expense that added NO function to my space whatsoever, but it makes me pretty giddy.  The perk of a small kitchen is that it’s easy to splurge on things like countertop treatments, which are charged by the lineal foot.

lowes marble subway tile

When shopping for tile, I popped into Lowe’s to check out some budget friendly marble tiles.  I debated between the Allen + Roth Venatino marble in a 2×4 tile and Anatolia Tile Venatino Marble in a 3×6.  I chose the 3×6 because the size is more classic and I thought the variation would be less busy.  Also I liked that the majority of the Anatolia tiles are a creamy white base with caramels with grays.  Since my countertop is a warm white, I wouldn’t have like that paired with a cooler white/gray marble tile.  Thus why I’m sleep deprived for removing those few pesky gray marble tiles.  (Note: It’s marble and I welcome the variation, I just wanted to make sure the overall feel was warm instead of cool.  I’m hoping it pays off and/ or I’m not crazy.)


My challenge when sink shopping was that I needed to find the biggest sink possible to fit into a 24″ sink cabinet.  I gave up inches in the sink cabinet in order to fit a trash pull out, so it was important I maximize every inch.  Again, I turned to our generous ORC Sponsor, Lowe’s, to pick out my sink.  I selected a 23″ x 20″ stainless steel undermount sink from Vigo.  I really liked it’s clean lines, inexpensive price and most importantly, its dimensions.  With a little finagling we could fit this nice-sized sink into my small cabinet.  I am so excited to test it out!

delta trinsic champagne bronze faucet with vigo stainless steel sink

I have a Delta Trinsic faucet that is only a year old, so I knew I wanted to re-use that.  It is in their “Champagne Bronze” finish which should coordinate nicely with my brass accents.

To me the most important thing about the faucet re-installation is that it had to go centered behind the sink.  I have a side faucet mount in my condo and I really prefer the look of it being centered.  Since I chose a really deep sink (front to back) this posed a problem for a 24″ deep cabinets.  The solution was to pull them off the wall a couple of inches to allow the faucet to fit behind the sink.  The extra bonus of doing this is that my non-counter depth refrigerator now appears less deep and more “built-in.”  Win-Win-Win.

vigo undermount sink in a 24 sink cabinet- design manifest

This generous sink just barely fits into my small cabinet.  It’s fabulous.




I looked at all different kinds of cabinet hardware; modern, traditional, polished, matte, knobs, pulls, bin pulls.  I’ve been walking this fine line between modern and cottage and I knew this selection could tip me over an edge.  The countertop reads pretty modern, so I wanted more traditional hardware to balance it out. Traditional with a side of Glam, please.  Instead of matching, I’m creating coordinating vignettes.  I have glass knobs, brass knobs,  brass pulls AND lucite pulls.  Sound a little crazy?  I think it’s gonna work out great.

backsplash tile and brass cabinet hardware glass knobs

My lucite pulls haven’t arrived yet and I’m still debating between the large and small knob.

Yesterday the large knob was a big hit on instagram, but part of me still wants the small.


I love my pendant lights, so I had no desire to swap them out.  I did however think it was time to upgrade the chandelier in the dining room.  These two rooms are open to each other so it was important to me that the chandelier reflect the aesthetic of the kitchen, yet also not be too matchy.  Since I’m doing brass in the kitchen, I purposely chose a dining chandelier in another finish.  After looking around, I fell in love with the Calypso Chandelier our ORC sponsor, Crystorama.

calypso chandelier crystorama

I love that it feels modern, yet vintage and I really like it in this bronze finish.  I have two lights in my living room in a similar finish so this chandelier ties in nicely.  It’s been mounted, but we have yet to hang the crystals.  I’m so impatient to see it, but I probably wont hang them until all of the work is done.  Just don’t want to risk it.  Murphy’s Law is serious and unforgiving when it comes to construction.


2 weeks until you (and I!) get to see it come together.

Next Week:  COLOR joins the party!  I’ll be talking about some the finishing decorative touches- bar stools, rug, art, window treatments plus a very special wall treatment.  This is just too much darn fun 😉


See week 4 One Room Challenge for the rest of the participants…

Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by CIH

One Room Challenge {Cottage Kitchen} Week 3

So it’s week 3 of the One Room Challenge which means we are at the half way point.  BANANAS.  My kitchen has been demolished and the new cabinets are installed (except for crown moulding.)  While that feels very exciting we have a long way to go.  For one, we are still without countertops and more importantly NO sink.  Life without a kitchen sink is really challenging.  Obviously we’re talking about #firstworldproblems but still I’m a mess and I have been doing a lot of take out.

Two quirky things about me as a kitchen designer are

1) I don’t cook much myself



Stainless has been the “luxury” appliance finish for the past several decades, but I personally see it as more “the standard” rather than luxurious.  (Plus the finger prints!  Ugg.)  For my own kitchen, I wanted to do something a little more special and stylish, yet also classic  I am using black and white as my main colors with a few brass accents, so I had to keep this in mind when selecting my appliances.  I don’t mind mixing in a little stainless with brass, but I didn’t want the strong visual effect of a stainless refrigerator.  Instead I decided to mix up the finish appliances.

My appliances were delivered and minus the fact that the microwave is MIA, I’m very pleased with my selections.

Naomi's Cottage Appliances Black and Stainless Kitchen Aid Bosch

A mix of black and stainless plus a paneled dishwasher that will also be black.

Hood (no longer available)/ Stove

Refrigerator / Microwave Drawer / Dishwasher

EXHAUST HOOD // When selecting appliances I started with the range hood.  To me, the hood is the biggest style setter in the kitchen.  I generally prefer custom hoods (wood, metal, plaster) but that was prohibitively expensive for me, so I decided to keep my beloved black chimney hood.  It is the Datid from Ikea, but it looks like it is no longer available :(  I love that the black finish just gives it a slightly different twist than your typical stainless chimney hood.  George MAY add a small decorative treatment to this.  Stay tuned…

re-use black chimney hood in black and white kitchen

MICROWAVE // I don’t care how small your kitchen is, I don’t want to ever see a microwave over a stove.  Micro-hoods are the absolute worst.  Functionally it’s hard to use both at the same time.  Plus it’s visually crowded and cheap looking.  I don’t mean to offend anyone, but nothing says Budget Kitchen more than a microwave hood.  I’d much rather see the microwave built into a wall cabinet, or better yet, placed under counter.  For my own kitchen, I made room for a microwave drawer because a lot of re-heating goes on in this house and I enjoy the ease of the drawer.  (vs bending down to open a door.)  Mine is still missing in action, but I’ll be sure to post about it once it’s installed.  I’m pretty excited about its flush design and the drawer that opens and closes with a touch of a button.  (Fancy!)  I’m thinking it will be definitely worth the splurge.


DISHWASHER // My dad raised me to be a Bosch girl, so selecting the dishwasher was a no-brainer.  I prefer them for quality and quiet operation.  I will be adding a full overlay cabinet panel onto the dishwasher so it will match the rest of my base cabinets.  (BLACK) I cheaped out a bit and bought the 300 series but I’m already kicking myself for not upgrading to the 800 and getting the 3rd rack.

dishwasher detail

REFRIGERATOR // The real drama began when I started to shop for a refrigerator.  I knew I wanted a french door model with nice handles.  At first I assumed I would just do stainless since cabinetry panels were not a good option.  (I’ll save fridge panels for another post- lot’s of thoughts there.)  But then I found this Maytag and became very intrigued…

white maytag

Would a white fridge with clean metal handles bridge my gap between cottage and modern?  I loved the idea that it would blend well with my white upper cabinets.  It’s also pretty well priced, so that helped the budget.  I even started thinking about DIY’ing fancier handles.

But so many questions filled my head.  Was it chic, or too vintagey?  Was the white bumpy?  Or modern like glass?  After calling dozens of appliance stores in the area, I finally tracked down a white Maytag and was able touch and see it.  In person, the white finish was OK- not glass (bummer) but also nut bumpy/cheap.  The doors are rounded on the ends, which added to the vintage feel of the unit.

kitchen aid handle

Kitchen Aid Handle

I compared that to the Kitchen Aid, which is also offered in black and white.  The Kitchen Aid doors are more clean lined/ square edged.  Plus KA handles are chic!  The stainless handle have a decorative textured style that I really liked.  So basically I purchased the refrigerator that had the cutest handles.

kitchen aid refrigerator

In the end I decided that a black refrigerator was a better choice than white.  It felt a little more modern, a little more glamorous, plus it seemed more consistent with the rest of my appliances.  It’s not a black glass or black stainless- more like something in between polished and matte.  It’s finish actually works really well with my cabinets.  Had it been super glossy, it wouldn’t flow as well.

Just a small aside about refrigerator practicality and planning the proper size for your remodel:

One of my limitations was my size; this kitchen only fits a 30″ refrigerator.  When laying out my kitchen I consciously chose to shrink my refrigerator to fit a trash cabinet next to the sink.  I decided to do a full depth fridge to gain back precious cubic feet.  With my layout, it really doesn’t matter if the refrigerator is full depth or counter-depth, so this was an easy decision to gain storage.  To compare- my 30″ wide full depth refrigerator is 20 cu ft, yet many 36″ wide, counter-depth models are also only 20 cu ft.  I really didn’t give up that much to gain storage for trash and cutlery.

inside kitchen aid 30' refrig

Also, I CANNOT talk about refrigerators without talking about clearances.  If your refrigerator is next to a wall (like mine) then you need to leave yourself several inches clearance from the wall to allow the doors and interior drawers to fully open.  3″ minimum, 6″ is better.  In my case, every inch was so tight.  I left a 3″ gap and it’s just barely functional.


STOVE // The last piece of the puzzle was the stove.  When stove shopping I had a few requirements

  1.  Gas on top / powerful burners
  2. Convection Oven
  3. Slide-In.  (Controls are in front- I hate the look of the high back of free standing ranges.)
  4. Clean style/ Nice handles

Had the budget allowed, I would have gone for a duel fuel range, because (most say) an electric oven is superior to gas oven.  I’m not a baker so I don’t really care.  As long as it heats the pizza or roasts the veggies, I’m happy.  So I saved by doing an all gas range.  I initially selected this Bosch range because I think it’s a great product at a moderate price.

bosch range

But once I finalized the refrigerator, I switched the stove to Kitchen Aid as well.  This was purely a stylistic choice- I liked that the handles matched.  I usually don’t care at all about my appliances matching, but the KA handle is pretty distinct, so I felt it was appropriate in this instance.  Also it’s nice that it has 5 burners in only a 30″ space.

kitchen aid gas range

PS- I would have bought this in black if they offered it, but I’m fine with the stainless here.

With the appliances delivered, suddenly the kitchen has grown crowded REAL quick.

kitchen after appliance delivery



Next Week: I’m going to dive into the rest of my finishes: countertops, backsplash tile, sink, faucet and cabinet hardware.  My counterops are supposedly getting installed Tuesday, so that means I may be a very happy girl in week 4.


Be Sure to check out my fellow ORC participants below!

Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by CIH

*** Edited *** I want to apologize if my words about microwave hoods were insensitive. I was speaking candidly about luxury kitchen design. I’m really not trying to crap on anyone. Renovation in general is a huge luxury. Most people really don’t “need” to renovate. I think no less of someone who has a small, old, “cheap” kitchen than someone with a super fancy expensive designer kitchen. It’s mostly about the meal and company anyway.  


One Room Challenge {Cottage Kitchen} Week 2

Warning:  This Post is All About Nerding Out on Cabinetry

Welcome to week 2 of my kitchen renovation.  I’m happy to report that real progress has been made!  We spent the ENTIRE weekend emptying out the kitchen.  Like hours upon hours of sorting and packing.

packing up kitchen

{Saturday April 9th}

Then my carpenter, Angelo shows up on Monday and rips out the old kitchen in a matter of hours.  By Tuesday morning my new kitchen has already taken shape.  Crazy.  (It helps that I am keeping my wood floors and not changing electric or plumbing!)

base cabinets installed

{Tuesday April 12th}

The cabinet delivery is such an epic moment in a kitchen renovation because you can finally see the room take shape.  But BEFORE the cabinets arrive they need to be laid out and specified.  After much floor plan finagling I decided my current layout (designed by me 3 years ago) was the best set up for the room.  The central door and window locations are really killer but there was no way I was cutting into my stone walls to relocate them.  I also really enjoy having the island and was not willing to give that up.


Since the floor plan is mostly the same and room is very small it is imperative that I be efficient with my cabinets.  I decided custom cabinets were the best way to maximize every inch of storage.  I worked with a company in Pennsylvania to build my cabinets to my exact specifications.  I was able to draw out the layout of my utensil dividers, completely customize my spice cabinet and make my two dish cabinets be exactly symmetrical  (31.5”W x 35”H to be exact.)

We are including all the bells and whistles you would want in a small kitchen.  Every drawer and roll-out shelf has full extension, undermount guides to allow for easy access to the contents.  Doors and drawers are soft close, so no slamming shut.  Drawers are solid wood, dove-tailed and sturdy.  The pricing of my cabinets ended up being similar to a good stock cabinet, but I think the quality is much better.

Here’s me testing out the new cabinets before they’ve even gotten their adjustment.

Beyond hardware and construction, the cabinets are designed to be well-organized.  Stuff will be stored where I need it.  On the “cooking wall” we have allocated roll out shelves for pots and pans, organized drawers for cooking utensils, bowls, and pot holders.  And all are within reach from the stove.


We were able to pack a lot into the small Sink Wall.  We added a floor above the trash pull-out so that cutlery could be contained and sanitary above there.  All of my dishes, glasses and eating utensils should be able to be stored right around my sink and dishwasher.


I decided NOT to upgrade the island for this renovation.  It is a painted Ikea piece that works well enough for now and is the perfect dimension for the room.  When the budget allows I will customize the island cabinets to improve storage and certainly upgrade the hardware because the slamming drawers drive me nuts.  I did, however, just splurge new cabinet pulls that probably cost more than the entire island… but we will save that for another post.


I’m lucky in that I have a large (39Wx 93H x 24D) cabinet just outside the kitchen.  We use this as a pantry plus storage for excess kitchen items.  It’s pretty essential to keeping our small kitchen functional and it will stay.

For me picking the style of the cabinets was very easy and clear cut.  I wanted clean and classic so I went with a simple shaker door with no embellishments.  (Machine Edge, Square Bead.)  My knobs and pulls will add character to my cabinets so I prefer that my doors are more simple and timeless.  My deeper drawers will match the door style while the shallow drawers will be slab.  This was an easy place to save in my cabinet budget and I’m fine with the clean look on top.

base door        wall door

For colors, I was pretty set on black cabinets from the start.  I love black because it’s classic, dramatic, rich, and just a little edgy.  Wanting to keep the room light and bright, everything above eye level is white.  So that means the wall cabinets and tall refrigerator panel are white.  I like the mix and match of black and white.  This theme will continue with the rest of my materials.

With the cabinet delivery also came our first rounds of WHOOPSIES.  There are always mistakes and problems in renovations.  It’s just part of the game.  I thought I was ordering my dish cabinets to be glass doors with mirrors on the back of the cabinets.  Instead I got mirrored doors and plain insides.  I’m gonna need to troubleshoot this issue because I’m not feeling it.  I love a good mirror, but staring at myself in the kitchen feels a little weird.  We shall see.  It’s my policy to live with things for a few days before making a decision.

mirrored cabinet door mistake

Oh Hello there.


How are the other participants fairing in week 2?  Check out their posts below.

I personally have so much catching up to do!

Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by CIH

Next Week: My appliances are coming soon, so I will divulge all the details on those.  Picking my appliances proved to be pretty challenging for me.  I really dislike stainless so refrigerator shopping ending up being a little more intense than I thought.

One Room Challenge {Cottage Kitchen} Week 1

one room challenge

Renovating a room in 6 weeks.  Sounds fairly easy, right?

It’s actually ridiculously hard, but it’s also a mighty fun ride.




It’s that time of year again when I get super intense and overwhelmed while my friends and family start to worry about my well-being.  But I’ve done the ORC before (5 times actually) and I know I’ll get through it.  I have 6 weeks to makeover a room and I’ll be sharing the design process and construction progress with you every Wednesday.  I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time because I finally get to renovate my KITCHEN!!

Before Kitchen

Do you like my blue tape “trim” around the door.  No joke, that’s been up there for over a year.

For those new to Design Manifest, Hello and Welcome!  I’m Naomi and I’m a kitchen designer and decorator by trade.  I design dream kitchens for my clients but my own kitchen is a MESS.  It is a small room (15×8) and it’s really challenged by a lack of storage and dysfunctional cabinetry.  Our first floor has an open floor plan and we hang in the kitchen all the time so I am Really looking forward to pulling this room together.




I am planning to maintain a similar layout but get new and improved cabinets, appliances, countertops, backsplash tile and a few other finishing touches.  My goal is to improve functionality and update the aesthetic to best suit the home yet also feel like ME.  I’m going for a modern, glamorous, cottage look.

What does that mean?  Well you’ll see in 6 short weeks.  But I’m using these spaces as a little inspiration.

design manifest cottage kitchen inspiration

image sources: 2016 HGTV Dream Home / Jessica Helgerson / via Domino

And these are some of the materials I plan to use in the new kitchen…

design manifest cottage kitchen material mood board


My current kitchen is actually pretty cute from certain angles.  I like my sink wall.  We painted the original cabinets turquoise and DIY’d a pink chevron wall.  I knew this kitchen would be temporary so I had some fun with it.

design manifest turquoise kitchen

This was the kitchen when I bought it 3 years ago.  Check out those 80’s cabinets.  I actually saved them and painted them.  That’s right- those are the same cabinets above and below.

kitchen before

The problem with the old cabinets is that they are not efficient. I do not have enough storage around my stove and it results in chaos.  I need to really maximize the inches here.  So bye-bye turquoise, hello new cabinetry plan.

old kitchen range wall and stove storage

And while my sink wall is “fun” the open storage has not proven very practical for us.  Also, how bout the “cubby cab” above the fridge?  That was our home-made solution for extra storage.  But why am I keeping tinfoil and plastic baggies all the way up there?

Old sink fridge wall

As of today, the old kitchen has yet to be demolished.  I haven’t emptied the cabinets.  I haven’t finalized my appliances or picked out my hardware.  Work is so busy right now that my own kitchen has come last.  I plan to bunker down this weekend and finalize my selections and orders.  6 weeks goes real fast and I can’t have delays threatening my beautiful reveal :)

Tune in next week I’ll be talking cabinets, cabinets, cabinets.  I really love this stuff.


Until then, check out the links below to my amazing ORC teammates.  The talent is just ridiculous.  I can’t wait to see their designs.  Also, a huge thank you to Linda of Calling it Home for creating this event and inviting me yet again.  House Beautiful is our media partner this round which is really frickin exciting.  The ORC has become like the Superbowl of decorating and I’m suited up… Wish me Luck!


Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by CIH

Thank You!! {Post One Room Challenge}

Hey guys.  Thank you SO much to everyone who took the time to check out our One Room Challenge Reveal.  Your comments and support really meant so much to me.  We worked so stupid hard on this place and I’m just so happy to be done and have a space I really love.  I’m hoping some of you might get to use it and enjoy it as well.

As I mentioned last week, the apartment is available on a select basis on AirBnb!

See our listing HERE.

Psst- We offer 10% off for 3 day stays and more.  (Just email me through airbnb site for special offer.)  20% off if you stay over 7 days.  It would be so cool to get to meet some blog readers and give them the tour.  I also have quite a few good Philadelphia restaurant recommendations as well.  The place is nearly booked up for December, but we still have a few weekends in November open 😉

As for the condo design, I’m planning several detail posts for each room.  We covered so much ground that I really couldn’t get into the nitty gritty last week.  Lot’s of DIY’s and tips and insight I’d like to share.  Just not yet…. really need to get caught up on client projects first.  So please give me a pass on the blog post this week.  I promise to jump back to it next Wednesday.

Here’s one little behind the scenes- The art wall in the guest room.  I never did buy the narrow console table, but I started to hang art across from the bed.  It’s not really done yet, but I think it’s a good work in progress.

Guest Room Art wall Design Manifestjpg

Feathers / Love / Nude / Lips / Painting (original)


I know many of you had questions about sources.  I’ve slowly been filling in sources on the original post.  If you want to know more, just leave a comment!