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…

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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.

Wallpaper on My Fireplace! {A Cottage Update}

Happy Wednesday.  First of all, thanks to those who left thoughtful comments on last week’ post.  I love hearing from you guys.  Our comment form and our contact form have been a little bit out of whack.  I assure you, we are working on fixing both!  If you have reached out to use in the past several weeks and have not heard from us, please try again.  (Email me directly-

On the home front, I’m serious about my commitment to get my living room together.  I’ve already made an exciting first step with a fireplace makeover!  We had a home work day on Friday and re-painted the brick fireplace surround.  If you remember, it used to look pretty dirty, so I’m happy it’s crisp and white again.

fireplace mantel needs help


Then on Monday, wallpaper was hung above the mantel.  I’ve always felt this wall was lacking a little and could really benefit from a graphic pop.  I really fell for this black and white geometric paper from Milton and King.  It’s called Nixon and I love that it manages to feels a little more abstract in it’s repeat.  A lot of geometrics feel grid-like to me and this feels a little looser and more random on the wall.


design manifest geometric wallpaper fireplace wall ornate mirror

I’m really digging the combination of the modern paper against my vintage gold mirror.

wallpaper and mirror detail- design manifest

I prefer to have a mirror here, but a television would look great in this spot too!

fireplace mantel black white geometric wallpaper ornate gold mirror

I’m still sorting out my mantel styling, but for now, what I already had seems to be working just fine.  I just paired down my tchotchkes to a few favorites.  Ideally I’d have some greenery up here, but I’m not sure I can handle the maintenance.  Are topiaries too formal for here?  I like topiaries, but I’m not sure I’m a topiary person myself.  I’m going to say topiary one more time just for fun.

nixon wallpaper detail milton king design manifest

The bust will probably Go.

I have no emotional attachment to it and I only want to live with items I LOVE.

But I DO like the idea of something with height here.

fireplace wallpaper with bust

{Also on the To-Do List: Swapping out the boob light you can see reflected above}

There is still a lot to do in the living room.  This certainly doesn’t solve my storage issues.  But it’s just nice to walk in the door and see something pretty.  I’m motivated by this small change and inspired to keep working on the room.  Wee! Decorating Spring Fever has Sprung.

Thanks to Milton and King for the beautiful wallpaper!

You can find Nixon wallpaper right HERE.

Embarrassing photos of my House


It’s been forever since I’ve blogged about my own house.  Mainly because it’s a embarrassing, hideous, mess.  For awhile the excuse was that we worked and received deliveries there.  And truthfully, I spent the summer more focused on my city condo.  But it’s accountability time: we moved our offices back to Bala in November and the condo has be booked straight on AirBnb for months.  Yet my living room still looks like this.

cottage living room march

Fabrics and Boxes sprawled about, An Unfinished Painting on the wall… welcome to my Life.

I RRREALLY fought the urge to tidy up before taking these pictures.  But honestly, I just felt like I was starving for real talk about how we live in our homes.  I’m fessing up that I am a slob.  If my things don’t have an exact place to go then they tend to sprawl.  And then multiply.


Can we talk about the shame corner behind my vintage armchair?  A foam roller, tupperware containers of household items, two pillow fills and package from Morocco THAT I HAVEN’T EVEN BOTHERED TO OPEN YET.  What is wrong with me?

We are in the midst of a massive Spring Cleaning.  I’m evaluating, inventorying and putting a ton of stuff in storage.  I just feel this strong desire to simplify and only live with the things I love.  So that’s why there is the box full of art in the living room and bins galore all around.

But what is my excuse for this situation?  I actually love this wingback chair, but I never sit in it because it is always covered in crap!!

mess with cheetah on wingback chair bailey the pug

Bailey says, Love Me, Pet Me, Feed Me.

My Mail and coat system really isn’t adequate in this house.  Since we don’t have an entry/foyer and this chair is right by the front door, it ends up being a dumping ground.  Plus I just like to collect fabulous furry cheetah fabrics.

the real coffee table styling

The ottoman/coffee table is one of the three drop zones for mail, cash, apparently business cards, and fabric samples.  I need a better place for this stuff!  Just one spot, instead of all over.

windowsill clutter

The deep windowsills have become a place where more crap gets dumped.

And then there is the other side of the living room.  UGG.

Fireplace wall

The hooks by a door are a joke. We can only hang 4 max coats there and they always look like a mess.  I’ve cleared off the shelves by the fireplace in hopes I can use this area more efficiently.  It can’t be a closet, but could it be a mail drop?

fireplace mantel needs help

The brick fireplace surround desperately needs to be painted and the mantel styling is a bunch of random afterthoughts.

TV Wall

For my last bit of shame, I give you the TV wall.  I have NEVER gotten this wall right.  In theory art around a TV is a great idea, but I’ve always struggled with the scale and composition of the pieces I own.  It’s challenging with the TV so close to the fireplace that it always feels off to me.  At this point, there is so many holes in this wall its like swiss cheese.  I’ve hung pieces up, but left them on existing nails, so the placement is just silly.


  • There is TOO MUCH Clutter.  Too many accessories, too many magazines, too many chairs.
  • The lack of entry/foyer creates a real problem in the living room as there is no good place to put coats, bags, mail, etc.
  • I do not have enough smart dedicated storage.
  • There is a lack of disregard of the space.  I’ve stopped really looking at it.  Instead I rush in, I rush out, I abuse it and yet I get mad that it’s not pretty and perfect.


  • Improvements to aesthetics and function
  • I’d like to remove about half of the stuff in the room.
  • I want to create an entry area with-in my living room that is both cute and functional
  • Give the fireplace wall a little pizzaz
  • Do something better with the TV Wall.  Maybe just no art is the way to go here.
  • Do a little pillow/textile refresh
  • Smarter storage.  Magazines should go in one place instead of seven.  I need a dedicated drawer for mittens and dog stuff.
  • Window sills need purpose.  Maybe just a singular plant on each instead of various items. May have to hit up Pinterest for this one.

I’m putting this out there to hold myself accountable.  No more home shame.  No more “deal with it later” when I “have time”  (HA!) or “have more money.”  This is my sanctuary and I want to reclaim it.


Are you feeling the Spring itch?  Do you have any plans to re-fresh or improve function in your space?  Are you totally horrified by my mess?  (Don’t answer that last one.)

A few thoughts on my home and my dreams…

house settlement day

{Settlement Day, September 2012}

I’ve owned my little cottage for almost 3 years now.  It seems unfathomable it’s been so long, yet at the same time I’m already itching to move on.  I have that sort of real estate affliction where I fall hard fast, make all sorts of changes to tailor it to perfection and quickly become tired of it.  I haven’t even “finished” the house yet, so leaving now feels like I would be quitting prematurely.   But I’m not sure if my heart is in it any more.  I feel like I need something else.  I feel like it would just be easier to start over.

When I bought the cottage I had such big dreams.  Coming off a break-up, it would be my place to re-build.  I felt so raw and empty back then, but also incredibly hopeful.  I was going to design a comfortable and beautiful nest that would host dinner parties, family gatherings, late night dance parties with friends.  I was going to garden, walk my dog around my cute little town and talk to my neighbors.


{Converting my third floor attic into a livable space}

I had this fantasy I would document the entire process, put it up on You-Tube to a catchy soundtrack and become an internet sensation.  (Seriously, I filmed several segments of the remodel, but eventually fell dropped the ball. Womp womp)

I was going to fall in love again and maybe, just maybe, my guy would share this home with me.  I would I feel full and happy and peaceful in this cottage of mine.

Besides becoming a break-out YouTube hit, most of my dreams came true in the past few years.  So why have I started to hate the house.  And why do I feel unhappy?

The truth is I’m probably using the cottage as a scapegoat.  Overworked, stressed out, disconnected, unclear on the future, I find myself channeling my frustrations towards the house.  IF we had more space to store stuff, THEN I would be more organized.  IF we didn’t have a big tent full of furniture in the back yard THEN we could host a BBQ and enjoy that space.  If I finished the guest room, THEN maybe I would get up early each morning and meditate.  IF we weren’t in a twin, THEN  I wouldn’t get so mad at my neighbor’s noisy dog.  IF the house were located in the city, THEN maybe I’d connect more with friends.  IF it got more natural light, THEN maybe I’d feel more inspired and happy.

If the space were finished and pretty THEN maybe I’d just be able to enjoy myself.

Maybe for once I would stop thinking about things I would change, re-arrange and improve and just RELAX.  Just BE.  When is enough, enough?

design manifest lounge space reclaimed wood daybed

{Third floor turned into a lounge… which has since been turned into our work studio}

Sorry for the lack of pretty pictures this week, but I just don’t have it in me.  Instead, I choose to be real.  My name is Naomi and I am a work in progress.  My house is not perfect, and I am even less so.  And hopefully I’ll find a way to accept that.

Our homes cannot make us happy.  All they can be is vessels to have those life experiences to make us feel real and loved and fulfilled.  So, I’m sorry little cottage, I think I’ve been asking a little too much of you.


But seriously though, I REALLY could use a proper storage shed.