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.

Cottage Update- Graphic Kitchen Wall

Now that our PureWow video is out (see it here!) I thought I would share some easy/colorful updates we did in the kitchen.  I’m still a ways off from doing a proper kitchen remodel, but I was sick with living with an ugly-unfinished mess in the meanwhile.  So we whipped out some tape, some paint and re-hung some shelves and now I’ll be good to go for a few months.

Here is the embarrassing BEFORE.  We lived in this state for SO many months.  Random pink paint swatch.  Two shelves taken down to accommodate the new-to-us larger fridge.  (A cast-off from a client who upgraded!)  The dishwasher was another client acquisition and the maple wood panel stood out like a sore thumb.  Random stuff clogging up the shelves and an array of mess in the open cabinet over the fridge added to the disorder.

kitchen before

Once I learned PureWow would be visiting my home and filming it I had a fire under my ass the pull this corner together.  I was about to be gifted a Delta Trinsic faucet and I there was no way I could show it next to this sad mess.

So we made a To-Do list and went to work sprucing up the kitchen.

1. Paint wall behind sink.  Something colorful and geometric.

2.  Re-Hang shelves.  We had to cut them narrower to fit next to the fridge.

3. Paint dishwasher panel to match cabinets.

4.  Make and Hang door for cabinet above fridge.

After just one week of manic work, the space turned into this…


It’s bold, playful and best of all not-permanent!



I love how the Pink striped wall turned out.

Pink was a no brainer for me for this wall because …

A) I love pink and blue together

B) My gold accents and faucet POP brilliantly off the pink wall

C) It’s just paint!  Why the hell not?

Now I’m not an artsy person at all.  Seriously, I can’t draw a straight line.  So how did I pull off this relatively easy DIY?  Keep reading after the jump for my step by step process.


Cottage Project: DIY Lucite Suzani Ottoman

I’m FED UP with the chaos that is my home, so I’ve given myself a June deadline to pull it together.  It feels good to have a date… it really motivates me to design and execute.  And when I’m in the design zone, I don’t stop for nuttin’.  Think obsessed, vigorous and effective.  Which is what I’ll need to be done by June!

I have big plans for a kitchen renovation, but that probably wont be until the fall at the earliest.  My focus right now is the interior design of the other rooms in the house, plus a quickie update to the kitchen.  Everything is like 75-90% there, but not quite “finished.”  My focus is pulling that last bit together and making it all shine.

Today I’m sharing an update (DIY!) I just finished in my living room.  I was tired of my old ottoman, so after a little scheming I decided to create my own lucite ottoman.  This project was inexpensive, easy, fun and I think the result is damn sexy.

DIY Lucite Suzani Ottoman bench


Like many of you out there, I have a bit of a lucite fetish.  I felt LUCITE would be perfect for my ottoman legs because I already have a lot of wood and metal furniture and didn’t want to repeat those materials again.  Unfortunately lucite furniture and leg parts are expensive!  I am too fickle and cheap with my own stuff, so I found another way to source lucite.  Turns out Wayfair sells a lucite ottoman for under $200.  Since the ottoman size worked well in my room, I decided to buy their version and recover the top myself.


Our Bedroom Update {85%}

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on the progress of redecorating our bedroom.  What was supposed to be a 6 week makeover (remember the ambitious One Room Challenge plan? hahaha) has turned into a never ending, ass-dragging, spare moment kinda renovation.  Unfortunately free moments are few and far between right now.  Between interior design, custom furniture and construction projects, both George and I have our hands full day and night.  I feel super guilty nagging him about things like closet door handles when we both have so much on our plates.  But you know what?  Forget the aesthetics of wanting a pretty closet, its hard to open doors without handles.

Luckily we have made some real progress (including the door handles!) and we are almost done.  85% looks good to the unknowing eye, but to me it’s still missing so much to be a pulled together “finished” room.  Photographing the space actually helps me look at the space with a more critical eye.  What is needed? What is missing?  What should I take away?  Oh and then there’s George to consider…. I suppose it’s his room too.  I tolerate sharing the design process to a certain point.  Actually I really enjoy collaborating with the boy.  But I also like to believe I have the final say.  What can I say, its the control freak decorator in me.

When I last did a proper update was had just painted the whole room BLACK.  My initial design scheme (see it HERE) was mostly  white with a bit of black and coral, but  I had to adjust the textiles slightly when we changed the nightstands to green.  That was an impulsive yet defining moment in the design planning.  Adding just a bit more color does feel more true to my style.  Its easy to get seduced by a look that you want, but isn’t necesarily you, but I find I’m happiest when I do ME.  That seems especially important in the bedroom, right?

design manifest bedroom- green nightstand, curtain wall

I added in my fave black floral pillows to unify the scheme.

George hates these pillows, but I adore them, so that was a battle I won.

I just thought it was necessary to bring the green into the room and I love how pillows have so many great colors.

Plus I love the balance of the more girly floral paired with the tribal mucloth and faux fur blanket.

(Floral and White Pillows will be available in our shop we are opening soon!)

green nightstand black floral pillow coral fretwork pillow design manifest

This is my side of the bed and due to the ceiling slope, there is no room for a table lamp.  I may hang a light or use a floor lamp to the left of the nightstand…. still working that out.


DIY // Green & Ostrich Rast Hack // IKEA {Bedroom Nightstand Reveal}

green ostrich rast hack by design manifest

In an effort to get the bedroom finished, (well past the One Room Challenge deadline,) George and I transformed my pine Ikea Rast Nightstands into these emerald green/ ostrich faced beauties.  I wish I could say the DIY was a breeze and joy but it actually sucked a whole lot.  First – even though we both know better- we rushed and picked a crappy stain in our basement and didn’t like the result.   We had to totally rework our design, which changed our nightstands from stained to painted. Then we got a bad batch of oil paint and it never dried fully.  Poor Georgie had to cut the trim twice… what a trooper.  If we counted up our hours on this one, these $30 cabinets would end up being over $1,000 in our design and labor rates.  It’s kinda funny.

 Despite the ordeal, the result is pretty fab and the green is the perfect pop of color against my black bedroom walls.

Here’s a breakdown for those of you who are are as crazy as us to DIY this yourselves.  (Seriously though, its not that hard.)


ikea rast natural

It’s the Ikea Rast

In my case, I was re-doing a pair that I had already hacked to look like this:

Design Manifest Rast White-stained wood Nightstand



rast mark centers

(Find you center point and then measure out from there to place holes for pulls)

lews dolan bar pull

I used these pulls in polished brass.

rast holes drilled

(new holes drilled)



The Vinyl Ostrich was sourced locally.

You can also find it HERE.

rast ostrich template

We turned the fabric on its back and used a straight edge to trace lines.

Since we knew our trim would be covering the edges, we made our fabric pieces 1/2″ smaller than drawer head all around.



We used spray adhesive (heavy duty for vinyls) on both faux-ostrich vinyl and drawer fronts

rast glue ostrich

George is a neat sprayer, I am a messy sprayer.  Insert your joke here.


We waited a few minutes and slowly pressed the fabric onto the drawer.

This worked best as a two person job when one person held the fabric up and one pressed down starting at one edge and working towards the other.

rast ostrich on drawer heads

All glued up!

This part was really quite easy.



rast hack mitred trim pieces

George took his measurements and then cut his miters on his saw.

Mitered corners are much nicer that butting ends of the trim.


rast trim pieces stained

Since we were working with previously hacked Rast’s we were intitally going to stain the trim to match the stained boxes.

Alas, we rushed and chose a poly-stain and were not happy with the look at all.

So we scrapped that idea and pulled out are paint chart.

After a little debate, we settled on a bold green hue…


Starboard by Sherwin Williams.

It’s pretty bold in a white setting, but looks great against black walls.

Color is all about context, right?


Paint Drama ensued- stuff not drying.  Finish looking shitastic.

Long story short- skip the oil paint.

Ask your paint guy for a nice durable gloss latex.

Oh and don’t rush.  You’ll just make mistakes, DUH.




Finally (like a week later) the stupid paint dried and we attached the trim with a few pin nails.

The finishing touch was the polished brass hardware.  Find it HERE.

I purposely chose a really long pull.  I wanted that drama.

ostrich and hardware detail- design manifest

ostrich rast hack starboard green - design manifest

green rast 4

Green Lacquer Ostrich Rast Hack by Design Manifest


I am having the damnedest time taking a good picture against the black walls.

Here is a cruddy shot of my side of the bed.

Processed with VSCOcam

Loving the nightstand paired with my favorite planter.

More bedroom pictures to come soon.


And there ya have it, another rast hack.

This is my 3rd (and probably last) for those who are counting.

This one is still my most popular blog post ever.