Before and After: Lighten Up

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I love to transform my clients’ homes into gorgeous spaces that function for the way they live – and you know I love to bring a little color in at the same time! The Meadow View project, in particular, was a lot of fun because we reworked the floor plan to get rid of small and outdated rooms to make way for living spaces that really do work for my clients.


In the “before” photo above, you see the smaller living room before we incorporated a porch on the back of the house and moved the fireplace from the exterior wall to an interior one, allowing for more windows across the back of the house. With the porch on the outside of this space and a fireplace in the middle of the wall, there just wasn’t enough natural light coming in. This made the room really dark and the dated paneling on the walls in this room helped add to a more dreary feeling.

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I have worked with this family a long time, from my early days in design actually. And this family isn’t afraid of color at all. But they have three sons that are now grown and mostly out of the house, and the family needed updated rooms that are lighter and brighter. They needed spaces that are more open plan, perfect for entertaining at family gatherings and holidays.

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As you can see in the “after” photo above, enlarging the space by taking in the previous porch, adding new windows with transoms, moving the fireplace and freshening up the walls and ceiling with new moldings and paint really transformed this space. You would swear the ceilings are taller, too, but they are still just 8 feet. Amazing, right?  Giving the walls a gorgeous soft neutral tone and then layering in pops of red and turquoise for great added color was just the right amount of freshness this room needed.

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Of course we didn’t forget the large-screen TV and plenty of seating, making this room perfect for football days with their three adult sons and guests. By reworking the layout of the home, we were able to design rooms that make sense for these clients, and that give them a lot of comfort and style!

Don’t you just love a fun “before and after”? I’ll be showing you more of these in the coming months – some of them will be even more dramatic than this one! And let me know in the comments below what was the most surprising to you about this family room transformation!









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New House Diary: Master Bedroom Inspiration

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New House Diary

The renovation is well underway at my house – with walls being torn down and floors ripped up. I LOVE this part of any project, but it’s especially exciting when it’s my own home!

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This week, I wanted to give you an idea of the inspiration for my master bedroom. The photo of the renovation above is actually looking into the master bathroom, but you can see the old bedroom reflected in the mirror. So what is inspiring the new look for that bedroom?

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Well it may surprise you, but these chairs from the living room of my old house are a huge inspiration for my master bedroom! First of all, they are upholstered in my signature color – and they are actually a signature piece for me. I absolutely can’t part with them, so they are going into the master bedroom in this same fabric. I thought about recovering them, but I just couldn’t do it.

They are inspiring the color palette which we’ll talk about soon, but it will be quite different than the living room they came from. These chairs really speak to how I want to live in my master bedroom. My husband hangs out in the living room or the sunroom, but for me, it’s the master bedroom that is the hub of the house! It’s where I work, it’s where I watch TV, it’s where I spend time with my daughter. So there has to be comfortable seating in addition to the bed, and these beauties look fabulous whether someone is sitting in them or not.

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And as I mentioned, I also love a place to work in my bedroom at times, whether it’s going through emails on my laptop or writing thank-you notes. So I can definitely use a work space in this room. I’m considering a desk as one of the bedside tables. I use this tactic often when I need to have both work and sleeping zones in the same room and I don’t have space for a separate desk area.

built ins

Finally, I am most interested in storage in my master suite. Nothing stresses me out more than clutter. And while I have been living in my home pre-remodel, there are definitely some parts of the room where things have tended to pile up.

So I will be adding a storage cabinet in the corner for all those “things” like books, magazines, stationery, and anything and everything else that migrates to my bedside table (and the chair in the corner and the floor) so that they have a place to be that also won’t add visual or mental clutter. It will be a cross between a closet and a built-in cabinet not unlike these pretty built-ins I designed in the corner of my client’s living room for the same reason. Don’t you love how they are a gorgeous way to hide stuff behind closed (and frosted) doors?

So those are my top inspirations for my master bedroom and I can’t wait to tell you more about how this room will come together with fabulous color and gorgeous pattern. Stay tuned…









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Bold and Beautiful Banquettes

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I am a huge fan of a banquette – you know those built-in booth/bench/sofa things. Yes, those! And banquettes are multipurpose pieces that are definitely in vogue today, popping up in just about every room in the house. In some ways they make us nostalgic, reminding us of our grandmother’s kitchen, or maybe a favorite meal in a diner.


There are so many great functional reasons to use a banquette, too! For example, they can add extra storage in the kitchen or dining area.

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They also provide a lot of extra seating, and give you a great way to repurpose space that might not otherwise be as functional.

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It isn’t just casual spaces that can use a gorgeous banquette! I loved creating the super-glam version above, with tufting that went right up to the ceiling.


Or how about this high-fashion version in stark white with nailhead trim on the base? I loved how it looks against the black-and-white floor and the rich blue on the doors and wallpaper!

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Banquettes are great in other living areas, too, like in the reading nook I created for a client above. It was a great way to take advantage of the space next to the fireplace instead of just using another boring old cabinet.

Do you love banquettes as much as I do? Which one of the banquettes I designed above is your favorite? Where would you use one in your home? Let me know in the comments section below!








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Tobi TV: Making a Big Room Cozier

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Big rooms give you so much space for great seating areas, for storage, for entertaining, and so much more. But sometimes they can feel almost TOO big and grand. So what do you do if you have a room that needs to be brought down to size?

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When I worked on the Hampton Designer Showhouse for Traditional Home and Duralee, I was assigned a VERY large master bedroom! It was about 20×20 and had 12-foot ceilings, which is a grand space that can feel overwhelming. Let’s take a look at what I did to make that large room feel less intimidating:

See how the room felt more intimate and less grand? Let’s review my tips for making a big room feel cozier:

1. Use a room-sized rug. A rug that fills the room helps to pull each part of the space together, from a sleeping area to a sitting area. It really makes a big room much more cohesive and is worth every penny!

2. Large-scale furniture. You really have to use the right scale of furniture for a big room. If you use furnishings that are too small, you’ll be left with an unbalanced room that looks “off.” Think about a tall headboard for your bed, or high-backed chairs, or a larger-sized chest. Proportion is key.

3. Take your window treatments all the way to the ceiling. This is a great way to fool the eye into thinking the room is smaller and more cozy. It’s also much more luxurious and properly fills the space on the wall, so don’t stop at the top of the window!

4. Use wallpaper. I love wrapping a big room in a great wallpaper like the Philip Jeffries geometric design I used at the Hampton Designer Showhouse. Wallpaper fills a lot of wall space so you don’t have to worry about having so much art on the walls, which can become very busy and expensive in a big room!

5. Remember scale for your light fixtures, too. Just like the furnishings, do not go too small with any lighting you use in the room. You need to use a grand fixture that can hold its own.

I hope you’ll use these tips to help make a larger room in your house feel more intimate and cozy. Do you have any other tips you would like to share? I would love to hear them in the comments below!







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It’s Time to Light a Fire! And Not Just Because It’s Fall

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It’s getting close to the time of year when the weather is cool and we can light a fire to stay warm and cozy. But when is the last time you felt a different kind of fire? I’m talk about a burning passion – for work or even just for life? For many of us, it’s been a while since we felt that fire. I can tell you that’s true because that’s what has happened to me. Just a few years ago, I was burned out, stressed out, and wrung out. I knew I was at a crossroads where I was either going to revamp everything about my company, or I was going to throw in the towel. We’ve all been there at some point, right?

But I sat down and really thought about what sparks that inner fire for me, what drives me, what’s at the core of who I am, and what I really have to do to do. And that reinvigorated me and led me to new ideas and a new passion for my work.


My passion, and the thing that I HAVE to do is to help others achieve their dreams. That’s true in every part of my business, from designing homes that make my client’s happy and fulfilled, to coaching other designers to find their own paths to success.

So now I want to help YOU. I want you to find that same fire, that same passion. Ask yourself what it is it that’s at your very core, the thing that you know is the most true thing about you. There is something that you can do that NO ONE else can do. So what is that one thing?


I promise you that if you can answer that, and if you can begin to build your life around that fire, you’ll be more fulfilled, more filled with energy and excitement, and more successful than you ever have been before!

You have to have a spark or two to build a good fire, though, right? And I’m about to give you two of mine. One is the book Fires Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte. It’s a life-changing book that points out that we must all live to our core – that our core feelings should be at the center of all of our intentions. So smart!

The second spark for me was Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. He says that we must all ask ourselves WHY we are doing anything – why are we in business, why do we get up in the morning? If we can answer that, if we can define our WHY, then it will fuel our passion and give us a sense of fulfillment. But it will also help us stand apart in a crowd.

I hope I’ve given you a lot to think about today – I really want to inspire you to dig deep, and to light that fire that I know you have in YOU!

Let me know in the comments section below what your spark is, and how you plan to live your passion!









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