Tobi TV: Kitchens That Cook

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Kitchens are at the heart of every home. No matter the party or occasion, friends and family always seem to gather in the kitchen. So it’s critical to have a kitchen that functions correctly, that’s beautiful, and that is welcoming! But if you love to cook, like I do, it’s even MORE important to get this hard-working room of your house planned perfectly!

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Being in the kitchen is natural for me and it’s so much fun to design these fabulous and functional spaces for my clients since the kitchen is one of my favorite rooms in the house. I won’t be cooking tonight because it’s my birthday (!) so my family is treating me with a night out.  But we can still celebrate some of my favorite kitchens I’ve designed. Take a look:

Those are really sizzling, aren’t they? Here are some tips for creating a kitchen that really cooks:

1. Be sure your kitchen has plenty of space for storage to hide the clutter that always accumulates here.

2. Beautiful built-in cabinets keep kitchens organized and leave all the counter space for cooking and food prep.

3. A kitchen that opens to the breakfast or dining area makes it easy for the cook to stay in the loop while preparing meals. No cook likes to feel left out of the fun and conversation.

4. A smart banquette and fabulous barstools create all the sitting space you’ll need in the kitchen to enjoy meals and conversation!

How does your kitchen bring the heat? I hope these tips really get your ideas flowing to create a kitchen where everyone will want to gather, and a space that really cooks! Please let me know in the comments below how your kitchen functions for you!

If you would like to see some of my favorite recipes, click through here for my top picks on Pinterest! And you can see the finished results of my cooking here on Instagram!

Bon Appetit!









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Motivational Monday: Change as a Way of Life

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Birthday cupcakesTomorrow is my 43rd birthday. I love birthdays! Getting older doesn’t bother me - I think it’s a privilege. I actually like myself and my life more each year. But time does fly, doesn’t it? Seems like yesterday that I was saying I was turning 40. And the day before that I was having my daughter, who will be 10 this summer.

Things change. In fact, they change every day. Or more like every second. Just yesterday at church I was reminded that every 7-10 years, our bodies and our cells completely regenerate themselves. Isn’t that interesting? Every 7 years we are a completely “new” person.

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Dr. Wayne Dyer, one of my favorite teachers, authors, and deep-thinkers puts it this way:

“This strange phenomenon of you being an I that continuously enters, discards, and reenters a new body has proceeded right up until this very moment.

I am currently in a 70-year-old body that’s nothing like the body I occupied 50 years ago. I remember well what that 20-year-old body I occupied looked like, what it could do, and what it knew and didn’t know, but I can’t find it anywhere – it’s simply an illusion. It is gone from this physical world, as is every body that both you and I have occupied in our lifetime. 

The physical body that you think of as you is rearranged in a pattern designed by a formless intelligence independent of your opinions. This I that you use to describe yourself isn’t the physical form that you occupy and take with you everywhere. Quantum physics states that the body you’re occupying, which is reading this paragraph right now, is completely different from the body you were in when you read the previous paragraph. Such is the nature of the physical world in which we all live.

The ancient philosopher Heraclitus put it this way several thousand years ago, and it is true today: “All things are in motion and nothing is at rest… You cannot go into the same [river] twice.” A river is a constantly changing phenomenon, as is a tree, a mountain, a goat, a human, and the physical universe including Earth. That which defines a thing, therefore, is not physical in nature; it is metaphysical. When asked “What is real?” an ancient spiritual avatar responded without hesitation, “That is real which never changes.” And since your body is in a continuous state of change, it is not real.

If you try to find that toddler body you once occupied, you realize that it is not real, since it no longer exists. Even while you were in it years ago, you couldn’t call it real, because the moment you pinpointed and defined it as real, it would be something else, something new. What you’re calling real would already have disappeared. Still, you know with all of this change taking place that there is a changeless component to who you are. The I in that toddler body hasn’t changed, it is in the body that you currently occupy. The I is your higher self, changeless and real. This higher self is who you are. When you make this discovery and consciously befriend the I you are, nothing is impossible.”


I had a big Ah Ha moment about this idea from Dr. Dyer a year or two ago watching him on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. And though I had never been bothered by age, probably because neither of my parents ever have been, this gave me a whole new understanding of myself and my life. It helped me realize even more what is important in life and why I like myself more with each passing day.

We are not our bodies. Change is inevitable. Things come and things go. But the whole point of life, I think, is living our purpose and finding joy. Both of these things I have. I am grateful for my life at 43. I am exactly where I am meant to be.

We can strive to have the perfect body only to find with time it will change – a little bigger here, a little smaller there – and not of our doing. But our bodies don’t define us, our actions do.


We can go through life striving to “reach success” but what we know and what we think success is, doesn’t exactly exist. It’s why people say “enjoy the journey” or “happiness is the journey, not the destination.” We can only base what we think success will be on what we have experienced in our past. And as the quote by Heraclitus reminds us, all the things we know are ever changing. “We can never go back to the same river twice.” Profound, isn’t it? Success likely won’t look like what we think it will.

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All we have is right now. In the body we were given. All we can do is cherish each moment, because in a blink those moments will be only a memory. All we can do is find happiness and joy today. Tomorrow is a gift but not a given.


So on this eve of my 43rd year, I am cherishing moments including the moment that I am 43. Because before long, I won’t be any longer. I will age, my family will grow older, too. And it is most important to me that I imprint where we all are in this moment on my mind. I love and hold dear the moments that happen each year of my life in a special place in my heart and my mind, for I can never truly experience those exact moments again. They are special. They are unique. They are fleeting.

familyI hope you will cherish each and every moment too. They are ours alone. No one else experiences a moment or time exactly as we do. And it is ok to strive to be better, and healthier, and more accomplished each year. But only if you remember those are not the things that truly bring you joy. Joy is found in the present moment. If you cannot be content in your body, and your age, and your life…no amount of achievement will make that so.

hb TobiThanks for sharing my birthday with me friends. My birthday wish for myself and also for each of you this year is this…

I wish us enough sun to keep our attitudes bright

I wish us enough rain to appreciate the sun more

I wish us enough happiness to keep our spirits alive

I wish us enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger

I wish us enough gain to satisfy our wanting

I wish us enough loss to appreciate all that we possess

I wish us enough Hello’s to get us through our final good-bye’s.

And I wish us a life that is long and healthy, full of love and joy and a cake big enough to fit all our candles!


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P.S. Today’s photos are just a few of my most favorite experiences and moments with family and friends over the last 12 months captured on Instagram.

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Sunday Fun Day on Instagram!

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Did you know Sunday is the most active day on Instagram? Likely because people have more down time on Sunday to enjoy this beautiful and creative site. I sure do my fair share of posting on Instagram on Sunday and every other day of the week.


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If you are not following me on Instagram, you are missing out on a lot of gorgeous Interiors I am working on (like this fab pool and pool house), delicious food I am cooking, and my daily inspirations and motivations.

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So jump on the Instagram bandwagon and follow me there. You can find me on Instagram as @tobifairley. And be sure to leave me comments about your thoughts on my postings. I love the personal interactions I have in the comments on this FUN site!

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I can’t wait to hear from you each day. To me Instagram is like no other site because it’s spontaneous and often real time. So if you have always wished you could be my shadow as I live the life of a designer, blogger, world traveler, business coach (and even a cook and a mom)…Instagram is your chance!

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And be sure to say “Hi” if you are just starting to follow so I can say Hello to you too!

I’ll see you there! xo,

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Self-care Saturday: What Does Living Your Dream Look Like?

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Happy Saturday Everyone! Are you “Living the Dream” today? Do you even REALLY know what your dreams are?

More than exist

One of the biggest forms of self-care and fulfillment is to actually live your purpose and reach your potential. Nothing gives you peace and joy more than knowing you are using your talents and gifts to their best ability. It is self-care at it’s highest form.

never waitSo if you’re not living your dreams, why? Is is because you don’t know what you want? Or more likely you are afraid to embrace the risks, challenges and hard work that going after the life that you dream about would bring? Or you have a bit of trouble (or a lot of it) believing that you are worthy of all that success?

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Well here are my best pieces of advice for seizing the day and really going after what you want most…


1. Write it down. That might be one writing exercise on a quiet afternoon when you are not stressed or harried. But for me it is journaling on a regular basis. I do this at night when I am relaxed before bed, or early in the morning when my mind is clear. Just stream of consciousness journaling often gets me to what is in my gut or at the heart of my desires. I buy myself pretty journals to make myself want to write and I always have my favorite gel pen or fine tip sharpie which makes writing fun too.

2. Count Your Blessings. I keep an ongoing gratitude journal. I have kept a gratitude journal for years, but about 2 years ago I started keeping it sequentially in a big spiral-bound notebook. My blessings are up into the thousands now after 2 years. Looking back on what brings me REAL joy helps me know what I really want more of in my life.

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3. Ask yourself “What do I dread, procrastinate on or feel obligated to?” Or even “What makes me angry?” Write it down. Finding those ball and chains that are around your emotions and around your daily life, will help you decide what you want LESS of in your life. If you are filling your time with too many “I have to’s” then there is not enough time for many “I want to’s”.  I know you will say “but Tobi I do HAVE to”. But if you are honest, some things can go and others can be reimagined to make you enjoy them more or be done by someone else.

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4. And then ask yourself “What does my Perfect Day look like?” Write that down too. This may sound like pie in the sky, but I don’t believe that it is. I just made some tweaks to my perfect day recently and I am living it regularly now. Things had gotten out of control and so I hit the reset button and asked myself, “What do I want my schedule to be?”. I made a few adjustments and my family and my staff were no worse for the wear. If you don’t work for yourself like I do, you may have a little less control of your day, but it never hurts to ask. You might get a yes!

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5. Adopt a no excuses mentality. This is the big one. If you are going to live your dreams you have to leap. Now, making an educated and smart leap is a good idea. Maybe don’t quit your day job that pays the bills when you haven’t built your new dream career yet. But DO start building your dream career on the side and when it is making enough money, quit that day job!

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But don’t wait. Will you be more tired for a year or so trying to build your dream and keep your head above water? Maybe. But it will be TOTALLY worth it. So leap my friends and leap quickly before you change your mind!

I hope that these ideas will help you start Living the Life You Have Imagined. I live my dream life and I would never go back to any other option! Now I am in the process of making it even dreamier…stay tuned.


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Before and After: Traditional Living Room Gets an Update

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photos 001I love this room. I designed it several years back (like probably 7 or 8), but I love how it still looks fresh. Good design is timeless, or at least it can withstand trends and design fashions for many years. I would say, on average, my clients get tired of their design – meaning they just want something new – far before the spaces actually become dated or wear out.

And on average, I do hear from my favorite clients again every 7-8 years wanting a refresh or to start a new project. I have 3 of those types of jobs happening as we speak.

The room above didn’t always look so fresh. Let’s take a look back at where we started and what we transformed…

Jennifer Green 001 The “before” was a luxury spec home in a great neighborhood in northwest Arkansas. Many of the details of the home were darker and more traditional than I would have selected had I designed the home. But they certainly weren’t something I couldn’t work around. The clients were newly married and just moved in their “his, mine, and ours” stuff knowing it wasn’t right for the space and then called me to create an atmosphere that blended both their styles. Jennifer Green 002Here’s another look at the before. It’s fun to see that this time period was coming off the “animal print, Hemingway, and Tuscan” trends that were big in the late ’90s and early 2000s in the South. And the client was ready to move into something more updated and fresh. Green Living and Master Bedroom Photos 003 (2) Here’s the emptied-out space getting ready for our fun drapery made by sewing solid silks into oversized stripes. Green Living and Master Bedroom Photos 007 (2)

And a view of the fireplace with the drapery going in and before we got rid of that palm tree for a cleaner look. before Here is a floorplan of the before, when the client was trying to lay out their existing furniture and finding it wasn’t functional. This room is challenging because of all the windows and openings into other rooms. There is literally no wall to anchor large pieces of furniture. after And here is the after floorplan I created to maximize the floor space and include additional seating for friends and family. I added a sectional, 2 extra wing chairs, and replaced the oversized lounge chairs with a more appropriately scaled pair. I added several tables to make the space more functional. There is actually a 5th chair in the final version that isn’t even shown here. It tucks in the bottom right corner normally and pulls in to accommodate another guest.


One half of this couple didn’t want to paint the stained wood and trim. And we’ve all had those clients or we are married to that spouse that is crazy about wood. So, like many of you, we’ve learned to work around it in some cases where it is appropriate for the architecture and the design style we are striving to achieve.

One of my solutions was bringing in this fun hexagon tile on the fireplace (this is the “in progress photo” when the installer is putting it in). It appealed to the more modern flair of the other spouse and I felt like the color palette worked great with the wood. It feels a bit California Bungalow, don’t you think?

And you can get a peek of the great Greek key pattern bound rug in the photo above that I used to fill the space and give us “permission” to use all the floor area for seating and storage.

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Now keep in mind this was a few years back, so the accessories are different than what we might select now, but I still like the composition of the tables flanking the fireplace and the balance of the pieces. And the choices were a blend of the modern and classic styles of the two homeowners, which makes it all work seamlessly.

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Here is a snapshot of the after and it shows how the space is working after the arrival of a new “addition” to the family.

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And here it is again in all its glory. The fresh new version that looks charming and warm with the stained windows. See? Definitely not a deal breaker. I sort of think the stain actually makes this design better in many ways – it adds warmth and charm.

So what do you think about this transformation? It seems much more “REAL” in many ways than some dreamy, clean-slate project, doesn’t it? Since there were some non-negotiables like painting the wood, many of you can probably relate to this couple and the design dilemma.  How does this remind you of solutions you have created that help keep everyone happy in your home or your client’s home? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Want to see more of this family-friendly home and the “after” of this space? Check out this old video. I think my hairstyle is much more dated than the interior. Ha! Ha! But the solutions for hiding baby toys, accommodating guests, and creating spaces that will grow with the family are all still relevant and clever.

Happy Friday, Friends!


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