A Year (and Decade) in Review

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I love the turn of the new year. It is exciting to celebrate the accomplishments of the last year and there is just something about getting a fresh start, a new beginning, hitting the reset button, that lights a fire in my soul like no other time of the year.

This turn of the new year is even more special than some recent ones because we are not just starting a new year, but a new decade. So many blessings have come my way in the past decade. A husband, a daughter, a design business, a blog and good friends too numerous to count. I can honestly say it has been the best decade of my life. 

2009 marked the 10th anniversary of my business and oh what a year it was! I wanted to recap these things last week, but 2010 has already come in with a bang.  As I did on the last of day of 2008, I want to reminisce one last time about some of the amazing things that happened to me in 2009 before I see January 2010 in my rear view mirror.

I hope you enjoy sharing these memories with me. I thank each and every one of your from the very bottom of my heart for helping me accomplish so many things last year. I could not have done it alone!
My sweet friend Anne Sage started 2009 off with a bang for me with her 3-part feature on me and my design philosophies. Thanks Anne you are a gem, as is your blog.

And not long after, I was the highlight of a postby Ronda Carman of All the Best Blog. Little did I know that this little interview would lead to an amazing friendship with Ronda and be the connection to so many other great friends like Michael Devine and Thomas Burak, James Andrew and Scott McBee, Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo and many, many more! Ronda you really are THE BEST. Thanks for finding my work worthy of your gorgeous blog.

To round out the features from gorgeous women with gorgeous blogs, Cassandra Lavalle at Coco and Kelley was kind enough to include my home office in her brand new Style Escapes series.  Thanks Cass. I loved meeting you this year and look forward to more collaborations with you in 2010.
What an exciting start to 2009 and all this before the end of the first quarter. But that was not all that was happening early in the year.

I had a stunning feature in the March issue of At Home in Arkansas on a Medeterrean style home I recently completed for one of my favorite clients.

And then there was that little list Traditional Home decided to put me on…The Top 20 Young Designers in America!!!! Yippee. This was one of the true highlights of my year, and for that matter, the Decade! Thanks Traditional Home for noticing a girl from the South with a penchant for bright colors and bold patterns.  You even helped me get a mention on MSNBC and a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion. I will never forget what you have done for my career.

In April, The Sam Walton College of Business Entrepreneur of the Year was a huge honor and validation of my business practices.
And my new friend Ronda included me in her prestigious All the Best List,  a compilation of the best trend setters and taste makers across the world.  I am humbled to be included with many of my design idols and great icons in our industry. What an honor this was.
Soiree, one of the top social magazines in Arkansas, did a fun profile on me in the May issue for their “Executive Priviledge” section. I loved the clever styling for this photograph. Thanks Soiree for letting me show my both my business and creative sides to the state in one beautiful feature!

Also in May, At Home in Arkanas magazine made an amazing transition with the hiring of their new Editor Dianne Carroll.  Dianne is such a talent, and was a key factor in my first national magazine exposure in 2008 when she was a field Editor for Traditional Home. What a neat experience to not only have a project in her first issue at At Home ,but to make the cover!! Thanks again Dianne for always making me look good. I know we will have a long and exciting relationship over the next decade. Cheers to you and At Home in Arkansas magazine.

And a little unexpected bonus from the group at At Home, my Mediterranean project was the setting for the cover of the At Home Wedding issue this year. Two covers in the same month, can’t beat that!

June was a month of blogger love. I had fabulous posts on my work and my social media skills from the likes of Material GirlsViral Housing, Ava Livingand more.  A million thank you’s go out to all these bloggers and all the other bloggers (Apartment therapy, Ivan Meade) around the globe who have been so good to me this year.

Traditional Home threw me another bone in June by including my work in a color feature on red and blue. A nice surprise for the sometimes slow summer months

My second project with the amazing Dianne Carroll came in July with the Waterfront Homes issue of At Home in Arkansas.
The local and regional accolades continued in the second half of this year beginning with being awarded the title of Best Designer in the Arkansas Times Newspaper’s Best of the Best Series. This is the grandaddy of the “Best of” competitions in Arkansas and one that I had not previously won. Thanks to all the reader of the Arkansas Times for supporting me and my work!

Another really exciting development this year was when I became the proud writer of my very own design column, “Tobi’s Tips”.  The readers of AY voted me best Designer in Arkansas earlier in the year. But now, the staff at AY Magazine included me in their all-star lineup including P. Allen Smith, Jill Connor Browne (aka the Sweet Potato Queen) and others who write for their regional magazine. Angela, Vicki and staff,  I send my sincere thanks and I am so looking forward to the exciting things we have in store for my column in 2010.

September not only marked the first issue of my column, but it started the whirlwind finish to this busy year.  First up was my annual trip to the Business of Design Conferencewith David Shephard where I was awarded Best Practices Network Member of the Year. Also, Kravet was kind enought to ask me to write the tech column for their fall magazine issue, Inspired Talk. This was another fun opportunity to talk about my experience with social media and the successes I have had with it this year.

Jetting off to LA was next on my agenda to be part of a discussion panel for Traditional Homeduring Design Week at the Pacific Design Center. I was honored to be in the company of the great Windsor Smith, the extremely talented and charming Peter Dunham, my fellow Top 20 Designer in America Joe Lucas, and social media expert Shane Reilly of Decorati.

Being the keynote speaker at the WITHIT Organization Breakfast presented by my friends at New River Artisans at the Fall Highpoint Market was another great experience. And while at market I had a little fun with Soicher Marin at our first annual Twitter “tweet up”. Just a few days later I joined several of my blogger friends at the Hickory Chair blogger Breakfast.

My staff and I celebrated being awarded another Asid Gold Award. This one was for our renovation of the family home of actor Clark Duke

This Fall we also moved to our New Gallery and design firm. Over 6000 square feet of gorgeous space, this is true luxury for my staff and me. We are so grateful to have this inspiring place to foster our creativity.

This Summer I had the pleasure of filming two of my projects for HGTV’s hit show Top Ten. The episodes began running in Canada this fall and are set to debut in America this month.

Traditional Home has been so good to me in 2009. They topped off the year by including me in their Designer Holiday Feature in the December issue.  I was part of a story on what 23 top designers from around the country , including Barclay Butera, Celerie Kemble, Barry Dixon and more,  practice as their Holiday traditions.  With Christmas traditions being a huge part of my southern roots, I loved being part of this story. Thanks again Traditional Home for making 2009 so special.

I rounded out this fantastic year as the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette High Profile feature the Sunday before Christmas.  I open the style section of our statewide newspaper each and every Sunday morning to see what amazing Arkansan is featured on the front cover. It was a true honor and priviledge to be featured this year.  And the plethora of friends, business people and other Arkansans, some that I don’t even know, who called, sent notes, and emailed congratulating me on the feature really blew me away.  I even got a facebook message from my all-time favorite teacher who taught me in the fifth grade.  This was a humbling experience and I appreciate the tremendous support I have received all year, all decade really, for my design work, my business and my blog.

I know it is hard to believe but these were just the highlights of the year. There were many more great moments that occured in 2009.  I am so very blessed to have so much love and support from friends like you. 

So as we begin this new year (yes, I am a few days behind already), I want to propose a toast to you. May your new year be full of good health, happiness and prosperity! And from one grateful designer, blogger, wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend, I send a heartfelt thanks to you all.  Cheers!

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4 Responses to A Year (and Decade) in Review

  1. all the best says:

    Tobi you are the BEST!! Much love to you and all happiness and success in 2010. Can’t wait until my next trip to Little Rock!

  2. Tobi- congratulations on your success and best wishes to you and your family for 2010.

  3. amazing year, glad to be a part of it. thanks for the comments and kudos; we’ve actually got quite a history of projects together now, back from the very first showhouse room for Meredith pubs. here’s to continuing to create and publish inspiring homes!

  4. ABC Dragoo says:


    What a wonderful 2009 you had ~ I have the sneaking suspicion that 2010 will bring you the same success and much, much more!

    You’re so talented and it is a great joy to see all these high-points from the year brought together in one post.

    I am so delighted to have had the chance to meet you this year. Thank you for the shout out in this post – I hope that we will have many opportunities to “tweet-up” and maybe even work together in the future!

    Warmest regards,
    ABC Dragoo