Archive for October, 2014

Before and After: Kitchen and Family Room

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We’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen on my blog in the last week or two, haven’t we? There is nothing I love more than a good kitchen renovation, and this week’s featured project was one of my favorites!

It’s Halloween and I thought a peak at the before of this space might give you a scare! It’s certainly scary when you imagine a family of 8 using this space. As you can see below in the before shot, this tiny little space would never have worked for such a big family. Eek! I took their existing kitchen and, with the help of Carolyn Lindsey of Yeary Lindsey Architects and Contractor Scott Greenwood, we expanded it into a large family room. You can see the work in progress below. The overhead beam and columns (you’ll see them in a moment) are where the back wall of the house used to be. 

Kitchen Before (1)



In the after photo below, it’s more clear how we opened up the kitchen to the larger great room behind it. The turquoise cabinets and matching backsplash coordinate with the rest of the open-concept room. In a large area I like to wrap the space in one color which makes it then work as a neutral. This space may have looked busier with white cabinets because the contrast would cause the eye to stop. This blue wall of lovely cabinetry makes for a seamless transition across the space that’s easy on the eye and this sea-inspired color is easy on the blood pressure with 6 kids in the house.

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To give you more insight, we took out the back wall (on the left of this image below) and expanded beyond what was a super-small kitchen and breakfast area. That’s how we creating the large family room.

Kitchen Before (4)

In the family room’s mid-construction photo, you can see the beginnings of the fireplace, wet bar, and the bookshelves. This was designed to be the focal point of this great gathering space.


The after shot below, looking towards that same set of bookshelves, really showcases the color in this room. The shades of blue offer a serene look, and was inspired by this family’s time spent on or near the water. The home has to work for 8 people–five girls and three guys, so I really wanted it to appeal to all of them, and blue really is everyone’s favorite color.

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As for functionality, I wanted an open plan that would allow each member of the family to be included in meal prep, entertaining, dinner time, and so many more activities. As you can imagine, this small peninsula just was not enough room for everyone.

Kitchen Before

You can see the beginnings of a more spacious gathering area in this photo.


Isn’t it amazing what a transformation color and pattern can make? This after shot really shows that this is an all-inclusive space for a great blended family!

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Let me know what you think of the transformation of this kitchen! Oh, and Happy Halloween! Be safe everyone and I’ll see you for another “Spooky” before and after transformation soon.









New House Diary: Perfect Pantries

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New House Diary

Yesterday, you helped me decide between adding a free-standing pantry or customized pantry cupboards to help me organize the kitchen in my new house. And whether built into the cupboards or stand-alone, there are many ways to get your kitchen organized and have all your food and kitchen necessities close at hand.


 (Home Made)

Then there’s the fabulousness of a butler’s pantry. Butler’s Pantries are dreamy, aren’t they? The difference between a kitchen pantry and a butler’s pantry is all about entertaining. While a kitchen pantry offers storage for canned goods, small appliances, and dry goods, a butler’s pantry is all about platters and linens and silver.


(Keystone Projects)

Usually, these small rooms will include special storage for platters, china, crystal, and barware. There might be drawers for linens and more formal silver or stainless. I do plan to entertain a lot in the house, just as I did in my previous home, so I have a lot of dishes and linens to store. c2ae0ba36c7308473f69a34a00842098

(Steven Gambrel Design)

As I said yesterday, I do love to organize, and I like to be ready at a moment’s notice if we have drop-in guests, a last-minute dinner party, or even those family-packed holidays! A butler’s pantry and a kitchen pantry would be the perfect dynamic duo to keep my cooking and entertaining organized and ready to go! So what have I decided? Well here’s where the “But” comes in. I would love both a pantry and a butler’s pantry, BUT I just can’t afford the square footage dedicated to these rooms. I really need it for my new Master Closet. the current Master Closet is only 5×6. Eek! Talk about SCARY on this Halloween Eve. 🙂 f997746088644ec7c3dd93051a08d436

(Coats Homes)

So I’m going for cupboards. But I will have 2 storage/pantry cupboards that are full height on either side of my refrigerator in the kitchen for all my food with pull-outs and organizing features. And then in the breakfast room. I am creating a wall of cabinetry that looks like a china hutch that will act more like a butlers pantry to store platters and more. And it will have my wine refrigerator too. A Thermador Wine Column to be exact. breakfast TV

(Lauren DeLoach via Traditional Home)

And although 90% of you said NO! to a TV in the breakfast room. My family and I have decided that a TV is right for us in that space so we can listen to the morning news there when we want. I am so comfortable with the quality time I spend with my daughter and I don’t worry that a TV here will take away from our family time. In fact, she and I eat breakfast most mornings cuddled in my bed (instead of in the breakfast room) watching GMA and talking about what’s going on in the world. Lots of life lessons can be taught over one discussion of the news! And for the breakfast room, my husband watches TV there in the evening after work while going through the mail, and I do too, sometimes while cooking dinner. So we think it’s the perfect scenario for us.


(Kenzer Furniture via Houzz)

What do you think about these pantry and TV ideas? Do you have a butler’s pantry in your home? Let me know in the comments below! As we head into the holiday season, isn’t it fun to plan these perfect places for those holiday dinners and parties? Thank you SO much for all your comments so far on my home renovation. It is REALLY interesting and helpful to hear what you all think!

Until next time!



Which Would You Choose: Pantry or Cupboards?

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(organization/photo by Neat Method)

I am a neat freak – I like everything to be organized and in its place. That’s especially true in the kitchen, with all of its small appliances, baking items, pots, pans, spices, and not to mention food! This week I’m trying to decide if my kitchen remodel should include a separate pantry, or just cupboards designed for organizing everything.

A separate pantry is perfect for ingredients and small appliances! It allows you to walk in and see everything at once, and to quickly locate what you’re looking for. It also hides a lot of things you may not want your guests to see, like an extra trash can, your stash of Diet Coke, or maybe even large bins of vegetables.


(Photo from Kenzer Furniture via Houzz)

On the other hand, there are so many unique ideas for cabinetry now! There are drawers for pot-and-pan storage, special bins for flours and other baking needs, hidden compartments for spice jars and oils, and even great pull-out shelves for small appliances. It also keeps everything in the main kitchen area, which can be handy when you’re searching for the item you need.

And one thing you should know is that unlike new construction where I could have both a walk-in pantry and a great pantry in my kitchen cupboards, a remodel like mine means space is limited. So if I choose a walk-in pantry I am using valuable space that could be in my Master Closet. So which would you choose: A fabulous and roomy pantry with lots of shelves for organized bins and baskets (even if it means a smaller Master Closet or Bath), or specialized cupboards to hide all of the baking, cooking and food things?

Let me know your answer below! I think I’m close on this decision, but I’d still love to hear your suggestion! I may even let you know which I choose in tomorrow’s post… Stay tuned!









Tobi TV: Kids Rooms with Kick

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It’s almost Halloween, so this week is all about the kiddos. But I love making every day all about the kids in their own spaces by creating kids’ rooms with “kick,” lots of bright colors and fun! After all, your little ones are special every day, not just on holidays. So you’re stimulating little minds with these spaces, while also giving them rooms that will spark their imaginations and allow them to dream!

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In my daughter’s most recent bedroom, I used her favorite color at the time. It’s important to give kids a lot of input into what their room looks like, so they really feel at home there. I also gave her a daybed that she could use both for lounging and sleeping, and of course we set up a desk for her homework. In our new home, her room is on its way to something more grown-up with brighter colors and hints of her favorite color now…BLUE!

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It’s key to combine function, style, and creativity in a child’s room, so here are some tips that will help you create that perfect space:

Let’s recap those tips that will help you give your kids’ rooms a “kick”:

1. Use accessories that not only provide color, but also sneak in a little educational value! Use maps, globes, and charts to bring in bold color and bright ideas.

2. Create an art station with a magnetic chalkboard. Offer bins of chalk, magnetic letters and poetry, as well as fun stencils to spark that creativity!

3. Design “zones” in the room, for sleeping, lounging, homework, and play. Give your child “ownership” of their room with places for them to hang out with friends, to study, or to just dream!

4. Function is all-important in a kid’s room, so consider how you’re using each square foot of space. You can fit beds into dormer windows to create more room, or use multifunctional pieces of furniture that can serve more than one purpose. And no matter what – don’t forget lots of storage!

Use these tips to kick your kids’ rooms up a notch! And let me know what ideas you love to use in your children’s spaces. Also, be sure to share this video with your friends who have kids, too!

Happy Decorating with your Kiddos and Happy Halloween Week, Y’all!









New House Diary: Breakfast Room Banquettes

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New House Diary

As I said yesterday, morning is probably my favorite time of the day! I’m crazy about breakfast food, I love the smell of coffee, and I really enjoy the time with my family as we get ready for the day. So I’m having fun deciding all of the details for my breakfast room – the room that will probably be the hub of a lot of our day, not just our mornings.

I’ve always been a big fan of banquettes and have used them often in my designs for clients. But in my new house, the floor plan is tricky so I’m not even sure it’s possible. And then if I do use a banquette, I need to decide if it should be free-standing or built-in.


(Massucco Warner Miller Design in Los Angeles)

A banquette makes such a cozy seat, and I would love to snuggle up with my daughter on one in the morning. They also add a bit of sophistication to a normally casual space.

Photo by Helen Norman

(Photo by Helen Norman)

But they also can be difficult to get into for children, and some adults. And of course a free-standing one takes up more space than a single chair would at the side of a table. But a built-in banquette can actually be a space saver when you have an area that isn’t really big enough for chairs to pull in and pull out. Of course as a designer, I will be able to figure out those space planning details, but I would love your thoughts on which one you would prefer if it were your home.


(Design by Luis Bustamante from Veranda)

And let’s not forget, with a built-in banquette there is the added benefit of extra storage, either under the seat or at the floor level. However, you have to be sure you use enough cushioning for these seats, or no one will want to linger in them too long.

case di lusso

(Design by Case di Lusso)

So what do you think? In a perfect world where either chairs or a banquette work in the floor plans, should I use a banquette in my breakfast room, or not? And if I do use a banquette, should it be a built-in?

Lisa Sherry Interieurs

(Design by Lisa Sherry Interieurs)

Leave me a comment below and tell me what you think! And be sure to say whether you think a built-in is right for my house, or if I should look at one of the many furniture banquettes. There are some pretty free-standing ones these days and maybe I should even design one for my line with CR Laine Furniture coming out next Spring.  Your vote may decide the seating in my breakfast room and a piece in my furniture line!