Archive for August, 2015

Moving Out!

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It’s finally here! This is the week that I move out of that gorgeous, exasperating, and soon-to-be fabulous home that you see above. Renovations will start next week – which is incredible!

I know I’ve been talking about this “new house” for what seems like forever, but it’s time to get the show on the road. And I can’t wait! I’ve told you how I love the “bones” of this house, but it’s just a functional disaster. With the help of my amazing contractor, we’re about to transform the house into my dream home!


So what do we have in the works? As you can see in my marked-up drawing above, we’re going to gut the kitchen and the master bathroom on the ground floor. We’re also switching the study and the dining room, and transforming that study into a library.


On the second floor, we’re going to redo all of the bathrooms and – this is my favorite part – we’re adding a yoga/workout/massage room! I can’t wait for that!

But this week, it’s all about packing up my house and moving some of it into storage and some of it into a condo that we’re renting during the renovation. Moving can be such a crazy time, but I’ve developed some great systems for packing things up, and I thought I would share them with you here!


Tobi’s Moving Tips

1. Systemize it. This is so key. I not only put room names on every single box (dining room, bedroom, etc.), but then I also number them. That way, I know for sure that I have 15 boxes for the living room and 10 for the guest room. You don’t want to lose a box along the way!

2. Add color. Also consider color coordinating your boxes. It’s easier for the movers if they can quickly see that all the boxes with a yellow stripe go in the kitchen and all the boxes with a black stripe will go in storage.

3. Lists are your friend! Be sure to not only put numbers/room names on each box, but to keep an inventory list of what is in each of the boxes. It never fails that the one thing you’re looking for is in the last box of 30 that you open.

4. Valuable advice. Put your jewelry, expensive objects, important papers, and computers in your own car. Those valuables can (and should) be handled by you rather than a moving company.

5. Use your luggage. Be sure each family member has one suitcase for “immediate need” items like toiletries and a couple of changes of clothing, and use other suitcases to pack up your closet.

6. More is better. Get way more boxes than you think you’ll need. Because you’ll probably use them all – and you can return what you don’t use to most moving companies.

The key to a quick and easy move is to really plan and get organized! So now I’m off to finish packing up before the movers get here! And I probably need more packing tape. Yikes!







Tobi TV: Top Ideas for Function in the Kitchen

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I love beautiful kitchens – but function is just as important as how a kitchen looks! There is no set cookie-cutter approach to function anymore, though. You need to consider how a kitchen works for you and your own approach to cooking and entertaining.

But there are a few go-to functional ideas that work for every kitchen and every type of cook! One of my favorites is to use a multipurpose island in the center of the kitchen. It offers an extra workspace for whipping up baked goods and creating meals, but it also gives you a great place for friends and family to gather and to eat. Add a punch of color with apple green paint and a chopping-block top, and you’ve just added a ton of function to your kitchen!

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 12.52.05 PMAnd speaking of islands, I also like to offer another great idea to the islands I install for clients. I use every square inch of space for storage – you just can’t have too much of that in a kitchen, right? So remember to use all 4 sides of the island to create drawers and shelves that work for you!

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 12.53.25 PMYou can add an enormous amount of convenience and function to your kitchen by just clearing off those countertops so they are ready for your cooking prep. Plus, it just looks neater when there is less clutter in the kitchen. Those countertop appliances like microwaves really take up a lot of space. As a solution, I love to use microdrawers from my partner company Thermador! Check out this quick video that shows you why that hide-away-microwave is so fantastic:

And finally, if you are using every square inch of space in your kitchen for storage, you know those cabinets closer to the ceiling can be tough to reach sometimes. So consider a library ladder like the one I used here to make those higher cabinets super-functional for you.

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I hope these ideas have helped you see that you really can have a kitchen that’s both gorgeous and functional for you and your family! What are your go-to ideas for convenience and function? Let me know in the comments section below!










Focus on Your Business with Mastermind

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It’s hard to believe that the 4th quarter of 2015 is quickly approaching! I always find this to be a great time to set goals for the last part of this year, and to start planning where I want my business to be in 2016. So where do you see your design business in the coming year? What are YOUR goals?

Like most CEO/owners of a small business, I’m sure you’re wondering how you’re going to get it all done, how you can improve and grow your company, and what it will take to refine and improve your client roster and your income. That’s where my Mastermind Consulting Program comes in!

This is the 5th anniversary of Mastermind and in that time we’ve completely transformed hundreds of design businesses and set them on the path to make more money, to attract ideal clients, and to get published! I want that same thing for you!

My theme for 2016 is FOCUS – and what we’ll be doing in Mastermind will help you get laser-focused on the critical ideas, systems, and tools that will take your business to a whole new level next year!

Let’s look at a great testimonial from one of my former members on how Mastermind impacted her business:


Denise is just one of the many designers that have found success with Mastermind:

“I just gave a proposal presentation today for DOUBLE my fee from last year! I would have taken much longer to have gotten to this point in my business if it wasn’t for you!” – Michelle Lynne, Michelle Lynne Interiors Group

“If it were not for Tobi’s business advice in Mastermind on how to create Marker Girl into a brand, my business would not have become as successful as it has today! She taught me that Marker Girl needed to be my entire business brand and from that I gained a better business model by generating multiple streams of revenue for myself.” – Karen Davis, Marker Girl

“The lessons I learned in Mastermind taught me how to increase my income level while decreasing my workload, which allows me to be more discriminating about the projects I choose to design each year. Mastermind equipped me with the skills I needed to streamline my business, introduced me to opportunities, and forged relationships that would have taken years on my own.” – Lisa Mende, Lisa Mende Design

Let’s make that kind of magic happen for YOUR business, and let’s do it NOW! In Mastermind, we have 3 live sessions with instruction and fabulous speakers, with presentations that earn you those valuable CEUs! In 2016, the themes and locations are:

  • Feb. 9-10, in Florida. The theme will be Developing/Refining Your Unique Point of View, including branding, niche, promotions and more.
  • June 14-15, in Chicago. The theme will be Putting Your Business Under the Microscope, including client management, selling your services, project management, and logistics.
  • Sept. 20-21, in Boston. The theme will be Focus on Revenue, including the best strategies for making money, new revenue streams, developing products, and ecommerce for designers.

In addition, members also receive:

  • One semester of Tobi U, my new online learning center
  • Weekly accountability emails
  • Monthly telecalls from me on a hot topic for that month
  • 6 Book Club telecalls a year, on my favorite new biz books
  • Members-only Facebook forum
  • Admission to Designer MBA where you can earn .8 CEUs!

As you can see, Mastermind truly is FOCUSED on changing your business and setting you on the path for success! So what are you waiting for? Email me today at and let’s talk about how we can make 2016 your best year ever!









Tobi TV: Clean Scene

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I love to cook and I love to entertain – but what I’m not as enthusiastic about is cleaning up after a party or a big meal! However, I do have a few solutions that I turn to in my interior designs to help keep the kitchen organized and to make clean up a breeze!


For example, as you can see in the photo above, I like to include a lot of storage in the kitchens I design. It helps with organization and it gives you a place to quickly stow clutter when guests drop by!

It’s also a great idea to keep plenty of towels on hand for spills and quick clean up – so I added bars for extra towels in this kitchen.


But my best tip for keeping the kitchen super-spotless during parties and cooking sessions is to include two dishwashers in the design – yes, two! One can run while the other hides dirty dishes out of the way until it’s full, making the kitchen look clean at all times!

I love to design open-plan kitchens, so it’s also important to have a quiet dishwasher that won’t disrupt conversations with friends or family. And as Thermador’s brand ambassador, I can tell you that they have one of the quietest on the market. The Star-Sapphire Dishwasher is so quiet it offers a Time Remaining PowerBeam that shines the cycle time remaining on the floor. Otherwise, you might not know it’s even on!

Let’s take a look at this video I recently did in a client’s kitchen that shows you how amazing that Thermador dishwasher really is:

Wow! Can you believe that a dishwasher could complete a cycle in 20 minutes? Now that’s a quick clean up.

So let’s review my tips for designing a kitchen that keeps things neat and tidy:

1. Include lots of storage so your kitchen can always look organized and spotless.

2. Consider little details like extra towel bars to keep cleaning items close at hand.

3. Dual dishwashers are a lifesaver if you like to entertain or if you cook a lot. They make cleaning a breeze!

What are your favorite tips for keeping your kitchen clean? Let me know in the comments section below!








Tobi TV: Keeping It Cool – and Custom

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When it’s as hot outside as it is on this August day, I like to focus on ways to keep things cool. And that’s most important in the kitchen, right?

As brand ambassador for Thermador, I love being able to highlight all of the incredible products in their portfolio. I’ve been using their appliances for years in my clients’ kitchens, and their refrigeration units are amazing!

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But more than that, Thermador’s Freedom Collection offers cooks a custom kitchen that reflects how they cook: in the number of appliances, the layout of the space and the overall design style. No longer do you have to have the same old fridge/freezer of the past – now you can style a kitchen in any way you want with built-in modular refrigeration concepts!

Let’s take a look at one of my client’s kitchens and the fabulously cool ideas we designed for her refrigeration:

Wow – that’s a cool kitchen, right? So let’s look at those Top 3 Takeaways again:

1. Thermador allows you to personalize your refrigerator/freezer – this is a real next-generation idea. You can use a differently sized fridge unit from your freezer unit. That way, your kitchen can function the way you want it to!

2. Wine preservation columns are another Thermador innovation that I love. They keep those fabulous wines at just the right temperature, and the glass doors let you show off fine vintages and give easy access to the right bottle you’re searching for.

3. Another “cool” idea I love is Thermador’s specially designed diamond ice maker, which is in all of the Thermador Freedom Collection Freezers. The shape of ice really does make a difference, and this design is meant to allow more ounces of ice in a traditional glass to keep drinks cooler.

It’s so fantastic to have the ability to personalize your kitchen today with ideas like these! What functionality do you want in YOUR kitchen? Tell me in the comments section below. And stay cool out there!