Archive for September, 2015

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!








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!







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!









What Is That Color? Sea Blue

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I love it when my clients give me great inspiration for my designs! In this project, my clients told me how much they enjoyed going to the beach, and that they loved those blues and greens from the water and the sky. That made the choice of the Sherwin-Williams 6477 Tidewater color SO easy – the aqua paint even had the right name!


I also found the perfect color for the Pratt & Larsen glazed ceramic tiles for the backsplash to really wrap the room in this beautiful sea color. In fact, the tile color influenced the final paint selection. And I think they are a gorgeous match!


In the open plan, I brought in even more shades of blue and turquoise to complete the palette that the clients’ wanted, giving them a shore-worthy but sophisticated room.

Two other beachy shades that I love are the sea-glass green Benjamin Moore 2040-60 Antiguan Sky and C2’s ocean blue C2-721 Mikonos. They both have that gorgeous water-inspired feeling to them!


Where do you find your color inspiration? And how do you bring that into your home? Let me know in the comments below!

Colorfully yours,






New House Diary: Living Through a Renovation

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New House Diary

The renovation on my “new” old house is underway! My (fabulous) contractor began the demo on Tuesday, and I am thrilled that we’re finally getting things done. Moving out wasn’t fun, but because we have so much to remodel in my floor plan, it was a necessity.


As you can see in my sketch above, there is a lot of work to do, so it only made sense to get me and my family out of the way so the work could go faster. But that’s a hard decision for most families. Having put so much money aside to pay for a remodel, it can be difficult to then put another amount aside for a rental. And don’t even get me started on storing everything that won’t fit in your temporary space.

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But it’s also not a great idea to ask your family to walk around with hard hats like I’m doing in the photo above, right?! It really is a personal choice, and it also depends a lot on what exactly you’re having done. Gutting one bathroom, or maybe even your kitchen, is something you might be able to live through by staying in the home. A full remodel just makes that more difficult. If you have a friend or family member with a basement or an extra room or two, you could consider that as an alternative to living with all the dust, grime, and noise that’s going to be a part of a renovation.

Since design is what I do for a living, I may feel like I am practically still living in my home as often as I will visit the job site. But at least my head will lay on a clean pillow every night in our cozy temporary condo, and making my way to the bathroom each morning won’t require me to dodge stray nails and hanging electrical wires. And thank goodness my contractor and I have worked together so many times that he is used to me and all my involvement!

So look for updates as we go – this is going to be a fun few months here in New House Diary! And let me know in the comments below whether you would move out or stay in your home!