Archive for March, 2016

New House Diary: 6 Ways to Make a Powder Room Pop

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New House Diary

One tiny little room in your house gets a lot of traffic – and that’s the powder room. If you have guests or family over regularly, they will see this room more than your guest bedroom or your laundry! So it’s smart to combine a great design with terrific function in the powder room.

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As I’m working through the design of the powder bath in my new house, I’ve come up with 6 things this room needs to have in order to really impress guests. So I thought I’d share them, along with a few hints about what this room will look like when it’s finished in my house!

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1. Bold walls. This is the perfect room to pack a punch with your design, so I love to use bright and graphic wallpaper or bold painted stripes to really make give this tiny space a big personality.

2. Great color. You know I’m all about color, so I also like to use bold color in the powder room. You can bring in color on your walls, the ceiling, the cabinetry, or all three! Really push your comfort zone in this room – it will make a big impression on guests.

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3. Tidy up. Because this room is so small, you want to keep everything tucked away and out of sight, so I like to use cabinetry with plenty of space to hide cleaning items and extra paper supplies. The 2 oversized drawers in my new powder vanity will hold a lot and be easy for guests to use.

4. Light bright. Since this is a small space, and since most powder rooms don’t have windows, you want to provide lots of light. I like using an overhead light as well as sconces beside the mirror.

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5. Mirror mirror. Guests will want to adjust their lipstick, or ensure that every hair is in place, so give them a fabulous-looking mirror so they can check their reflection. An added bonus is that a mirror helps bounce the light around the powder room, making it seem larger than it is.

6. Handle the hardware. Be sure you have a lovely faucet and cabinet hardware. Your guests will appreciate the beauty, and the heft, of well-made fittings in the powder room.

So now that I’ve given you a little peek at the drawings for my new powder room – as well as a look at some rooms I’ve designed – what do you think? What is most important in this tiny room for you? Let me know in the comments section below!







Choosing the Perfect White

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Choosing the perfect white paint color for your room seems like it would be the easiest thing in the world, right? But for the many clients and blog readers that contact me about their homes, this is one of their biggest issues! The reason is because there isn’t just one color called white, the end. Nope, each white is very different, so you need to take your time to choose the perfect one. In the nursery I designed above, the perfect shade was Sherwin-Williams Creamy.

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White paint has other colors in it, called undertones, that help give each white its own look. So there are warmer whites with beige or yellow undertones, like Creamy, and like Shoji White, which I used in the bathroom above.

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For a super-crisp and cool look, I like whites that have a neutral or maybe even slightly blue-ish undertone. So in the entry hall above, I went with Snowbound to make the deep cobalts really pop. It’s important if you have other whites in the room – like the upholstered bench and the marble floor – that you match your paint to it as closely as you can. Otherwise, one of the whites could look dirty or out of place.

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Light is also a key component to making sure you get the right white. In the outdoor space I designed above, I went with Arcade, a great white for the natural light that floods the area. And it mixed well with the fabrics, the stools, and the fixtures. Indoors, a white will change dramatically if you have natural light in the day and then incandescents or fluorescents at night.

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A kitchen, like the one in my former home above, can have light coming from 3 or 4 light sources through the course of a full day. So I like to paint a swatch on the wall or cabinetry and “live” with it for a day to see how I like it from morning to night. In this case, I selected one of my all-time favorite go-to whites, Antique White from Sherwin-Williams.

Other favorite whites I have are C2’s America’s Cup (which will be a big star in my new home) Benjamin Moore’s China White, and C2’s Cotton.

Which whites do you like? Is it hard for you to choose? Let me know in the comments section below!








Tobi TV: Adding WOW to Your Entry

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I’m very close to finishing the entry in my new home, which will have gorgeous wainscoting and pediments to highlight the architectural details. And it’s those details that really can take your home’s entry from ho-hum to WOW!


In my former house, I made a big statement in my entry with graphic wallpaper and great art. There are so many ways you can welcome your guests with style – so let’s take a look at a few fun ideas:

See what I mean? Just a few details can really make the entry to your home a fabulous welcome for friends and family. Let’s review those tips one more time:

1. Make an impact right way with color and pattern – use a terrific overscaled wallpaper, or a bright and bold color choice for your walls.

2. Consider scale when you work with art and lamps, you want to have the right scale to make an impact.

3. Accessories can bring in some gorgeous color, either by complementing other pieces, or bringing in a great new hue.

4. The entry is also a great place to show your personality. You can do that through unique items like vintage pieces, original art, or a fantastic keepsake that you picked up on one of your travels.

5. And don’t forget about fresh flowers! They really do welcome your guests with color, an amazing scent, and a touch of the outdoors.

So use these tips to amp up your entry’s design and make a fabulous statement as family and friends enter your home!







Accentuate the Positive

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There’s a saying that has become popular because it’s so true: Stuff Happens. Okay, sometimes there’s a different word instead of “stuff,” but you get what I mean. And in business, the fact that Stuff Happens is the only guarantee we have. Things will go wrong, employees will leave, ideas will go bust, and clients will be mad. That’s just how it goes.

The worst thing you can do? That would be to turn a negative into an even worse negative. In other words, how you react to the “stuff” is where you’ll really show what you’re made of, and how successful you’re going to be.


We’ve all know Negative Nellies in our lives – and have tried to avoid them as much as possible. They’re the ones who walk around like Eeyore, always seeing the cloud instead of the silver lining. And they can bring you down with negative talk.

With all the politics, social media trolls, and economic dips, we have had our fill of negative vibes bombarding us. It’s hard not to lose a positive outlook with all that coming at you. And the worst part is, once you get sucked into that sad spiral, it’s hard to get back out of it. In fact, studies by Johns Hopkins show that negativity is actually a habit, and it’s not easy to break.


Negativity can take your focus off of what needs to be done, which can lead to procrastination and dropping the ball for your clients. It can also keep you from finding solutions to problems, or from coming up with good ideas to improve the bottom line. And we all know what a bad attitude can do for your customer service. This is one place where you really can’t fake it, either. That negative outlook will show through, no matter how you try to hide it.

That doesn’t mean you have to be a Pollyanna about everything either, but having a positive outlook is a proven strategy for success in business. So how can you keep your sunny mood intact? Well first of all, don’t let others rain on your parade. If you have an employee with a bad attitude, they either need to change or they need to go. And that goes for other people who are sucking the energy out of you. Avoid them at all costs.


Remember what you’re doing this for. Remind yourself of what you feel passionate about in your business, and think about how all your hard work will pay off for you and your family. And feel gratitude for what you have, even the smallest things. I keep a gratitude journal every single day so I can stay focused on how much I have, rather than on what I don’t have.

Do whatever it takes to keep that positive attitude once you have it. Harvard studies have shown that positivity in business can reduce stress, spark new ideas, make you super creative, improve your time management, and help you make sales. Isn’t that what we all want in business?

So turn off the news for a day, stop reading those offensive comments on Facebook, and smile at someone you don’t know. You’ll be surprised at how good you feel!

Cheerfully yours,






Saturday’s Secret Sauce: Cluttered Life, Cluttered Mind

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I just spent a week doing manual labor. Yep, I worked my Spring Break away doing Spring Cleaning and I may be a bit tired but I feel so energized! Thanks to the help of my super-duper packer Amy, we opened EVERY single box of my belongings that is stored while we are renovating our home and I purged about half or more of those items.  Amy then repacked the things that made the cut so they are ready for my move in a few weeks. Plus, they are all organized by which room they will live in at the newly remodeled house.

I then headed back to my condo and I cleaned out and organized all our closets, drawers, and discarded many things I don’t need from our kitchen. We are living with what we thought was the bare minimum in our condo during our renovation. Still, I was able to get rid of many boxes of things we have hardly used while we have been here for the last 7 months.


This sort of organizing isn’t unusual for me. Typically, I clean out and discard more than once a year in smaller ways and at least 1 BIG purge every year or two. It brings me joy. I did a huge week of organizing before we moved out of our last house two years ago and then got rid of a lot when we moved out of our current house back in the fall to start the renovation. But this time, the organizing was different thanks my learning the Kon Mari method designed by Marie Kondo. Last weekend leading up to my planned Spring Break Organizing Extravaganza, I read The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up and it’s sequel, Spark Joy. I have had these books on my kindle for a while, but I am SO thankful that I made time to read them before I tackled my belongings this week.4

Yes, I am an organized person for sure. I love to have a place for everything and everything in it’s place. I even splurged extra cabinetry in my remodel because I would rather have built-in storage that functions perfectly, than spend that same amount of money or more, on furniture and organizing gadgets that are far less functional when it comes to storing and organizing our belongings.

But now that I used the Kon Mari method (soon to be paired with my dreamy new cabinetry and closets), my yearly purging may get to be a thing of the past! Yes, Marie Kondo says that if you use her concept of only keeping things that truly “Spark Joy” in your life, that you will never again lose control of your home and your things. And you won’t have to waste precious time organizing in the future.


I have to admit, I can already tell a difference in my thinking. I am much more hesitant to buy things that I don’t TRULY love, because I don’t want to have to find a place for them. I also really enjoyed touching everything I own last week, deciding which things to keep, and making plans for storing those items in a place where I can get to them easily. I have confidence that I will actually use everything I kept and not just for special occasions.


Can you imagine this kind of organizing in your life? The interesting thing is that we are creatures of habit and we tend to use and wear the same things over and over. So it’s really sensible to use Marie’s method of getting rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. She warns you of the “I might need this one day” way of thinking. And she’s right. Why keep random tools, gadgets, kitchen items or clothing and store them for 2, 6, or even 14 years on the off chance you may need it. She reminds us that if we do, many times we won’t be able to find what we need when we need it anyway, and we would just go buy a replacement. So why not trust getting rid of things now, since we will probably buy what we need later if a need arises. This way of thinking can free us of years of storing things and surrounding ourselves with clutter for not much benefit or more likely, to our detriment. And It’s probably not even a cost savings to have it on hand for a “once every 10 year use”, right?


I don’t know about you, but clutter makes me crazy. And even if you think things bring you comfort, what if you are wrong? What if the stress, anxiety, and tension in your life could be eliminated by removing the “things” that don’t bring you joy and that clutter your home and your mind. Wouldn’t you be happier if you could always find what you were looking for in your home? Think of how much time and energy you would save.


When I have physical clutter in my life, it equals mental clutter for me. And I don’t like that. I prefer to be sharp and focused so I can be my best every day. And when my home is tidy, I enjoy it and my family so much more. Plus I find myself going the extra mile to do other things that bring me peace and joy, like lighting a candle or bringing home fresh flowers, cooking home-made meals, and sitting down at the table together as a family. This all happens more when my home is beautiful and tidy and clean. It’s important. And it nurtures me. It fills me up.


Honestly, nothing makes me happier than being completely organized and knowing where all my things are for living, entertaining, and traveling. In my mid 20’s I had a time when I let things get a bit out of control for me with my closets. And one day after spending what seemed like an hour but was probably 5-10 minutes looking for the mate to one of my shoes, I swore I would never again get that stressed out just trying to get dressed for work. So I got organized.


But the last 2 years while we were living in our newly purchased home that was dated and in dire need of renovation (but waiting for me to have time in my schedule to take on the project), I was reminded of how stressful and depressing a disorganized and dysfunctional home can be. We had old cabinetry without adjustable shelves that our dishes would hardly fit in. We had a giant garden tub that could fit 10 people, but a tiny master bedroom closet with only room for my husband’s things. I stored all my clothes upstairs but slept downstairs. My daughter’s room had no storage to speak of, so the corners were constantly stacked with toys and stuffed animals and art supplies and clutter. Many days this lack of design and function made me want to SCREAM!

But it also made me aware of and grateful for the peace of mind that a well-designed and organized home can bring. Interior Designers and Organizers are NOT a luxury. They are an investment in quality of life.


And now thanks to Marie Kondo, I have taken my organizing habits to a higher level than ever before. And while I haven’t moved out of our temporary condo living, I am already feeling the pleasure of my hard work. I lay in bed at night dreaming of how much easier it will be to get moved back into our home. I smile at the thought of enjoying all my favorite design books in my new study, all my gadgets and tools in my organized kitchen and easily setting the table to entertain friends in the dining room. And even better, I dream of my new closet (that’s not that big, but is downstairs off my bedroom) being just the perfect size for all my things.


So I believe that being organized is the secret sauce to a well-lived and stress-free life. I agree with Marie Kondo that tidying up is truly life-changing and magical. And I hope you will try it for yourself. I know it will be life-changing for you too.

Happy Spring Cleaning Friends and Happy Easter! xo,

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