Archive for March, 2017

Before and After: Fresh Formal Dining Room

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There’s a debate with consumers today about whether formal dining rooms are still needed because there are so many people who never use them.  But I believe that if you love to entertain, or you have a big family, a separate dining room is a must! For my farmhouse project that was just featured in Traditional Home magazine, this large family definitely wanted a room that would accommodate everyone, as well as guests. And since this home was a new build, we were able to design exactly what they needed, from the ground up!

I loved the paneling and molding that we installed in this room. It really gave it a traditional look, like a home that has a long history and a story to tell.

We added an alcove area that would hold a sideboard and a gorgeous piece of art. When you’re building a new house, you really do have the ability to put in every detail that you want, which is so much fun for me as a designer!

To keep the room from being too stuffy and formal, I drenched the space in a fresh aqua color. I like to tell a color story throughout the house, and this lovely hue is featured in several nearby rooms, so it creates a great feeling of continuity from space to space.

Finally, I added in a deep chocolate brown to balance the aqua, and put in a few country details like the gingham and the florals as a nod to this modern farmhouse design.

So what do you think of the minty-fresh dining room? Do you still use your formal dining room? Tell me why or why not in the comments section below!







Tobi TV: 6 Ideas for Fabulous Architectural Details

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If you’re working on a new build or a major renovation of your house, adding fabulous architectural details can not only help you get the bones of your home right, it can add a lot of value to the house!

My project in the April issue of Traditional Home was a brand new build, so we had a great opportunity to work with the architect and contractor to bring in some terrific features and ideas to complement and enhance the farmhouse design. If you’re interested in adding special details in your home, consider these ideas:

Isn’t that a beautiful home? Let’s review those ideas for adding architectural details:

1. Reclaimed beams are a great environmentally-friendly idea, but they also add a stunning look to a room!

2. Creating a checkerboard pattern (or other pattern) with different wood tones creates a floor so gorgeous that you don’t even need to cover it with a rug. It’s pretty and tidy!

3. I used old barnwood in the master bedroom, but ran it horizontally on the walls to be a bit more modern and painted it with a creamy tone to really enhance the farmhouse style!

4. Paneled doorways and a coffered ceiling added luxe design details in the formal living room and around the home.

5. For a little whimsy, I used the “silhouette” of a baluster to turn this stair railing into a fun architectural feature instead of typical stair style.

6. In the entry, the architect suggested an oval window and I loved it! Adding panel molding not dresses it up with more character and makes the home feel like it’s old and charming.

As famed architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe once said, “God is in the details” and I agree it’s the details that make a difference when you’re designing a home. What architectural features are your favorites? Let me know in the comments section below!







4 Things A Small Business CEO Must Do

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Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for years, we all know how stressful owning a business can be. Not only are we the creative engine, but also we’re the CEOs of the company. We have to handle the financials, the employees, our brands, our home life, and try to fit some creative thinking in there somewhere and that doesn’t even leave space for self-care and health, which needs to be our top priority if we want to have the stamina to run our company! So how in the world can we make it all happen? We can’t. But there are a lot of things we CAN do!

Too often, owners of creative businesses forget that they are in business, not just having fun with a hobby. You have to commit to that idea of having a real business – even if you may have started your business as a side job to begin with. You are the CEO of a company – say that to yourself over and over. Take it very seriously, let it sink in. Many times our businesses start to take off but we are still thinking of ourselves as a “little business owner” and we have to step into the shoes of CEO and own all that comes with that if we really want to make money.

It’s tough to be an entrepreneur and a small-business owner. Most of us get into this business by focusing on the parts we love, and putting the not-so-fun things off as long as possible. The part we don’t focus on, in most cases, is the enormous amount of hard work, of tough financial times, and of serious business management that it takes to be a CEO. So how can you act like a CEO? Here are 4 critical ways:

  1. You have to have a business plan. Do you have one? Even if you started without one, it’s never too late to create one and start making shifts in your business to align with it. In fact, sometimes its better to try your business for a bit first to get some clarity and then come back and write it. That way you have more information on what you want and what your consumers seem to be interested in.
  2. You have to pay yourself – what business leader or successful CEO do you know that works basically for free?
  3. You have to be clear on the goals you’ve set for your company and how you will achieve them. This means starting with your Why, then moving to your What and then creating a list of steps that are your How. And please put timelines on these goals for some accountability.
  4. And you must set the financial benchmarks that your company has to hit to be profitable. If you don’t know what that is, then you don’t have your finances in order.

I can hear you saying: “Wait a minute, I just want to be creative and showcase my talents for the world. I don’t like all of the talk about working on financials or focusing on marketing. Where’s the fun in that?!” Business can be fun – but only if you aren’t constantly stressing about money or where your next client is coming from. And that takes hard work. It takes being a CEO! In fact, having all of that “hard stuff” taken care of gives you the freedom to focus on the things that are essential to making you happy and giving you more control over your life.

The reality is that in any business, creative or otherwise, a good 80% of your time will be spent on things that are not necessarily at the heart of the reason you started your company in the first place. At least until you get all that working like clockwork.  You’ll be managing your business, working to attract new clients and customers, researching new revenue streams, and taking a hard look at your financials. If that doesn’t sound like something you can do (or will do), then you might want to think about working for another person or at a larger company. That isn’t a knock on you! It really is a decision you might want to make for your overall happiness. Not everyone is cut out to be a business owner and especially a CEO.

Taking these 4 critical steps is the reality of owning a successful business–one that makes you the money you dream of. Being profitable, really profitable, is not a hobby or something that you can do halfheartedly. And yes, you can hire people to do some of that work (or outsource the work preferably), but that never excuses you from knowing every detail of your company at any given moment. YOU are the CEO.

I’m giving you this reality check because we need to take ourselves, and our business goals seriously. Think of yourself and your company as a start-up that is every bit as important as a Fortune 500 business and one day it may be one. The CEO’s vision and commitment are critical to the path that gets a company onto that list – and your vision and commitment are critical to the success of your own company. If you have that great framework in place, you can build the business of your dreams!

And when you get the foundation of your business and your finances in place, then you can start to prioritize and adjust things so you have a life again, so you take care of yourself and so that your business is really fulfilling not just financially but emotionally.

So are you running your business like a business or a hobby? What areas are you not serious about or are you hiding from? Finances? Client Development? Other areas?

If things are running well and you’re making money, what will you do next? I’ve made a lot of BIG decisions this year so I’ll be a happier, healthier, and more fulfilled CEO. Have you made any big leaps like that? Let me know in the comments section below!






If you need help in your finances, check out my Financials for Creatives E-course. If you are a Designer or Creative my online Designer MBA E-course or my  live version of Designer MBA course coming up in California this May will help you get the foundation of your business in shape and ready to become really profitable. And if you want one on one help, consider a strategy day with me where we dig into the details of your business together and make a plan to create the business and life you dream of!


Before and After: A Country-Chic Family Room

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One of my favorite gathering spaces in a home is a family room – especially when there’s plenty of seating for everyone in the family! In my farmhouse project – featured in the April issue of Traditional Home – I wanted my client’s large family to feel right at home in a chic and sophisticated country space.

One of the first elements to go into this gorgeous space were reclaimed beams for the ceiling and big beautiful windows that would take in all of the natural light. I loved working with architect Carolyn Lindsey of Yeary-Lindsey Architects on this project. She helped make these architectural details a reality.

Above is another view of those beams after they got their gorgeous stain application. Against that off-white ceiling, they aren’t just playing a starring role, they are really the star of this room!

The navy and cream palette was highlighted by touches of red, which is also a color I included in the connecting kitchen and breakfast area.

And we built a natural stone fireplace that also helps bring the outdoors in, and adds a chic country style to the room.

Because a big family can also mean lots of games and toys, I also had cabinets built in on either side of the fireplace to help hide any clutter.

What do you think of this big and beautiful family room? I like that it makes a grand statement, but still feels cozy and welcoming for family and friends! Tell me what you think in the comments section below!