Making a Grand Entrance

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I can’t believe I am saying this, but the holidays are here! And as you start welcoming guests into your home through the holiday season, you may start to take a good hard look at the entryway of your home. Is it welcoming? Is it a great first impression for the rest of your home?

I know you probably can’t remodel or redecorate it now and be ready in time for guests this holiday season, but you can start to think about how you would like to freshen it up so it will be “party ready” going forward into the new year.

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I like to think of an entry like a fabulous invitation to a great party – it sets the tone for what’s to come. And you know when you get the most fantastic invitation ever in the mail? If you’re like me, you sure don’t want to miss that soiree, now do you? In the same way, a gorgeous entryway is a great opportunity to showcase drama, whimsy, or a sophisticated viewpoint in your home, starting right at the front door and then by drawing people in.

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What can you do in your entry to really wow your guests? Think about it as another great place to showcase color and pattern, to make a bold statement. Entryways are the perfect place for dramatic wallpapers. And if there are stairs, a chic runner in a bold geometric or floral (or animal) print can be a great way to pump up the WOW factor.

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But don’t forget that the entry way is attached to other spaces in your home, so it needs to be cohesive with the design of those rooms, too. The entry needs to seamlessly flow into the adjoining spaces. The goal is to enhance the design of other rooms and not fight with them.

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And even if your goal is a beautiful and dramatic space, you can still offer plenty of function (you know function is one of MY main goals). So do this with tables, seating, closets and storage in your entryway if space allows.

And if you are still thinking that these are great ideas for an “after-holiday renovation,” but you want to make your guests feel excited about your entryway today, then be sure to use fresh flowers, gourds, or holiday greenery to make your entry festive and beautiful. There’s nothing I like more than gorgeous hydrangeas or tulips mixed with fresh pine and cedar. And for Thanksgiving, mixing in seasonal gourds and berries look so pretty. These natural elements bring a pop of color and smell oh-so good!

So what do you think?  Have I given you any ideas on how to make a great first impression in your home? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

And I wish you and yours a fantastic holiday with your family and friends!








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Tobi TV: Focusing on the “Fifth Wall”

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Too often in life, we forget to look UP! That’s true in design, too, when we forget about what I like to call the “fifth wall” in a room. Looking up to the ceiling can give you some fabulous design ideas.

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Using wallpaper, paint, beams, or other architectural details, you can create drama, open up a space, or bring more interest into a room. So what can you do with your ceilings? Here are some of my best tips:

That fifth wall really can do a number on a boring room, right? Let’s take a look at those ideas again:

1. Go bright. You can use a bright color to draw the eye up, which helps a small room feel bigger, or will help reflect more light throughout a space.

2. Pattern on the ceiling? Why not! Consider a painted pattern or wallpaper to give the room a visual punch!

3. Add architectural details. Coffers, beams, and moldings are great visual details that take a room from boring to WOW!

4. If you want to make a room seem cozier, color on a ceiling can be your solution. In one of my projects, I used a spring green on a beadboard ceiling to give a kitchen a welcoming feeling.

So now that you can see how important a ceiling can be to your room’s overall design, what ideas would you like to try? Let me know in the comments section below! And remember – things are looking up!








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Don’t Take It Personally

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There are so many business books that really speak to me and help me guide my company and career, but a few books that have made a huge impact on me are not what you would think of as a typical business book. One of them is The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz. In this tiny book, Ruiz says that we can find personal freedom by agreeing to live by four principles. They are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

Personal Freedom….now that’s one of my major goals! And I’m sure you can see how these four agreements apply to the business world, too. All of these agreements are hard to stick to, but the second agreement is the one that I think most people really struggle with. Whether it comes from a place of ego or a place of insecurity, so often we take things far too personally in our interactions with each other.


I see this happen a lot on social media. Someone will become offended by a Facebook post or a tweet, absolutely sure that it was aimed specifically at them, when often it was coincidence. Our egos get in the way, convinced that everything in the world really does revolve around us. And I hate to break it to us, but it doesn’t.

If you think about it, getting offended is a very self-centered response that doesn’t take other people’s perspectives into account. And studies prove that we’re often completely wrong in our assumptions of what other people are thinking or feeling about us. A University of Chicago study showed that when we try to predict what someone is thinking about us at any given moment, we’re only right 10% of the time.

Not only is taking things too personally bad for your day-t0-day happiness, it can also give you poor judgment in your business and can create conflict with people that you need to work well with. It can make you very ineffective as a leader and a partner, and most importantly, it makes you unhappy!

So how can you avoid taking things too personally? In an email or a spoken comment, don’t fire back immediately if you think you’re being insulted or slighted. Stop and think first. Take a breath and ask yourself if you could have misinterpreted what was said – it may not be what you thought.


And always try to think of the other person’s perspective. Each of us is caught up in our own lives, issues and concerns, and something we say can be a sign that we’re stressed or angry, and has nothing to do with the person we just unintentionally insulted.

If you find that someone truly is insulting you or doesn’t like you – so what? How does that really impact you and your business? One of my very favorite sayings is “What people think of you is none of your business!” And I even wrote one of my most popular blog posts on this very topic two years ago. You can check it out here!

So it’s true. Not everyone will like you in life and that’s ok. They don’t have to. Dwelling on the haters leaves you less time to concentrate on the people who care about you, and the business that you love. It can keep you from reaching your potential and living your dreams. And it’s not worth it. So as Taylor Swift says, “Shake it off!”

Do you take things too personally? Are you letting what people think of you keep you from reaching your dreams? Let me know in the comments section below, and tell me how you handle it or what you’re going to change to help you “shake it off.” I look forward to hearing from you!








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What Is That Color? Serene Gray

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There are certain photos in my portfolio that just seem to resonate with people. And this room from the Build for the Cure Showhouse a few years ago is one of them. It is consistently repinned on Pinterest and saved to idea books on Houzz. And one big reason is definitely the color – it’s Sherwin-Williams Pearl Gray, which helps give the room its a serene and calm vibe.

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The gray color has a green undertone, which gives the room that spa-like feeling. The white trim keeps the look crisp, and the combinations of gray, taupe, cream, and green in the fabrics makes a dreamy palette that’s perfect for a bedroom.

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You know you’ve achieved your interior design goal when you can evoke an emotional response with a room you’ve designed, so I’m thrilled that so many people love this space. It was especially important to have that happen in a project that was for such a good cause – finding a cure for breast cancer. I wanted this room to be a lovely retreat for anyone recovering from treatment, to help them find solace and hope in the light-filled space.

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Is there a color like this Pearl Gray that gives you an emotional response? Which one is it, and how does it make you feel? Let me know in the comments section below!

Colorfully yours,








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New House Diary: The Sunroom

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There is one room on the ground floor of my house that we haven’t talked about yet – the sunroom! It’s a long room on the back of the house, one step down from the kitchen and the living room. It lets in absolutely gorgeous light through a bank of windows across the back of the house that looks out onto the backyard and the pool.

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It’s a quirky spot, but a big space, too! And I thought a lot about how to use the room. Since it’s right off the pool area, I could see this being a great hangout for family and friends, particularly in the warmer months. But I debated with myself on several key design elements. For example, would I use a ceiling fan or not? Sometimes I prefer pretty lighting fixtures, but this room can get warm with all the sunlight, and it could be more efficient to cool with those fans – maybe with gorgeous lucite ones like I used in this project:

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The other debate is whether or not this room would have a TV. I joke with my friends that just about every room in our house has a TV right now, but isn’t that how we all use our homes? We use our televisions to stream movies, to watch sports, to play video games – and each of those activities could happen in a different room. There are many, many days I am in rooms in our house that I never turn the TV on, but when my husband is in those same rooms, he hardly turns it off. So having the option of TV seems to make the most sense for us both. And after all, he lives here, too!

Besides just the TV, I think this room could be a major “game room,” which could mean board games, football game days, or poolside fun days. So here is what I’m thinking as far as the layout:

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I am envisioning a game table in the part of the room nearest the living room doors, which could be used for crafts, homework, cards, or board games. It’s also going to be another dining space for holidays or events where my dining room won’t seat everyone. And as the centerpiece of this space, I’m thinking one of my great sectionals that I designed for CR Laine would make the perfect spot for watching sports on the weekends. The Taylor sectional with the chaise is SO COMFY. But I think I’ll do it without the buttons.

And that big rectangle by the windows? Well that’s my treadmill. Speaking of “That’s just the way we live,” I am one of the people that actually uses their treadmill all the time and it needs to be in a place where I want to be so I won’t want to skip my workouts. So for cold winter months or steamy summer days when the weather just isn’t right for my outdoor walks, I look at the pool while I sweat it out on my treadmill! Like TVs and ceiling fans, some things just don’t make sense to hide.

So what do you think of my casual hangout space? Let me know in the comments section below! I can’t wait for it to be done so my family can start having fun in this great sunroom!








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