New House Diary: Master Bathroom and Closet Layout

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New House Diary

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m probably as excited about the new master bathroom and closets in my home remodel as I am about any of the other renovated rooms! Okay, I’m also equally excited about the kitchen, but I cannot wait to have a new bath and closet! When you see the layout of these spaces before we started, you’ll see exactly why this is so exciting.

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The layout of the bathroom was so awkward before. There was a HUGE cultured marble tub (so big the water would be cold by the time you filled it enough to get in), a tiny linen closet, a small shower with a low ceiling, and a lot of wasted space in front of the toilet. There was one tiny master closet that my husband has been using since we moved in, while I trekked upstairs to dress everyday. One of my least favorite parts about this room is that there was no natural light – not a single window in there. So it often felt dreary and disconnected from the world outside.

And there was also a very dysfunctional mudroom backing up to the bathroom linen closet with a countertop that became a catch-all for everything that came in the back door. Plus the mudroom had a lot of wasted floor space. The areas just weren’t functional, and I knew that we could take these same spaces and really make them work for the master suite I had in mind.

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And though many of the key elements in the new design stayed in the same general area as before, there is so much more to love in the new floorplan above! Now don’t get me wrong, like a lot of remodels, and unlike building a new home or adding on, these spaces are not huge. But I don’t need a huge house, I need a functional one. I don’t keep things I don’t use. I am not sentimental about “stuff.” Plus I am super-organized. And as you can see, I  took in the former mudroom and created a second closet that will be one of my tools for organization! So, lucky for me, no more traipsing upstairs every morning.

Now every square inch makes much more sense! There is a bigger shower with a full-height ceiling, a very functional Kohler soaking tub with some fun bells and whistles, and even a new window between the shower and the toilet. I am thrilled to let in more natural light! Plus I reduced the depth of the toilet room and can now have a closet backing up to it on the bedroom side for more storage and organization. And I added a wall at the end of my vanity for electrical outlets and a make-up mirror. We only had one outlet before and it was on my husband’s end of the cabinet. It drove us both nuts!

You might notice I lost the linen closet to gain my clothes closet. Definitely worth it to me, but I had to get creative for linen storage. So I am making a good-sized cabinet over the toilet for extra storage of towels and other necessities. And we have 6 wide drawers in the vanity design instead of doors, and some of those will be used for towel storage, too.

The completed bathroom and closet are going from hardly working to fabulously organized. And as you know, nothing makes me happier than that!

So what do you think of the new layout? Let me know in the comments section below. Meanwhile, I think I’ll go by and take another look at my favorite space and check on the progress!








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Designing a Kitchen that Works for You

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Tobi Fairley Kitchen 4

The one room of a house that people ask me about most is the kitchen. Kitchen design is a real art – and function is the most critical part of the equation. Having a kitchen that works for you is even more important at this time of year, when you have holiday dinners to plan and treats to prepare.

You really have to have a kitchen that fits your cooking style, and that can be different for each person. Some people like to entertain, but not necessarily create their own dishes. And still others would prefer to cook and bake all day long. To design a kitchen that’s perfect for YOU, here are a few of my favorite tips:

Function First. Too often people jump right into the color of the cabinets and the type of flooring without really considering the layout and function of the kitchen. You’ve probably heard about the “triangle” that’s suggested for efficient work spaces, and you do need to minimize the length between the stove, sink, and refrigerator so your kitchen really works for you. It’s a classic design layout for a reason!

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Invest Wisely. Kitchens can be incredibly expensive depending on the materials and options that you choose. You should use your budget as wisely as possible to get the most for your money. I always advise my clients to invest in appliances first – they are the workhorses of the kitchen, so get the very best quality you can afford. My partner company Thermador, for example, has outstanding products that offer innovative ideas for real cooks. They are an investment but if you really are going to be using them daily, they are so worth it!


Cabinetry Counts. The second most important thing to invest in would be your cabinetry so it will stand up to the daily wear-and-tear that comes in a kitchen. One trick that I think is key for a functional kitchen is to be sure the cabinets go all the way up to the the ceiling. You want to take advantage of every square inch of storage, and having an open space between your cabinets and the ceiling does nothing for you but gather dust! A great step stool, or library ladder, will help you reach those top shelves.

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Remember the Details. Too often, those little details can spell big trouble if you don’t consider them at the beginning of the design process. For example, where will you store the garbage cans? Where do you need extra outlets? You should also think about how you use your kitchen and what details would be key for you. You could have a storage drawer for baking essentials, counters near wall ovens for placing hot dishes right out of the oven, or even pull-out baskets for fruits and vegetables. Those details will make all the difference.

Tobi Fairley Kitchen 3

Lighting! This is the one thing that people often don’t plan correctly in the beginning, and then have to try to correct later. Lighting is critical to a great functioning kitchen. Remember to think about where you need task lighting, how many overhead lights you want, and where you may also need under-the-counter lights and if you want any of these on a dimmer.

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Investing in your kitchen is a wise decision! So use these tips and ideas to get the most out of your investment, and to give yourself a gorgeous and functional kitchen for years to come.








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Tobi TV: The Importance of Lighting

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Lighting is one of the most important things to think about when you’re creating a functional home. You need to consider every task that will happen and the mood you want to create for each room, and then ensure that you have lamps and layers of lighting fixtures that fit all those needs!

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The right light can cast the perfect glow in a room, but the wrong one can drive you crazy. So let’s take a look at a few of my bright ideas for lighting up your home:

Now you can see how lighting can really make a difference! Let’s review those tips one more time:

1. Light is so important in a kitchen, especially over any work surface, like an island. Pendants direct a lot of light, so I love to use them wherever tasks and preparations are critical.

2. In a living area like a family room, light for things like reading and needlework needs to be brighter. But you also need softer lighting for watching TV, talking with friends and family, or to create a quieter mood.

3. Bedside lighting is really important in a bedroom, particularly if you like to read in bed. And be sure that light is within easy reach! I love swing arms lamps for this reason because they can pull over for the perfect placement.

4. In a dining room, I like to provide a chandelier over the table that will light up the table when dining. But don’t forget to put it on a dimmer. And I also love to use lamps on a sideboard for a softer glow.

5. In the bathroom, you want to have plenty of bright light to help with makeup application and getting ready to head out for your day. But be careful not to place a light directly over your head! It’s too harsh and will cast unflattering shadows.

I hope these tips have helped you see the light! This is one time when you really do want to steer clear of the “dark side!”








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Hard Work Pays Off

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People often ask me how I’ve achieved so many of the things that I’ve done – many times they seem to be looking for some sort of “secret sauce” that will help them get to the goals they’ve set for themselves. But I can honestly tell you that there isn’t any sort of secret. It’s just hard work!

No one really wants to hear that, but it’s true. Every designer that you see achieving something right now in our industry – whether it’s a book, a licensed product line, an award, a successful shop, or a speaking engagement – has worked really hard for it. Harder than you can imagine. But the rewards can be great and, for me, fulfilling my dreams is the ultimate reward!


The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone is one of my absolute favorite books. I think I’ve read it at least 3 times and I find something different (and profound) each time. In the book, Cardone says that the only difference between success and failure is trying hard – 10 times as hard! Whatever goals you currently have for yourself, Cardone says you should multiple that by 10. Go 10 times higher than what you think you are capable of achieving. And as he says, if you stop limiting yourself, you will be surprised by what you’re truly capable of. Our targets are often too low – and that causes us to underestimate ourselves and our potential. We need to set goals 10x higher to actually reach them!


But where Cardone really strikes a chord with me is when he talks about action. Massive action! The 10x rule means that you need to take 10x MORE action than what you’re taking at this very moment. If you usually make 5 sales calls to potential clients per day, start making 50. If you have as your goal to make $100,000 this year, reset that goal to $1,000,000! And he doesn’t just mean a pie-in-the-sky, arbitrary increase in your goals, but rather a plan with specific action steps laid out to actually get to the goal that is 10 times what you were originally thinking. And yes, I can already hear you saying: “I don’t have time to make 50 calls a day.” And you know what? That’s an excuse. You do if you really want to. You do if you cut out all the things in your daily life that aren’t getting you closer to your goals.

Yes, excuses rear their ugly heads all the time. We make excuses for our families, our businesses, and ourselves. Or negative self-talk and limiting beliefs lead to excuses, which lead to failure to meet our goals. Excuses are simply a way for us to justify our lack of performance. Excuses are our way of procrastinating the hard work required to reach our goals. And yes, the hard work can be painful. Only the few who really are determined will reach their potential. As they say, if it were easy, everyone would do it. But we know that not everyone does. Do you want to be one of the very few who actually make it to their ultimate goals and dreams? Then stop making excuses and start making a plan!

Tim Notke

The more action you’re taking, the closer you will be to your success. It’s time to raise your standards. Again, stop limiting yourself – you’re capable of SO much more! What is it you’re working on right now that you can take MASSIVE action on? You have to get rid of excuses, set your sights high, and TAKE ACTION!

And be ready. This isn’t a life of leisure. You’re not going to have that 50-50 balance. You may feel like you are missing out on things. But if it’s your passion to reach your dreams, then this path is right for you. The rewards are great, but so is the hard work.

There is no such thing as “get rich quick” in this, or any other, business. And there are no shortcuts. You just have to get focused and do the work! So if you are still sitting there waiting for the shortcut, stop NOW! Commit to the hard work. Ask yourself what are you wasting time on (and you know you are). Cut that out so you can focus on the actions and activities that will you get you to your goals! Ask yourself what you should say no to so you can say YES to the things you really want in life. That means saying no to many, many more things than you say yes to.

I know you can do this IF you want it bad enough. Do you want it?

Go for it!








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Before and After: A Bright Family Room

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I love working with a client who isn’t afraid of color, and who embraces the idea of bold patterns and color combinations! This client’s family room was already making a strong statement, since it was wrapped in a dramatic red from top to bottom.

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However, the deep red really darkened the room and was too much contrast against the white trim. Another tricky part of about the before (above) was an error that a lot of people make in their rooms, which is that the rug is too small for the space. And a small rug has a way of dictating your furniture placement, so that oftentimes people are only using a small portion of the room. That was definitely the case in this room where two sofas were floating in the middle of the space and seating was VERY limited.

Now we have a sectional, two lounge chairs, a large round ottoman, a wing chair, two banquettes (one with a game table) and some floating ottomans. Talk about a place to entertain friends and family!

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In the After photo above, a lighter and more neutral paint brings fabulous light into the room, and acts as great backdrop for the bold jewel-toned colors of the upholstery and the art. And a fun patterned rug now fills the space nicely!

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Before, the furniture was all either sitting in the center of the room as I mentioned, or was pushed to the corners and walls. It didn’t use the space well and it actually made the room seem smaller. And the clients are avid art collectors and their pieces didn’t show up at all in the dark red room. Now the art is what really brings this space to life!

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The reworked room seems much bigger with the new furniture layout, and I added two fabulous banquettes flanking the fireplace to create a great reading nook on the left and a dining or game area with a table on the right. In the finished design, my clients still had the color and “wow factor” that they wanted, but in a lighter and more cohesive look!

So what do you think of this colorful before-and-after? Let me know in the comments section below! Isn’t that acid yellow ceiling a kick? I love how it draws the eye up!

Look for more before-and-afters in the coming weeks!









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