4 Ideas for Metropolitan Style

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Modern design enthusiasts may think they will only find “big city” style in places like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago. But you can get the chic and sleek look you crave, no matter where you live.

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Right here in Little Rock, Ark., I harnessed that city style for my Riverside Penthouse project, and I’m going to show you exactly how you can use these ideas to give your space a modern look and feel.

That entryway is metro marvelous! Here’s another look at a few tips that will give you a lot of big city style:

  1. Think glam: A velvet and vinyl banquette will definitely add that sophisticated city look to your home. It’s perfect for entertaining or having a few friends over for cocktails.
  2. A gorgeous marbelized wall covering in every shade of blue from cobalt to ink will make your space feel penthouse perfect. And it offers ready-made art, as well!
  3. Black-and-white striped marble floors would make a jailhouse rock – and the high-gloss makes them super-chic.
  4. Blue suede doors would make Elvis proud – add some glass doorknobs and they are definitely fit for a King.

A great city view is a bonus, but even if you live in the suburbs, these tips will help you feel like you’re living large in the big city.

Stay colorful!

xo,

 

 

 

 

 

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Are You Listening?

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Have you ever gone to a party and found yourself drawn to person you’ve never met before, who seemed to be completely interested in you and everything you had to say? It’s like finding a new best friend, someone you seem to click with right away. That person usually only did one simple thing that made you feel special – they listened to you.

Listening seems to be a dying art. In today’s world of social media, oversharing, and selfies, we may be turning into people who want to showcase ourselves, but never really invest the time in learning about others. That can hurt us in our personal lives and in our professional careers. And if you’re want to turn things around in your business, this is one of the simplest things you can do that I promise will pay off. LISTEN.

As an extrovert myself, that’s something I definitely had to work on in my own life and career. Early in my design business, I had so many ideas and thoughts that I wanted to share them immediately with my clients, without actually giving them the space and time to tell me what they wanted and needed. I once even had a client say, “Are you listening to me?” before I actually slowed down and thought about how this was impacting me and my business. Now with 17 years of experience, I’ve learned to ask a lot of questions and to really and truly listen to what the other person is saying. It’s made a huge difference in my design work, and in my business as a whole. Who am I kidding – it’s helped my personal life, too!

It’s critical to focus on what another person is telling us. It does more than just make them feel important – you can learn so much about the other person and what they need. But you are also giving them a great customer service experience that will improve your bottom line. After all, according to Jonah Berger in his book Contagious, when people talk about themselves and are given the opportunity to share opinions, it activates their brains like a reward does, like when they are given food or money. And all of those chemicals that make them feel good are giving them a really good feeling about YOU.

Remember though, you can’t sit there thinking about what you’re going to say next while you’re supposedly listening to that other person. You have to really hear them, take in everything they are actually saying, as well as their body language and non-verbal cues. You want to lean in, to ask questions at the appropriate time, and to give them the spotlight that they want and deserve. Imagine what a different world we might have today if we spent more time focusing on someone else rather than taking yet another selfie.

Instead of being selfish with your time and attention, learn to give it away freely and openly. It will make you a better person, a better customer service provider, and a much more effective businessperson!

What do think of this simple but radical idea? Let me know in the comments section below. I’m listening!

xo,

 

 

 

 

 

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Before and After: Making an Entrance

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I love a good entrance, especially one that makes a fabulous first impression! The entry to a home is like an appetizer for the gorgeous rooms you’re about to see. So in my farmhouse project, recently featured in Traditional Home, I wanted to set the tone here for the rest of the home. This is a farmhouse, but it’s a chic one that’s family friendly, too. That’s why I did a checkerboard pattern on the entry floor instead of a rug – it’s a gorgeous design, but it’s also easier with kids running in and out all day.

This house was a new build, so I was able to add a lot of the traditional elements you might see in a much-older Southern farmhouse, like the molding details, and the fun oval window on the stairs. I love the shape, and it adds so much light.

And here is also where I started using the lovely aqua that you see throughout this home. It not only envelopes the front door, but it’s also painted on the ceiling of the front porch. A blue color on the porch ceiling is a big tradition in the South!

You can see here how I also introduced subtle farmhouse details, like gingham on the chair and stair runner, a traditional balustrade, and a vintage wooden horse.

This corner right behind the door will give guests a view into the dining room, too, so I wanted to give it a bit of punch and also tie the entry into the adjoining room’s decor.

I did that by introducing the chocolate brown that’s another signature color in this home’s palette. And I used a fabulous painting of an old farmhouse with a tin roof as a nod to the history of this family and their own modern-day farm.

What do you think of this fun entrance? And what does your home’s entry say to visitors? Let me know in the comments section below!

xo,

 

 

 

 

 

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Tobi TV: 5 Tips for Family-Friendly Gathering Spaces

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I love creating spaces where people can gather and visit…it must be the Southern girl in me! And in my farmhouse project – featured on the April cover of Traditional Home – I wanted to give my clients several family-friendly rooms that would be perfect for their large family gatherings!

I have a few tricks for making sure everyone in the family feels comfortable and welcome, and I put them together in a fun Tip Clip for Traditional Home, so let’s take a look:

See how just a few thoughtful touches can make all the difference in a family-friendly space? Let’s review those ideas one more time:

1. The biggest key is to be sure you have lots of seating that can accommodate everyone, including some fabulous swivel chairs that will let people watch TV and still have conversations with others in the room.

2. When you have a lot of kids, you know that games and toys can accumulate, right? So I like to provide cabinetry where those things can be tucked away when guests are expected.

3. Multifunctional furniture is a great way to welcome everyone – like a coffee table that adjusts from a drinks height to a game-table height!

4. Even in formal spaces like a living room you can keep things welcoming for little ones, like using family-friendly fabrics that can stand up to spills and messes. There’s no need to keep anyone out of a room like this!

5. To let your spaces move between entertaining and family time, you can hide the TV away behind a screen like the one I created with wall art. That lets the little ones know when TV time is over!

Try these tips in your home to make every family member feel welcome! And let me know what your ideas are for family-friendly spaces in the comments section below!

xo,

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Let Anyone Steal Your Joy

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This quote by Franklin Roosevelt is SO true, and something that I think about a lot. I recently had a consulting client tell me that she felt like such a failure because so many other designers had clients and were hugely successful with their businesses and she felt like they were in a totally different league. It was really paralyzing her from taking action towards her goals.  But when I asked her how exactly she knew that the other designers had so many clients and were “hugely successful,” she pointed to their social media and the posts that she was seeing there.

I have heard from so many designers who think they are a failure, and that everyone else out there is doing fantastically. They are comparing themselves to the perception of fame and fortune, but what is the reality? The reality is that everyone suffers failure in their businesses. Everyone – from the top of the heap on down. What you perceive to be a “huge success” could be just a designer trying to drum up more business for themselves.

Too often we are comparing ourselves with others, particularly those that from the outside look like they are rich, famous, in-demand, and busy. And I hope for all of our sakes, they are! But in reality they are likely facing the same business problems we are – maybe even on a grander scale and with more “zeros” behind the numbers.

In some ways social media has made all of this worse. Those fabulous posts from exotic trips on Instagram, the tweets about having lunch with a celebrity in our industry, and the Facebook posts about how amazing someone is – those can mislead us into thinking it’s all better for other people than it is for each one of us. I just want you to remember that you never know what’s going on behind the curtain, and that’s why it’s so dangerous for us to compare ourselves to others and to use that as a yardstick for our own success.

I’ve told you my history with failure and the stumbling blocks I’ve hit in my own business. Without those challenges, I honestly would not be where I am today. I had to fall down and learn how to pick myself back up. And I still face issues every single day – that’s the price of being a business owner.

But one thing that I do – or I should say that I DON’T do – is that I never compare myself and my business to someone else’s. I’ve seen too many designers who have fabulous public personas, but are really and truly struggling behind the scenes. On the flip side, there are plenty of others out there who are quietly making a lot of money while keeping out of the social media and publicity fray.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love social media. It has been largely responsible for helping me to build my brand and my business nationally and internationally. I love being inspired by others inside and outside of the design industry who are doing remarkable work and building very successful businesses. Seeing others success can often make me dig deeper to see what next steps are right for me. But it is honestly a waste of time to watch what other people are doing if you are going to let it unravel your plans and goals and if it is going to cause self-doubt and frustration to seep in. Social media never gives you the whole picture of what’s really going on behind the scenes. And comparing to this “version” of our industry for many people can wreck havoc on their business and personal success.

The other grass often looks greener from the side you’re standing on – but that doesn’t mean that what’s going on over on the other side of the fence is better or worse. It’s just different.

We can all have successes, we can all have great clients, and there’s room for all of us out there. But only if we are true to what our own individual business needs, if we work in our own personal “sweet spot” and only if we keep our eyes on our own prize – whatever that may be. Comparing yourself or your business to other people will only distract you from that.

So be careful looking around to see who you think is gaining or losing ground – just keep climbing for yourself. That’s what really matters.

xo,

 

 

 

 

 

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