Redesigning for Lucy and Ricky – and Country Living

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Country Living magazine recently asked several interior designers to redecorate living rooms from classic television shows – and I got I Love Lucy! I was so excited to tackle Ricky and Lucy’s New York apartment!

The instructions were that we needed to reimagine the space in a more modern way, and in a way that would appeal to the Country Living reader. It was fun to look at the old photographs of the I Love Lucy set and to research a little about why the apartment was designed that way. I learned that the apartment was described as “modest,” because Ricky was just getting his start as a bandleader on the show. A fun fact was that the original living room didn’t have a window – that was added when Lucy and Ricky moved to a bigger apartment on the show because she was pregnant with Little Ricky.


I also found out some other interesting facts, like that the sets were designed in colors that worked best for contrast because the show was originally filmed in black and white. So the strange pink walls, navy sofa, and red drapes may not look like they coordinate that well in the color photo I worked from, but they definitely translated well on those old B&W TVs!

The other great part of this project is that we were treating it as if Ricky and Lucy ordered one of my Inbox Interiors designs. Inbox Interiors is my e-design service that allows a client to send me photos, room measurements, and inspiration ideas and then my team designs a room for them, and gives them all of the sources they need to recreate that design in their home! It’s for people who want that “Tobi Fairley look,” but for a smaller budget than what’s called for in my full-service design.

So in the Country Living feature, I provided all of the resources and specifications so that Ricky and Lucy (in this example) could make over their living room with a fresh and modern look!

TOBI FAIRLEY - Final Sketch Rendering copy

I gave them a graphic black-and-white design for the walls, which is a nod to the black-and-white show, and that contrast also gives the room a new sophistication. I also love the midcentury modern style of the original set, so you’ll see that in the sofa design, too. Another homage to the original I Love Lucy show is the polka dot pattern on the pillows, which was inspired by Lucy’s iconic dresses. No home today is complete without a desk for laptops and other technology, so we replaced the original piano with a desk. And of course if it’s my design there has to be color, so we brought in pops of coral to give this New York apartment a fresh update.

So what do you think of my redesign for the I Love Lucy living room? Note the before photo at the beginning of this post with Lucy, Ethel, and Ricky in the space. The transformation is pretty good on a small budget I think. And I had a blast creating it, and I hope you’ll go to Country Living’s site to see the other fun rooms from other interior designers. And if you’d like to find out how to get your own Inbox Interiors, just click here!

Happy weekend!









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Self-care Saturday: Is Instant Gratification Getting a Bad Rap?

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I hope you all got lots of treats for Halloween. You deserve them. We all do. I am a big believer that every day is a special occasion not just holidays or our birthday. I never save the good china just for Christmas. We drink out of Reidel wine glasses in my office just for sparkling water. My family uses real napkins that are washed and ironed for our daily meals. It’s these little things that make me feel happy and nurtured.


And this gets me to thinking about the idea of instant gratification. There is so much talk about our “instant gratification society”. We have been hearing for a decade that no one is willing to work for things, they want it now. And believe me, I understand this concept so well. In fact I think my parents may have ingrained working a bit too hard in my mind. There is nothing that I REALLY want in life that I am not willing to work hard for and be patient. A hard worker is really who I am at the core. But I think sometimes work-a-holics like me need to take a lesson from some of those instant gratification lovers out there.  We can be happy along the way if we allow some pleasure to come in. As they say “Happiness is not a destination, it’s a way of life” and “Don’t look for Happiness, Create it!” I don’t know about you but there are some things that give me instant gratification AND instant happiness. And I think I need a bit more of them in my life.


Sometimes it’s saying no that gives us instant gratification, right? Saying no to some people and some things that really aren’t moving us any closer to our goals or making us happy. Sometimes we’d be better off without them and making a change or removing that item from our list gives us instant relief. It’s like a one hundred pound weight has been lifted not by doing something but by NOT doing something. Like instant gratification, quitting isn’t always bad. Sometimes it’s the very thing that makes us happy. In her book Thrive, Arianna Huffington said one of the most important things she ever did was to finally admit a lot of the things on her bucket list she didn’t really want–learning to ski, to paint, to play the piano–and just crossing them off her list made all the difference. WOW, talk about instant gratification!


Other times it’s that we know what makes us feel good and happy but we don’t think we deserve it or we feel guilty buying it or doing it. A day off work just because, an afternoon at the spa, buying a new bag or pair of shoes, getting a sitter for our kids while we take a yoga class. Instant gratification with no guilt–now that’s real pleasure, isn’t it? And it can really give us a boost we need to be a better mom, wife, employee, boss. I think this is the good side of instant gratification that no one is talking about. One hour of self-care=instant gratification=more productivity for an entire week=happy!


It’s the simple things in life, right? We know this and it’s exactly what I’m talking about. A Bike ride on a Fall day–instant gratification!


Or listening to a Spring Rain with the Windows Open while you work from home instead of going into the busy office–instant gratification!


Or a night at home with family, cooking a big Southern meal, cuddling in your P.J’s and watching a movie instead of going to that swanky society event–instant gratification!


I think we should reconsider our opinion of Instant Gratification. It’s not all bad. It’s like everything else, isn’t it. It’s about balance. Everything in moderation including instant gratification. A healthy mix of hard work for those things that take time and instant pleasure from things that don’t is an ideal equation for a happy, healthy and prosperous life. And I for one think I could learn something from the great architectural and furniture designer Charles Eames who said “Take Your Pleasure Seriously”.


I don’t know about you but a cream leather Eames Lounge Chair, an Hermes Blanket and a monogrammed Goyard Bag could bring me a WHOLE lot of instant gratification.

So on this self-care Saturday, I hope you’ll rethink instant gratification a bit. It’s not all bad. And today I will be indulging in lots of instant gratification–a quiet walk on this first chilly, November day, a girls lunch and holiday shopping with my mom, sister-in-law, niece and daughter at the Junior Leagues’s Holiday Market, and then a fun-filled family night watching the Razorbacks take on #1 Missippi State in Football (Go Hogs!), eating Bar-B-Que and playing games with the kids.

What will you do for pleasure today? Whatever it is enjoy it with no guilt. Instant Gratification is A-ok!


Tobi Signature







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Before and After: Kitchen and Family Room

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We’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen on my blog in the last week or two, haven’t we? There is nothing I love more than a good kitchen renovation, and this week’s featured project was one of my favorites!

It’s Halloween and I thought a peak at the before of this space might give you a scare! It’s certainly scary when you imagine a family of 8 using this space. As you can see below in the before shot, this tiny little space would never have worked for such a big family. Eek! I took their existing kitchen and, with the help of Carolyn Lindsey of Yeary Lindsey Architects and Contractor Scott Greenwood, we expanded it into a large family room. You can see the work in progress below. The overhead beam and columns (you’ll see them in a moment) are where the back wall of the house used to be. 

Kitchen Before (1)



In the after photo below, it’s more clear how we opened up the kitchen to the larger great room behind it. The turquoise cabinets and matching backsplash coordinate with the rest of the open-concept room. In a large area I like to wrap the space in one color which makes it then work as a neutral. This space may have looked busier with white cabinets because the contrast would cause the eye to stop. This blue wall of lovely cabinetry makes for a seamless transition across the space that’s easy on the eye and this sea-inspired color is easy on the blood pressure with 6 kids in the house.

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To give you more insight, we took out the back wall (on the left of this image below) and expanded beyond what was a super-small kitchen and breakfast area. That’s how we creating the large family room.

Kitchen Before (4)

In the family room’s mid-construction photo, you can see the beginnings of the fireplace, wet bar, and the bookshelves. This was designed to be the focal point of this great gathering space.


The after shot below, looking towards that same set of bookshelves, really showcases the color in this room. The shades of blue offer a serene look, and was inspired by this family’s time spent on or near the water. The home has to work for 8 people–five girls and three guys, so I really wanted it to appeal to all of them, and blue really is everyone’s favorite color.

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As for functionality, I wanted an open plan that would allow each member of the family to be included in meal prep, entertaining, dinner time, and so many more activities. As you can imagine, this small peninsula just was not enough room for everyone.

Kitchen Before

You can see the beginnings of a more spacious gathering area in this photo.


Isn’t it amazing what a transformation color and pattern can make? This after shot really shows that this is an all-inclusive space for a great blended family!

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Let me know what you think of the transformation of this kitchen! Oh, and Happy Halloween! Be safe everyone and I’ll see you for another “Spooky” before and after transformation soon.









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New House Diary: Perfect Pantries

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New House Diary

Yesterday, you helped me decide between adding a free-standing pantry or customized pantry cupboards to help me organize the kitchen in my new house. And whether built into the cupboards or stand-alone, there are many ways to get your kitchen organized and have all your food and kitchen necessities close at hand.


 (Home Made)

Then there’s the fabulousness of a butler’s pantry. Butler’s Pantries are dreamy, aren’t they? The difference between a kitchen pantry and a butler’s pantry is all about entertaining. While a kitchen pantry offers storage for canned goods, small appliances, and dry goods, a butler’s pantry is all about platters and linens and silver.


(Keystone Projects)

Usually, these small rooms will include special storage for platters, china, crystal, and barware. There might be drawers for linens and more formal silver or stainless. I do plan to entertain a lot in the house, just as I did in my previous home, so I have a lot of dishes and linens to store. c2ae0ba36c7308473f69a34a00842098

(Steven Gambrel Design)

As I said yesterday, I do love to organize, and I like to be ready at a moment’s notice if we have drop-in guests, a last-minute dinner party, or even those family-packed holidays! A butler’s pantry and a kitchen pantry would be the perfect dynamic duo to keep my cooking and entertaining organized and ready to go! So what have I decided? Well here’s where the “But” comes in. I would love both a pantry and a butler’s pantry, BUT I just can’t afford the square footage dedicated to these rooms. I really need it for my new Master Closet. the current Master Closet is only 5×6. Eek! Talk about SCARY on this Halloween Eve. :) f997746088644ec7c3dd93051a08d436

(Coats Homes)

So I’m going for cupboards. But I will have 2 storage/pantry cupboards that are full height on either side of my refrigerator in the kitchen for all my food with pull-outs and organizing features. And then in the breakfast room. I am creating a wall of cabinetry that looks like a china hutch that will act more like a butlers pantry to store platters and more. And it will have my wine refrigerator too. A Thermador Wine Column to be exact. breakfast TV

(Lauren DeLoach via Traditional Home)

And although 90% of you said NO! to a TV in the breakfast room. My family and I have decided that a TV is right for us in that space so we can listen to the morning news there when we want. I am so comfortable with the quality time I spend with my daughter and I don’t worry that a TV here will take away from our family time. In fact, she and I eat breakfast most mornings cuddled in my bed (instead of in the breakfast room) watching GMA and talking about what’s going on in the world. Lots of life lessons can be taught over one discussion of the news! And for the breakfast room, my husband watches TV there in the evening after work while going through the mail, and I do too, sometimes while cooking dinner. So we think it’s the perfect scenario for us.


(Kenzer Furniture via Houzz)

What do you think about these pantry and TV ideas? Do you have a butler’s pantry in your home? Let me know in the comments below! As we head into the holiday season, isn’t it fun to plan these perfect places for those holiday dinners and parties? Thank you SO much for all your comments so far on my home renovation. It is REALLY interesting and helpful to hear what you all think!

Until next time!



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Which Would You Choose: Pantry or Cupboards?

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(organization/photo by Neat Method)

I am a neat freak – I like everything to be organized and in its place. That’s especially true in the kitchen, with all of its small appliances, baking items, pots, pans, spices, and not to mention food! This week I’m trying to decide if my kitchen remodel should include a separate pantry, or just cupboards designed for organizing everything.

A separate pantry is perfect for ingredients and small appliances! It allows you to walk in and see everything at once, and to quickly locate what you’re looking for. It also hides a lot of things you may not want your guests to see, like an extra trash can, your stash of Diet Coke, or maybe even large bins of vegetables.


(Photo from Kenzer Furniture via Houzz)

On the other hand, there are so many unique ideas for cabinetry now! There are drawers for pot-and-pan storage, special bins for flours and other baking needs, hidden compartments for spice jars and oils, and even great pull-out shelves for small appliances. It also keeps everything in the main kitchen area, which can be handy when you’re searching for the item you need.

And one thing you should know is that unlike new construction where I could have both a walk-in pantry and a great pantry in my kitchen cupboards, a remodel like mine means space is limited. So if I choose a walk-in pantry I am using valuable space that could be in my Master Closet. So which would you choose: A fabulous and roomy pantry with lots of shelves for organized bins and baskets (even if it means a smaller Master Closet or Bath), or specialized cupboards to hide all of the baking, cooking and food things?

Let me know your answer below! I think I’m close on this decision, but I’d still love to hear your suggestion! I may even let you know which I choose in tomorrow’s post… Stay tuned!









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