Before and After: Beautiful B&B

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There’s an amazing new bed and breakfast in High Point, N.C.! It’s called Pandora’s Manor and it’s owned by one of my favorite companies, Eastern Accents. They asked me and 5 other interior designers to revamp the bedrooms in the historic home, and given my love of traditional homes, I couldn’t wait to redesign my space!

Before we got started, the rooms had some amazing details that you see in so many historic homes, like the wood floors and a marble fireplace – I love a fireplace in a bedroom! But, also like a lot of older homes, things also looked a bit dated as families moved in and out and as tastes and trends changed.

One thing I knew I wanted to add was a WOW factor, but I still wanted to keep the traditional elements that I love so much. So I added wainscoting to the bottom of the walls, but gave those walls a more modern look with a deep black paint on the upper half. Then I layered in a bright yellow fabric in the draperies and upholstery, all from fabrics that are in my own collection for Duralee.

The room before was a little cramped with older furniture and upholstery, and I wanted to add glamour and a more modern look with my design for this bedroom.

My new Tilly chair for CR Laine really has that vintage look with a modern twist that I was searching for, so it was the perfect fit. And I was lucky enough to also be able to use pieces from my collections of art for Soicher Marin and tables and a desk from Woodbridge Furniture.

There is an attached bathroom for each of the bedrooms, so I also pulled in some of the design elements and colors from the bedroom into the bath.

I love a bold graphic wallpaper, and this black-and-white pattern was a perfect complement to the bedroom’s decor. I also used the same drapery fabric and Greek key detailing that you can see on the bedroom windows.

The final result was a room that guests will love, featuring a big luxurious bed with fabulous Eastern Accents linens to lounge in! I was so honored to be given this project, and I even wrote a letter to the guests who will stay here in the coming years.

The designers who were involved in the home with me are Alexa Hampton, Barclay Butera, Celerie Kemble, Thom Filicia, and Madcap Cottage – here we all are on the steps of Pandora’s Manor in our special Eastern Accents PJs! To see their rooms and to learn more about the home, click here to read the feature on Traditional Home‘s website!

If you’re in High Point, N.C., for the upcoming High Point Market, be sure to stop in and tour this gorgeous B&B. It’s a great place to stay, with an amazing staff!







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The Joy of Imperfection

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Perfection. It’s what so many of us strive for, especially creatives like me. We can envision a perfect project, a perfect home, a perfect family, a perfect life. And if we can dream it, then we can do it right? Wrong. Nobody and nothing is perfect. And trying to be perfect is a perfect way to be unhappy.

I have never considered myself a perfectionist, though many people call me one. But I agree my standards are high (really high). Thankfully I have always had a point in every project and in every day where things, my work and life, are good enough and I am satisfied. But I do admit that I my high standards and my giant goals have taken a toll on me. I bet you can relate.

But you know what I am excited about? I am thrilled that being imperfect is “IN” right now. We might say “Imperfect is the new Perfect”. Mindsets like “Start before you’re ready.”, “Stop the glorification of busy!”, and “Embrace the real you!” are becoming ever popular. Designers and design blogs are talking about how we really live and how projects really go instead of the perfection we see in design magazines. And in a our world of the selfie, many people are saying no more photoshopping, just be yourself.

One of my favorite books ever is The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.  It is life changing, so please go buy it right now. Brene is so wise, and she’s right–embracing your imperfections is a gift. If you read my blog on practicing authenticity last week you may be thinking that topic and this one go hand in hand and I agree.

Being authentic is being imperfect. It’s letting people see your flaws. It’s not waiting to show up in life until you have all your ducks in a row. I think people are more inspired by seeing your mistakes, your flaws, your imperfections and seeing how you deal with them. They are inspired by how you keep showing up in the world and sharing your gifts through your challenges and failures. Imperfection is amazing. And it’s time we all embrace being our perfectly imperfect selves. It’s really the most refreshing thing I can think of.

This year for me is about being kinder to myself and finding more joy. It’s about being happy with things the way they are. And if I am trying to be perfect all the time, joy evades me. If I expect my husband to be perfect or my child to be, then I am in for a lot of heartache. And if I expect my work to be perfect, or my days to go perfectly, I will be constantly disappointed because there is no such thing.

Being happy is all about how you frame things. When I was younger (as in 10 years ago, not when I was 10, ha!), I could get upset so easily. Mistakes were so frustrating. Ok, so maybe I WAS a perfectionist. But life has a way of keeping us in check, of keeping us humble. It has a way of reminding us we are not in charge. And that nothing will ever be perfect. And if we are waiting for perfection before we are happy, before we find joy, we will be waiting forever. I got tired of waiting.

So I’ve learned to laugh at imperfect days and situations. And I’m learning to love myself just the way I am. If I can’t fit in my skinny jeans, I’m still amazing. Skinny jeans are over-rated. But what’s not overrated is enjoying life in spite of your imperfections and giving yourself a break and showing yourself and others kindness and understanding. Fourteen days from now I will be in Aruba for my 15th wedding anniversary. I will not be as skinny in my bathing suit as I might wish, but you better believe those views will still be as gorgeous, the sunsets as beautiful, the down time will still be replenishing, and now that I have learned to “embrace the glorious mess that I am”, the time with my husband will be more special than ever.

It’s time to embrace imperfection, my loves. You are perfectly imperfect just the way you are. You are exactly where and how you are supposed to be at this moment. So like Liz Gilbert says…”Embrace the glorious mess that you are”, and I promise you that life will bring so much joy!














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Designers: It’s Your LAST Chance to Get My LIVE Designer MBA Course Ever!

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Hey, Designers! Have you been thinking for quite some time about taking my very popular, life and business changing live course, Designer MBA but just haven’t made the leap? Well, first of all it is AMAZING! This course is a giant game-changer for designers at all levels. It’s so good we have had several people take it as many as 3 times and it’s so jam-packed with fantastic content they learn something new every time. And that’s partially because we are constantly updating and adding the latest and greatest business advice and foundational tools I have in my arsenal to make sure that each session of Designer MBA makes the biggest possible difference in your business.

There are many designers out there who have taken lots of designer courses and seminars and they tell me time and again, “Tobi your Designer MBA is amazing. It’s the real meat and potatoes of running a creative business!” and though these people say they get good nuggets from many seminars they take, mine is like a smorgasbord of content and that once their head stops spinning from the sheer amount of fantastic content, putting these ideas into practice changes every single part of their business from how they work, to helping them finally charge what they are worth, to finding their ideal client and so, so, so much more!

So if you have seriously wanted to work with me on this content, live and in person, now is your last chance. Seriously, I am not planning on teaching this live course again…ever! And that’s not because I don’t love this content or don’t think it’s valuable. I think every designer in business today needs this content and it really applies to any small business–not just designers. It’s especially great for other creative businesses. I have seen those who have taken this course leap frog a lot of their competition and reach major goals that were only dreams previously.

But if you follow my blog, you know I am moving in the direction of some big dreams myself, including new ideas and lots of exciting launches I have been wanting to put out in the world for a while and so I am ready to retire the live version of Designer MBA and move into some other things that have been sitting on the back burner in my life. As I know you well know as an entrepreneur, there are only so many things you can offer at once. So my beloved live version of Designer MBA will be just a memory soon but at least a memory that connects a lot of attendees like a big ole family!

So is Designer MBA right for you? Do you want to be a part of the designer MBA live family?  How can you decide if you should attend? Well If there is one thing I’m asked over and over, it’s how to charge for your services as an interior designer. Too often we don’t have the confidence to ask for what we are worth or even know those numbers are possible – or we’re just not sure that anyone will pay us a large fee, although we haven’t even tried to see what the market will bear. And charging what you are worth is only one small part of the Designer MBA curriculum. We cover everything from how to pay yourself 6 figures or more, whether you should hire or grow or outsource (hint: I am outsourcing more than ever before), how to create additional revenue streams so you can reach financial freedom, how to prove your value to your clients so they will pay you 5 and 6 figure design fees, how to increase cash flow and profits to have your best year ever and much more.

If you aren’t making the salary you want, if you aren’t getting the type of clients or budgets you want, and if your business is causing stress or worse, burnout, then you must join me at Designer MBA, a business education for design professionals and creatives, held May 16-17 at Thermador’s incredible Design & Experience Center in Irvine, CA!

In these two days, we’ll also talk about how and where to find your ideal client, how to make your firm lean and mean (and that means making more money with ease), strategies for marketing yourself, and how to really understand your financial health! I open my own books and tell you exactly how I charge and how I run my business. There are NO secrets.

And speaking of secrets – you’re going to see some super-secret new products from Thermador while we’re at their headquarters. They’re even going to show you how all these “secret” products work with a tasty and fun cooking demonstration the evening of May 15! With that, and the fact that you’ll earn .8 CEUs from all of my content, this is one of the most valuable Designer MBA events I’ve ever held!

At Thermador’s amazing Design & Experience Center, with my friend and MBA attendee Laura Lee

So if you want to learn the tips and tools that have transformed hundreds of design businesses across North America, this is your only chance to get this valuable content from me in a live setting again.

Here’s what a few of my Designer MBA attendees have to say about the course:

“I just gave a proposal presentation today for DOUBLE my fee from last year! I would have taken much longer to have gotten to this point in my business if it wasn’t for you! Thanks for helping me to stop leaving money on the table and start charging what I am worth” – Michelle Lynne, Michelle Lynne Interiors Group

“Tobi is so generous with her time and her knowledge. I walked in frightened about the future of my business. I walked out a confident designer! I have the tools to restructure, and I am rebuilding for success.” Alison Johnston

“When we first started working with Tobi in Designer MBA , we remember her saying this could be the year we get our first 6-figure design fee and we laughed to ourselves and thought ‘in our dreams’. Well you were right Tobi, and with your help we now have dream clients with big fees and multi-million dollar furniture budgets. Thanks to your classes we feel confident submitting the right fees and charging what we are worth. We just wanted to say a BIG Thank You! We wouldn’t be at this point without all the knowledge we gained working with you.”  -Jennifer Binion and Zeb Grant, Binion & Grant Interiors

“I would have paid twice as much for the results I have already reaped!” Suzy Watkins

Again, Designer MBA will be held May 16-17 at the Thermador HQ in Irvine, California and I want YOU to join me there! It’s your last chance to experience this amazing content live with me so I can help you kick your business into high gear and get ready to achieve the success you’ve always dreamed of! Click here to learn more and to sign up.

I hope to see you in California next month!








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Tobi TV: 5 Tips for Using Color Confidently

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So many people tell me that they are really scared of color, and that they just don’t know how to use it in their homes.

If that’s you, then I want you to step outside of your neutral comfort zone and learn how to use color confidently! Let’s walk through my farmhouse project – recently featured in Traditional Home – to show you some ideas that will help you embrace color:

Wow – isn’t that a colorful home! Let’s review those tips:

1. Take a risk with a fashionable color like chartreuse! Use it in a hallway, a powder room, or a laundry room if you’re still feeling nervous about going bold.

2. Try a softer tone like aqua to drench a room in a beautiful color. Quieter tones are less intimidating that bold, bright colors.

3. Get your inspiration from nature and use greens, blues, and browns. Those colors are everyone’s favorites, so you can’t go wrong!

4. Don’t forget the kitchen – that room doesn’t HAVE to be all white! You could try a soft blue on just the island or a china hutch.

5. And welcome friends and family with a little color on your front door! It makes a great first impression.

Are you feeling more confident about color now? Tell me what you think in the comments section below!







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The Joy of Practicing Authenticity

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Authenticity. It’s a buzz word these days. Be Authentic. Be yourself.

I strive for authenticity. It’s important to me to be real. But upon some reflection lately, I think I have fallen short in really embracing the authentic me.  We probably all struggle with this more than we realize. I love that Brene Brown says it’s a practice. That’s a much better way to think of it because we will never be perfectly authentic all the time.

It’s difficult to really show up, to be your true self. And It’s hard to admit when we are less than authentic. It’s vulnerable. But I think it’s time for me to make some changes. If I were grading myself on my authenticity, I would give myself a B+. I feel like I am usually myself when it comes to dealing with others and the “me” I put out in the world, but I know even that version of me is more edited than I want to admit. Thankfully it’s becoming a trend to be more real, unedited, less photoshopped than ever before and I am working on embracing this way of life. It’s hard. And it’s my relationship with myself that I most need to dig deeper to further uncover the real me.

One definition of authentic is “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself”. Another definition…”not false or copied; genuine, real”. And I am at a point in my life where it’s time to get real with myself. It’s time to go farther outside my comfort zone than ever, push myself to reach those dreams that are so deep and private that we are afraid to even speak them. You know the ones? I know you have them too. On second thought, maybe it’s moving INTO my comfort zone that I need– it’s being comfortable in my own skin that I am looking for.

Living an authentic life to me means being true to what you want. It means having the courage to say no to what the world wants from you or your family wants from you, or what you thought you wanted at once time, if you now know in your gut it’s not what you really want anymore. It means being courageous enough to speak up when you need rest, or something isn’t fun anymore or the pressure is too much. It takes admitting to yourself what you really want and believing you can reach it and that you deserve it.  It’s about no longer dismissing thoughts or dreams as things you will do “one day” or when you make enough money or when your kids are grown. 

Your body is your authenticity litmus test. How many of you are tense most every day? Are your shoulders and neck tight? Do you feel pain in your low back or chest? Does your head ache? Your jaw hurt? That’s your body trying to tell you something. And I have had many of those feeling for years and just kept pushing through them, as if one day my to do list would magically get shorter and pressure would subside.

How many of you wake in the morning thinking “I’d give anything if I didn’t have to do (fill in the blank) today? And how many days do you wake up and start your day in a dead run because you are already way behind and it’s not even breakfast time yet? Now don’t get me wrong, for the most part I love my job and I love my life. But I am definitely hitting a phase where I have decided to recalibrate a bit. It’s time to lean into a few dreams and goals and areas of interest that I have been hesitant to embrace and its time to step away from some things that have run their course or at least time to reinvent them so they are fun and exciting again.

For a girl who’s been striving all her life, I love this idea of unbecoming. I want more time freedom. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it.  And don’t we all, right? But more and more I have been asking myself, “when?” When is it time to stop doing some of the things I think I should, in lieu of some of the things I want? There’s a great Oprah quote that says “Do what you have to do, until you can do what you want to do.” And I have been doing a lot of “have to’s” for years. Of course as I have gotten older and my brand more known, I have gotten to sprinkle in a lot more “want to’s” like product lines and exciting collaborations. But I want even more “want to” in my life. It’s time.

I am ready to tell my gut and my heart and my soul YES to my deepest desires. And I have already started in that direction with moving my studio home, traveling less, being home more with my family and pups, and being more selective with the things I say yes to. But for the rest of this year, I am going full speed ahead with what my heart wants. I am leaning in to my desires. I am going to play more (we all need more play and pleasure) and find more joy than ever.

I am tired of hustling. Of proving. I am done with that way of life. I am taking more time off than ever before. I am closing my office 4 weeks between now and year’s end AND taking a week-long vacation on top of that. I believe I’ve earned it! I am taking Friday’s off all summer to spend with my pre-teen who before I know it will be heading off to college. Next year I may even close the whole month of July, take off all the other summer Fridays, and close for 4 or 5 other weeks during the year. That excites me! That feels reckless and free. And I suspect that if I do this, I will make more money and live my passion more than ever. Tim Ferris, author of the 4 hour work week was genius when he said “Make as much money as you can in as little time as possible so you can do what you want with all the rest of your time!” Yes time! That is what my authentic self craves.

And I am bringing this freedom to my business this year! I am launching an all new website in a few months that embodies all the things I am passionate about in design and consulting and life I am redesigning many of my classes and courses and have some really progressive ideas around my consulting business that are totally lighting my fire but will take less hustle to provide. And I am taking only the design clients that are a perfect fit for me and my philosophy of life. I couldn’t be more proud of that! I have been selective for years, but I am taking that to a whole new level and I know because of that, I will bring my best work in years to a select few ideal clients. And I will be more fulfilled.

My business is smaller (thanks to outsourcing) and stronger (thanks to clarity) and more profitable than ever because of these changes, and I am becoming more rested and fulfilled and healthy than I have been in years. I feel like I am right in the middle of my sweet spot. Exactly where I am meant to be. And my body is telling me that’s true too! I am easing into my days and relaxing at night more than I have in 15 years and it feels oh so good! Until I made these changes, I don’t remember a morning in years that I felt relaxing and like I had a choice of where to start my day or what to work on or a choice to not work at all. It’s liberating and it feels like the real me is in charge, maybe for the first time ever.

So how do you feel?  Take a minute and check in with yourself. Check your shoulders and your gut. Check your jaw. Are you tense? Are you overworked? Are you taking jobs that don’t inspire you just because you don’t think you have a choice? Well you do. You can choose you. You can lean into your authentic self and be better, healthier, happier and more profitable because of it. It takes courage but it’s all in your power.

So embrace your authentic self. For a hustler like me, it takes practice. I feel anxious when I am not crazy busy. I feel nervous when I am not hustling. It’s all I’ve known for years but I know with practice I’ll figure it out. I know with time it will feel great. An authentic life may seem ordinary, but that’s where the magic happens. I’ve been striving for the extraordinary and I agree with Brene Brown. You can get so focused on becoming important, that you miss THE most important stuff that is already there in the ordinary parts of your life. So consider getting back to ordinary. Your body, your family, your clients and those commitments you say YES to will thank you, because they will get the very best version of you.

Here’s to being true to ourself. We only have one life to live, so live a life that you love! I’ll see you there.

Joyfully yours,






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