Posts Tagged ‘Entertaining’

Before and After: A Kitchen for Gatherings

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There is nothing I love more than a good kitchen remodel – especially when the kitchen is transformed from dark and dated to light and lovely! And that’s what I did for some special clients recently. They have adult kids and wanted to rework their home to better serve the way they live today.


They love to entertain friends and family, and the island they had didn’t have much room for gathering people around in this heart of the home. And, as you can see in the “before” photo above, the black appliances and dark counters seemed to trap all the light in the room.


So we not only turned up the “light,” but I also added a great island with more comfortable stools and plenty of work and eating space. Can’t you just imagine a low-key dinner party with guests keeping the host and hostess company here?


I also took out the brick floor and the old and tired cabinetry, again lightening things up and adding a level of quiet sophistication. I also moved the appliances around in the room so the work area is much more efficient and functional.


Note that the cabinets also now go all the way up to the ceiling. This is a design idea I use all the time to not only add more storage, but to also trick the eye into seeing the ceilings as taller than they are. That also gives a feeling of more space in this kitchen.

And finally, of course, we added the fabulous breakfast area that you see in the photo at the top of the page, another great gathering area for friends and family.

So what do you think of this transformation? Let me know in the comments section below! And look for more before-and-afters in the coming weeks!









A Toast to the Cocktail Hour

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There is an appreciation for fine spirits and creative cocktails today like never before, and that joie de vivre is finding its way into the home with requests for built-in bars, bar cabinets, and more! The bar cart has been a craze now for several years but people are moving beyond the portable cart or even the single wine cabinet or beer fridge to everything from racks for perfectly storing liqueurs to great storage for all sizes and shapes of cocktail glasses.


In my client’s home above, I built a bar into the media room that would not only serve snacks to the younger members of the home, but would also provide a gathering spot for adults in the evening for cocktail hour.

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And in this master bedroom suite I designed for the Hamptons Showhouse, I added a bar cabinet with a sink and hidden refrigerator. I love that the homeowners could use this as a coffee bar in the morning, and a great place to get a glass of wine and unwind at the end of the day.


And just this morning in my own home remodel when I stopped by to check the demolition progress, they were ripping out the old, dated 1970’s bar with a pass through shown above and that area will soon become a fabulous and beautiful full-service wet bar with all the modern conveniences of the best in-home bar you can imagine. Here’s a look at one of the elevations…

bar elevation

And of course it’s the finishes, colors and details I have selected that will make this wet bar really something to drink to! I’ll give you a hint…there’s wallpaper and lacquer paint going in this chic space.



But you don’t have to make a “built in” commitment to create a stocked bar in your home. There are many amazing cabinets and carts on the market that can be gorgeous additions to your decor, like the Lotus Cabinet from Century Furniture in my favorite signature green color.


For a cart that wheels into any room or even outdoors and is a bit more subtle for any decor, this is a fun design from Global Views. Add your best glassware and some fabulous hors d’oeuvres and you have a party ready to happen!

So how about you? Have you gained a new appreciation for the cocktail in recent years? And if so, I want to know what’s your favorite drink and is a built-in or portable bar part of your home’s wish list?









Tobi TV: Clean Scene

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I love to cook and I love to entertain – but what I’m not as enthusiastic about is cleaning up after a party or a big meal! However, I do have a few solutions that I turn to in my interior designs to help keep the kitchen organized and to make clean up a breeze!


For example, as you can see in the photo above, I like to include a lot of storage in the kitchens I design. It helps with organization and it gives you a place to quickly stow clutter when guests drop by!

It’s also a great idea to keep plenty of towels on hand for spills and quick clean up – so I added bars for extra towels in this kitchen.


But my best tip for keeping the kitchen super-spotless during parties and cooking sessions is to include two dishwashers in the design – yes, two! One can run while the other hides dirty dishes out of the way until it’s full, making the kitchen look clean at all times!

I love to design open-plan kitchens, so it’s also important to have a quiet dishwasher that won’t disrupt conversations with friends or family. And as Thermador’s brand ambassador, I can tell you that they have one of the quietest on the market. The Star-Sapphire Dishwasher is so quiet it offers a Time Remaining PowerBeam that shines the cycle time remaining on the floor. Otherwise, you might not know it’s even on!

Let’s take a look at this video I recently did in a client’s kitchen that shows you how amazing that Thermador dishwasher really is:

Wow! Can you believe that a dishwasher could complete a cycle in 20 minutes? Now that’s a quick clean up.

So let’s review my tips for designing a kitchen that keeps things neat and tidy:

1. Include lots of storage so your kitchen can always look organized and spotless.

2. Consider little details like extra towel bars to keep cleaning items close at hand.

3. Dual dishwashers are a lifesaver if you like to entertain or if you cook a lot. They make cleaning a breeze!

What are your favorite tips for keeping your kitchen clean? Let me know in the comments section below!








Tobi TV: Take a Seat

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Have you ever had a party and run out of enough seats for your guests? I’m always wishing for that one extra seat! So what’s a hostess to do?

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I like to use furniture that serves more than one purpose – like an ottoman that also works as a coffee table. That really helps your guests to make themselves comfortable in your home anytime. Let’s take a look at a few more of those multifunctional pieces:

See how those little things – like an extra seat – can mean a lot? Let’s recap what we saw:

1. Think about using a great leather bench. They can work at the end of a bed, or in a hallway. And they definitely provide a great place for guests to perch!

2. For CR Laine, I designed small ottomans that fit right under a table. That way they’re out of the way when they aren’t needed, but are easily pulled out for extra seats or surfaces at a party.

3. I also love my little bench ottomans, called Lena. They are a bit like a bench, a bit like an ottoman, and a whole lot of stylish seating!

So remember that the perfect party always includes making your guests comfortable with that great extra seat!








Brand Ambassador for Thermador

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I am SO excited to announce that I am now brand ambassador for Thermador, the American luxury kitchen appliance brand that provides real innovations for real cooks! I have been a fan of Thermador for a long time – I grew up enjoying delicious meals my mom prepared on her Thermador range, and I am so excited to be able to talk about their amazing products for both designers and consumers!


I will be providing great new ideas and trends on several of the company’s channels, like its blog and newsletters. We’ll be talking about kitchen design, how to personalize your kitchen so it functions for YOU, how to choose the right appliances, and so much more. You know how I love to cook, so of course there will also be recipes!


The Thermador team is top-notch and really devoted to creating the best tools for people who really do love to cook, bake, and entertain, and the company has some cutting-edge and innovative designs that I can’t wait to show you!

My first blog post for Thermador goes up later today on, and it will show you how much fun I had cooking with my mom and my daughter at Thermador’s Experience & Design Center in California! It was an amazing day, and I definitely got some great ideas for the appliances I’m purchasing for my brand new kitchen – which we start renovating in 3 weeks. EEK!

Let me know what kitchen topics are the hottest for you right now – and I’ll get cooking on great new tips and ideas with Thermador!