Archive for the ‘Before and After’ Category

Before and After: Dining Room

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Since it’s Easter weekend and many of us are getting our dining rooms looking their best, I thought it would be a good time to reveal a before and after of the dining room I designed that’s featured in this month’s Traditional Home.

Here’s the before. The bones of the room were already great and I love the natural light from the window. The traditional dining table was just perfect for the space, so I kept it in place. But I wanted to improve the scale of the chairs and lighting, warm up the room with a custom rug, and bring in a more edited option for drapery, wall decor and the tablescape. Plus, I think every rooms needs a bit of show-stopping color, a great pair of lamps, and a nice focal point!



And now for the after…



Now be sure to leave me a comment and tell me your favorite parts of this spruced-up dining room. I’m pretty partial to those blue Spitzmiller Lamps!

And here’s wishing you lots of joyous time with family and friends in your dining room this weekend!


Tobi Signature



Living Room Before and After

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So by now you have probably seen the latest issue of Traditional Home that I happen to be really happy about. And you’ve probably even taken a peek inside the issue at the home I had the pleasure to redesign and decorate. But even with the beautiful “after” photos, what everyone always wants to see is the “before” and it is quite the transformation. There is a lot of house to see and I’ll be bringing it to you over the next few weeks but today let’s take a look at the living room.


The before was spacious, with a good sofa and stylish white end tables. The client wanted to update and soften the space. She was looking for an edited result and I wanted to tweak the scale of the chairs and the art.

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In the “after” I amped up the volume while toning down the noise with a larger but sleek coffee table, several chic upholstered chairs, new pillows, a custom-made rug to fit the chamfered corners of the room, and I opted out of the tchotchkes in the built-ins in favor of the stunning blue chinoiserie vases.


Often the formal living room of  a home isn’t used much, and in this case the before had chairs with pretty lines but that weren’t inviting. I wanted this room (that’s just off the entry and a first impression on guests) to be beautiful, comfortable and functional.

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I pulled a favorite piece from the client’s art collection, purchased because it reminded my clients’ of one of their boys, and used it as the jumping-off point for the new blue color palette. I also wanted it front and center to get the attention it deserved.


The other side of the room housed a pair of chairs that were glamorous in shape but with the high ceilings, I thought didn’t quite have the impact or scale they needed.


Here’s another look at the “before” chairs. I always love to have a lamp near seating to make it more functional, so adding one was on my agenda. Plus, this end of the room was just screaming for a punch of that rich but not-quite-cobalt blue that the artwork introduced.

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Here’s the after with the handsome new blue chairs. I designed the walls, rug, and drapery all in neutral, warm tones similar to the existing sofa we decided to reuse. I wanted the neutral pieces to be the backdrop so the blue elements could really SHINE in this space!


Topping the space off with two metal x-benches in one of my favorite Greek key fabrics by Highland Court was the perfect final touch. And don’t you just love that tone-on-tone rug custom made in cut and loop pile by my friends at New River Artisans?

I hope you have enjoyed seeing how I recreated this space to fit my clients’ wishes and needs. Look for more before-and-after’s of this great project here on my blog soon.


Tobi Signature

By the way, I’m in San Francisco for my third course with creativeLIVE that’s all about function and it starts tomorrow. If you want to improve the function in your home like I did in the space above, join me for my FREE live workshop next Monday-Wednesday. You can register here.

A Big Reveal for the New Year…

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So, you know how when you know about a surprise long before the surprise it’s really hard to keep it under your hat?

And, you know how it sort of makes you feel a little bit better just to tell someone “I know something exciting that you don’t know yet!”?

Well, I just can’t resist dangling this one:

I have a very BIG REVEAL to share with you on January 1. So, if you like that sort of thing…stay tuned!

Keeping happy secrets is so hard!


Tobi Signature

Colormixing it Up With an Inspiration Board!

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[This post is sponsored by Sherwin-Williams. You can see their predictions for what color palettes are going to go BIG in the design world in 2014, by following the link at the bottom of this post.]

I always think it’s really fun when I can give you an inside look at some of the behind-the-scenes phases a design project moves through before it comes to life in someone’s home.

And since I recently revealed the before-and-after photos of my own home (the one I just moved from) when I gave everything a MAJOR freshen-up for Ronda Carman’s book, Designers at Home, I thought you might also like to see an inspiration board I created while dreaming up what my Formal Living Room could look like if the color palette was expanded to incorporate the inspiration pieces I told you about in my photostyling post from July!. The inspiration colors on the board are from the Sherwin-Williams “Intrinsic” palette. Sherwin-Williams describes this palette as driven by “embracing and preserving tradition, culture and design, while bringing in new influences.” Right up my alley, don’t you think?!

First, let me remind you how the room was styled to begin with:

Tobi Fairley

And now have a look at the vision board that spurred my palette transformation!

Tobi Fairley

You can really feel the fashion inspiration vibe, right?

1. Lee Industries skirted swivel chairs, covered in Schumacher’s Oiseaux et Fleurs pattern 2. Punches of pool blues in accessory choices 3. Barclay Butera Home wing chairs 4. Custom Rug from New River Artisans 5. Christopher Spitzmiller Lamps 6. Jamie Drake Stripe for Schumacher 7. Bungalow 5 Sunburst Mirror

And now for the “After”! You’ve seen this updated, re-imagined take on this space. How does seeing the vision board change your impression of the space? Did I capture the mood?

Tobi Fairley

As I mentioned, this palette really gives the room a more exciting and playful attitude, and I just love it!

To see the other 2014 Colormix Forecast Palettes, visit Sherwin-Williams’ website, HERE.



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Photostyling Before and After (and After): My Family Room

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IMG_1316Well my daughter successfully started the third grade today. Hard to believe she’s growing up so fast! Thanks for allowing me a day off yesterday while I got her ready. These moments are priceless.


Now I am back and excited to continue the photostyling tour through my home. Today’s stop…the Family Room (photos by Nancy Nolan).

Many of you have seen a few iterations of this space. And like my bedroom, it has an after and an “after” after.


Here is how this space looks now after sprucing it up for Ronda’s great book, Designers At Home.


Typically I think of my photostyling as editing a space. This time, it was about leaving my personality and favorite creature comforts in the space because Ronda’s book was all about living a well-lived life in my own home. So what do I surround myself with to make me most happy?

Well certainly design books. Lots and lots of them. And of course fresh flowers. Tulips are in my top 3 favorite varietals. And who could cozy up without my pups near by. There’s my sweet Harley again (a couple of photos above) cuddled up in the wing chair.

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This image has been making the rounds internationally, recently featured in Canadian House and Home.


And British Homes and Gardens–there’s Ronda showing it off. How exciting!

IMG_1303The sofa seating area isn’t the only part of the room that I livened up. I also gave a punch of color to my bookcases.


Inspired by my favorite orange gourd lamps, I thought the white books needed a bit of pizazz!

Here is how this space looked in the Traditional Home spread in 2011 (photos by Werner Straube).

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Family Room book case

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And here it is back in 2007 when it was featured in At Home in Arkansas sans all the orange.





So what do you think? Stacks of design books or no books? Orange lamps or white ones? All white bookshelves, or a punch of citrus to spice them up? Which photos are your favorites. I really do want to know.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you love. Now I’m off to help with some third grade homework.


Tobi Signature




p.s. Did you hear my BIG announcement about the all-new Tobi’s Think Tank during High Point Market? Yep, that’s right–I am bringing a fast and furious version of my acclaimed Designer MBA course to High Point so you can get priceless business of design education while you are there for market. After years of requests, it’s the first time I am taking one of my fab events on the road. Want to know more about it? Check out all the details here and get signed up–there are fewer than 10 spots left.