5 Ways to Make a Traditional Space Distinctive and Inviting

Traditional Design, like any other style can envibe the creative, colorful and unexpected – like this dining room by designer Tobi Fairley – image from tobifairley.com

A bout of illness took me away from blogging for most of this past week. While convalescing I perused books online to add to my design library when I came across “A Stylist’s Secrets to Creating Inspired Interiors” by Lilli Diallo – not to be confused with HGTV’s “Secrets of a Stylist” with host Emily Henderson, although they could be style twins!

A reviewer wrote: “I bought this book for myself for Christmas, as I wanted to know how a
stylist turns ordinary into extraordinary…

If you love hip, young, edgy, authentic, gritty, bohemian, eclectic style and
love shopping Ebay, flea markets or finding furniture on the street, or if
you’re an artist and live in Brooklyn or NYC, you may adore this book. Style is
an expression of personality, so if this matches your personality, consider
buying the book.

If the above doesn’t describe you, you may not appreciate the rooms….”

I experienced both a pang of sadness and yes, guilt, that inspired me to rise to a new challenge. Departing from your comfort zone is a necessary exercise for anyone who doesn’t wish to become a “one-trick pony”.


I went about finding that elusive combination of updated traditional design that manages to be fresh and distinctive – enter, Designer Tobi Fairley.

A bold & graphic living room design by Tobi Fairley – image from tobifairley.com

A candy apple red lamp really pops, on a dresser used unexpectedly in a living room grouping, beneath a steel blue ceiling – traditional made unconventional! image from TobiFairley.com

I love Tobi’s designs, because they take the convention out of tradition – and Tobi has certainly had ample opportunity to sharpen and hone her distinctive style – she’s one busy lady!  Traditional Home Magazine chose her as one of the Top 20 Young Designers in America in 2009, for her signature look. Her clients span the US from Charleston to Los Angeles, and her award-winning designs have been featured on HGTV and have graced the covers of House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Better Homes and Gardens special publications to name a few. Somehow Tobi managed to make the time to answer my request for 5 Ways to Make a Traditional Space Distinctive and Inviting, so without further ado:

1.” Provide plenty of seating for family and friends in the kitchen. Use a bold graphic fabric on chair backs to add interest to the room”.

Splashes of pattern in the form of fabrics unite an otherwise neutral space, giving an overall impression of a colorful and playful space – image from tobifairley.com

2.”Carry your indoor style to the outdoors! Outdoor fabrics come in a wide variety of colors and patterns”.

3. “A daybed provides a great place to relax in
your home. They’re great on a sun porch, in a guest room or in a child’s room. Remember to pile on lots of
gorgeous pillows and a warm throw to make it even more inviting”.

Blending youthful and sophisticated elements create spaces that invite the family to share a unified space, rather than encouraging separation by delineating spaces that are clearly separated by age group – image from TobiFairley.com

4. “If you are having guests for a party, a little extra effort goes a long ways. Nothing makes your guests feel more welcome than an attractive food table. Flowers, fruit displays and distinctive serveware make everyone feel extra special”.

Whether your occasion id dressed up holiday or any day, create a mix of color and pattern that intices your guest’s pallets and imaginations – don’t be afraid to create! Food is Art – images from Tobi Fairley’s Blog

5. A bright cheerful entry is the best way to
make your home inviting. Mirrored panels add drama. Bold color inspires. Think about
what your entry says when guests first cross the threshold.

Entryways are not most people’s first design priority – but it is the first impression of your home for all who enter – make it count! image from tobifairley.com

Updated Traditional Design includes a richness but strong relationships in color, textures, rich and lustrous fabrics, pattern mixes of geometric and graphic, some sparkle, and something unexpected – like all good design!