Interview: Tobi Fairley’s Design Magic

For more than a decade, all-American designer Tobi Fairley has been a favorite of her peers and design enthusiasts alike. One of her many talents, a standout is her ability to consistently execute classic, nicely balanced, colorful, and totally livable spaces. Clients feel as though they can even put their feet up on the coffee table without destroying the design she’s created for them. Want the same look in your house? Read on to get Fairley’s formula for choosing fabrics, notions for bettering her signature look, and her best advice for living with everything you love.

Tobi Fairley Interior Design

EW: At the early stages of a design project, what is the process you go through to create your unique style?

TF: Most every design thought I have stems from a colorful or patterned cloth that I have fallen in love with. I typically create cloth and color”stories” to get a project first just to get my creative juices flowing then go back to the start and enhance the architecture and floor plans to complement the design scheme.

In addition to color, symmetry plays a very prominent role in Fairley’s design. Each item within this vignette is superbly reproduced to create a look that’s balanced and pleasing to the eye.

Tobi Fairley Interior Design

EW: What approach do you take when selecting patterns and colors?

TF: The art of mixing color and pattern with success is all about scale. I typically start with a single large-scale signature cloth for every room. It is typically either a flowery or a geometric. I then begin to set other fabrics in a medium scale, down to a smaller scale such as a mini-print then on to solids. Solids actually compose the vast majority of most of my chambers, however I use the touch showstopper cloth in such a daring way, it is what people notice the most. Some people who attempt to use big and colorful prints blend them with a lot of other daring fabrics of the same scale and the eye doesn’t know where to focus. Just one”diva” of a cloth for every room ends in the maximum success.

This space is an textbook illustration of Fairley’s method of mixing fabrics.

Tobi Fairley Interior Design

EW: What are a couple of of your favourite finishing touches when designing a space?

TF: I love to do odd things to some of the often-forgotten parts of a room to add detail. Painting a stripe around the ceiling in a pop of color adds interest. A gorgeous and picture tape trim on the skirt of a couch or pair of cushioned chairs gives them something additional. Grosgrain piping onto a lampshade requires an ordinary lamp to exceptional. These sorts of designer details make a space truly unique.

Here, Fairley added a red trim to a creamy base table, a clever method of dispersing the accent color from floor to ceiling.

Tobi Fairley Interior Design

EW: What type of elements would you say most defines or influences your easy yet fresh signature look?

TF: Have I mentioned fabrics? Pattern and color are key to my style. But it is probably the fact that I utilize furnishings with a very traditional scale and form as the foundation for the space that create my spaces have appeal across styles and gender. This also makes my spaces have an ageless quality. Thus, even if you decide to recover furnishings in a less colorful or trendy cloth down the line, you have made a sound investment in a fantastic classic piece of furniture. It just makes sense.

Fairley place a playfully spin on this traditional kid-friendly family room. Time-honored silhouettes have been updated with sudden mustard, green, and teal hues. The wavy carpet in like colors include a lively energy to a fresh timeless mix.

Tobi Fairley Interior Design

EW: How would you state your design style is most distinct from other designers?

TF: Well, even though there are tons of people who use color and pattern, not that many people are as daring as I am. I have often been called daring when it comes to colorful drama in a room. My design idols are Dorothy Draper, Diamond and Baratta, and my buddy Jamie Drake. I am confident that you can see a sheet of each of the styles manifested within my designs.

Fairley never missed a chance to wow her audience with bold hues. Here a new green enlivens the neutral space with jolts of color on the bookcase, the lampshade, along with the throw.

Tobi Fairley Interior Design

EW: What motivated you to begin associations like InBox Interiors along with your popular design camps?

TF: I love the business of design as far as I love design itself. So I can hardly go a week without brainstorming and creating new business concepts and opportunities. The internet design concept was not originated with me. I found several very clever and talented performers across the nation entering this place. So few thoughts are ever really original, but it is understanding if they are a match for the company that helps you determine if you should make the jump into that area of business.

As far as the camps move, people have been coming to me for over 10 years attempting to”shadow me, learn from me, spend a day with me.” I am a teacher at heart and love to share thoughts, help people learn from my errors, and help people gro

Tobi Fairley Interior Design

EW: When not designing you are…

TF: Designing. Style is my job, my hobby, along with my life. But that design takes on different forms. I love to paint with my daughter (she is an art junkie in the age 6). I spend a lot of time reading company and self explanatory books and working on designing a better company and a better life.

Here, Fairley daughter’s room primes her in becoming a new member of the next generation of tastemakers. A simple palette of lilac and white allows the shapes and patterns to coexist harmoniously. The customized crown above the plush daybed must be the icing on the cake.

Tobi Fairley Interior Design

EW:Largest impact?

TF: Mom. She also gave me my bent for design, and she is my rock and my sounding board. Plus she just has incredible taste! You can’t buy that… you either have it or you do not.

Tobi Fairley Interior Design

EW: Best information?

TF: Purchase what you love and I mean what you genuinely Love. Not because it is on sale, not since your friend has one, not since you heard it is the most recent trend. If you consistently use this rule of thumb, you won’t grow tired of your design elements and you’ll be much happier with your property. After all, you are the person that needs to live there, so it doesn’t matter if other people like it, as long as you do.

Though this entryway is a palette comprising only two colors, the high-contrast of white and black, bold pattern found in the background, and color blocking on the dresser applies three layers of design and leaves this room equally dramatic and captivating.

More: See more of Fairley’s job on Houzz and on

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