Who would have ever thought I would go to camp for the first time at my age? When I was a youngster, there was no such thing as going away to summer camp. Nobody left town. We lived where all the campers wanted to come, the Rocky Mountains. "Real" camping was available 365 [have you heard of snow camping?] in the most scenic mountains, rivers and valleys [think bighorn sheep, cougars, elk, rattlesnakes]. Although my Mother did real outdoor tent camping often as a child with her family and loved it, including Yellowstone Park in the 1920's, I never spent one night in a tent as a kid.
So for my first camping adventure, how much better could it get than having Tobi Fairley for camp counselor? She is the hottest name in interior design right now - at the peak of it all. I'm still pinching myself that I got to spend a day with her. And what better topic than color in interior design. Okay, I'm in heaven.
When I was pulling out of my driveway to head to Little Rock, the postman delivered the October issue of Traditional Home magazine. Guess who has a four-page spread [starting on page 66] -- Tobi Fairley! And she is wearing the cutest red floral dress. The article showcases two rooms she did on green space for the charity Energy Showhouse in her home state at Hot Springs, Arkansas. Tobi has become known for her unusual color combinations such as aqua and orange shown here. She also uses bright hues with full saturation.
Photo Credit: Traditional Home. Photography by Nancy Nolan.
Here is Tobi's blog: http://tobifairley.com/blog/topic/tobi-fairley-interior-design/ and website: http://tobifairley.com/ and her art gallery: http://www.tobifairleygallery.com/. Be sure to click on her web portfolio to see projects she has done. You can also hear the podcast on The Skirted Roundtable where Tobi talks about her business and design work [blue living room] on the March 2010 cover of House Beautiful. Her office lobby is painted this same color which looks nothing like the magazine cover [see photo below]. http://skirtedroundtable.blogspot.com/2010/03/guest-designer-tobi-fairley.html
So let's take a look at our tent. It is 140 years old and recently refurbished.
We "roughed" it at the Capital Hotel in downtown Little Rock. Having running water is great! http://www.capitalhotel.com/site/index.php
The inside of my tent is done in an English floral.
I could see the Convention Center out my window which is across the street from the hotel.
Camp Tobi Fairley's agenda covered topics such as Tobi's Tips on fabric pairings, furniture finishes and accessories. We studied forming color palettes by selecting and pairing paints, creating inspiration boards, getting the best bang for your decor buck, and where to splurge on furnishings, as well as viewing slides of her work. She shared her top 10 paint colors. We also got to preview her latest fabric designs.
Here is a collage of campers hard at work. Campers came from Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas and North Carolina.
Tobi is assisting each camper with building their own unique color palette. I went to Sherwin-Williams when I got home and picked up the paint chips I worked with at camp. Okay, so I hated them when I got them home in my light. I started over with new chips from Sherwin-Williams latest 7000 series paints. I am now liking: SW7659 Gris, SW7570 Egret White, SW7616 Breezy, and SW7601 Dockside Blue.
Ask S-W for their free chip fan called Concepts in Color that contains all the latest colors [7501-7750]. Their previous fan is available for purchase. You can also use their Interactive feature on their website to try out colors.
Tobi is so good with color, she can look at a chip and tell you if it has an undertone of pink, yellow, green or blue. I am debating whether a person is born with that ability or whether it can be learned. I am hoping I can improve this skill with my new lessons from Tobi.
Here is my inspiration board featuring the things I love. Swedish furniture, of course, and light and warm white interiors. I've added some aqua fabrics to this one. I coined the phrase "Soft Grandeur" to describe my style. I'm sure you have heard of styles such as Rough Luxe, Soft Elegance, Shabby Chic, etc. This is luxe without the rough. Calming, easy comfort with some eye candy to delight the visual senses. I selected items that I never tire of looking at which are very versatile. White fabrics are all washable. Soft Grandeur has a northern Euro look of gilded objects juxtaposed with simple lines.
I like keeping a room neutral so I can throw a dash of any color in it with pillows, art, china or flowers and the whole room immediately becomes that color. Then I can change my mind and do a different color the next day. I need to be able to bring in a bouquet of flowers from my garden that are coral Daylilies one day and purple Iris another time and have the room always look good with no colors fighting each other. I can also use every color in my china collection on the dining table without a problem. I am a nester. I am always trying to improve the look of my nest. I also need constantly changing visual stimulation. After all these years of decorating trial and error, I finally figured myself out. Whew! My sweet husband hasn't had any issues with the white sofas and chairs.
Here is a collage of boards created by some of the other campers. I was not able to get photos of all the boards.
Inspiration boards are where you place pictures, fabrics, paint samples, objects or anything from which you derive inspiration. This creates the basis of assembled ideas to edit and then move forward in creating an interior space.
While at Tobi's offices, she gave us a tour of where she and her staff work.
Photo credit: Knight-Frank real estate listing.
We also were given a tour of her art gallery next door.
If you are interested in further information about any of these works, call Amy at their gallery. Link provided above.
Here is another example of her use of dramatic color.
This is in Tobi's art gallery.
Ten things I liked about Camp Tobi Fairley:
1) Tobi is willing to share her resources. She will tell you the exact paint color used in a room. None of that "its a custom mix only my painter knows".
2) You can ask her design questions and you get real answers, not "its a trade secret" pretentious replies.
3) Tobi as a business woman knows that education is a great marketing tool to both your clients and admirers. Sharing knowledge is good business.
4) Her understanding of color is phenomenal. Even though she likes bright intense colors, I feel she could be equally successful with neutrals and would love to see work in that area. She understands all colors.
5) She encouraged questions during the session and dialog between campers. Sharing ideas with other campers helped both the experienced professional designers and the enthusiasts. Everyone was able to take away knowledge from the event.
6) I liked that she was willing to up-cycle used furnishings to give them a new life. [See Traditional Home article on the Energy House]. When a top designer does this it gives validity to saving resources and others follow suit.
7) The before and after photos of her projects were just great. You were also able to learn in her Tips segment how and why to apply the design theory.
8) I will definitely look at colors in a new way with a different understanding.
9) My curiosity keeps me constantly wanting to know more about design and it is a privilege to learn from someone as successful as Tobi.
10) We got lunch [smile].
One of the most enjoyable parts of camp was the evening "campfire" where design war stories were told at the Capital Bar and Lounge.
What a great time.
I hope you have enjoyed going on my first camping adventure.
All the best,
Photo Credits: All Swede except Bellamont and Traditional Home.