LOVE with an address…… Ronald McDonald House – Long Island

rmh-1Recently I had the pleasure of participating in “project Picnic” a fundraising event for the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island. I would like to thank Steve Schrenk and #Vetrazzo, Robert Rexrer and the Fabric Mill for thier generous donations. I would also like to thank my MOTHER!! Her patience and dedication to sewing my “picnic basket” bag are greatly appreciated. I have also included a few photos of the “house that love built”. Truly LOVE with an address.

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Food, Wine and Inspiring Design – San Francisco Style

Recently I was invited to experience a few days in San Francisco as part of the #zephyrbloggerretreat2016

Zephyr, an innovative range hood and ventilation manufacturer, had much to offer us in both product knowledge and company culture.

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The amazing few days included a  farm to table dining experience at Boulettes Larder, an educational in depth wine tasting and proper pairings at the Joseph Phelps Vineyard, an understanding of the beauty of the Napa Valley vineyards and wine grottos (as well as a wonderful lunch served in a wine cave), at the Rutherford Hill Winery and some truly incredible art and more wine(!) at the stunning Hall Winery which has thought provoking sculpture gardens. “But wait- there’s more!” Yes, there is more……..an inspired interior design walk through the design district of San Francisco (our group was welcomed by the Nido showroom, the Daltile showroom and the Coup d’Etat showroom), and the highlight of these action packed few days, a look into the design thinking and philosophical mind of Zephyr collaborator Fu-Tung Cheng, at the Zephyr Showroom.

The presentation was engaging, enlightening and seriously inspiring as we were shown through years of philosophy and design thinking resulting in some intense architectural outcomes.

I felt the emotion of Fu-Tung’s personal victory as the work of seven years concluded in the “Moon Door” entry to his family garden. I understood organic modernism in a new way as I watched a home take shape during the presentation. I felt Fu-Tung’s love of concrete as a design medium as well as building material with the introduction of Shapecrete, his venture into sharing that love in 20LB pails.

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The Cheng Design philosophy, the organic connection of things, ease of living and homage to natural elements is a perfect pairing with the Zephyr Brand. The designs are simple yet thought provoking and at times playful. A model meant to be reinterpreted by applying decorative surfacing is actually lovely enough in shape and style that the majority left it as is. Another model, Horizon, the brainchild of Zephyr collaborator, Robert Brunner, is truly a sleek glass wall sculpture. It evokes that mood of organic modernism that works so well with the current trend of design for living interpreted as simple, personalized, functional art as home or common space.

horizon-red

So impressive to me is the Zephyr company culture, the how and why of their organic design philosophy, collaborations and marketing instincts. The generosity in sharing the things that they value that create that company culture is impressive down to John Smilanic, the showroom manager, creating our custom Zephyr pumpkin desserts as part of our showroom experience lunch.

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While the shapes and finishes of the Zephyr product line are thought provoking, the quality of the product is also extremely noteworthy. The DCBL suppression system technology used in the product makes the ventilation quieter, more energy efficient and practically silent.  A demonstration of this was a hood holding a piece of paper to the bottom while we were being shown the features. We could not even hear it. Better ventilation creates a healthier home environment. It seems to me that the culture of slow food, farm to table and healthier living will certainly embrace this technology in home design.

My brand of design is to bring out the passion of the inhabitants, pay homage to the lifestyle and enhance the environment of the space. I begin a home design with the kitchen and let the flow of the lifestyle emanate from that place where we feed our family, friends and ultimately our souls.

My takeaway from this experience is that Zephyr is a brand worth investigating when beginning the re-imagination of the home. Ventilation is a key ingredient to healthier living.

-Toni :)

Soaking It All In………… MTI Baths

mti iphone FO (27) toni blogThe act of bathing seems to have become a luxury. Time management seems to have necessitated quick showers in an effort to move on to the next task. The fast paced lifestyle that has so many of us striving for work life balance had actually caused me to think of “bathing” as a guilty pleasure. A recent field trip to the MTI Baths guesthouse and factory have me rethinking this altogether. I have realized that a truly luxurious state of being must include rest and relaxation. I was reminded of how that “guilty pleasure” of soaking it all in is actually necessary for the well being of my body, mind and soul.

The trip to MTI Baths, Sugar Hill, Georgia facilities was more than I expected! The accommodations are wonderful and our group enjoyed some serious southern hospitality. A combination of educational presentations, factory tour and down time to try out the MTI products in the guesthouse had me feeling great about the last few master bath tubs I had specified. The quality of the product and the innovative system that keeps the air jets, tubes and air holes sanitary are great reasons to specify the product but the company culture of MTI is what really impressed me.

The company is employee owned with all product made in the US. Kathy Adams, current CEO, glowed as she shared the company’s founding and back story with our group. The inclusion of the “3 Rs” – respect, responsibility and resourcefulness are imbedded in the company culture. The pride of the factory workers is apparent as you tour the facilities and the management is as committed to helping each employee feel their worth and reach their potential as they are to the continuous innovation and exceptional quality of the product. Impressive indeed!

Notable in the extensive product line are the inclusion of a foot bath and a jetted laundry sink for fine washables. There is also a selection of teak products for shower seats, shower floors and tub shelves.The ESS solid surface product can be poured into sinks, integral vanity tops and shower pans which can be hand polished to a high shine if desired. Tub designs made of both the solid surface and acrylic with fiberglass reinforcement include some truly artful shapes as well as many options for whirlpool features and custom placement of air and water flow for maximum personal comfort, Each piece is actually made to order! Made personally for your client or you and delivered in a very reasonable lead time.

If you are a bath designer I recommend that you inquire about the trip. If you are a home owner looking to remodel for a more luxurious lifestyle, I highly recommend that you investigate the therapeutic options MTI Baths has to offer!

Here are some more photos of our MTI Baths experience.;MTI trip tour group resize mti mr tubs trip (44) mti tubs (22) mti tubs (12) mti tubs (5) Chris and jeff mti trip mti mr tubs trip (88) mti trip factory toni and employee mti mr tubs trip (126) mti mr tubs trip (203) mti mr tubs trip (93)

 

Some Moments in the Sun

dallas ids trip with all thingsI recently went to Dallas for the annual Interior Design Society National Conference. The trip was so enriching on so many levels. My friend, Suzanne Felber, a fellow designer, Dallas native, and fellow member of the Thermador Design Council was my guest and Dallas tour guide. The Dallas Market Center, where the IDS conference was held, offers floor after floor of finely curated furnishings, some incredibly artfully displayed. Aside from the eye candy of the market, the conference offered education on topics such as building a better business, artful uses of LED lighting, Feng Shui and child safety related to window treatment cords. All good things to know.:) The conference closed with an awards dinner and I am proud to share that I won an Interior Design Society  “Designer of the Year” award in the kitchens over 50k category! Yes, a moment in the sun! My love for kitchen design is partly due to my love of food culture. I love cooking, entertaining and all things design that give you that space to feed your inner foodie. I think feeding your friends and family feeds your soul. I also think of art and music as “soul feeders”, too, and was amazed by the sculptures at Fair Park, the Nasher Museum, the Hilton Anatole, where I stayed the week and even the shopping area known as NorthPark Center. The feasts for the eyes were everywhere and fed my mind with inspiration. Speaking of feeding or “grazing” as I have come to know it, I was privileged to attend the Raiser Grazer event put on by Les Dames D’escoffier Dallas Chapter. The “Dames” went all out with food, drink, music and decor to transform a farmers market space into an elegant salon featuring the delectables of Dallas’ finest. The enticing dishes kept me grazing all right! Broth, soups, meat and vegetarian dishes, amazing desserts and innovative cocktails at table after table sent me to foodie nirvana. As the sun set on the evening and my Dallas trip, I was full with gratitude. :)

Behind Design (are some inspiring stories)

AD Design Show booth collaboration by black crow studios, Neptune Glassworks & (wh)ORE HAUS STUDIOS

AD Design Show booth collaboration by black crow studios, Neptune Glassworks & (wh)ORE HAUS STUDIOS

The yearly Architectural Digest Design Show, held on a west side pier in New York City, is some thing I really look forward to. I love getting together with friends at favorite booths like Thermador and viewing the new product offerings over a glass of wine. I love the artisanal offerings and I love the little worlds created with wall covering, lighting, tables, place settings and accessories in the DIFFA portion of the show. The eye candy from custom manufacturers like Ercole Home, Galas Studio and KOKET get my brain churning with ideas but this year I was also thinking about the “story” behind the design. I bought a great bag from Sustainable Furnishings Council member,Tucker Robbins. It is a great bag, indeed, but I also felt good about the story behind that bag. According to Tucker’s website, he has created thriving artisanal workshops around the world and uses sustainably harvested or reclaimed materials. That is a “feel good” win, win, kind of purchase..

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Michael McHale Designs

Michael McHale Designs

Lighting is something that I believe sets a tone. I loved the pieces displayed by Michael McHale Designs.The lighting from Hubbardton Forge has a story of “modern American blacksmiths” with it’s origin in a barn with some borrowed tools. Great success story, beautiful lighting.

ad show 2016 48The wall coverings from Black Crow Studio in the picture at the top of this post were partnered with some inspired lighting and furnishings like this bed styled with rumpled covers, under wear, liquor and lipstick on the pillow. Inspired urban living! I am sure there is a great story behind this!

ad show 2016 4 (2)The DIFFA offerings have stories all their own. The big story is a fabulous fund raiser giving grants for AIDS research, care for HIV/AIDS patients and public policy initiative but there are also the stories and inspiration behind each artistically imagined and realized dining space. Here are a few of my favorites. I loved watching an artist create part of the space from Knoll and Rockwell Group. I look forward to reading the press coverage of the spaces I photographed to get the inspirational stories of each vignette.

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creation of Tyler Wysler with Nourison rug

creation of Tyler Wysler whom I met in his space

I hope you enjoy the photos and they inspire you to tell a story through your personal design.

 

Nostalgia with a Modern Twist!

mid century world kitchen llc I was invited by my fab foodie friend and cookbook author Leeann Lavin to an event held by World Kitchen LLC to show some product they are launching and fell in love! The colorful and somehow sophisticated-ly whimsical Vintage Charm Brand is a winner! The updated Pyrex and Corelle tableware give the comfort of Gramma’s kitchen and the luxurious feel of something curated to be modern and artful even though it’s meant for everyday. Mid Century Modern design has those clean simple lines and vibrant color that make for happy, easy living and these haute housewares are simply perfect to accessorize with things you can actually use! Check them out! Coming soon to a retailer near you!

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Design and Construction Week 2016

 toni at dcw2016

Design and Construction Week is such an energizer for anyone in the business or building and remodeling particularly kitchen and bath. The ability to network with peers from all over the country and all over the world is something I really look forward to. This year was special to me because of the personalization and artisanal quality presented by the exhibitors. On the KBIS, Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, side of the main exhibition hall, innovations from favorites like Robern, for which I an a Brand Ambassador, included technology and innovative storage for the bath that make a real difference in everyday life moments like “getting ready” for the day. The artisanal quality of the metal products, some with sculptural animals,  from Thompson Traders had me taking notes as well. Truly functional art that shows creative passion.

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A Pinocchio faucet, move the arms and water flows from his nose, was noteworthy from Italian innovator Emmevi,  and innovations in cabinet conveniences from Richelieu had my brain churning with ideas. The International Builders Show side of the conference center included a booth with new Themador product that I really adore. A new 60″ range with oven capacity for a full sized catering tray, a steam oven, a warming drawer and a 2 bay griddle is a culinary enthusiast’s dream. I salute them at their 100th Anniversary and am proud to be as member of their Design Council.

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The Freedom Column refrigeration has been branded as “preservation center”. The innovations in food preservation are perfect for clients as the options in beautiful integrated appliances allow the client to maximize space whether they are enthusiasts of wine, the farmers market, the need to freeze large quantities or all of the above. A class in business practice held at KBIS and hosted by the NKBA also had my attention.  IThe class was given by my colleague Scott Kohler and related to technology. I learned how to use apps for ease of informational flow to keep projects moving. All in all the Design and Construction Week experience helps me bring the best of the best in all aspects of this business to my valued clients and I am already looking forward to next years’ show.

October is Kitchen and Bath Month….

polycor vetrazzo trip (117)Toni in quarry with hard hatYes, October is Kitchen and Bath Month, celebrated by those of us in the industry to talk up our part in the new construction and renovation business. Of course, for me, every month is “Kitchen and Bath Month”, because I really love this business! So what does the hard hat have to do with my October celebration? I was invited by the fine folks at Vetrazzo to take a trip. The opportunities that come along like a quarry tour and hike in the mountains are little perks that make working in this business extra worthwhile. This trip was to Georgia, to visit the quarry and manufacturing facility of Polycor, responsible for Vetrazzo, an amazing recycled glass surface and Georgia Marble products, quarried and manufactured right here in the USA. The trip was amazing. There were breathtaking views, inspiring company camaraderie and I am grateful for the hospitality.

Aside from a good time, the trip was also very educational. I learned about the processing of the natural stone and have an understanding now of what makes the Georgia Marble a superior stone surface. I was also amazed by the different tones coming out of the quarry and the true natural beauty created by some innovative cutting creating a sort of cross grain effect in some of the product.

The Vetrazzo facility has bags and bags of recycled glass in colors like candy! The beautiful surface gives the term upcycled a whole new meaning! The mix of glass into their secret recipe creates a glistening almost luminescent sort of surface that I just adore! Another item of interest that caught my eye is the new cabinetry hardware from subsidiary Pierre Habitat. The glistening collection of knobs and pulls are truly jewels for the home. Enjoy the photos and Happy Kitchen and Bath Month! :)

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Robern Brand Ambassador …. that’s me!

I am so excited to share my thoughts on design and my love for this great product!

Thanks to Robern for this great piece and wonderful opportunity to share the love!

From the “ROBERN BLOG”

Thinking big with designer Toni Sabatino

Good design should make a statement. Interior designer and Robern Brand Ambassador Toni Sabatino’s statement is clear: go big, or go home.

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Toni is the owner and lead designer of Toni Sabatino Style, an interior design firm in New York with a specialty in creating custom, distinctive interiors that mix an array of styles from classic to contemporary and grandiose to minimalist.

“I like to combine the lifestyle needs of a client with some inspiration that shows who they are,” Toni said. “I love the newly designed space to fit the client like a custom suit.”

Toni began her career in retail, followed by a stint running a plumbing supply company. She transitioned to design work as a kitchen and millwork expert for LIS Custom Designs, a New York cabinetry distributor, where she spent almost 20 years building a portfolio of more than 1000 kitchen designs.  She founded Toni Sabatino Style in 2012, and she has sat on the K+BB Editorial Advisory Board since 2013.

Toni often utilizes Robern products in her bathroom designs, including her personal favorite, the Uplift cabinet. She finds that the 6” depth and signature vertically sliding door make for amazing storage.

Each of Toni’s design projects begins with a lifestyle analysis of the client’s storage and furnishing needs, as well as their desires and personal styles. For example, she often takes color inspiration for a space from a client’s closet. “I like to dress the space in a manner that they would dress themselves,” she said.

Toni takes much of her design inspiration from fashion, art and music, interests that she has been able to nurture with ease while living near the Big Apple. “ I find the city very stimulating,” she said. She also finds inspiration in the natural world, especially from aquatic environments like beaches and waterfalls.

In her free time, Toni relaxes and recharges by spending time with her grandchildren. She also enjoys attending gallery openings, museum exhibits and performances in New York.