Q&A with Lisa D. Tobias of Tobias Design

By Taylor Smith 

When did you first realize your passion for kitchen and bath design? 

When I built my current house 16 years ago, my builder recognized that I had talent and suggested that I work with him. At the time I was working as a consultant for an employee benefit firm specifically designing health care plans and providing actuarial services. I have a love of math and the arts, and thought this opportunity would combine these two disparate traits very nicely.

What services does Tobias Design provide? 

Tobias Design helps our clients by designing kitchens (both cabinet layout and the selection of materials) or baths from concept to completion. Our process starts with a lot of questions that help us determine our clients’ design style and identify how they specifically use a kitchen. Almost like how an actor would absorb themselves in a role, we absorb ourselves in our clients’ minds and reflect back a design that is unique to them. Once the layout is approved, we assist them with the selection of materials that will complete the picture — counter tops, tile, flooring, backsplash, lighting, plumbing, paint selection, etc. — so that in the end the completed kitchen or bathroom looks like a cohesive, thoughtful, complete design giving rise to a space that is unique to them.

What are you most inspired by and how does this influence your design aesthetic?

I particularly love when our client has one “found” piece – whether it be furniture, an antique, artwork, or even something with a striking color. Often it stimulates our imaginations and can be found in recurring themes in our kitchens designs. We especially love when our clients allow us to take risks and design outside of a pre-processed way of thinking. We did a kitchen once that was inspired by a uniquely-colored oven; and another where an antique Flexible Flyer sled gave rise to a red spiral staircase in a kitchen that otherwise used gray-colored, driftwood-appearing cabinets next to very modern dark-stained cabinets. The juxtaposition of the old and rustic against the new was striking and beautiful.

In what ways does Tobias Design deliver personalized service?

 Many times the redesign process can be daunting. To us, it’s second nature. We step our clients through our tried-and-true process one piece at a time to make what can seem overwhelming very manageable. We pride ourselves on our hand-holding from start to finish. Most importantly, we address every phone call or email with a sense of urgency and demonstrated patience.

Describe some recent or future projects that you are particularly proud of. 

We have completed a significant number of restorations from turn-of-the-century to 17th century, and enjoy working by paying homage to the time frame in which the house was built. To us, diversity is our joy and design flexibility is key; from farm houses built in the 1800s, to track homes, large or small and all in between, we are proud of each and every one that allows us to display what we do best – design.

Photography by John Armich