For the very first installment in this year’s Interior Designer Spotlight Series, we present one of the industry’s leading kitchen designers, Toni Sabatino of Toni Sabatino Style. You may have seen her speaking at the KBIS NextStage, WNWN, or Design Chicago. She is the recipient of an Interior Design Society Designer of the Year Award for Kitchens and several Best of Houzz Awards. And she somehow manages to still find time to sit on an editorial board and several councils.
With her deep industry involvement and thousands of kitchens in her portfolio, she is always at the cutting edge of interior design. She is known for mixing elements to create cohesive and unique designs that accentuate existing architectural features and reflect an understanding of the client’s lifestyle and life stages. Read on for insights and inspiration as Toni answers a few questions from HomeDecorAZ’s Design Team.
What inspired you to become an interior designer?
As a child, I loved to draw building interiors on graph paper, especially castles. I was always reorganizing kitchen cabinets, too. And as a young woman, I was always looking to express myself through art and creativity in a way that would reward me monetarily. Becoming an interior designer just seemed to be a natural fit for me. I have also always been interested in how people live. There is so much sociology and anthropology in interior design.
For almost 2 decades, you’ve designed, delivered, and installed an average of 60 to 100 kitchens a year! Why kitchens?
I love kitchens! They truly are the heart of the home. Feeding your friends and family feeds your soul. The way we shop, store, prepare and consume food is always evolving with new appliance innovations, food driven lifestyles and home life needs for recharging your inner battery. The open kitchen as a great space is my favorite way to express this in design. Life and entertaining radiating from the kitchen make this the true “living room.” I favor a parlor or music room as a lovely formal space if the square footage allows for that.
Describe your own dream kitchen?
I have many! A dream kitchen works with an architectural style and any views or architectural gifts to make a statement. As far as the flow and function, I love a large two level island, refrigerator and freezer columns, under counter dairy fridge, wine fridge, three ovens (2 convection baking and 1 steam), induction cooktop, a brulee torch to flambe, clean up sink, bar sink and prep sink, a baking area and a walk-in pantry. I also love pocket or sliding doors with counters behind for all those great countertop appliances. I am also loving the new MONOGRAM pizza oven. The roasted veggies, as well as flatbreads created in minutes, are just scrumptious so I guess my ideal kitchen had four ovens! And, of course, a coffee system!
What kitchen design trends do you see making it big in 2019?
Clean lines, ample storage, open shelves, mixed metals, steam and induction cooking, natural elements that create an organic modernism feel. The “hidden kitchen” in plain sight, integrated into living space is another favorite direction I see us going in.
What is your design philosophy or mantra?
Live what you love. I think the home should reflect the desired lifestyle with curated things of meaning having a place.
If you could go back in time, when would you go? Why?
Middle Ages! True farm to table living and naturally derived preservation styles, big open outdoor roasting and eating in pageantry tents with lyre and lute music.
Technology is definitely impacting our lifestyles and, consequently, kitchen design. What technology are you most excited about?
I love the Control 4 “intercom anywhere” that connects your whole home to your cell phone. I think that cell apps have been embraced enough that this is only a natural progression. I am also excited by josh.ai voice and motion control and josh.ai has much more coming. A company to watch for sure.
On top of working and running your own design firm, you are the 2018-2019 NKBA Manhattan Chapter President, a member of the K&BB Editorial Advisory Board, several industry design councils, the Interior Design Society and the Sustainable Furnishings Council. How do you do it?
I love it all! I am recharged by trade shows and NKBA meetings. I love to share with my peers and talk shop. I also vacation a fair amount to relax and gather inspiration and spending time with my family sometimes includes these inspirational jaunts and trade shows so it all flows together.
What drove your decision to get CLIPP certified? And would you recommend it to other designers?
Yes! I love the CLIPP program and the Living In Place Institute philosophy. The idea that homes should be safer, smarter, more secure and really work for the people that live there is natural. The CLIPP program gives you the knowledge and tools to talk to clients about lifestyle needs, including aging in the home and other needs as well as thoughtful solutions, including team building with the other trades like tech and occupational therapists to make it all work depending on the needs of the client. The user experience should equal the aesthetic of the design.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Travel, walk on the beach, cook, wander around NYC.
We love the pieces that came out of your collaboration with Baden Haus Spa. What other collaborations have you enjoyed? Will you be doing collaborations with other brands in the future?
I loved working with this Italian company. They were looking to enter the US market and it was fortuitous for all of us. My creations are modular so you can use as many cabinets as the space can handle to store grooming aids, makeup, skin treatment creams, towels, first aid items and all that stuff that accumulates in a bathroom. I would love to do a line of rugs, housewares, lighting... I LOVE lighting! My wheels are always turning.
What are your top tips for a kitchen makeover?
Be thoughtful and spend time thinking and understand how you want to live in your space. Hire a professional to help you put it all together. There are so many products and finding the right solutions can be overwhelming if you are not familiar with all the options.
If you were stuck on an island, what 3 items do you absolutely need to survive (aside from food, water, clothing, and shelter)?
Music, a sketch pad and a pencil ☺
What is the best part of being a grandparent?
Sheer joy! It’s loads of fun. I am a lucky woman in that my children don’t need me to do things other than enjoy the company of their families. I love visiting parks and aquariums and beaches and building with legos and I could go on and on...
How can interested clients learn more about you and your services?
They can look me up and contact me by email or even phone. TONISABATINOSTYLE.COM