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Designer Spotlight: Loi Thai of Tone on Tone

Design Tips | Designer Spotlight

A look at the gorgeous work and design philosophy of Loi Thai, of Tone on Tone. He is widely known for his use of a neutral color scheme mixed with French and Swedish antiques to create elegant, yet livable spaces.

I first became aware of the amazingly talented Loi Thai at least 10 years ago when I saw his shop featured in a magazine. I was instantly in love with his use of French and Scandanavian antiques, not to mention his stunning landscape designs.

designer loi thai sitting on white chest next to myrtle topiaries in terracotta pots white walls
Designer Loi Thai. Image credit Tom Troeschel

So let’s dive right into today’s post and learn more about Loi Thai of Tone on Tone!

What is Tone on Tone?

In design terms, tone on tone refers to using various hues of a small selection of colors (usually neutrals) in a space. Essentially, you color layer the various hues via the use of fabrics, textures, paints. etc. Tone on tone styling is therefore slightly different than a monochromatic color scheme in that it might use more than one color in its approach.

Tone on tone design results in a visually interesting space that has a sophisticated and approachable look.

Loi’s business, Tone on Tone, is aptly named because one look at his designs and you’ll know that he is an expert at tone on tone styling!

white walled foyer with gray mora clock next to arched front door that is painted blue
Inside Loi Thai’s foyer. Credit Tone on Tone

Loi Thai’s Career

Loi Thai once had a career at the Smithsonian Institution but left to open his antique shop, Tone on Tone, in 2004 with his partner Tom Troeschel. It was around this time that I first became aware of Loi and his incredible talent for styling.

While running his shop, Loi became a respected authority on Swedish painted furniture and his Scandinavaian and European antiques were a huge drawer for designers, collectors and retail clients alike.

“When I visited Sweden 10 years ago, I was taken by the
fresh and calm aesthetic,” says Loi. “I loved the serenity and
peacefulness of the light colors. And because this furniture is a
painted adaptation of classic forms from other European countries, it works well in a variety of design situations.”

– Loi thai

After 15 years in business, Loi closed his shop so that he could focus full-time on his design business, Tone on Tone Designs.

Loi Thai’s Design Philosophy

Loi Thai has an incredible way of balancing old and new to give a space just the right amount of freshness, while holding onto a bit of history. His signature look uses painted antiques mixed with newer furnishings on a neutral canvas. He often groups his collections together to highlight their beauty while maintaining a serene look.

Our signature look brings together the sophistication of antiques, the comfort of livable furnishings, and the serenity of a neutral palette. We are celebrated for our ability to combine pedigreed pieces with everyday finds for a point of view that is exclusive yet approachable.

– Loi Thai

His interiors feature gorgeous antique botanical prints, creamware, and ironstone. Not to mention his well-known topiaries!

Tone on Tone Interiors

Here’s a few more of my favorite of Loi interior designs.

living room with striped slipcovered chairs next to glass square coffee table and gustavian secretary in the background
In the corner stands a 19th-century Gustavian secretary that gives the creamy white foyer a jolt of bright apple green. Credit Tone on Tone

Tone on Tone Outdoor Gardens

round boxwood headges with large white hydrangeas behind and urns with spilling white petunias
Credit Tone on Tone
formal backyard garden with lawn surrounded by topiary hedges and antique sundial in center of lawn
Credit Tone on Tone

Tone on Tone Myrtle Topiaries

Loi loves creating topiaries out of myrtus communis compacta, which is
a small leaf variety that is great for shaping. You’ll see him use them in multiples as a grouping, or as a set of two flanking focal points in a room.

gustavian console table with gold mirror above hanging from gray ribbon and two triple ball myrtle topiaries on either side

Myrtle Topiary Care & Pruning

Given Loi’s love of topiariers, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some of his gardening tips with you. Below is a collection of advice that he’s given over the years.

Sunlight

  • Topiaries require a lot of light in order to maintain their dense shrubbery
  • Be sure to rotate the plant often so that it receives light on all sides
  • If kept outside, ensure it it protected from wind, frost, etc. that will damage the plant
  • If kept inside, select a sunny spot ideally with a bright south or west exposure

Water

  • Water consistently so that soil stays damp, as myrtles don’t often survive once they’ve completely dried out
  • Ensure good drainage so that the roots do not sit in water
  • Keep away from heating systems, which can dry out the plant
  • If your plant absorbs water quickly and needs constant watering, it’s probably time to repot

Pruning

  • Prunning myrtles actually encourages new grown, so don’t be afraid to trim!
  • Trim every two weeks from late winter to the end of summer (growth seasons)
  • Prune once a month the rest of the year
  • After trimming, shake out the dead/clipped leaves
  • Try not to clip the leaves themselves, as that will create a brown spot
  • These Bosch pruning shears are a favorite

Insect Treatment

  • Take topiaries outside to spray on a cloudy day or in the shade
  • Spray the leaves, soil and moss with Neem oil, an organic oil used to control pests such as aphids, motes, scale, etc.
  • If problems persist, visit your local nursery

Fertilizing

  • Replenishment of vital nutrients is key to a successful container garden
  • Use liquie Miracle-Gro once a month from late winter to early fall (late March – early September)
Don’t we all wish we had a potting shed this beautiful?! Credit Tone on Tone

I hope you enjoyed learning more about Loi Thai and his talent for styling beautiful spaces! Be sure to follow Loi on Instagram for more beautiful photos. Or you can hire him via his website Tone on Tone!

And remember, beautiful things can be found anywhere. They don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful!

I believe good design is available at all price points.

– Loi Thai

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