Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What I Learned From Santa


The holidays this year were truly magical - I was able to introduce my new grandson to the magic of Christmas. As part of that we took him to the mall to get his picture taken with Santa, and not only did we get a photo, but I also was reminded of some major mistakes we sometimes make when marketing and merchandising our homes. If you would like a copy of the entire article, feel free to email me at: answers@lifestylist.com
Here are 5 things I learned this year from visiting with Santa:
1. Presentation isn’t Everything. This Santa display was one of the most amazing I have ever seen, but most of it had nothing to do with why we were all there - to see Santa. You need to have a total package, and the lifestyle that is shown in your models, community and marketing needs to be what they will really experience in your homes. You can spend a fortune creating your presentation, but if it isn’t targeted to your buyer you are just throwing your marketing budget away.
2. Never Say No. No one likes to be told what they can’t have, and there are ways to avoid having to say no to your customers. I understood that Santa was a business, and I would have been happy to pay a fee so I could shoot my own photos that would have been fair to all involved. Customers appreciate it when you try to come up with a fair compromise, and they then feel like you are working with them, not against them.
3. Let Me Entertain You. Interactive presentations, or having different ways to have your customers really experience your homes is a great way to create memory points. One of my favorites was doing up a line drawing of the builder’s home that the customer’s kids could color and take with them. Having your home and information on a potential customer’s fridge? Priceless. What you don’t want to do is overwhelm the customer with loud music, a pushy salesperson, or too many choices. They come to your sales center because they want to buy a home and they want you to educate them on why their new home should be one of yours.
4. Less Can Be More. Putting everything including the kitchen sink into your model homes can talk a customer out of buying a home from you. Over merchandised homes, or homes that have dated, damaged furniture and accessories in them turn a customer off. You are better off doing a well merchandised home that plays up your homes features and only merchandising a few key areas than just filling a model home with “stuff” from the warehouse.
5. Building the Dream. Just like visiting Santa for the first time, buying a home should be an exciting time for your buyers. If you and your sales team aren’t excited about selling them a new home, how do you expect the buyer to get excited? Make the buying experience a positive one, and not only will your customers buy from you, they will refer their friends to you as well.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Timeless Design: Patriot Homes 2002



As a Lifestylist® I always say that design should be more about lifestyles than trends. Trendy design details and decors tend to cycle out quickly and leave the owner with a home that looks and feels dated.
In 2002 I was hired to be the Lifestylist® for Patriot Homes - an amazing factory built housing company based in Elkhart, Indiana. I had worked on factory built homes in the past, but never at this scale.  This is one of the first homes that I LifeStyled for them -it was at The Louisville show for their EnergyMate division. Jumping ahead 10 years, I'd be happy to show or live in this home again - it was well designed, the floorplan was open and perfect for entertaining, and the island was larger than anything else being shown at that time.
Be sure to notice the pendant lighting. I know we were one of the first to show them and we were ahead of our.  All of our lighting was part of a partnership I initiated with Home Depot.
When you look at this home, it doesn't look like a factory built home, or a modular home - it just looks and feels like a well designed home no matter how it got to the site. Who knew even 10 years ago we were designing the future of housing construction? Factory built homes are definitely here to stay.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

On The Record With The Lifestylist®


One of the questions I get asked the most is how I ever decided to become a Lifestylist®, and where did I get my training.
I've been called a storyteller many times and it's an accurate assessment - I use my talents and materials to tell a story in a home. Hopefully this story explains to the potential homeowner why their lives would be better by living in this home, and what they can expect from the community, the builder, and from the experience. To tell the story, I collect thousands of items - old and new - that I incorporate into my LifeStyled homes.
This weekend I decided it was time to go through some of the things I've collected, and it's been quite a trip down memory lane. I discovered a trunk I forgot about that had family photos from the early 1900's that gave me a glimpse into my family history I hadn't been aware of. Through this discovery I'm finding I come from a very artistic family full of risk takers. This ostrich photo with my great aunt will now always be one of my favorites.
It seems I've been in the media longer than I remembered for my decorating skills. My mother and both grandmothers were very talented in the design fields, and I was lucky enough to be nurtured and inspired by them. This article from 1969 shows me as a 13 yr old showing off some of my skills with my mother and sisters. Apparently I also had my own booth at the church bazaar selling paper flowers and copper enameled jewelry that I made. What's funny is that after seeing this, I may have to try this again - it's really a fun idea!
I'm honored to be a Lifestylist®, and I love having the opportunity to help others find their passions in life. This holiday season remember what makes you happy, and share that passion with your friends and family - you might even find a new career by doing it!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Lifestylist® Companies Support Small Business Saturday


We are so proud to be involved in the home building business, and many of our customers are small privately owned companies that build homes for local families.
All of our Lifestylist® companies are built around the idea that if we buy from local companies and support our local businesses we help them to become homeowners and live the all American dream of owning a home of your own.We loved the 8 years that we were the Lifestylist® for Patriot Homes - we always did at least one Patriotic themed model home, and I think they were my favorites.
I'd like to say that I'm an example of dreams coming true - I married early, never finished college but here I am owning my own business and being able to help others.
If you are looking for a Lifestylist® to help merchandise and add Lifestyle to your homes, please contact us at: answers@lifestylist.com, or take a look at our website at: www.lifestylist.com
Let's all support locally owned businesses and bring jobs back to America!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Thankful





Happy Thanksgiving! This holiday is about food and family, but even more than that I like to use it to remind me how thankful I am for what I have, and for those around me.

For over 25 years my parents were very active doing disaster relief with The Salvation Army, and even raised the money for a state of the art canteen for the Tyler Texas location. Whenever there was a disaster or need and my parents got a call they dropped everything and hit the road. One of the most memorable phone calls I ever received was when Hurricane Katrina hit and my parents answered the call. They called me when they were outside the Super Dome not having a clue what was going on inside. For six weeks they were in the French Quarter feeding the volunteers - my Dad always joked he always wanted to have a restaurant in the French Quarter and he finally got his wish!

Whenever this Lifestylist® could I joined them on the road helping my Mom cook up to 2,000 hot meals a day and seeing first hand what mother nature can dish out. People were so sweet and hospitable, even though many had lost everything that they had. It was always hard to leave - I wanted to stay there and help rebuild.

This year I have been blessed to be involved with three amazing organizations - Shared Housing, Genesis Women's Shelter and HomeAid/Homebuilders Care. I am always so drawn to the kids - many of them have seen things we can't even imagine, but they always have the best manners, always say please, thank-you and give the best hugs :)

It's harder than ever to make a living, but even if you can't make a donation to a worthwhile charity think about donating your time -you'll be very thankful that you did.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bunkbeds Add Style And Storage To Childrens Rooms

As a Lifestylist®, I spend a lot of time researching and reading about current home trends. The current trend in kid's room styling is minimalism and individual flair. For families with multiple children, space saving is an important element in room design. Bunk beds for kids fit in with today's minimalist trend and also provide practical, space-savings for families.
Bunkbeds can add flair to a child’s room using unusual bunk bed themes. Themes such as castles, race cars, trees or playground equipment bring a sense of individuality to the room. However, this can get a bit complicated if the kids sharing the room are not the same gender. I won't even pretend to know how to handle that situation!
My favorite Jr Lifestylist Jenna has had a bunkbed in her room since she was 4, and it has been the prefect solution for giving her lots of storage and having a space where her friends can sleep when they stay over. The bookcase that is tucked underneath has helped encourage her love of reading. Jenna has always loved pink, but now is trending towards blues and browns. Because her bunkbed is in a neutral wood finish, it's easy to change out her room as her tastes change.
Consider a trendy color theme. Current color trends steer away from the classic styling of blues for boys and pinks for girls. Color pallets that mimic nature, or include unusual colors such as black, gray and tan are now the trend. If you have a bit more to spend, consider using chalk board paint, kids go bonkers over this.
Minimize the amount of clutter in the room. Shelves and storage space should be attached to the wall, leaving an open floor space to play in. If you really want to take things to the next level, directly attach a bunk bed to the wall with no floor supports whatsoever, giving it the illusion that it is floating above the rest of the room (this can be quite pricey).
The current trends for bedrooms are exciting, the cluttered days of 100's of stuffed animals and blinding colors are over. Give your kid's bedroom a modern make over, they will thank you for it!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sur La Table and Thermador - The Perfect Pairing


It's hard to believe that this Lifestylist® made it  through another year of The State Fair of Texas cooking contests! I am thrilled with the ribbons I won, and even though I missed a few of the contests I usually enter so I could take part in the Thermador Design Council, the information I received (as well as being pampered and having a chef cook almost every meal for us) was better than any ribbon.
When I'm thinking about what I want to enter and I'm looking for those special tools, Sur La Table is always my first stop. After I bought a digital candy thermometer there I started winning in the candy contests and now I can't imagine life without it. I also know they will always have the perfect pan, cruet, or sea salt to make my entries stand out.
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to get to photograph an event at the Dallas Sur La Table that was a book signing with Martha Stewart! For three hours I had a chance to see this icon in person, and for the record she could not have been more gracious. The Sur La Table team made the event go seamlessly, and everyone had a wonderful time.
When I was at the Thermador Culinary Center last week I heard great news - Sur La Table is now featuring Thermador appliances in many of their kitchens! Now you have the opportunity to take some of their cooking classes and be able to try out the steam oven and many of the other innovations that Thermador offers.
Thermador and Sur la Table - I can't think of a better pairing!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

LifeStyled Finds at the Ronald's House Sale


One of my favorite places to find unique items worthy of being in a Lifestylist® Collection every year is the Ronald's House sale in Rochester, NY. This year the sale will be held Oct. 13-15, and it promises to be one of the best years yet!
Take a look at a video we produced showing some of the amazing finds in the past. There are old books and cameras in the video that we used in a very special home a few years ago that was built by @home Builders. This Lifestylist® was asked to completely furnish and LifeStyle a home using items that had been donated to the sale and create a Homearama House for the home tour. All of the merchandise was then auctioned off, and @home Builders was able to raise over $25,000 for Ronald's House!
If you are looking for a special vintage cookbook, amazing glass, a Victrola or anything in-between, you need to check out this sale. All proceeds go to fund The Ronald MacDonald House in Rochester, NY

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lifestylist® Designed Collections to Debut at the Sunbelt Builders Show


It has been a really busy summer, and we've been working hard on some really innovative products that we are almost ready to share with you.
Lifestylist® Design has teamed up with three great companies - The Red Baron Companies, Basic Components Inc. and Syntec Industries to put together some curated collections worthy of the Lifestylist® Designed name. These are products that will make your life easier to live with style, are very well priced, and just make sense.
The Red Baron Architectural will be exhibiting at The Sunbelt Builders Show, and we will have some products there to show you that I think you are going to love. Please stop by Booth 1219 and say hello -  anyone who mentions that they found out about about us through this page and "liked" us on our Facebook page will get a special thank-you gift!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Southern Energy Homes of Texas Debuts New Homes



SEhomes of Texas opened their Fall Home Show today, and the response from retailers and landlease community owners has been fantastic. Five Lifestylist® Designed homes are being featured, each with it's own theme. The Opening Day party had a hunting theme, and guests had a wonderful time playing washers and feasting on barbeque that was cooked in a smoker resembling a gun.
These well designed homes have the features consumers are looking for including master baths with separate showers, large gourmet kitchens, split master suite plans and one home even has a media room with a refreshment area.

To get more information on the homes, contact Sales Manager Ryan Blackburn at: ryan.blackburn@sehomes.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer Savings

One sure sign that summer is almost over is the sales of colorful, outdoor inspired items at the stores. A lot of the department stores start clearing this merchandise our right after the 4th of July to make room for school items, but the home decor stores tend to wait until Labor Day weekend.
One of our Lifestylist® inspired blogs is Dollar Store Decors - items that cost less than a latte. I was out shopping for the 5 new model homes we have to install mid-September, and I was amazed how many cool things that fit this criteria that were giveaway deals, and I also found some great items that I'm going to use to display my "pick-ups" from my summer travels.
World Market was full of treasures today -up to 90% off! I found this great chair and two others that were marked down to $9.95 - 90% off. They had two great outdoor dining tables that were at the same savings, but I tend to collect tables and I know I didn't have room for them. But the chairs had such great style, I know I'll be able to re-purpose them in a living room, or use them as seating in a guest room. I'm tempted to paint them with a metallic paint or possibly a turquoise color, have cushions made and really make them special - at under $10.00 I don't have much to lose.
The painted table was a find at Hobby Lobby where I was able to find two matching ones at 80% off. I loved the colors and character they had, and I'm thinking about stacking them and using them as a display piece. What do you think?
I'm also collecting glassware and baskets that I can use to display my pick up pieces - I love picking up found items when I travel as a memento instead of buying a T-Shirt or shot glass. I'll share how to make picture frames and other ideas with these later, but I've got to get back to my model home shopping and taking advantage of these sales - I'll let you know what else I find soon!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ashley Furniture HomeStores Launches "Who's Ready for REAL Furniture" Contest


As a Lifestylist®, helping others enhance their life and style is what I love doing. Because of this everyone thinks I must live in a glamorous, well designed home, but I have a little secret to share with you. My motto is "your Life, Your Style, Your Way" and that applies to me as well as the people I help, but I have been told that this chair is hurting my reputation.
I bought it a long time ago and it was expensive (and is not from Ashley). I was told it was leather, but after the finish started peeling off I found that wasn't the case.  But it does have heated cushions and a massage element in it, as well as that fancy phone so I never had to get up. I tried buying a slip cover for it, but nothing could hide its sad condition. It's still "functional" but it may be time for it to go.
If you have your own furniture that may be past it's prime this is the contest for you! Ashley Furniture is having a "Who's ready for REAL furniture? contest, and the winner can receive a grand prize of a $3,500 shopping spree, and two lucky runner ups will receive a $500 gift certificate.
I hope you don't have a recliner or a room full of furniture past it's prime, but if you do, go to the Ashley Home Store Facebook page and enter. The contest runs through September 9th, and while you are waiting to see if you won be sure to check out the great news designs available at your local Ashley HomeStore.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Portfolio Kitchen and Home Opens Flagship Store in Kansas City

Congratulations to Thermador and Geri Higgins for the opening of the Portfolio Flagship store in Kansas City. There will be a functioning Thermador Culinary Studio in the store and Thermador's executive chef Brad Peterson will be conducting cooking classes and demonstrations during the opening.
Geri is on the Thermador National Design Council with Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber, and we are hoping an invitation comes our way so we can see this beautiful new location in person!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The American Dream

We all have our own version of what the American Dream is - for many that includes owning your own home.
My dream was to have my own Home Idea Factory - a place where this Lifestylist® could live and work, would have the character that would let me "practice what I preach" and have some room to garden. I was also hoping to have enough space to continue to help with the animal rescue groups I've joined. All of my dreams came true, and now I have a space that will never be "done", but always evolving.
My father told my mother when they got married that some day he would buy her a place on a lake, and he did! Their Hideway Lake home has been the place that many of our family holidays, wedding, and birthdays have taken place, and it is full of wonderful memories.
There are people who are looking for an affordable place with a yard to raise their families, use as a second home or retire to and land lease communities can be a great solution for these people. Land lease communities are those where factory built housing are placed in communities where homeowners lease the land the homes are placed on in a community - many times with amenities such as pools, clubhouses, and tennis courts. I have always believed this is the perfect solution for affordable housing because it can be so cost effective, and I've been wanting to be a part of this solution hands on.
The time has come! Lifestylist® Design has been asked to re-brand and enhance the lifestyle options of two communities in Florida - Parkwood in Port Orange, FL and Countryside Village in Tampa. I can't wait to get started - these communities are a great example of how affordable the American Dream can be. Be sure to get our updates on the progress at Parkwood and Countryside Village Facebook pages.