Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Missing Sandra Lee SemiHomemade Kwanzaa Cake Story

I am so disappointed! I learned today that the witty post written by Denise Vivaldo about Kwanzaa Cake is no longer up on Huffington Post. This story had over 8,000 views, 1,900 shares on Facebook and 270 comments. Someone sure was enjoying reading it. If anyone has a copy I'd love one -I always wondered how that holiday miracle came to be.
But the great part of this story is that it introduced me to Denise and I was lucky enough to get a copy of her beautiful book "Food Stylists Handbook". I'm totally motivated now to get back into the kitchen and come up some photo-worthy plates of my own. And I promise, no store bought angel food cakes, apple pie filling, "acorns" or oversized tapers will be harmed in the process.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Noah's Magic Shoes

I feel so blessed that I have had the life I have, and because of that I feel compelled to give back every opportunity that I have. Giving people hope and helping others isn't that hard - sometimes it's as easy as just thinking about where you are shopping or making a purchase.
Nothing touches me more than violence to another living being, and the I have been very fortunate to have been introduced to the Genesis Women's Shelter in Dallas.The work they do is amazing, and what hurts me the most is how much of a need there is for safe havens like Genesis.
But back to giving back. Over a year ago Director Jan Langbein shared a story with some of her group about a boy who had come to live at one of the Genesis shelters. This six year old boy had never owned a new pair of shoes, and when he received the new pair of red sneakers he proclaimed that they were magic because the treads on them allowed him to walk up a slide backwards. From that story "Noah's Magic Shoes" came to be.
This beautifully illustrated book is truly a labor of love, and 100% of the proceeds benefit the Genesis Women's Shelter. You can purchase a copy for yourself or to share on the Genesis website. I shared my autographed copy that I purchased at the NorthPark Center event to my daughter who is a teacher. There are classroom lessons on the website prepared by Dr. Larkin Page, Professor of Children's Literature.
Make a difference this year by sharing the story of "Noah's Magic Shoes" - it is a gift that will truly keep on giving.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Excitement Builds Around The Opening of The New American Home

I just saw an article in Nation's Building News today about The New American Home.  This publication is the official online newspaper of The National Association of Home Builders, and is available to you if you are a member of this amazing organization.
If you are not a member, please feel free to contact us - we'll get the information to you that you need in time to join us at the International Builders Show and tour the home!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pixie Dust

I just returned from a magical week in Orlando. Someone said they scatter pixie dust at the airport when you arrive, and I'm starting to believe them. Not only was I able to take part in a home that will probably be one of the the high points of my Lifestylist® career, but I was also blessed to spend some very special time with my kids and grandkids and share my Lifestylist® approach with them. Being a Lifestylist incorporates life and style, and getting creative in the kitchen is definitely part of that.
As part of the staging for The New American Home, I purchased a large amount of beautiful granny smith apples to add color and lifestyle to the kitchen. After we were finished with the shoot, I thought why not recycle them and make a pie with the grandkids? Neither of them had tried making a pie before, and with Thanksgiving being only a week away I thought this could be a great time to make their first.
Jenna may only be 8 yrs old, but she loves to cook and is really good at it. She has taken part in the Jr Chef Camp at the Gaylord Texan that Chef Joanne teaches, and was excited about trying out her culinary skills making a pie. Many adults would be daunted by this task, but Jenna dug right in. After teaching her some basic knife skills and precautions, she peeled and cored all of the apples herself. Brother Christian decided to help us make the crust, and we made a huge mess (sorry Trish!) but I'm sure it was a day that they will always remember.
I am so grateful to have the loving, supportive family I have, and the amazing clients that believe in me and what I do. Here's to the start of a holiday season filled with hope, happiness and lots of pixie dust!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Recycling Model Homes

Welcome to my world. With budgets getting tighter every day, builders are looking for ways to cut costs but still increase sales. One way to do this is by renovating and recycling model home furniture and accessories they already have.
This makes a lot of sense, but when employees or decorators are used for this task that don't understand merchandising, there's a good chance you won't get the desired results.
Youngs Homes in Hobbs, NM asked me to come down and help them with their model home center a few years ago and had the right results - sales and traffic increased without it costing them a fortune.  Since then they have brought in some new models, and realized it was time to look at re-modeling what they had. Employees had helped where they could to decorate the new models, but they just weren't getting the desired results. The Home Idea Factory was given the task of creating some Lifestylist Designed models using only the furniture that they already owned to keep costs down, but we did add some "personality packages" of artwork and accessories to add the lifestyle that was missing and keeping buyers from becoming emotionally involved with the homes.
I'm going to share a few examples of what we accomplished in the next few weeks, but this will give you an idea of the results.
This beautiful Champion Home has everything a buyer could wish for - 9 ft. ceilings, transom windows, a fireplace, and a dream kitchen with  stainless appliances and vent hood, and an island. From the inside and out, people would never guess this is a factory built home. As a matter of fact, it offers more options and upgrades than most site built homes do! The family room had a rock fireplace, and they even showed a front bedroom as a study. The house had furniture in it, but needed some lifestyle added to it.
By raiding the warehouse (notice the gold parsons chairs in the warehouse photo) we were able to pull the colors together more and add warmth to the home. Artwork and accessories highlighted the buyer profile for the area - ranchers - and furniture was re-arranged to emphasize how livable the floorplan is.
This is one of the higher priced homes that Young's sells, so we wanted it to feel that way. Buyers are now comfortable enough in the home to sit down and enjoy the home, and interest in the home has increased dramatically.
If you would like to discover how a Lifestylist Re-Designed model can help your sales, contact us at: answers@lifestylist.com

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Model Homes That Sell

Anyone who has ever spent time in a model home has heard a buyer ask the sales person where they can purchase something that they see in the home. More often than not, the builder and sales team don't have any idea, and that memory point is lost.
Lifestylist Design recently did a home for American Custom Builders that was a "ready to go home" - everything in the home was purchased within 10 miles of the home or was available online. By keeping the number of stores used to a minimum, buyers were easily able to see how they could make their new home look "just as good as the model home". All of the furniture used was from a local Ashley Home Store, and buyers purchasing one of the homes received a discount on their own purchases after they closed on their home.
Take a look at a video we just completed of the home and see for yourself how beautifully this concept can be accomplished.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Farm

Being a Lifestylist sometimes means getting off the beaten path, and when you do you never know what you'll discover.
This week I was in Western NY for the opening of the Riedman Development and @home Builders Design Center, and decided to take a different route back to the airport. When I did I drove past The Great Pumpkin Farm and knew I had to check it out. If you are in that area it's a must visit, if not take a look at the video we put together.  Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Good Guys Do Finish First - Congratulations to Sandlin Homes

Sandlin Custom Homes was named Builder of the Year last week by The Texas Association of Builders, and I can't think of a company more worthy of that title.
One of the first model homes I ever worked on was for this family, and after over 20 years I still remember what a great experience it was, and can even tell you the color palette and theme of the house!
Sales Manager Alan Sladek was named Sales Manager of the Year, and they also received awards for model home merchandising, product design, print ad, direct mail piece and billboard!
This company isn't just about winning awards though, it's about building a great home. There aren't many family owned and run companies that have been in business for over 50 years, and there is a reason why this is the case for Sandlin Homes. You can tell everyone who works there takes it personally and it shows in every home that they build. If you are in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area take a look at these beautiful homes and discover what makes them so special.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sharing is Caring

One of my favorite things to do every year is entering the State Fair of Texas cooking contests. Being a Lifestylist to me is about all of the ways you can live your life with style - not just design.Not because I want to win, but because I really enjoy sharing all of my entries with different workers at the fair afterward. These are the people who really enjoy my cooking and know it's made with love. Officer Stevens is usually by the entrance we use every day, and after she tried my peanut parries she was hooked. I've never won a ribbon with these, but I keep entering because they are the favorites of Chuck and Linda at the Chili Parlor and we've become good friends because of them.
When I brought Officer Stevens her cookies on the last day she said that we had no idea how much our sharing meant to her - and how nice it was just to have people appreciate her. There is no ribbon that can ever top that great feeling when you know you are doing something for the joy of it, but others get to share that joy as well.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The New American Home: Orlando 2011

I've been attending the International Builders Show for over 20 years now - where does the time go? It's something I look forward to every year, not only as a place to catch up with all of the friends and clients I've made over the years, but also to check out what's the latest and greatest in home design.
The convention floor can be overwhelming - the exhibits are huge and you want to check out every booth so you don't miss anything. I always rest up before the show because I know when I'm there I've got a lot of walking to do. Thank heavens for the digital age though - before you used to pick up catalogs and information as you went, now we can find a lot of that information online.
When the convention was in Dallas I was asked to be the designer and Lifestylist® on The American Home Of the Year - a project with Home Magazine, Home Depot, and Crate and Barrel. It was an honor to work with builder Steve Brooks and his team at Grand Homes, and working on it developed my love of doing editorial work.
This year the International Builders Show is back in Orlando, and the National Association of Homebuilders has asked me to be the Lifestylist® on The New American Home! This is the 28th year that a New American Home has been built to showcase innovative building products and technologies, and including a Lifestylist® on the team is definitely new!
The home is only open to attendees of IBS, but I wanted to share some of the really interesting and unique ideas that are being incorporated into the home as well as introduce you to the very talented team that is responsible for the home.  If you haven't signed up to attend IBS yet and you are a member of NAHB, be sure to sign up here so you can see the home in person. I'll be blogging about the progress of the home on my Home Idea Factory blog - please follow the progress of the home there!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lifestylist Design Featured in Builder Magazine

We had a great surprise today - Builder Magazine published an article on New Approaches to Model Homes, and Lifestylist Design was featured in the story! Editor Jenny Sullivan included lots of great information and you can tell that she spent a lot of time researching the story.
If you are looking for a fresh, achievable approach to your model home merchandising dilemmas, please contact us at: answers@lifestylist.com

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Champion Homes Gets Social

I just found out today  Champion Homes has a Facebook page that they are getting ready to add a lot of information and photos to. When I went to check it out, I found photos of the Lifestylist® Designed home we merchandised for them at the Tulsa show and heard that there will be more photos to come of the Texas Show. If you haven't "liked " this page yet be sure to do so - that way you'll be one of the first to see all of the exciting new changes.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lifestylist® Designed Cafe Gets a Bobby Flay Throwdown

I am so excited! I just learned that Bobby Flay traveled to Tucson and had a "throwdown" with the Matias family at Teresa's Mosaic Cafe. This is a restaurant that we did the interior of, and as with all Lifestylist® Designed challenges we spent a lot of time getting to know the family and their needs before we came up with a plan.
Teresa's is all about family and the wonderful handmade food so the interior had to have as much personality as the family does. To do this we designed tables made of handmade tiles - thousands of them all that we made by hand. It was an extensive amount of work but the results were definitely worth it.
The episode airs on the Food Network - check out dates and times for your area.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How Dramatic Are Your Homes?

As a Lifestylist®, I spend quite a lot of time touring homes in different cities looking for new ideas and trends. Last week I was in South Haven, MI meeting with a client and discovered a great store - Props - who's slogan is: "Your Home is Your Stage... Add Some Drama".

So many times the drama is missing from our homes, and the customer loses interest in the home before they finish their tour. Here are some inexpensive Lifestylist® Designed ideas that  you can use to add some drama to your model homes.

Color    Color can be a really easy way to wake up a home that has been sitting on your lot too long. Paint is one way, but you also do something as simple as changing out the pillows on your upholstery to give a room a new look. Artwork is also a very effective way to change the feel of a room and make it more memorable.

Emotion     Do your homes pull at the potential buyer's heartstrings or just leave them uninspired? Accessories and textures can add warmth and emotion to a home. One of my favorite staging tricks is setting the dining table and having it look like the new buyers are getting ready for a dinner party. Plates, napkins, and glassware can only cost a few dollars each but can give your home a festive feel that the buyers will remember.

Shake Things Up Have you ever noticed that by moving furniture around and changing out accessories you can make the room have a completely different feel? Freshening up your homes might not cost you a dime - it might take a little muscle.

These are only a few ideas that we would love to share with you. If you don't have the time to work on your models yourself we would be happy to provide the services necessary to make your sales center more dramatic. The Home Idea Factory is All About You, and we would love to become your "go to" resource for all of your design needs.

Feel free to contact us to find out more about what we do at: info@lifestylist.com

Monday, August 9, 2010

Homearama Returns to Rochester, NY

It's hard to believe it's already time for Homearama again - where does the time go? But this is the perfect time to visit Rochester - the produce season is in full swing, perfect weather and it's also a great time to be thinking about decorating ideas to warm up your home with.
This year this annual event will be held at WaterSong in Penfield August 14th - 22nd. Sponsored by the Rochester Homebuilders Association this 9 days will not only highlight these 5 beautiful homes but there will also be an abundance of wine tasting, cooking demos and decorating seminars.
Lifestylist® Design has teamed up with @home Builders three different years to participate in this great event, but my favorite home was definitely the Ronald McDonald Show House we did a few years ago. We teamed up with the amazing group of volunteers from the Ronald McDonald House and merchandised a home using furniture, artwork and accessories that were donated to Ronald McDonald for their annual ABC Sale.It was truly a Lifestylist® Designed home -  I spent three months going over images they would send me of new donations and digging through their warehouse to find the perfect items for this home and by the end we did!
It was a fun challenge to show how you can do a beautifully decorated home using only "gently cherished" items. The best part was @home Builders then did an online auction and visitors to the home could bid on each room. All of the proceeds then went to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. From this, the dinner auction prize and other events that @home Builders did with the home they were able to raise over $25,000 for the charity. To see photos and get more information about this show house, check out the website we designed for it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Simplify Your Life While Helping Others

It's hot as heck here today - the 1st day of August and it's supposed to reach 106 degrees! So today instead of even trying to do anything outside I decided to work on one of my new goals and start simplifying my life and style.
Have you noticed how easy it is to make impulse purchases now and how things just start piling up? I think I inherited a little of my parents recession-fear mentality and it's hard for me to pass up anything free like the little soaps and shampoos that you get in hotels.  As a Lifestylist® I'm always picking up cool and unusual items that I plan on using for staging or merchandising a model home - thanks heavens the Home Idea Factory has lots of storage or I'd be in big trouble!
Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to The Family Place - an amazing resource for abused women and families. I serve on the board for HomeAid / HomeBuilders Care in Dallas and we just built new apartments, a clinic and a school room for them and it was so rewarding to see what we were able to accomplish. We were also able to meet some of the women who live there and what a difference the Family Place has made in our lives. As we toured we also found out what a great need they have for some of those things I've been collecting and today I'm going to start simplifying my life to help them with their fresh start.
Ronald McDonald House in Rochester, NY is another charity very close to my heart.  A few years ago we did a home that was merchandised completely with items that had been donated to the charity, then auctioned off to benefit Ronald McDonald House. I'll be forever grateful to the volunteers and Rochester community who donated such beautiful items to work with!
Towels, sheets, bath products, diapers... these are all things we may have an abundance of but don't want to throw out the ones that we don't use as much anymore. Stuffed animals that we tend to collect at fairs and in crane games would be cherished by a child that had to leave everything behind to get to safety.
It feels so good to clean away some of the clutter and know that these items are going to help someone else. The less you have to organize the easier it will be!

Color Spotting

I do love being a Lifestylist®, and getting the opportunity to travel across the country meeting new people and spotting new trends. Recently I was up in the 1,000 Island area of NY and spent a day just driving and looking at the magnificent architecture and natural beauty of that area.
When I found this little cabin tucked by the river I fell in love - especially with the brightly colored Adirondack Chairs in the front of it. Of course I took a picture and never forgot what a great, happy look this was.
Then the other day I was walking through Home Depot and found these bright, happy chairs and I had to have them! Especially since they were only $12.00 each and maintenance free. I love what a difference they made in the backyard of the Idea Factory - even when I'm not out reading a book or birdwatching on them I love just being able to look out the window and seeing the burst of color.
It's easy to use an accent of color to wake up any space. It can be done with pillows in a living room, towels in a bath or with plates in a dining room. Great, fun design doesn't have to be expensive - you just need to be brave enough to try different ideas out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Being Inspired by Your Surroundings

When I work on a model home, my first priority is bringing the outside in - what's going to make the buyer feel like what he experienced before he walked into the model continues into his model experience?
My son just gave me the perfect example - he is buying a new home in Florida, and was troubled after seeing the new model home because they didn't like the colors or feel of the home after it was merchandised. It bothered them so much they actually considered canceling the sale. The colors and the lack of lifestyle felt like they could have been in any city in any community, but it didn't have the warmth that they anticipated their home would have.
At Lifestylist® Design we focus on lifestyle, and what they buyer hopes to experience in his new life in your new home. We just finished doing a Lifestylist® Designed home for @home Builders in Baldwinsville, NY and I thought I'd share the thought process on how we came up with this home.
Timber Banks is a new incredible planned community near Syracuse, NY that features an 18 hole, Nicklaus designed golf course, river frontage with it's own marina, clubhouse, and a stunning, natural beauty all around you that you can call home. It seemed only natural that I would bring this lifestyle and the colors I saw all around me into the design of the model. We went with some of the foggy greys, clear blue sky, river rocks and eco-greens that we discovered on our walks and as a result when you are in the home it truly pulls the outside in.  Plan a visit to the Timbers yourself and see what we accomplished - contact Teresa Carpenter with @home Builders for more information at:  315-635- 6006.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lifestylist® Advisory: Free Travel Resources From Yelp

One of my favorite new resources is yelp.com - an online resource that can help you find restaurants, hotels, nightlife and shopping in your local area, or wherever you are traveling to. Members review and talk about stores and services and help you find where "the locals" go. I've tried this in several cities and have gotten great suggestions. One of the great things about traveling is getting to try new things, and with the yelp app on my iphone I'm good to go! It will also help you find the closest gas station and emergency services if you ever need them.
You can also also go directly to the reviews of a member you like or trust - please check out this Lifestylist's reviews on Yelp here.
This is another great resource that can help you save money and time when you are making your travel plans. Let me know what your profile is and I'll follow you as well!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Celebrating the 4th of July the Lifestylist® Way

The 4th of July definitely had new meaning for me this year after viewing Restrepo, and now when we celebrate I celebrate in thanks for all of the sacrifices our soldiers are making for us overseas. It also has made me appreciate my family even more, so this 4th of July was a meaningful celebration.
Since my parents are selling their beautiful lake home at Hideaway Lake this is probably the last 4th we will all celebrate there. After 20 years we have lots of great memories, but now it's time for someone else to enjoy it. Hideaway is the place to be for the 4th! A private lake and community, the 4th is celebrated with great food, competitions at the pool and of course the infamous boat parade. We've entered a lot of years and have never won but we sure have fun trying! This is a perfect example of the Lifestylist® movement - people enjoying their lives in style.
The fireworks this year were some of the best I've ever seen, and getting to view them from the boat with my family made it even more special. Happy 4th of July to all and remember how lucky we are to have the freedom that we do.