The Lifestylist's Resolutions for 2009

One of my favorite things about starting a New Year is being able to leave this year behind and look forward with optimism and a renewed set of goals. True, this shouldn’t be something that happens just once a year, but it’s a great time to really focus on what you want your new year to hold.

Below is a recap on what I think 2009 will hold - I’ll go into more detail as the year progresses, and change these as the world changes I’m sure in ways we could have never expected. Happy 2009 from your favorite Lifestylist® !

Your Life - Your Style
Make this the year that you break out of the stereotypes about how you should live and dress and do it your way. Paint your walls purple, embrace that favorite sweater - if it makes you happy and enables you to feel better about yourself, go for it!

Save a Life
One of the best things I ever did was start rescuing animals. We now have quite a menagerie, but they bring so much joy and happiness into my life, I can’t imagine what my life would be without them. When you have a really rotten day, nothing makes you feel better than having your furry friend curl up in your lap and make it all better.

Attitude is Everything
I predict that 2009 is going to be the year where people really start taking a hard look about how they spend their very hard-earned money and start supporting local businesses and rewarding places and individuals that offer superior customer service and make you feel like your patronage is appreciated.

Re-Purpose and Save the Planet
This year I’m going to be very careful about how I spend every dollar, and I’m already making decisions on how badly I really need something. So many times it’s just easier to go out and buy what you need instead of putting the thought into how you can use what you already have to serve that purpose. This year is going to be about less disposable things and more recycling. Not only will I save some money, I’l also help save the planet!

Playing Dress Up
We are turning into a very casual society in dress and in the way we live. In many ways this is a good thing, but every once in awhile it’s a great idea to put on that dress, host a tea party or bring out that good china. I found a great company - lia sophia - that sells jewelry that is unique and well priced. My daughter introduced me to them, and I loved what they offered so much I have begun selling their line myself! Working out of the house makes it too easy to dress down every day, and so now that I am involved with lia sophia I make a conscious decision to wear my jewelry every time I go out, whether it’s to the grocery store or to a client meeting. I get so many compliments on it my self-esteem has been boosted and the day is much brighter.

Hang Ups
I love art - especially art by someone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting or has been picked up on a trip. Living in The Idea Factory means that I have very solid cement block walls, and because of this I’ve put off hanging most of my artwork. Art is very personal for me, and today I’m going to start putting a few holes in my walls so I can be surrounded with the color and memories that make me very happy.

Organize Your Digital Life
Have you noticed that the external hard drive is becoming the new catch-all? I’m realizing that I have tens of thousands of images and articles, but when I’m looking for that one that I need it’s never anywhere to be found. The start of a new year is the perfect time to evaluate what you need and how you store it. Take the time to remove the clutter on your desktop and put the things that you need right where you can find them. For those lucky Mac owners, the Apple stores are a great resource for getting your live moving in the right direction. It’s more important than ever to work smart and manage your time wisely.

Shake Things Up a Little
Do you feel like you are in a rut? I know I have lately - with all of the gloom and doom in the news about the economy and the other craziness out there maybe it’s time to jump out of that comfort zone and try something different for a change. I’ve been spending way too much time reading and worrying and I decided it was time to plug in the Wii fit I bought 6 months ago. I love it! It’s making me get out of my desk chair and literally breathe. Doing a little bit of exercise every day has renewed my spirit and now I’m ready to take on some new challenges.

Giving Thanks
Saying thank-you or letting someone know about exceptional service doesn’t cost a dime but can have great rewards to the person who bestowed great service on you. The next time someone goes out of their way to be gracious or helpful be sure to let them know you appreciate their help and when possible let their superiors know of their good deeds as well.

Family First
With all of the insecurity in the World right now, make suer to take time for family and remember what’s really important. A great dinner and evening at home can be priceless.

Recession Proof Design

Last week I was in Rochester, NY for the annual ABC Sale that benefits the Ronald McDonald House. We may be in a recession, but there are still plenty of people out there that know how to be smart shoppers and don’t mind standing in line for a great deal.

This sale is the one that I had used merchandise from to merchandise my Homearama House 2008 for @Home Builders, so I was anxious to go back and see what goodies I might be able to find that I could use in my own home and models.

When they told me how big the sale was I was a little skeptical, but it lived up to every expectation and then some. And what amazing finds! The Homearama House featured a bookcase that was merchandised with vintage Kodak cameras from an Estate that was donated, and the rest of this collection was offered at the sale. I think these ended up being some of the most popular items in the sale, and when they opened the doors people literally ran to the area where the cameras were displayed and started grabbing. I was able to get a few, but some people were faster than I was.

Check out your local thrift shops, estate sales and church tag sales - you’ll be amazed at what great personality pieces are out there that can add a special touch to your design and allow you to still have some money left in the bank!

Trends in Manufactured Housing

It’s been a busy month! I’ve been traveling coast to coast to see the latest trends in housing, interiors, and furniture.

I get lots of emails about the differences in decorating a manufactured home vs a site built one, but truly there shouldn’t be any difference unless you are dealing with a manufactured home that has board and batten walls instead of tape and textured drywall. What’s amazing to me is how often manufactured housing drives or starts trends that then are used in site built homes. Due to the sheer volume of how many homes we build there is more of an opportunity to try out new things and see how they work.

One of the biggest trends I am seeing in manufactured and site built housing is islands in the kitchens that continue to grow in size and importance. Using a different stain or color on the island is a great way to make it stand out and to really add some impact and storage to a space. An area that manuffactured housing has always offered more for your money is in the cabinets that are offered - many times you have twice as many cabinets in a manufactured home as what is offered in a comparable site builders home.

Stainless appliances have been around for quite awhile now, but they can also break the budget of many homeowners. What has become very popular are black appliances - they are usually priced more reasonably than stainless, I find them easier to keep clean than white or bisque ones, and they really can make a statement in any size kitchen.

Being a Lifestylist is all about understanding the lifestyle of a potential homeowner and what their needs are. Sharing what I see and learn is one of the favorite parts of what I do. I’m hoping to spend more time this year talking about upcoming trends and how they can fit into your lifestyle.

Tip #10: Signature Style

55751634-l.jpgWhat does your home and your entertaining style say about you? Take a rainy day to think about what you love, and incorporate that into your home and entertaining style. Are you more casual in the way you approach life or when you entertain do the white linens and best china come out?

My four-legged family dictates the way I live and entertain and that is definitely reflected in my home. Gone are any good rugs - I'm now enjoying hardwood floors with area rugs I just change out when I get bored with them. Furniture is sturdy and made to stand up to dogs on the sofas and cats scratching - I refuse to declaw them and just bought appropriate items that they can't destroy.

Art is a very important part of my life, and  my collections are lovingly shown throughout the house. I buy / collect items that have a story with them - a special vacation, the artist is a friend or I purchased it at an important time in my life. It may not all "match" or coordinate, but its' me.

Tip #11: Get Inspired!

If you are overwhelmed by the idea of making changes to your life or style, start by choosing one item you love that can be the inspiration for your entire project. Inspiration can come from anywhere - a sunset, a shell from the beach you took your favorite vacation at, your pets... what's important is that it's something that will help make your house a home.

sectional1-074.jpgsectional2-075.jpgsectional3-076.jpgIn this house it was the sectional sofa - it’s colors set the theme for the entire house. Whenever I needed to make a decision about anything going into the home I would bring out one of the sofa pillows and hold it up to whatever I was working on. If it's too difficult to carry around the object of your inspiration just take a photo of it to remind you what you are working around and towards.

Be careful to stay true to your course - it's easy to get distracted by pretty items that might be fine by themselves but will leave you with a look that doesn't work together in the end.

Tip #12: Vacation at Home

With gas prices what they are, why not invest your vacation dollars into your own backyard? Prices have dropped on many items that can make your own home into a resort, and it’s a vacation your family can then enjoy all year long.

porch-068.jpgThis home features a spectacular indoor / outdoor fireplace that is beautiful as well as functional. By screening in the porch area and using pavers for the flooring this will end up being one of the most used rooms in the house. The furniture was a vintage set that was taken to an auto body company and painted using auto paint. The result is one that will last for years and is very cost-effective. To tie into current color trends we went to Pier1 Imports and found some great colorful cushions and an outdoor area rug to complete the look.

patriot-porch-069.jpgManufactured Housing is also tapping into the outdoor living trend, and Patriot Homes now offers some new models that come complete with outdoor areas that are ready to go as soon as the homes are delivered. Patriot Homes of Alabama showcased two homes at the Tunica show this year - one with a screened porch area that was large enough to house a bar and seating area, and another with a built-in sink and prep area, covered porch and optional grill. This area could have an additional deck area added on-site, but as offered there is lots of room for even the largest parties.

When considering an outdoor oasis of your own, keep in mind the following considerations:
*Utilities: Be sure that you have adequate water, electrical and gas if you'll need it for your new area. If this is something you'll have to add it can really drive up the costs.
*Screening: If you are in an area that tends to have lots of bugs you may want to think about screening in your new area to make it more comfortable all year long.
*Size Matters: Be sure when you are planing your space that there is room for whatever seating you plan on using as well as room to walk around. One of the mistakes I see the most is porches that aren't wide enough when you add traditional seating.

Sadly traveling especially flying is no longer the enjoyable experience it used to be, so relieve the stress and enjoy your own back yard.

A Dozen ways to live your Life with Style

orchid-chairs-067.jpgGreat design isn't about how much you spend but how you spend it. Sometimes the best ideas don't even cost a dime, but by re-purposing items that you already have or digging thru those storage containers you have in the basement you can come up with a completely different look.

rmh-vip-066.jpgWe just finished a really innovative home in Rochester, NY that was a show house for @Home Builders and The Ronald McDonald House. What truly made the home unique was that it was completely merchandised with furniture, artwork and accessories that had been donated to The Ronald McDonald House for their ABC Sale that is help annually. I was able to dig thru the warehouse that stored these treasures and come up with a complete home that ended up being the crowd favorite at the 2008 Homearama that is sponsored by the Rochester Home Builders Association. To get more information on the home and the process we have a separate Lifestylist site.

This home was also a great chance for us to "practice what we preach" and to show how it can come together. We have come up with 12 different ways you can use the Lifestylist® philosophy and live your own life with style.

Re-Defining Country Curtains

Sometimes it really pays off to keep an open mind. I had the manager of the Rochester Country Curtains call me about the Ronald McDonald Homearama House I’m doing with @Home Builders and express an interest in being included in the home. The name scared me because the home is anything but country, but I told them to send me a catalog and I’d take a look.

What a pleasant surprise! The colors were right on trend, the styling was beautiful and the prices were great. They have been an absolute delight to deal with as well, and I’m looking forward to seeing everything installed.

Digging for buried Treasures

jerry.jpgI'm in Rochester! It's finally time to put the items we want for the Ronald McDonald Showhouse on the truck and make some magic happen! I think everyone will be surprised at what we have come up with and how all of it will flow together. I know that some of the volunteers that I worked with today were scratching their heads trying to understand my vision.

typewriter.jpgMost of my day was spent digging through boxes, containers, and piles of goodies looking for the buried treasure that I knew was there and it was. Wait until you see the aqua typewriter I found in perfect condition! I want to buy the entire study just so I can own that gem.

Making a house or room come together is about being flexible and being willing to step away from an idea if it just isn't coming together. Today we had to make some tough choices, but I feel that we made the right ones and we are going in the right direction.

Tomorrow is moving day and I finally get to see the items in the house. All of the items will be sold by an online auction that will be up shortly. As soon as I have all of the information I'll post it here.


homearama-house-013.jpgI'm so excited - only one week until I head to Rochester to start installing the Homearama showhouse with the Ronald McDonald House! Pete, the super-fantastic contractor on the job had the house not only done on time but it was done early. @Home Builders has a great area on the website that shows the house coming together. They were having a volunteer meeting at the home tonight and I can't wait to hear all of the comments.

Donations are still pouring in and the Rochester community has been very generous. Ronald McDonald House is an amazing organization and this has been a great opportunity to help them. We now have two incredible artists that are donating their time, The Ronald McDonald House volunteers have hundreds of hours logged picking up and renovating the donations, and Realtor® Lorelei Smith is ready to help the lucky owner of this wonderful home sign the papers to make it theirs.

homearama-house-018.jpgThis is a recent donation that was just meant to be. The chaise is covered in original vintage handpainted velvet with spectacular fringe at the bottom, and the best part is whoever is the lucky bidder on the master bedroom is going to get to own this beautiful vintage jewel!

homearama-house-015.jpgAnother wonderful item that will be in the master bedroom is the armoire that has been lovingly restored. One of the things that makes it unique is all of the organizing areas in it that I've never seen before in an older piece.

I'm counting the days until I can start putting everything together and share the progress with you.

Lifestylist Design - It's All about You

Happy Memorial Day! This was a wonderful family filled one for me - I drove up to Oklahoma City to spend the day with my parents, sisters, and their families.

This month I've been very busy doing model homes across the country for Patriot, and also working on my new Lifestylist Design products that will be launching in January. It's been really exciting to see the Lifestylist program come full circle, and to see how people have embraced the concept and made it their own.

My sister is the perfect example of what Lifestylist Design is all about. It should be about you - your life, your loves, your discoveries, not some designer or other persons interpretation of how they think you should live. I was finally able to get up here to see the new home that she and her family have been working on, and it's spectacular! And the best thing about it is that when I walk in the home, or even when I drive up to the home there is no question that this is an active outgoing family who loves life and are individuals. From the start my sister refused to get "typecast" into a specific style or theme. Instead she incorporated things that they saw on various trips, items that were gifts on very special occasions, and was wise enough to encourage her subcontractors to be partners with her on this journey. The result is a marriage of craftsmanship and character that will never be replicated the same way again, just as my sister is a one of a kind.

"Rules" are meant to be broken, especially in the design world. The next time someone tells you what you can or can't do with your home tell them that you practice the Lifestylist Design philosophy where what you love is never put in question.

Flower Power

Summer is here, and with it come all of the housekeeping that has been neglected that can't be ignored anymore. My garden is in, the windows have been washed, and finally the pool is painted (again). I can't wait to take advantage of all of the outdoor areas here at The Home Idea Factory and continue my quest to have my home live up to it's potential. One of the things that attracted me to my home is that it needed so much work I knew I'd never run out of projects!

hostas-010.jpgAfter living in Tucson for 10 years I was anxious to give my green thumb a try and see if I could replicate some of the gardens that my grandmother was known for. She was a huge influence on me, and some of my fondest memories are of Silva working on our vegetable gardens at the lake that we planted Memorial Day weekend or her cutting gardens that were as unconventional as she was. On some of my visits back to the family farm in Erie, Pennsylvania I dug up some roots of her plants and brought them back to Texas to see if they would grow, and some of them have done well. Unfortunately the raspberry bushes that we used to spend hours in the middle of eating to our hearts content didn't like the clay soil in this area and didn't make it. But the hostas are thriving and the seeds that I gathered from her hollyhocks have helped me establish the garden that I've always hoped for.

lifetiles-pot-011.jpgThe front garden that used to be a weed patch now boasts a riot of colors and includes hollyhocks and sunflowers that reach to the sky. Our latest patch of feral kittens uses it as a safe haven and I love watching them play hide and seek in the hostas.

I hope that you all are enjoying a beautiful Memorial Day!

Own a Piece of Kodak History

Western New York is such a unique part of the country and is rich in history, especially in the Rochester area. It's absolutely beautiful almost any time of year but I have to admit my favorite times are lilac and corn seasons.

Rochester is also the home of the Kodak corporation and camera junkie that I am when I'm in that area I try to go to as many flea markets and thrift shops as I can to find the perfect addition to my growing collection. At one time my collection was over 400 still and movie cameras but I've thinned it out a little and some of my very lucky builders got some very cool cameras in the theming of their model homes.

I've been keeping in touch with the wonderful Ronald McDonald House volunteers that have been gathering goodies for our Homearama house by @Home Builders and as luck would have it a wonderful woman donated a large collection of cameras and Kodak memorabilia that had belonged to her late husband Leonard Coleman.

When I collect I try to learn as much as I can about where the items came from or who they belonged to so when we were able to learn about Mr. Coleman I was thrilled.

Leonard Coleman was an avid collector and had a life-long love affair with photography. His collection had included over 2,000 cameras, most manufactured by Eastman Kodak and some manufactured as early as 1890. Mr. Coleman started his career with Eastman Kodak in 1948 as a messenger when he was 17 years old. He worked his way up through the company and retired as a vice-president in 1990.

Mrs. Coleman has been very generous with sharing the amazing collection that her husband had put together. Much of the collection was donated to the George Eastman House, and thankfully she has also decided to share some of the collection with The Ronald McDonald House ABC Sale and with us!

If you love photography and cameras as much as I do, the home and the fall sale will be one that you won't want to miss. All of the collection will be either be included in the rooms that are auctioned after Homearama or in the ABC Sale. As soon as I have more information how you can bid on these items I'll share it here.

It's a Kodak World

Sometimes things just happen for a reason, and today was one of those days. A perfect Spring day with colors that in Texas we only get to enjoy a few weeks a year, my Homearama house that I'm designing for @Home Builders just keeps getting better, and there was a great article about Kodak and the digital age in the NY Times.

I was busy updating one of my blogs last night and came across an entry that I had written about Hewlett Packard and my frustration with the printers I had purchased from them and their disinterest in customers, customer service and the quality of their product. Hey - they are HP and they own the market - why should they care?

So here is the story about Kodak and how they are really focusing their business to compete in the digital age and I couldn't agree more. Here is a company that understands what customers look to them for - images - and they are taking that into new areas that they haven't been competitive in before. It was a eureka moment for me - my point and shoot digital camera is a Kodak that I turned my camera snobby nose up at when it was recommended to me and now I can't imagine life without it. This Lifestylist® is going to turn these five lousy expensive HP printers that I got talked into and that"Sam" can't seem to get to work into planters and go out to check out a brand that is as all American as the town that it is headquartered in.

Giving Back

Spring has finally come to the Rochester New York area, and now is the perfect time to tackle those spring
cleaning projects that never quite got done last year.
@Home Builders and The Ronald McDonald Charities of Rochester are providing the perfect opportunity
for you to de-clutter your home while possibly having some of your well-loved items featured in this
years Homearama.
David Riedman of @Home Builders believes in giving back, and decided to continue this philosophy in
their Homearama house this year. The builder is teaming up with the Ronald McDonald team and will be
furnishing and decorating the entire home with merchandise that has been donated for the ABC sale
which is held every fall by the Ronald McDonald House.
Lifestylist Suzanne Felber is never one to back away from a challenge, and was thrilled to be chosen as
the designer for this project. “Not only will this home show consumers how they can blend a new home
with their favorite possessions, it will also show a type of recycling people overlook – donating items
they no longer need to a group like the Ronald McDonald House so others can use them in their homes.”
With the sale being held in the fall, many people don’t think about donating items until later in the year
so the dedicated volunteers of the sale are putting the word out now that donations are accepted all
year long. “This is the perfect time to start cleaning out those closets and extra rooms” stated Felber
“and I think people will be surprised about what we will be using in the home.”
A few items still on the wish list for the home are an interesting master bedroom suite, upholstered
chairs, area rugs in jewel tones, and a breakfast table and chairs. If you have items that you would like to
donate, please contact the team at:
The home will be debuting June 14th during the opening of the 30th Homearama at the Magnolia Manor
community in Perinton. The home will continue to be open to the public until June 29th when all of the
furnishings and accessories will be auctioned off with proceeds benefiting the Ronald McDonald House

It's Official!

It's Official! Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber is teaming up with the very talented team from At Home Builders to do a very special showhouse during the 30th Anniversary of Homearama in Rochester, NY.

David Riedman of At Home Builders has always been one of my favorite builders and understands how important giving back to the community is. This year their Homearama home will be a partnership with the Rochester Ronald McDonald House, and all furniture, artwork and accessories used in the home will be donated items that community members have donated. The Ronald McDonald House hosts an amazing sale every year that's proceeds help fund the wonderful work that the organization does.

Come back often to hear more about the home and to get a sneak preview of what we'll be doing in the home!

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Life is like a box of chocolates -you just never know what you'll find in the middle. If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be "decorating trailers" I would have called you a liar. But here I am in Hershey, Pennsylvania working on some homes for a manufactured housing show and I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.

Why manufactured housing instead of traditional built homes? Manufactured / PreFab/ Modular/ FactoryBuilt homes are cool! In this crazy semi-homemade world where we've been told it's OK to take shortcuts, it's nice to see homes built the way they should be built - with attention to detail, engineered, and built to suit the customers lifestyle.

Where will I go from here? I'm looking forward to seeing this type of building grow into its potential, and being able to be a part of the success.

It Can be Easy to be Green

As a Lifestylist®, I realize that there is a lot more to creating a home or office environment besides making it look pretty. Lifestyle, budgets, and what's important to you and your family play a large part in what you should be considering when you are working on making your house a home.

Often when people decide to purchase a new home they think that to make it look as good as the model home that they fell in love with they'll need a king's ransom to be able to afford all new furniture, artwork, and personality pieces. To show how you can buy on a budget and recycle at the same time, I have teamed up with @Home Builders and the Ronald McDonald House to do an entire home that will be furnished and merchandised with gently loved items that have been donated to the Rochester, NY organization for their annual ABC Sale.

Always up for a great challenge, I wasn't sure what to expect when I visited the warehouse that houses all of the donated materials until sale day. With it being so early before the sale, they have just begun to get donations so what I saw was just a preview of what there will be in October. It was amazing! The selections they had were so unique that hardest thing for me when I design the home is going to be making a decision!

Being green and recycling doesn't have to just be about solar energy or spending a lot of money on fancy equipment. It can be as easy as giving a vintage rocking horse a new home or specifying new carpet like Shaw offers that is "cradle to cradle" recyclable. If we all made an effort to just buy one or two items for our new homes at a thrift shop or Salvation Army store, imagine what a difference that could make in our landfills.

I'm looking forward to sharing my @Home Builders show house journey with you but be warned - when you see the treasures that can be found at sales like this you'll be joining me with UHaul in tow at the sale!

Customer Service?

This has been quite a month - I've been busy finishing up some really exciting projects and getting ready to start on some new ones that I can't wait to share with you. As a result of all of this I've been doing a lot of traveling and putting together various marketing materials. As always seems to be the case, if you have to get something done or be somewhere at a specific time Murphys Law comes into effect.

One of the new opportunities I am working on is an incredible opportunity in many ways. One of my favorite clients - @Home Builders is building a home in Rochester NY that will be part of the 30th Homearama that the Rochester HomeBuilders Association puts on every year. What makes this home so special is that we (yes, I've been asked to be part of the team!) will be decorating the home entirely with furniture, artwork and accessories that have been donated to the Ronald McDonald House for their annual ABC sale. The concept is to show people how you can blend old and new with fantastic results as well as being able to save more of your budget to invest in your new home. I traveled this week to Rochester to meet the rest of the team and to start choosing which items I want to use in the house, and it couldn't have been a better example of the best and the worst on hwo to treat yoru customers.

Northwest Airlines used to excel in how they treated their patrons which is why I gave them my loyality in the past, but for some reason remembering that as customers we have a choice of how we want to spend our hard earned dollars has doesn't seem to be as important anymore. Out of five different flighta that I had booked for this trip, so far 2 have had employee or maintenance issues that have made me miss my connecting flights. How as this handled? Poorly, especially since they lost my luggage on the way to Rochester, and on my 6 am flight this morning the flight attendant that was old enough to be my father couldn't figure out how to use the coffee maker so we all spent the should have been 50 minute turned into 2 1/2 hour flight caffine free. Instead fo making an effort when we landed to help us make our connections we just got a "sorry, we'll try to get you on the next one".

And then we have a company like @Home Builders. I don't think I've ever met a more devoted, delightful team who obviously enjoy what they are doing. One of my sayings is that "no is not a word in the English vocabulary" and the @Home team is a perfect example of this philosophy. I heard stories of how they have gone above and beyond to help their customers get what they truly want in their new homes. They also understand giving back to the community, and the Ronald McDonald House showhouse is a perfect example. I'm thinking when I come back to instal the home I may be driving instead of taking Northwest again though - not only because of how I've been treated on this trip by them but also because I'm seeing a UHaul in my future to bring back some of the treasures I all ready have my eyes on from the donated items!