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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.