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Finding Joy 2011

It's hard to believe that in a few hours it will be a new year, but I'm ready for it! 2010 was a struggle for many, and I love the fact that each year rings in with it a sense of optimism and hope.

We all make New Years resolutions that we may or may not keep, but this year I'm making one I'm going to work on every day: finding joy. I have so many blessings, and it's important to remember that. This year I'm determined to enjoy each and every minute I get to spend with my kids and grandchildren, enjoy the journeys I get to take whether that's to the local Mexican supermarket or to another country, and to slow down and enjoy my gardens, a spectacular sunset and my family.

I'm also going to make a commitment to help stop suffering and have compassion for all living beings - animals and people alike. We have rescued quite a few animals on our own, and the love they share with me every day makes it all worthwhile.This year I'm going to extend that effort and try to do more.

I also am so lucky to be able to love what I do and be able to make a living doing it. Helping as many people have a safe roof over their heads and a clean bed to sleep in is a purpose that I'll continue to work on. Every day I go past my neighbors new house and know that I helped get them a safe roof over their heads makes it easier for me to sleep as well.

Having a fantastic and successful New Year isn't just about making more money or being more successful, for me it's about finding joy, and appreciating it when I find it.

Lifestylist® Advisory: Wisteria Outlet

One of the great things about living in Dallas is that's it's a great place to shop, and if you love things like I do that are unique and have lots of personality, The Wisteria Outlet is the place for you.

Wisteria is one of my favorite catalogs as well, so I was thrilled when I found they had an outlet near me. When I'm doing model home interiors they make my job easy - I never go away empty handed and many of the items that I purchase become the signatures of that home.

They understand marketing as well, and I wanted to share a really cute promotion I got from them the other day. The address was Santa's Workshop , North Pole. Inside was this very cute letter, and a copy of their recent catalog. It got my attention, and inspired me to visit the store for those last minute Christmas purchases.

Take a look at their online catalog and see why this is such a great resource.

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!

Making Your Home Look Just Like the Model

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.

The Great Pumpkin Patch

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!

Too Much Information?

One of the things that stands out in a Lifestylist® Designed model is lifestyle - the pictures in the frames, the artwork, the shoes by the back door... all of these staging items have been carefully chosen and placed for a reason. There is a constant debate  - especially when companies stage a resale home - if it's a good or bad idea to have evidence of the family that lives there and their lifestyles in the home.

We have done a lot of research on this topic, and when we have questioned actually buyers they say that they are drawn to homes that have personality and character as opposed to those that just look and feel like a furniture showroom. They WANT to know that the home is filled with great memories and that their family will have the opportunity to enjoy that great lifestyle as well. There is a difference between lifestyle and clutter - that is the role of the Lifestylist® or stager. A little secret - every time I finish a room or a model home I always force myself to go back and remove at least one item. It's so easy to get into the mindset that every table should have something on it, and every part of a countertop should be merchandised, but there are many times when less can me more.

The XTreme models that we just did for Champion Homes of Texas I think are a great example of showing lifestyle on a budget -the homes were promotional / entry level and we didn't want to make the potential buyer feel uncomfortable by over-shooting the decors and furniture by adding expensive elements this customer just could not afford and still be able to afford the home. The photos in the frame were of people enjoying things this buyer would enjoy - The State Fair, gardening, horse shows and NASCAR.

The next time you visit a model home, see if you can tell who would live there, or if it is just a showroom. Or, try staging two homes in an area - on merchandised showing lifestyle, and one just decorated. Let us know what your customers tell you and which one sells - we'll share the results here.

Champion Homes of Texas Debuts New Xtreme Model Homes

We just finished part two of the Extreme Model Home Challenge and I couldn't wait to share the results! Champion Homes of Texas is doing an incredible job bringing truly affordable homes to market that are full of amazing options. It's hard to believe that these are budget conscious homes - all of the extras add up to a lot of value.

We had three weeks to add the Lifestylist® Designed touch to these homes and it helps to have great companies that help us meet our deadlines. What was really important to us as far as the merchandising went was to use the right color and scale with the furniture and accessories to show people how they could live in these homes. Even the smaller home has room to do a dining set to seat 4, and the larger home featured a great room large enough to fit a huge leather sectional that will be perfect for football watching parties.

There were too many great ideas in these homes to put in one article, so we are going to do a few separate stories to share the different features. If you want to take a look at these homes in person you need to do it quickly - customers are already fighting over the merchandised smaller home so they probably won't be at the plant for long. For more information contact Marc Mmedders@championhomes.com

Shaw Living Debuts New Area Rug Introductions

Today is an absolutely perfect day The weather has cooled off to where I'm thinking about changing my home decor to suit the cooler temperatures. - it sounds like a lot of work, but a few changes can make all of the difference in how you enjoy your home. One of my favorite ways to warm things up is with area rugs.

One of my designers with Shaw Living just sent me a copy of their 2010 introductions and they are stunning! Whether you are looking for a bold, urban look or a more classic pattern they have something for you and the colors are right on trend.They also have rugs in their Ever-Touch yarns which feel amazing underfoot or make a great place to lay down and watch the football games.

With hard flooring surfaces becoming more popular every day, and area rug is a great way to add color and warmth. This is a model home for American Custom Builders that was Lifestylist® Designed, and you can see what a difference it made adding this Shaw area rug. It was a long, narrow space and the rug helped add color and define the space. In The Home Idea Factory I have summer rugs that are lighter and in more coastal textures, and in the fall I bring out my area rugs that are in deep, rich colors. Add a few new pillow covers and a throw on the sofa and I'm ready to go!

Z Gallerie: From Soap to Sofas

Finally! The cooler weather is almost here and the stores are filling up with beautiful new accessories and goodies to seasonalize our homes with. As a Lifestylist® I like to constantly be on the prowl for what's new and exciting, and get an idea of what people are really buying for their homes.

I love Z Gallerie - they are my favorite "go to" source when I am working on a new model home. They are masters at offering personality pieces that help make a room or home memorable, and they also stock those big exciting works of art that you can never find when you need them. But on a recent visit they made me think of them for something I hadn't purchased from them in the past - furniture.

Z Gallerie started out in 1979 as a family run poster shop which has quickly grown to include 54 locations in 18 states! Their beautiful stores have expanded into becoming a one stop shop which make it easy for consumers to get everything they need for their home in one place. The stores are organized into different color stories which make it easy to find everything you need. They offer great accessories and furniture that are so unique people would think you had them custom made.

Speaking of personality pieces, as soon as I walked in the store I fell in love with two chairs I think I'm going to have to have - "Eddie" and "Bella". Eddie was just stunning in leather that was the perfect shade of teal, and Bella was a pearl grey fabric that was just sexy. You know you found something you must have when you can't stop thinking about it, and that's the case with these two chairs.

Make Z Gallerie a destination for your next shopping trip, and let us know what you fall in love with.

Cleaning Out The Clutter

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.

I Want My Home to Look Just Like a Model Home

Nothing makes me happier than when I hear these words from buyers - it means the model home that I merchandised is on target. And when it is a new homeowner saying this it's music to my ears. This model is the one that I showed how we were inspired in the previous post - I think you can see where the colors and design ideas came from.

The new model home at Timber Banks is attracting traffic and buyers. Just yesterday I got an email from the @home Builders Design Center saying that a buyer wanted to replicate the model down to the furnishings and draperies! Fortunately with out new Lifestylist® Designed homes that's possible. We have been working with the Ashley HomeStores and JCPenney to use merchandise in the models that people can buy themselves and make our paint colors available through the builder. Lifestylist® Design Inc. also provide training to the on-site sales team on why we used specific colors and played up a specific lifestyle so they will have lots of great speaking points to share with potential buyers.

If you are preparing to do a new model home or need to update your existing model to increase traffic and sales, contact us at: answers@lifestylist.com

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.

Great Deals on Towels at JC Penney

One of my favorite lifestyle items that many people don't think about is towels. Think about how many times a day you use one, but when it's time to make a purchase we spend more time worrying about cost and color than value. A typical family of 4 owns 15 towels, and we tend to hold on to them longer than maybe we should. My parents own a lake house and received 20 beach towels that were promotional items at least 10 years ago and we still use them!

My favorite store to buy towels from is JC Penney. They always have sales going on, but you can get a luxurious bath towel in beautiful current colors for under $10.00. As a Lifestylist® and model home merchandiser I buy a lot of towels for my job, and JC Penney is always my first stop for this purchase. Their sheets and bedding can't be beat as well. Instead of buying all of your towels the same color, try buying coordinating colors. That way you can mix and match, and each family member or houseguest can have their own color so you'll always know which is yours!

Great New Book on Manufactured Housing Being Published

We found out today that Lifestylist® Design and articles by Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber are being featured in a new book - The Manufactured Housing Revolution. Published by mhmsm.com, this book will be full of great articles and information that you can use every day. Information about the Trailer Diva will be included as well - if you aren't familiar with this personality you should be!

We also got a mention on the back cover so we are very excited! To get your own copy, check out mhmsm.com today.

A Hometown 4th of July

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.