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.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lifestylist® Breakfast Biscuits

Anyone who reads this blog knows this Lifestylist® is not keen on mixes, but I'm going to make an exception with this recipe.
Breakfast is a hard meal for me, and I know that my daughter has a tough time getting something healthy into my grandkids before they all head out to school. This is the LifestylistFood® version of a recipe I found on Pinterest, and I'm crazy about it! It's easy enough that the kids can make them themselves. By adding the ham and cheese you get some nutrients that can hold you over until lunch, and these are so moist you don't need butter or anything else on them. Be sure not to substitute something else for the buttermilk - it gives these the moistness and kick that makes these so special.
Breakfast Biscuits
Ingredients:
1/4 cup lean ham, sliced and chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups Bisquick®
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put all ingredients into a bowl and stir just until combined. Scoop into buttered muffin tins, and bake 15-18 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.

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.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fall Arrives at The Home Idea Factory

It's been a busy year, and this Lifestylist® has spent quite a bit of time traveling to visit clients and homeowners. Because of that I haven't spent as much time at The Home Idea Factory, but today I got to make up for that and experience again why I love living and working here.
Visiting The Workroom yesterday really got me inspired and I looked at what was around me with different eyes. Things I would have thrown away are now going to be recycled - just wait until you see what I am planning on doing with the two birds nests I found!

It may be Fall and we are almost to the middle of November, but things are still blooming. Daisy - my rescue dog helped me explore - take a look at some of the special finds we made today.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Workroom Comes to Dallas




I feel so fortunate to have so many interesting creative people in my life. Developing the Lifestylist® brand has opened a lot of doors to me, and  it's always exciting to see what new ideas they come up with that I can then share with my readers.


Nick Troilo is known as someone with great taste that can throw a heck of a party. His artwork is seen in some of the best homes and restaurants in Dallas, and his personal home has been published in various publications.

If you haven't had the chance to be invited to one of his soirees this is your big chance - Nick is opening The Workroom in the emerging West Dallas area so everyone can take a look at some of the amazing items he has collected over the years while you enjoy a cup of coffee on the patio or shop for the perfect hostess gift.

The Workroom started out as a floral design studio but has expanded to include gifts and accessories for the home as well as an art gallery. The space hasn't officially opened yet, but Nick is opening his doors by appointment and can be reached at: nicktroilo@theworkroomdallas.com or at 214-663-0857. He'll also be posting on Twitter when he is hosting special events @workroomDallas. The store is already full of his carefully curated collection including full sized turkeys, Santas from Russia and antique vases just waiting to be filled with fresh flowers.

Many of the items in the store are one of a kind so hurry in before your favorite is gone.

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!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tricks and Treats From The Lifestylist®

Even though it's been a very busy month, we made a point of catching up with one of our favorite Jr. Lifestylist's to see what he was doing for his annual Halloween party.
Sam Davis' parties are legendary, and this year was no exception. With over 75 kids attending this year's bash we wanted to create fun, themed treats that he could serve outdoors. Take a look at what we came up with  - Witch Hats and Krispy Pumpkin Treats.
We also worked on some tabletop ideas for the Fall holiday season that were inexpensive but would put our guests (and ourselves!) in the mood. The Lifestylist® Designed homes for SE Homes of Texas were full of ideas that visitors could do in their own homes.
While we were on the road we discovered the Great Pumpkin Patch in Clarence Center, NY - if this doesn't get you in the mood nothing will!
Have a wonderful Halloween and be sure to "like" our videos on our Lifestylist® YouTube Channel.