Fair Housing

It's Show time! One of my favorite homes to work on every year is the Brenco Housing show home at the Heart of Texas Fair in Waco. This is the fourth year that I've decorated a home at the fair, and I think this one is my favorite. This manufactured home was built by Patriot Homes of Texas, and people walking through the home were amazed that it was a manufactured home.

brenco-living.jpgOne of the questions that I get asked the most is how to decorate a manufactured home, and I think this home shows that you can do it beautifully. Everything used in the home was readily available - the furniture was from Ashley Furniture and most of the artwork and decor items were by Home Interiors and Gifts. As a Lifestylist I'm always taking into account my client's lifestyles and budgets and this home is no exception. Home Interiors is a great resource for affordable, exciting design and made designing this home a breeze.

Builders are having to re-visit their merchandising budgets, and Brenco is no exception. After the fair I'll be helping them "recycle" the furniture and decor items from this house, because a very lucky family has already purchased this home and will be moving into it on their land soon. The merchandise will be used to decorate new model homes that will be part of the Patriot of Texas Show starting November 5th in Waco. I'll be sharing photos of those homes as well - you'll have to see if you can identify what is new and what came from the fair.

Home is the Most Important Place in the World

I am crazy about IKEA’s new ad campaign - Home is the Most Important Place in the World, especially since it is exactly what I believe, build my life and my business around. The photography of the campaign as always is spectacular, and love that some of the images are of “trailers”.

So besides the possibility of it being someone’s most important place in the world, what is a trailer? My definition is that it’s probably one of the most misused terms in regards to housing, and technically describes a recreational vehicle more than a manufactured home. Todays manufactured housing is not made to be moved once it is in place, and should be set on a permanent foundation.

Trailer parks and house trailers became popular in the 1950’s when people who’s lifestyles were more mobile were looking for a way to take their homes with them. A hybrid of a travel trailer, these original units were inexpensive and in 1956 technology made it possible to build a 10ft wide unit offering the homeowner more space, and making the unit more spacious for spending longer periods of time in. A “trailer” was typically a home that could be pulled buy a car or truck, but the mobile homes that became popular in the 60’s had to be pulled by a professional truck company.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The winds of Katrina brought a new version of the trailer into our lives - the FEMA trailer. They were everywhere in the news, and it was our government’s answer on how to house the people who had lost their homes. The manufactured housing and recreational vehicle companies stepped up and did everything possible to provide the homes - it was a time in my life I’ll never forget. I worked with Patriot Homes to furnish 2,500 homes, and I only hope that whoever received them is enjoying them.

Now two years later there is a lot of discussion about Formaldehyde in the FEMA trailers, but the homes that they are discussing aren’t to my knowledge the manufactured homes, but the recreational vehicles. Just another example of how much difference a name can make.

I love trailers - that’s why I’m the Trailer Diva. But my idea of the ultimate trailer is an Aluminum bullet from the 60’s that I have lovingly restored, not a manufactured home. My dream manufactured home will be the one that is on some land in Arizona - stay tuned!

The Long Road Home

It’s hard to believe that Katrina roared thru all of our lives over two years ago. Living in Dallas, you may not have thought this would affect me as much as many living on the Gulf Coast, but when your parents have found their calling in doing disaster relief and you received a call from them in their Salvation Army canteen outside New Orleans and the Super Dome it gets personal. They were focused on feeding people in need and I was focused on the images that were floating across my television screen showing how life threatening the situation was. I couldn’t be more proud of my parents and the work that they do, and after spending a few days when I can volunteering with them, I don’t know where they find the energy and strength.

My parents have always been great role models, and if there is one thing I know about and have a passion for, it’s housing. My mother can cook for 2,000 as easily as she can cook for 2 - a gift I wish I inherited, but instead my passions tend towards making a house a home.

When someone loses their home, and in a lot of ways their identities - how do you move forward? Katrina not only swept away people homes, she also stole their memories, and in some cases their futures.

Rebuilding Mississippi and the Gulf Coast has gotten personal for me. From having the opportunity to visit Biloxi, Gulfport, and other areas that were ravaged by the storms, I’ve been able to hear the life-changing stories first hand and to see how these determined homeowners can’t be kept from the communities that they love.

Rock Star and Cake Artist Duff Goldman

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Job? As a Lifestylist I spend a lot of time researching trends and ways that I can help consumers enhance their quality of life, so researching foodies and food trends is a large part of what I do. Last week I attended the Texas Restaurant Association's Southwest Foodservice Expo, and as luck would have it Duff Goldman, The Rock Star host of Ace Of Cakes was one of the speakers! People have asked me if I go everywhere with a photographer - as a matter of fact I do any chance I get attend events with Lisa Stewart of Lisa Stewart Photography so I can capture images to share with you all. Thanks to her I was not only able to get some wonderful shots of Duff, I was also able to go behind the scenes and see what he's like without an audience in front of him.It's wonderful to now know that Duff is not only fun to watch on his Food Network show Ace of Cakes, he also has an amazing amount of experience and credentials to back up the fact that he's one of the most talented cake designers today. His loyalty to his employees - most were friends before they joined the business - talent as a true artist as well as the gift to not take himself too seriously has moved him to the top of my favorite chef list. As we all know, Food Network has been moving towards having personalities instead of chefs hosting their shows, but with Duff's background of attending the CIA Greystone (and not as a weekend course like others we know) and working at the celebrated French Laundry, this chef is more than fluff.I'm also in love with this man because so many times when you attend an event like this the speaker does their thing then disappears, but not Duff. He not only walked the aisles meeting everyone and being very gracious about it, but he also interacted with the various vendors and was extremely approachable.Duff is the perfect example of what the Food Network needs more of - great role models for the future of the food industry. I'm looking forward to watching the new season of his show which starts in a few weeks!

Street Smarts

It seems like one of the favorite stories publications are writing about right now (besides Paris Hilton going to jail) is the alleged housing slump. The power that the press has to determine housing prices is amazing.

The part that seems to be missing from all of the stories though is that simply put, housing should be based on supply and demand - shelter is a basic need and there is only so much all of us can or afford.

I've been working with one of my favorite builders in Tucson this week and their market has been hot particularly hard by the housing slow down. National builders came in to make a killing in a hot market and have left just as quickly.

A great home is a great home and for many people is a life long decision. Buyers need to remember that they aren't buying something they can walk away from in six months if they change their minds - a partnership needs to be developed between the builder and the buyer.

Canoa has done a tremendous job with this. They are a smaller builder, but have been building in this market thru the good and bad times and consistently build a home anyone (including myself) would be thrilled to own. There sales team takes the time to get to know the new families and help them choose the perfect home for their lifestyle, and design their homes around the lifestyles that suit their homes and their communities.

The next time a builder starts "throwing money" at you to buy one of their homes, think about if you are making your long term decision because of short term incentives, or because it is the home of your dreams.

The City Lifestylist Speaks

About five years ago I decided to move from the foothills of Tucson Arizona to Dallas, Texas. I loved my life in Tucson but most of my time is spent flying to help different clients so I needed a city that was in a central location and economical to fly in and out of. When searching for my new home I had hoped to be able to combine my living and workspaces, and to be able to house my growing collections of props, antiques, and tabletop items. A loft would have been ideal, but I yearned for a yard for the animals and a garden for me.

I love being able to shop for homes (or just about anything) on the internet. You can look 24 hours a day and don't need a Realtor or sales person to tell you what you want or need.With The Home Idea Factory it was love at first sight. I get all of the benefits of city living - I can see the buildings of downtown Dallas from my roof -but I'm in one of the first neighborhoods that was built in Dallas so I have beautiful mature trees, wonderful architectural gems around me and a melting pot of cultures. My new nest was a printing company that was built in 1941 and not much had been done to it so it was a clean slate for me to make my own.

It's wonderful to be able to walk places, and now I can't imagine living anywhere else. Being a Lifestylist is all about doing what's right for you, and living in a urban area is definitely the right lifestyle for me.

Junior Lifestylists - The Next Generation

It’s amazing sometimes how kids “get it” more than most adults do. This weekend I spent time with my favorite Lifestylist® - Jenna. She understands how rooms should be designed around the interests and Lifestyle of the client and her room is the perfect example.

With Jenna, it’s all about pink and ponies. If it’s a pink pony, even better. She has taken a personal interest in designing her room and has done a remarkable job. Her Mom let her choose her own furniture, bedding and lighting and it’s ideal for what she needed. A bunkbed with bookcases houses her growing book collection and the top bunk has become the “stable” for her ponies. Wall shelves allow her to organize her other collections in a neat manner.

Kids rooms should be about kids. A place where they can dream, learn, grow, and above all, a room that’s all about them.