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!

Bravo to the new Lifestylist!

I'm so excited -may of the shows that I've been hearing about all summer on television are about to start! I've been in Project Runway withdrawl, so when I started seeing ads for Tim Gunn's Guide to Style... well summer couldn't end soon enough.

Last night was the big night and it was worth the wait - the show is wonderful. He used a computer program to show the actual body type for the woman he was helping by entering her measurements in, and as much as I would love to have access to that I think I would fear it as well. The mirror may not lie, but what came from that program is a starker reality than I may want to deal with. Tim then used the profile to show the woman what worked and what didn't work on her body type, and you'll just have to tune into the show to see the results!

Another great part of the show was the introduction of Jared Weiss, a life coach who I am proud to also call a Lifestylist. Based in New York, this hottie has really tuned in to helping people find themselves and I'm anxious to experience more of his work when we get to see him in action again on the show.

As always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you'll have to visit Jared's site to meet Mr. Koj - the poster dog for Jared's MadProper philosophy. He may be bald and missing a few teeth, but he can steal my heart anytime.

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.

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.

Rachel Brown of Hells Kitchen

I found out this week that Rachel Brown who was one of the stars of Hells Kitchen - Season Two had died. Someone dying is always a reason to reflect, but Rachel was someone who was in and out of my life for over 20 years so it hit me very hard.

Besides what you saw on Hells Kitchen, who was this person?

I met Rachel shortly after she had just turned 21, and our first meeting was something I'll never forget. Here was this woman who had "it" - she was lanky - your eyes were just drawn to her when she came into a room - blonde, very humble, and a southern drawl that made you stop in your tracks and you wanted you to know who this woman was and where she came from.

Rachel was funny as heck. And it was a dry humor - she would say something and you would think... did she really say that? We used to spend weekends in a local park and Rachel would be there loving on the dogs and throwing the football. What is the most ironic thing to me is that the other memories I have of are when I was cooking for her. I was born with the cooking gene and a group of us would get together and I would try out new recipes that I had found and cook them up for my favorite test group which included Rachel.

Fast forward to when I was watching Hells Kitchen and saw Rachel. She looked familiar... couldn't be.. but it was the Rachel I knew! That wonderful sense of who she was and what she wanted accomplish reinforced that it was the same Rachel. What was her demise in the competition was what I loved about her - she called things as they were, never backed down from a challenge and was a fighter. Leave it to Rachel to leave the competition graciously, and to nurture and acknowledge the person who ended up the winner.

I'll never be the same person after knowing Rachel, but in a very good way. I will cherish an email I received from her after the Hells Kitchen experience, and I will forever be concerned about what happened to the Rachel I knew before Hells Kitchen and the Rachel I'll never get to know. Has reality TV become unreal? What toll does it take on the participants who bare their souls for ratings that have nothing to do with them? I can only hope that Rachel and Kimberly have finally found each other again, and they are enjoying one heck of a tag team football game wherever they are.

Signature Style

I treated myself a few weeks ago to a potters wheel, and it has become my de-stressing tool of choice. If you"throw" a pot and try to push it, chances are good it will implode and it's all over. Today was a good day - I ended up with three items that almost look like something. Usually you sign your pieces to make them yours, and I decided that this was the year I wasn't going to be as embarrassed and came up with a way to make them uniquely mine. Z has always been my signature - if you are looking for an alphabet item chances are good z will be the hardest to find. Instead of signing my pieces underneath, I've chosen to stamp the inside of each item with a z. So now, if you see a slightly uneven bowl with a z in the bottom, you'll know who made it.Choosing what your Signature Style is should be about letting people know what you are about, and what your lifestyle is. It doesn't have to be complicated - it should just be about you.