Thoughtfully Thermador

Thermador Builder 20 (1)I am the luckiest Lifestylist in the world! Not only do I get to travel cost to coast working with clients on their homes, I also get the opportunity to meet with companies and discover what amazing ideas and products we will be seeing in the future.

Over 20 years ago I was also very lucky – I was able to meet a really cool guy named Zach Elkin. We spoke on a panel at The International Builders Show one year, then we reconnected during quite a few National Membership Days for NAHB. I always remembered him, because Zach didn’t talk about ideas and opportunities – he made them happen. No matter if someone needed help painting doors or underwriting an important cause, somehow Zach always made things happen.

We lost touch, and then I ran into Zach when I was the Lifestylist for The New American Home. Zach was with Thermador – the company that supplied the appliances for this beautiful home. I had heard of Thermador but they weren’t as much of a household name to me as other appliance companies were. By the time the home opened, I realized that Thermador was something really special. Not only did they have great products, they had the people in place to back up what they said. I still stay in touch with the homeowners, and they  say that working with Thermador was one of the highlights of building their home. Right after that Zach asked if I would like to get to know more about Thermador and give them some feedback  - I couldn’t wait!

I just returned from my third meeting with them, and if you haven’t looked at what Thermador offers lately trust me – you will be soon. Their products are not only beautiful – they function. It’s not about flash, it’s about being able to simply prepare food for your friends and family while enjoying the experience. I practice what I preach – I now have Thermador refrigeration columns in my own home, and every time I open the doors I get a huge smile on my face because I don’t know how I ever lived without them.

Zach and his team don’t create brand loyalty, they create brand obsession! Everything Thermador does is so well thought out you feel like they designed their products and their marketing materials just for you. They LISTEN – and have made that skill into an art form. The Convection Steam Oven isn’t just a game changer – it’s a life changer. I’m not sure they even understand how much of a difference this product can make in people’s lives and how it can help to get get people eating well. With Thermador, cooking is fun again. Their Design Council that Zach put together has become a family, and we are all looking forward to getting together even more in the future.

Sur la Table understands why cooking in a Thermador kitchen makes cooking a joy, and has changed many of their cooking schools into ones equipped exclusively with Thermador appliances. If you would like to see why I’m so excited about what Thermador can do for your culinary creativity, check with your local Sur la Table to see what cooking classes they have scheduled and experience cooking in a Thermador kitchen for yourself.

Honk Honk Zach – thank-you so much for your thoughtfulness and for introducing me to the Thermador family.

Top 10 Trends From The 2013 International Builders Show

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We are back! Not only is home building rebounding and people are buying new homes again, the International Builders Show has returned to Las Vegas! We just got back from a great week of exploring new products, speaking about design trends and networking with the brightest and best in the industry.

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It was great to see so many builders and people in the building trades come to the convention this year. I was asked to speak on a panel that covered "90 Design Ideas in 90 Minutes" and as you can see from the photo it was sold out with people waiting to be let in! Our Lifestylist® trends were very well received, and heard that many of the attendees went out to the show floor to view the products we talked about.

After walking all of the show floors and show homes, these are the top products and trends that we discovered.

On Hand by ODL One of the things I love about this year's Builders Show is that there were products that were innovative but affordable, and On Hand by ODL was one of these. This ingenious product adds storage and a communications center into a door without taking up any additional space in the home. The adjustable shelves make it easy to store everything from hair bows and Lego parts to dog collars and your spice collection. The communications center and be used as a white board, photo gallery, or anything else you want to display - every home needs one of these!

Tub Art by Kohler Bathing has become an art, and as always Kohler is offering products that let us do that in style. Besides the traditional built-in tubs, Kohler presented free standing tubs that would add elegance and artistry to any spa bath. They also showed beautiful faucet sets that added the personal touch. Kitchens and baths continue to be a large focus in the home, and Kohler continues to be the leader in how to make these areas function - beautifully.

Embracing Education Conventions like the Builders Show are a great place to keep up with trends and products. We were so impressed that Clayton Homes - the largest home builder in the US brought their General Managers to the show so they could find the best products and trends. Howard McGirt, General Manager of SE Homes of Texas walked the show with us and shared his thoughts on what was hot and what was not. It's easy to see why this innovative company sells so many homes every year!

500,000 Bottles of Beer Great product - great people. Loved learning how they used 500,000 bottles in the exterior of this building - the ultimate example of recycling and green design.  A Realm of Design offers GeeenStone which is made of 100% recycled glass aggregate and 99.8% renewable materials. The glass makes an ordinary exterior extraordinary  - they said when the lights shine on the building at night it has a magical iridescence. The company offers numerous products from Fountains to Flooring and ships nationwide.

Light My Fire Fireplaces aren't what they used to be - today's options include alternative fuel, direct or indirect venting, indoor or outdoor applications... the options are endless! The Builders Show offered something for everyone but the message was clear - every home needs a fireplace in it somewhere! I also loved how Heat N Glo talked about trends and consumer requests in their marketing - not just selling but educating.

Glass Houses Glass is showing up in every room of our homes. It was great to see new designs in windows and doors that played with light sources -the future is truly bright! Get ready to see doors and windows that play with the light by using screens and prisms that create patterns in places that you wouldn't expect them. Look for more paints, lighting, and materials that find ways to take advantage of natural lighting.

A BOMB Shelter? Who knew that this form of factory built housing would steal the show.  Atlas Survival Structures proved that at the International Builders Show there is something for everyone. These structures are priced starting at $72,000 and apparently these underground homes are gaining acceptance. Lots of people toured the home and had a new perception of what consumers are truly looking for in their new homes.

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Touch Technology Touch screen technology is becoming more mainstream, and this is the first year that I can remember when it was actually priced where Middle America could afford it. Schlage showed this system that could be synced with Nexia Home Intelligence and not only could your door locks be controlled and monitored from an ipad, other devices like Trane Heating and Cooling could be as well.

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Universal Design Presented Beautifully I loved what Health Craft showed - it completely takes away the stigma of Universal Design and shows products anyone would love to have in their home. The grab bar / towel holder was brilliant, and I also loved the ring that can go around the shower handle. What a great safety device for anyone!

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The Thermador Touch Thermador was part of the Gas display, and got lots of traffic and interest in their Pro Grand Steam Range. The common theme was that they loved the knobs and how the ovens "weren't on the floor" it seems a lot of ranges now are placing the lower oven just inches off the floor which makes it next to impossible to get things in and out of them. There was lost of interest in the convection steam side of this oven, and I think that is going to be one of the hottest trends moving forward in cooking.

For more Lifestylist® trends - please visit our website Pinterest and Houzz pages.







Quirky Takes Their Grudge With OXO To The Streets

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It's just not easy doing business these days. Even when you constantly try and do the right thing, play by the rules, do everything you can to make the world a better place and treat your customers and employees like you would like to be treated, someone comes along and attacks everything you have worked so hard for.

OXO, a wonderful, ethical company that is known for it's ingenious products and ideas sent me an email today about a competitor that is accusing them of stealing a product idea and proceeded to put up a billboard stating these charges 2 blocks from the OXO corporate office. The CEO of Quirky - Ben Kaufman then staged a picket line outside of OXO to draw attention to their charges.

I guess they didn't realize that OXO doesn't only have smart designs, they are also really smart about marketing and intellectual property. They have been very supportive of the blogger community and came to us with the facts on this matter - all very well researched and stated.

It turns out that Quirky never went to OXO to voice their concerns and allegations even though the companies are within blocks of each other in NYC. When the President of OXO Alex Lee met with Quirky CEO in 2012 about product design and innovation Lee asked Kaufman "what steps Quirky took to protect the intellectual property (IP) of this broad community when inventors submit their idea in an open and public forum". Kaufman responded "Nothing. Speed to market is our best protection."

Almost every day I find another person or company thata is using my trademarked term Lifestylist®. I spent a lot of time and money almost 15 years ago to trademark the term because I believed in it and wanted to protect it in the right way - legally. I've trademarked other terms and uses since then and it amazes me how many people never search the US Patent and Trademark records to see if a term they want to use is trademarked before they tie it to their brand.

So I am going to do for OXO what I hope other people will do for me. I'm going to share the OXO story, and I'm going to buy their products and support their brand. How we spend our hard earned dollars is the easiest way to let a company know what you think about their business practices and products. Up until now I have never heard of Quirky, but in the future I won't be spending a dime on any of their products just on principle.

OXO did a beautiful job of addressing this issue in social media and it is well worth reading. And leave it to them to change this into a positive - they are offering to give a "Patent Process Primer" to anyone interested so you can learn the correct way to protect your own intellectual property.

It's really easy for anyone to write anything these days whether it's right or wrong, and the responsibility of the blogging and social media community to bring to light injustices such as this. I really appreciate OXO sharing this important lesson with all of us and showing us how to protect our own intellectual property.

The International Builders Show 2013

What exciting times these are for the building industry! The economy is starting to get back on track, and consumers are more positive about their futures and the thought of buying a new home.

The Lifestylist Brand is all about “Life Celebrating Style” and it’s great to have something to celebrate again! Attending The Builders Show and seeing what is new is the perfect way to start this New Year. It’s the first year that the show is being held in Las Vegas in awhile, and it seems like there are going to be exhibitors showing that haven’t been there in awhile. I’m also excited to see The New American Home – we were the Lifestylists for the 2011 home and I appreciate now more than ever how much work goes into each home.

On Tuesday I will be speaking on a panel discussing “90 Design Trends in 90 Minutes”. It was really hard to chose which ideas to talk about and it promises to be a fast paced program filled with great ideas. If you are attending the Builders Show I hope that you’ll come and join us.

It’s going to be really tough to get to do and see everything that I want to in 2 days, but I promise to take lots of notes and pictures and share what I see and hear here.

The Original Pancake House

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It's so nice to find a restaurant that not only has great food for the adults, but they also provide ways to keep the kids busy so you can enjoy your meal.

The Original Pancake Houses in the Dallas Ft. Worth area are those places. We went for brunch today and even though it was busy and had a long wait, adults enjoyed some of the best coffee I've had in years while the kids were entertained by the very talented balloon artist. The food was amazing - so many great choices! The staff was very patient and helpful -they gave great recommendations. You could tell that they enjoyed working there, and everyone had a smile on their faces.

Great news - they are open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays so it's a great choice for a late date night.

Get Moving with a Nike+ FuelBand

Nike Fuel 7This Domestic Lifestylist® loves how seamlessly technology is blending with our homes, and after reading about some of the developments at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, we are going to have lots to talk about!

The Nike+ FuelBand has been out for awhile, but apparently other companies are now bringing versions of this to market. We have been using one for almost a year and love it! The Fuel Band keeps track of pretty much every step you take and converts it into "fuel points" as well as calories burned. You will be surprised how many calories you can use up doing housework or basic chores. YOu set a goal, and such it to a site online that will tell you how you are doing on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

It looks like a rubber bracelet and also functions as a watch. The only thing I don't like about it is that it doesn't work on a bike, but I'm sure that they will have something new soon.

I'm adding this to the LifestylistList as a great way to work on a healthier 2013.

Weekend Vegetable Soups

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This is going to be a busy week! I leave tomorrow to do some new model homes for SE Homes of Texas in Louisiana, so while I'm enjoying all of that Cajun cuisine I wanted to cook up some healthy meals my Lifestylist® family could enjoy.

Ro-tel® (tomatoes and diced green chilies)is a staple in my pantry. It is low calorie, low fat, and full of spicy goodness and is an important part of my vegetarian chili and my vegetable soup.

I make this in my slow cooker - it's a perfect weekend dish because you can prep all of the vegetables and let it cook up on it's own. Use vegetables that your family prefers or ones that are fresh at the farmers market - my version changes with the seasons.

You can find the recipe on my Lifestylist® Recipe page - enjoy!

Celebrating The Domestic Lifestylist®

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It always seems like when it gets colder I start nesting. It's so dreary outside now is the perfect time to clean out closets and do those tasks I don't want to do when it's gorgeous out.

The domestic side of the Lifestylist® Brand is not only about what I do for myself and my family, but what I can do for others. Being a Domestic Lifestylist® is about making a difference.

There are great sales right now on clothing and home items, and the colors that are available are gorgeous. There were some deals that I couldn't walk away from, but we have a rule in my family - if something comes in, more needs to go out.

There are lots of important non-profits that help women "dress for success" and give them the skills and clothes to be able to successfully interview and land a new job. We are also very involved in groups that help homeless families and abused women get back on their feet, including Shared Housing and Genesis Women's Shelter. Knowing that I'm going to be helping others by cleaning out my closets helps me to dig a little deeper and let go of things I might have held on to than can have a better use with someone else.

Today was a great day - I got some great new looks in my closet and helped a lot of women in the process. Recycling at it's finest!

Hiring a Contractor

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You would think that finding a contractor or designer to do work on your home would be easy, but take it from this Domestic Lifestylist® it's not. When I decided to add a test kitchen to The Home Idea Factory I started thinking about having people in my home, and trust became even more important than the cost. Fortunately for me, I found Mike Clark and his team, and my test kitchen is closer than ever to being a reality.

Here's some tips for hiring a contractor.

Kitchen Trends in 2013

Thermador Oct 11 29t's looking like this Lifestylist® is going to be spending a lot more time in the kitchen this year, and we couldn't be more excited! Our test kitchen is coming along really well, and we have a lot of kitchens we are designing for clients which is always lots of fun.

January is going to be a month spent on the road. Besides working with all of our clients we have been invited to the beautiful Thermador flagship design center to see what's new as well as work on new appliances for the future.

The International Builders Show will be taking place in Las Vegas, and it is always a great source of trends in home design.

We'll have lots to talk about and share, and we are also anxious to know what you think about the new trend to brighter, whiter kitchens. Susan Serra, one of the premiere kitchen designers just did an article for Cultivate on Kitchen Predictions for 2013 that has lots of great information so we wanted to share. What do you think will be the top kitchen trend in 2013?

Great Plates

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I love it when my kids call me for advice - especially when it has to do with looking for a source or product they need for their homes.

My daughter decided to start out the New Year with some different plates -the ones that she had were chipped and a bunch of them had gotten broken.

I am a frugal Lifestylist®, and as luck would have it I found some great plates at The Dollar Tree that are an amazing deal! They had dinner plates, bowls, and mugs all for $1.00 each. I love that they are a simple white with a raised beading around the edge, and at that price they are almost less than paper plates! It's a good thing she's in Florida because I think I bought up every one in Dallas.

White is a great choice for your table - it doesn't fight with whatever color your food is, and you can easily add color to your table top with napkins, placemats, and flowers.

Finding Hope in 2013

Another year is almost behind us, and I think most of us are looking forward to a fresh start in 2013.

Last year made it clearer than ever that nothing is more important than relationships. I feel so fortunate that I was able to spend time with my cousins I hadn't seen in years, had some great sister time and what was most important, got to spend a lot of quality time with my kids and grandkids.

Being around the grandkids reminded me how wonderful it is to always be looking forward to tomorrow and the opportunities it brings. The amazement of what a fantastic job my kids are doing as parents, and how talented their Jr Lifestylists are keeps reminding me how important it is to spend time with family.

Here's hoping that 2013 is filled with hope for all of us, and we remember what brings us joy.