Monday, August 22, 2011

HGTV To Feature Corey Damen Jenkins On New Series

Hello everyone! Okay, so first of all, I need to seriously apologize for my long sabbatical from the blogosphere.  My last post here was on March 30th and yes--that's pretty pathetic--but I promise you my silence was for a good reason! In April, yours truly was cast for a brand new HGTV reality series called Showhouse Showdown! And I am thrilled to finally be able to tell you about it.

Showhouse Showdown is a competition between two premier interior designers who take over two newly-built and identical homes with identical budgets to create a winning interior design. At the end of each episode one designer is voted the winner by members of the public who represent the developer’s target market.

Cobblestone Homes,  a ground-breaking home builder that has become known for "Zero Energy" construction technology, sponsored my project in Midland.  I truly enjoyed working with the company's owners, Mark and Melissa Wahl; they were so hospitable and supportive. Their project coordinator Matt Sheahan was also a tremendous resource for me in getting the job done. And their vast team of contractors is definitely top notch. In other words, I couldn't have chosen a more talented and courteous group of craftsmen/women to bring my vision to life for HGTV.

  (l-r Corey Damen Jenkins of DWV, Matt Shehan of Cobblestone Homes)

The show is hosted by none other than Bob Guiny, a celebrity whom many of you may recall as a former contestant on ABC’s “The Bachelorette” and “The Bachelor.” Bob is a total blast to work with, and he constantly had me in stitches both on and off camera.

 (l-r Corey Damen Jenkins of DWV, Bob Guiny, Mark Wahl of Cobblestone Homes)

The home tour event was hosted on Saturday, August 20th and nearly 800 people were in attendance--a record breaking turnout for this first season. It rained cats and dogs, but that didn't deter voters from coming to check out the showhouses. Cobblestone Homes did a tremendous job in marketing this event both on television and on the ground and people really responded. The company is really dedicated to keeping things "green" and even used solar-powered golf carts to transport the voters to and fro! Two huge tents loaded with seating areas and hors d oeuvres were also provided. There was a ton of local media also present and it just all made for one huge event. I was humbled to meet so many fellow Michiganders--some of which drove over 2 hours just to be a part of the show's taping.

On a personal note, I'd also like to express my admiration of the Showhouse Showdown production team.  Their ingenuity and attention to detail is amazing. I think there is a certain science to what these professionals do everyday and I still don't entirely understand it. But I can honestly say that after doing this show, I have an entirely new level of appreciation for all that goes into bringing these reality TV shows to...well, a reality. For example, executive producer Sue Seide worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring just the right "beats" out of all involved. My producer Chris Bavelles (and his associate producer Ben Long) put in crazy amounts of hours to keep the production and creative processes moving forward, while Tom Almanzar documented everything on camera. And then you have Jordan, Jade, Andy, Jane, Andrew, Dutch (who towered over everyone but was so cool), and so many others handling an array of production responsibilites too. Some days it was like a whirlwind on set. But the best part? Despite the hair-raising deadlines, weather and scheduling challenges, these guys never seemed to lose their comradeship or senses of humor. They truly love what they do.

I encourage all of you to tune in on Saturday, March 3, 2012 for the series premiere of Showhouse Showdown. It's going to be a HUGE hit and give HGTV viewers something fresh and different to get into. The Midland, Michigan episode is scheduled to air on March 24, 2012.

I. Cannot. Wait. :~) 


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Texting At Dinner Is Rude!

When I was coming up in the 70's and 80's passing notes in class was the hip way of asking a girl if she thought you were cute or not. It was all quite easy: all she had to do was circle "Yes" or "No", and then you just prayed that the note at least came back to you. Now, if she couldn't be bothered to circle anything that was worse than being being told "No". Translation: If your note wasn't returned at all, it meant she thought you were an un-hot dork on unspeakable levels. Talk about a cold dismissal. LOL

Needless to say, passing notes while class was in session was considered rude, uncouth and a surefire way to get in a hot mess with the teacher. Aside from the note coming back with "No" circled, nothing would be possibly worse than getting caught by the instructor and enduring his glaring stink-eye. Why? Well, such behavior silently told the teacher that whatever he had to say wasn't nearly as important as what you had to say in that oh-so-nifty-folded piece of paper.

Today, we've become greatly advanced in terms of technology and communication. I'm not sure if kids even pass notes in class these days (and yes, I feel really old saying this), but I'm pretty sure that cell phones and iPADs are the new culprits school teachers are waging war with. Text messaging during class is no doubt just as rude as passing notes was back in my day. And by extension, such habits are equally innappropriate in other areas of life...take the dinner table for instance.

Let's be frank here: everyone agrees that texting while eating dinner is rude but when it’s you, it's amazing how easy it is to rationalize it, right? So, to avoid coming across like a total hypocrite, I will raise my right hand and readily admit that I’ve suffered from RTWD Syndrome (Rapid Thumb-Tapping While Dining). Testify! I love my job and in my line of work, I literally get dozens of text messages from clients, contactors, and vendors nearly every hour of the day--and that's not even counting the tons of daily notifications from Twitter and other online outlets. In other words, my cell phone is always beeping and it's a challenge for me not to answer it at dinner. But  I know it's poor taste to text in front of others, and it behooves me to excuse myself to the nearest restroom or foyer to handle my business. Yep, just like passing notes in class, texting at dinner essentially tells your fellow guests that whatever they have to say is not ranking as high with you as it is with them.

RTWD Syndrome has proven to be a real dampener for couples too. Studies show that men are the worst and on average cannot sit through dinner for 30 minutes without  text messaging. How sad is that? And naturally, wives and girlfriends complain that this behavior brings an element of "competition with work" into their homes even though their men have physically left the office for the day. Some wives have stated that seeing their husbands thumbing the tech makes them feel insecure and unimportant. One woman said: "Who can he possibly be texting that's more important than the pearls of wisdom dripping from my lips?" What indeed!

Ironically, the same studies reveal a reversed trend among teeny-boppers: young girls are the worst chronic offenders  in that age group. And now we have the iPhone and iPad...more toys for addicted youngsters (and not too few adults) to play with at the dinner table. Yay. All of this makes me really wonder what sort of table-manners these new generations will be bred on. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but when I was a kid, dinner time was for our family to come together and talk about school, work and the day's events. Now, husbands, wives and children sit around the dinner table and ignore eachother because they're too busy cyber-speaking with people who don't even live in the house. Could we be witnessing the future deconstruction of all that is proper etiquette?

I can think of only two circumstances where texting at dinner could be acceptable: If you're a fireman, policeman, doctor (or some other live-saving superhero) and get called to an emergency somewhere, then yeah, that's an urgent text message that needs addressing. But even then, it's polite to excuse yourself from the table first to handle it.

The other reason? If you're eating dinner alone. Of course then it's perfectly appropriate to text message since you have no one else to talk to. Interestingly enough...those who rudely text while eating with others eventually find themselves alone anyway.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Top 8 "Worst Decorating Complexes" Ever!

In my humble opinion, Interior Designers are a lot like doctors: people come to them with ailing homes that need to be operated on. Some people get designers involved early, such as during the construction of a new home. But sadly, there are a lot of people out there who would rather wait until their home is in cardiac arrest before calling up a designer. Why?

I guess part of it could be attributed to these home makeover TV shows that train people to believe that they can "do it" themselves. It's true, the DIY-style suits some people just fine. But many folks make pretty expensive mistakes as they try their hand at decorating and design. And in the end, what should be an enjoyable experience becomes a source of frustration. So what are the tell-tale "symptoms" that a person should accept a house call from The Design Doctor?

Well, here's my list of the top 8 "decorating complexes" that people struggle with--and the cures for each challenge:

1.) The Play-Doh Complex: You have good ideas but you are indecisive, unsure of yourself and become like putty in the hands of a hungry, diabolical salesperson. Folks like this end up with rooms full of hodge-podged messes.
Antidote: Like doctors making house calls, Interior Designers work with you IN YOUR HOME, not from a department store's sales floor. In other words, they care about your outcome and will work with you dilligently to give you confidence as you make purchases.

2.) The "Ostrich" Complex: You are overwhelmed by the sheer enormority of the process. You admit the house needs a facelift but you have no idea where to get started! Colors, patterns, scale...just thinking about these things gives you vertigo!  So you'd rather just bury your head in the sand and procrastinate.
Antidote: A design professional will carefully dig you up, and help you face the music! They have been skillfully trained to tackle all of those overwhelming challenges and can take a lot of stress off your shoulders in the process.

3.) The "Zig-Saw" Complex: Your room is utterly weird. Windows are awkwardly placed or sized, the room has a strange shape or possesses too many focal points, etc. Folks who try to decorate spaces like this without professional help may end up making matters worse for themselves--and spend a lot of money before they realize the outcome is actually getting worse.
Antidote: Once again, due to years of education and experience, designers are prepared to address these problems and create handsome-looking solutions. They thrive on these challenges, actually. In addition, they are aware of cost-effective ways that can even make previous mistakes look like they were planned!

4.) The "Bottom Line" Complex: Okay, so maybe a lot of us suffer from this complex. LOL :)
But you know the house needs to be updated--perhaps in stages and over a period of months or even years--but you are naturally concerned about how much it will cost. "Budget" is your middle name...and maybe your last name too.
Antidote: An interior designer can prioritize things that need to be done, create a cost-study for you and generate a time-line. They are also well-versed in what the market has to offer in terms of cost savings--but without compromising style or beauty.

5.) The "Pack-Rat" Complex: Ok, let's keep it real: you have a lot of stuff. Pretty stuff, no doubt. But it is stuff. And you're tied to it for nostalgic reasons. Sure, you want to update the room, but you don't want to throw away hand-me-downs and other family heirlooms because they are special (even though you and I both know full well that that Queen Anne curio is fighting against your Saarinen Womb Chair!).
Antidote: A good interior designer knows the power of editing. He or she can help you find the proper places for all of the more important things...and make them look good.

6.) The "Uber-Purist" Complex: You have an appreciation for the varying design styles out there: Modern, Traditional, Old World, French Country, etc., etc. The problem is, you want your space to be period-loyal but don't know how to go about getting everything to look legitimate and not "forced".
Antidote: Again, this is where experience and training comes into play. Let an interior designer help you out here.

7.) The "Doubting Thomas" Complex: You are leery of making any changes because you're afraid that they will...well...turn out looking ugly. And then your friends will laugh at you. Like...on cruel "Bwahahaha" levels.
Antidote: An interior designer has many specialties, not the least of which is the art of creating great looking spaces. Besides, no interior designer will allow his/her work to even be equated with the word "ugly"! Nothing can be possibly worse for a designer than a poor referral--it can be the kiss of death in business--so you can best believe that he or she is going to take pride in their work. They will be dedicated to making you look good as a client.

8.) The "Hamster-In-A-Wheel" Complex: You. Are. Too. Busy. You know that the room needs a makeover, but you are entirely too swamped with life/work/kids or lack the energy and interest to do it right now.
Antidote: Many Interior Designers have the abiltiy to serve as project managers. They are well-equipped to negotiate and coordinate the efforts of vendors and contractors. This means you can delegate as much or as little to them to manage in your behalf and they will keep you updated on the progress.

Okay so, time for a little honesty. Do you suffer from any of these maladies? If so, why not hire a professional that you can delegate this "problem child" to raise? I say use your energy and time for things that you really enjoy. Or if you do happen to love the art of decorating, imagine how much more enjoyable it would be to have a design coach helping you to avoid making costly mistakes!

So if your house is on life-support, an interior designer may be just the "cure" needed to resuscitate it back to life. Why not call one up for an interview today?