Kelly Straka and her staging and design company, Lux-Living, whose home-base is right here in Philadelphia, have filled a niche in the real estate market with their originality and unique design skills. Kelly and her team, known as the #LuxSquad, are leaving their mark on every home they touch. If you’ve ever envisioned a “Lady Lounge” decked in neon and pink marble or an Alice in Wonderland themed dining room, we’ve found the group to do it. It’s no wonder why this local powerhouse has found a sweet spot with an A-list crowd.
A single peek at one of their projects will have you wondering who is behind this fearless world of design that has celebs, real estate developers and regular homeowners like you and me, signing up left and right.
Meet Kelly Straka. A Rutgers University graduate with a tireless work ethic and an unstoppable desire to breathe new life into interior design. She walks to the beat of her own drum, and her projects follow suit.
Q: How did you get started in this industry?
A: My grandparents and parents flipped houses when we were growing up and I remember going to the job sites and watching the projects, filling nail holes, helping in whatever way we could. Then after college I got my real estate license. The economy was slow and it was hard to sell houses, so I started staging houses with my own stuff and quickly realized the importance of quality staging. This piqued my interest in home design and renovations. I launched Lux-Living in 2010.
Q: What are your thoughts on TV shows that glorify flipping houses?
A: I used to watch them all the time and I despise most of them now. What really bothers me are the numbers; they don’t take into consideration the real costs that go into flipping a house. They give people a false sense of hope that anyone can flip a property and there are so many ways people can lose a lot of money, which they don’t show you on TV. It’s a lot riskier than they portray it to be.
Q: How did you get connected with these high-profile clients? Why has MLB been a sweet spot for you?
A: One of my gymnastics teammates at Rutgers ended up marrying Todd Frazier, who played baseball at Rutgers, and then got picked up by the [New York] Mets. I’ve now done three houses for them alone. We utilize social media to show off these projects and it takes wind from there. Another thing about athletes is that they move often, and when they find a new home, they want it to feel like home—so they call us. We also have a reputation for doing these projects quickly. We just did a project that would typically take nine months to a year and completed it in two and a half months.
Q: What’s the most outrageous request a client has asked for?
A: I get some strange requests but recently we had someone ask for an Alice & Wonderland-themed dining room. Never having seen the movie I had to do some intense research and create a theme that nailed the client’s vision. They mentioned that they were planning to have a white rabbit jump out of a hat for their housewarming. These are the types of projects I love because I get to think totally outside of the box and I’ll never get to do something like that again.
Q: How difficult is it to keep up with the trends and each clients “vision”?
A: I don’t really pay attention to trends and usually clients don’t know what their vision is. A lot of my clients get a ‘case of the pretties,’ which doesn’t usually reflect their personal style. Instead, I get to know my clients, who almost always become my friends. I ask questions like “What kind of music do you listen to?” and “What is your personal style like?” That really gives me the most insight on the vibe they would want for their home. I think what makes me stand out is that I don’t have a set style. Whatever everyone else is doing we’re trying to do something different. My goal is to shock them—and we do!
Q: What’s been your favorite project?
A: White house pimpin’. Yes, that’s the name of the project, and yes, we create clever hashtags for all of our projects. Wade Davis of the Colorado Rockies and wife Katelyn gave us full range to pimp their house. We eliminated an entire room to create a grand entrance, created a Lady Lounge complete with pink neon Jay-Z lyrics and a master bathroom fit for a king.
You don’t need to be a Major League ballplayer or recently mentioned on TMZ to contact the #LuxSquad about their unique services. They work with clients of all kinds, on projects of all sizes and with all budgets. It can be as easy as scheduling a consultation. But don’t forget to bring your favorite Spotify playlist and rock an outfit that accurately reflects your personality.
That’s all Kelly and the #LuxSquad need to turn your house into your dream home.