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Inside the Woodlands Style House World — All-Women Home Design Firm Knows It’s About More Than Just Trends

Designing Real Houses For Real People

BY // 10.26.23
photography Nicole Oman

Woodlands Style House, the brainchild of Sondra Lagasse and Jill Simms, is a natural evolution for two very talented women. Both have a knack for design and marketing. But with young kids in school, they didn’t want to put their families on the back burner. But when Simms found out that Lagasse was decorating friend’s homes for free, their business was born.

“And I’m like, hold on, ‘You don’t have to do that for free,’ ” Simms tells PaperCity The Woodlands,  “And the advertising and marketing side of me kicks in. I was like ‘You need to charge for this.’ “

So Woodands Style House was born in 2017 with a conversation between friends.

“What if we offer our services just really casually, and just see what happens?” Simms says. “And so one day we just said ‘Let’s do it.’ But we didn’t tell anyone until we’d fully built out our business. We built our website ourselves, and designed our logo.

“The only way we’ve ever advertised was on Facebook. We got our first client and literally have not gone without a waitlist since 2016.”

Beautiful built-ins pop with a spot of color amid textured neutrals is part of Woodlands Style Hose's work. (Photo by Nicole Omam)
Beautiful built-ins pop with a spot of color amid textured neutrals is part of Woodlands Style House’s work. (Photo by Nicole Oman)

Whittling down that waitlist has kept Woodlands Style House in hiring mode. This all-female business has grown from two home stylists to 21 in just seven years, and Woodlands Style House now encompasses decorating, renovating, real estate staging, holiday/event stylings and organizing.

Introducing Pêche

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As for hiring other talented women?

“I think one of the reasons is because of the way we started it, we have a special place in our heart for women who have talent and need an outlet and need something,” Simms says. “We do have two licensed interior designers on our team who have worked in high-end interior design firms and chose to work with us instead.

“And it’s the flexibility, because we are all moms and we all have kids in school.” 

Simms and Lagasse bring a very practical side to their design firm.  

“Our first motto was Any Space, Any Style,” Simms says. “That was something else we felt like was not existing in the market of design firms. We felt like a lot of design firms were only high end and they were also only doing one style.

“There’s a lot of people who also are real-life people. They don’t necessarily want it to look fully like a show home. They want somewhere in the middle with a more accessible design.”

Winning Design and a Personal Touch

That practical accessible approach can be award winning too. Woodlands Style House won Wayfair’s Pro’s Choice Award last year.

“They had two HGTV stars as judges,  then there were also some Wayfair professional insiders who also voted, and we got chosen for the best commercial design project, which was a really big surprise for us,”  Lagasse says.

Her winning design was a newly built commercial space, Sage Hair Studio. Woodlands Style House stylists aren’t budget busters. They know that Wayfair, Target and At Home have a place in clients’ homes.

“I don’t think there’s any project we’ve ever done that hasn’t been a mix of high end and more affordable,” Simms says. “From a mom’s perspective, we know kids mess things up. We try to tell them the playroom may not be where we’ll splurge on furnishing.

“So we take pride in being able to make spaces beautiful with any kind of budget. It helps to know how to splurge correctly. And it helps clients also complete more rooms in their house. We can do more rooms because you didn’t blow the entire budget on one room.”

And home trends are constantly changing. The pandemic, changes in working locations and new ideas about how homes should work all led to major upheavals in the renovation and design world.

“We’re always trying to keep up with the trends too and (are) making sure the girls are as well,” Lagasse says. “Jill and I try to go to market once or twice a year to just keep up with all the trends. Usually Dallas, and then we were recently at Vegas market.”

The team at The Woodlands Style House. Eighteen of the stylists are in The Woodlands, and three work in the Austin area. (Photo by Nicole Omam)
The team at The Woodlands Style House. Eighteen of the stylists are in The Woodlands, and three work in the Austin area. (Photo by Nicole Omam)

Supporting local businesses is important to the Woodlands Style House founders, and one of the ways they give back is with an annual springtime fundraiser at Deacon Baldy’s.“Hops and Houses” benefits Habitat for Humanity — and gives the community a chance to donate home goods to the Habitat ReStore store with an on-site truck. Deacon Baldy’s donates a portion of beer sales, and Woodlands Style House matches that donation too.

Lagasse is quick to point out that the waitlist moves much more quickly with 21 stylists aboard.

“We do a questionnaire and there are some people we’re able to fit in right away depending on their needs — organizing and events usually depending on their event date,” Lagasse says. “Even decorating or renovating have a much shorter waiting list now that our team is as large as it is.”

Want to check out more of Woodlands Style House’s work? You can follow them on Instagram and Facebook @WoodlandsStyleHouse.

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