Natalie A. Lewis’ road to real estate wasn’t as straightforward as Sunrise Highway. The Douglas Elliman agent went to Parsons School of Design, Fashion Institute of Technology and was picked up and signed by Abrams Artist Agency to appear in commercials and advertisements. When she went through the process of selling her first home, it opened her eyes and veered her towards a career in real estate. And she’s used her designer’s eye to work with her buyers and sellers. Pulse caught up with Lewis to talk about her background, style, common home buying mistakes and which Long Island towns are on the rise.
Tell me a bit about your pre-real estate life.
I went to Parsons School of Design and FIT, where I majored in interior design and architecture. The nine years of living in NYC were amazing! As a student I did TV commercials and print advertisements like Clinique and Coca-Cola. But it wasn’t my passion and interning for a design firm didn’t cover my bills. I took on a sales position with multi-marketing company CUC International, became their top producer in NYC and was awarded a transfer to Orange County, California. New York kept calling my name, resulting in three custom built homes on the Island and a career in sales back in Westhampton Beach, which was actually the same place I got my first sales job in high school.
Why did you decide to go into real estate?
I decided to go into real estate when I began interviewing realtors for the sale of my first home. I had to supply the photos because the ones the realtors were taking were of walls and furniture, not of perspectives and the architecture of the home. I also negotiated the home sale and increased the market values. I saw an opportunity to combine my education and sales backgrounds to bring a refreshing perspective and designing eye to the real estate business.
How does your designing eye help you in real estate?
For many reasons. For my sellers, I consult and edit their homes to identify features that will garner a sale for top dollar. For my buyers, I help them visualize the potential with properties that need help. Even when the homes are empty, I help them visualize furniture placement and offer renovation ideas. For my investors, I consult in the design of the project and inform them of the latest home trends.
What are some of the coolest experiences you’ve had working on the East End?
I’ve had many cool experiences but one I’ll never forget was when a 5-year-old Scott Disick gave me my first job in Westhampton. His parents had a retail store and when his dad Jeffrey took my application he said his son does the final approval. He drove me to his place on Dune Road where Scott laid pool side with his nanny. The rest is history.
What are the Suffolk County towns on the rise and why do you think they are becoming so popular?
There are many towns on the rise but Westhampton Beach and East Quogue are on the top of my list because of the beautiful beaches and laid-back, small-town feel that’s very family oriented. It’s a relatively short commute to Manhattan affording more quality time instead of battling the traffic on Route 27 like similar towns out East. It also makes it a great place to live year-round instead of it being just a Hampton’s seasonal home. The real estate prices range widely and are relatively affordable compared to the towns further East. These towns are hidden gems that have caught the eye of luxury developer Michael Meldman, CEO of Discovery Land, who is planning an exclusive resort on Dune Road, Westhampton Beach and a luxury golf tournament in East Quogue.
What is the biggest mistake people make when they look to buy a home and how can they avoid them?
Always looking for a better deal. Every market has its ups and downs, but thinking there’s always a better deal around the corner could cost you. Yes, it’s a big investment but it’s also the place you will call home so finding the right fit is just as important as finding that steal.
Since you have such an artistic eye, what are some home design trends you’ve noticed?
Minimal design. This is a trend that makes sense for healthy living. It has clean lines and is clutter free, so it’s easier to focus, clean and move around.
Statement lighting. This is an easy trend to implement in every room. Remove those ceiling fans and showcase beautiful lighting fixtures to draw attention to overhead space.
Integration of indoors and outdoors. To get the trend, find large-scale door panels that fold up like garage doors or open into a home’s wall via big pocket doors. It gives you better views of the outdoors and makes your yard feel like part of your home rather than a separate entity.
What is the one item in your home you can’t live without?
I can’t live without dimmer switches! An often over looked decorating secret, dimmers change the mood of the room with just a touch. They are the economical, easy way to make a room look better and feel more inviting.
Let Natalie A. Lewis help you buy (or sell) your home sweet home. Call 516-982-9572 and visit her Instagram at @nataliealewis.