Owning a home is a significant milestone in one’s life. It provides stability, a sense of belonging, and the opportunity to build equity. However, homeownership comes with responsibilities and challenges, and many homeowners are left wondering how they can make the most of their investment. This is where The Life with BE (the BE stands for the founder’s name Brigid and Elizabeth) comes into play, offering valuable guidance and resources to help homeowners invest in their homes and make them their own.

Designers, entrepreneurs, cousins, and Studio Designer customer’s Elizabeth Krueger and Brigid Steiner provide their clients insight, inspiration, and practical advice on how to turn their houses into truly meaningful and valuable homes. With their support, their clients can live, grow, and thrive in the spaces they call their own.

We recently sat down with Elizabeth and Brigid to discuss the journey to The Life with BE, where they got their start, and what plans they have for the future.

Brigid & Elizabeth

Elizabeth, you have worked with Studio Designer and our CEO, Keith Granet, for a long time. From what I understand, The Life with BE is relatively new.

Elizabeth: New-ish, we’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching to figure out our message and niche, so that is relatively new.

How did you both end up in the interior design world?

Brigid: Elizabeth has a fabulous, mature interior design business that she’s worked at for 11 years in Chicago. I have taken a different path. I worked for her dad, who has a construction company and is a developer in Cleveland, and I learned a lot about interior design and more construction background doing that. Since COVID, I have been doing interior design on my own, and we have joined together to create The Life with BE.

Elizabeth: Coming from a family of contractors and developers, I was always around it. I initially went to school to study communications and marketing. During my last semester, I decided I wanted to go to design school. I broke the news to my parents, and the deal was I had to work and go to school at night. After agreeing to their terms, I then went on to graduating with my Associates Degree and ended up getting an internship at Holly Hunt in Chicago at the Merchandise Mart, and subsequently was hired by one of my clients there, who was a designer. I worked with her for a couple of years and got the lay of the land of entrepreneurship and what the structure of a design project looked like. Then two years later I went off on my own, and started Elizabeth Krueger Design (EKD).

Awesome! How big is EKD now?

There are nine of us. Two working in Cleveland, seven in Chicago, and I commute back and forth.

How did The Life with BE come to be?

Elizabeth: During the pandemic, I worked in my bedroom from Chicago while my whole family was together in Cleveland. I had a ten-month-old at the time. I was yearning for family, and I realized that I could work anywhere. Half of our projects were out of state anyway, so it didn’t matter if I was sitting in my bedroom in Chicago or Cleveland. So, I moved back home. Brigid and I have always stayed connected. I have always respected her eye and sense of home-keeping, and we were looking for a way to work together. So, we started brainstorming, chatting, podcasting, and came up with this notion that as an interior designer: we’re always about the big reveal. We spend time making selections, building the house, and then boom—we are installing everything in a week’s time. It was then when we realized, okay, now that you’re home; how do you live in your home? I even thought about it from my point of view and started asking questions like, how often do I change my sheets? What are the best cleaning products to use? What’s the deal with the laundry? And Brigid was answering all of these questions for me. I see her as a professional home keeper. She just knows! Just how I know paint colors, she knows when you should empty your trash during the week and what you should have stocked in your freezer or pantry for when someone pops in.

Brigid: Hosting things like a dinner party or having out-of-town guests come over can be anxiety-provoking. There are so many things to consider and plan for that you often don’t think about because you don’t have it listed anywhere because you don’t think you should! But you should because it helps set you up for success.

Elizabeth: Exactly. For me, moving back home and having family so close, people were suddenly popping in. For example, my brother once brought his own food to my house, and I asked, “Wait, why would you bring your own food over?” And he casually said, “Because you always just have soy sauce.” I thought to myself, he’s right. What should I keep in my freezer? Or in the pantry for the occasional pop-in? I was never used to that before moving home, and I know many of our clients are often in the same boat. It’s just not something everyone is wired to think about. As a designer, I know my coffee table will be styled, and my furniture layout is set up perfectly for when someone stops, but there is another level of that welcome factor in your home that, if it isn’t there, all of that can fall flat very quickly.

It’s like you’re answering the “now what”?

Elizabeth: Exactly. What do you do when this thing breaks? Or how do we ensure that we keep this tile sparkly clean so it looks the way it did when the designer put it in the first place? It’s a way to honor your investment.

Since launching, what has the reaction and the experience been like for both of you?

Elizabeth: We’ve done some version of this for clients for a couple of years, putting this care and cleaning doc together. The Life with BE has taken it further to this daily, weekly, and monthly ritual, and we’re finding that people are receptive and excited about it.

Brigid: We recently wrapped a job and the interior designer we were working with shared that our service was a great compliment to her and that she loved having us on the job to really take it to the finish line. It’s such a great thing to hear and know we are providing something of value for people.

That’s amazing! Now, if you could think back to the beginning of your careers, what’s something you wish someone would have told you before starting a business?

Elizabeth: One great piece of advice I did get that I share with many people starting out is that you want to present the home to the clients accessorized. It’s something to advocate for. Part of what you’re being hired for is to have that confidence in the execution and the final product. Truthfully, starting my interior design business was much easier than beginning The Life with BE. Because it didn’t start as a service business, it began as a product we were selling. Then we realized we needed to attach a service to it to get in front of people.

Brigid: To add to that, one of the big things I’ve learned is to trust yourself. I can’t tell you how many conversations we’ve had where I’ve thought, why would I write down when to take out your trash as a step? But Elizabeth is always there to say, no, these are things people don’t know and need to know! I take for granted some of the things I know, like Elizabeth probably does with design. Knowledge is power, and that should empower you in whatever you are doing.

Where do you think that comes from, Brigid? Have you always been organized?

Brigid: Yes, I have because I need to be [laughs]. I’m very anxious, so I thrive on everything being efficient and well-run around me. That is when I feel at peace. I also got a lot of it from my mom. A lot of her generation was really into housekeeping, and I grew up with many women in my life who were just great at their craft—making home a home; that all rubbed off on me.

I love that so much. What you are doing with The Life with BE is impressive, and hearing how it all came to be is inspiring. You both are tapping into your strengths and creating something that will help homeowners for years. Now, I have to ask, Elizabeth, EKD has been a Studio Designer Customer for years, how did you come to find Studio Designer?

Elizabeth: The designer I worked for used it for their business. So, that was my first introduction to it. When I started my own business, I tried to do QuickBooks, which was the hottest mess ever. With QuickBooks, you can generate a purchase order and a proposal, but there are complexities with tax codes and inventory that create less of a streamlined operation. Studio Designer has just been such an excellent tool for EKD. The custom and improved features offerings that continue to come out have been such an asset.

One last question for you both: what does the future of The Life with BE look like? Where do you want to take it?

Elizabeth: Tell them, Brigid!

Brigid: Well, we have lots of hopes and dreams. I love doing these manuals. I would love them to be in everyone’s home. I was thinking along the lines of, what if we create them as a beautiful coffee table book covered in linen? That might be a little obnoxious, [laughs] but we want to have a book! Until then, though, we continue to think about how you live in your home and how we can help achieve that for people.

Elizabeth: Yes, lots more to come!

Studio Designer is the leading digital platform for interior designers managing and growing their design businesses, featuring fully integrated project management, time billing, product sourcing, and accounting solutions.

Want to learn how Studio Designer can work for your design firm? Schedule a call with our team: https://www.studiodesigner.com/get-a-demo/

We can’t wait to connect.