I had no idea what winning an Austin Chronicle “Best of Austin” title could do to my small business until I won Best Contractor/Home Service in 2007.

Sure, I expected it to be a big deal, but it was more like a tsunami–an instantaneous rush of new clients. I had my first caller responding to the list by noon the day the paper dropped. I’ll never forget sitting down on the stairs at Ecclectic (RIP) after getting that first phone call…someone wanting a consultation about window treatments. I thought to myself, “wow, is the ink even dry yet?” Within another two hours there were several more phone calls and emails as well, including one from a woman who saw the list, checked out my website, and forwarded it to all of her friends because she thought it was so cool.

Since then, my client list has more than doubled and I have felt a little bit like the decorating equivalent of Miss America. Without the sparkly tiara, that is. And we can all thank gawd there wasn’t a swimsuit involved.

But seriously, you don’t know how meaningful this is to me. Just yesterday I met with a new client and discovered she still had the yellowed clipping tacked to her bulletin board as a reminder to call for a consultation. Even a year later, this is not uncommon. That is the power of the Austin Chronicle’s “Best Of” List.

So this year’s polling starts today and I am not ready to pass the dang torch. There are still so many sad rooms out there and you know those spaces are just crying out for some FU. You can do your part to help your fellow Austinite by voting for Room Fu in the Best Contractor/Home Service category (“Services” section of the ballot), and double your fun by voting for this blog in the Best Local Blog category (“Media” section)…while also voting for other local businesses you enjoy. That last part is pretty important, as voting in multiple categories distinguishes your vote from “stuffed” votes. If you are stumped for other businesses to recommend, here is a sampling of the votes I cast today:

Best Contractor/Home Service
Room Fu In case the paragraphs above didn’t drive home my point 🙂

Best Local Blog
Fu For Thought (roomfu.com/blog) Read it and weep, baby.

Best Interior
Blue Star Cafeteria – Truthfully, when asked to name my “favorite” anything, I have a hard time picking one place, but this was the first thing that popped into my mind. I’ve only been here once but I just felt like it was oozing fun and humor. Fun and humor are always big with me. There are more stylishly la-di-da interiors out there, but do they make you smile? Creating a smile through environment alone–that is pretty powerful in my book.

Best Art Gallery
Art on 5th – The owner of this gallery is a client of mine (who, incidentally, discovered Room Fu via the Best of Austin list last year), but even if he wasn’t, I would still vote for this gallery. You can get a good overview of the space by checking out their video tour, and they’re nice enough to break down a lot of artspeak for you here.

Best Sweets/Goodies
Hey Cupcake – If you haven’t hit SoCo for a cupcake out of an Airstream, you’re doing your life wrong.

Best Hotel
Hotel San Jose – Isn’t this just a no-brainer? Where else would you want to stay if you weren’t local?

Vote now!
The online poll will close up shop by Sept. 2, 2008.