02/09/15 4:37pm

CONDO VS HOUSE GRAPHIC

When it comes to deciding whether or not you want to invest in a condo or a single-family house, there’s a whole lot to mull over. Before stressing about homeowners associations and finding the perfect neighborhoods we decided to speak to Dallas City Center Realty’s Nancy Guerriero, who offered a wealth of sound advice.

“The biggest positive you have with a condo is the ability to lock and leave — go out with friends, travel, it’s so much easier than a house that needs to be watched over and maintained,” Guerriero says, “But at the same time you need to think about the neighborhood.”

She explains that there’s a basic checklist that most homebuyers go over before purchasing: What’s the school system like? Are there parks? Where’s the nearest shopping center? Grocery store? All of these components are essential, and as vital as exploring a condo’s homeowners association (HOA).

“The biggest issue is the governing power of the building, or HOA,” Guerriero emphasizes. “If you don’t have a good one, it’s bad news.”

(more…)

12/11/14 9:00am
Want incredible Christmas lights like Highland Park Village? Hire a professional. (Photos: Sarah Beauregard)

Want incredible Christmas lights like Highland Park Village? Hire a professional. (Photos: Sarah Beauregard)

The cool weather has set in, Thanksgiving has passed and the holiday season is upon us. That means it’s time to pull out your festive sweaters, create your party menus, and make a plan for your holiday lights. Of course the exquisite Highland Park Village lights come to mind as we think about our city’s most stunning holiday display. That’s why we chatted with Christmas Light Company, who annually installs the Village’s lights, and many of our city’s grandest displays — the Galleria, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and the Hilton Anatole — to learn the ins-and-outs of Christmas light installations.

“Right now LED Lights are popular,” General Manager of Christmas Light Company, Antonio Garcia says. “They use 90 percent less power.”

He explains that it’s important you hire a professional company that knows the difference between LED and incandescent lights, because to the eye, the lights look the same.

As far as hiring contractors is concerned, Garcia suggests you do your research before letting someone install your lights.

(more…)

08/08/14 3:23pm
Photo: Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

Photo: Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

In the midst of a sweltering hot Texas summer, we’re dreaming about a lounging by the beach with a margarita in hand, and a cool breeze. But since we’re quite a few hours away from the ocean, a luxurious pool will have to suffice. After speaking to Lance Dickinson with Harold Leidner Landscape Architects, it’s obvious that not all pools are created equal.

From technology that enables you to heat the pool to your liking from anywhere, to haute finishes that make you feel like you’re at an exclusive resort, there’s no reason why your pool shouldn’t be your mini getaway. With a little bit of guidance from the proper experts, you can easily turn your pool into your sanctuary.

Here are some current pool trends from Harold Leidner Landscape Architects you want to know about:

(more…)

04/11/14 12:00pm
Photo: Capital Distributing

Photo: Capital Distributing

When it comes to outside dining, there’s nothing quite as clever as an outdoor kitchen. If you have the space, and you live in the South — where the sun shines most days — an outside kitchen is worth the investment.

“Almost without exception, every custom home or remodel we work on today, the owner or builder either includes or plans for a future outdoor kitchen; at a minimum, [he plans for] a nice outdoor living space,” says Mike Davis, President of Capital Distributing.

In agreement with Davis, here are a few things to consider before building an outdoor living space:

(more…)

03/07/14 2:00pm

4236 Lorraine kitchen

When it comes to designing a dream kitchen for an expert home cook, the cost can be frightening. Though it’s easy to get carried away in the pages of Architectural Digest and drool over pristine statuary marble countertops, you shouldn’t feel obligated to indulge in every high-end kitchen accessory and appliance. After all, it’s not the kitchen that makes the chef; it’s the chef that makes the kitchen.

Here’s a little guide on where to spend and where to save in your kitchen:

Spend: A good gas range.
What to look for: A range with 6 burners is ideal. Get a range with a convection oven (or double oven) below, that way you can go from stovetop to oven without walking two steps.
Here’s why: I don’t care what anyone says about electric stovetops, gas is the way to go. You can get an instant flame, rather than an electric cooktop which might take a few minutes to get heated. Plus, you never know when you’ll need a flame to blister eggplants for your famous babaganoush. Viking, Thermador, and La Cornue are at the top of my list.

Meadowcreek Kitchen

Save: Go with countertops you can afford.
Here’s why: Countertops are all about cosmetics; if you can’t afford marble or granite go with an alternative such as Formica laminate that still looks good and is easy to clean. Don’t worry about it being scratch resistant. No one uses their granite countertops to chop vegetables without a cutting board anyhow. Go for the more affordable route and get yourself a good cutting board.

Spend: A built-in refrigerator.
What to look for: Dual refrigeration with separate sealed systems to ensure your food tastes fresh. Ample space and shelving is also important. If you often buy bulky items at the grocery store, keep that in mind. A produce drawer — every chef needs one.
Here’s why: In addition to saving space in your kitchen, President of Capital Distributing Michael Davis adds, “Built in refrigerators offer a great high-end look and integrate into your cabinets.”  In a dream world, I’d have a Sub-Zero refrigerator. The brand promises the highest quality to ensure your food will stay preserved.

5549 Fallas kitchen 1

Save: Pass on the built-in fryer.
Here’s why: Unless you find yourself making fresh donuts or fries on a daily basis, save on the extra cost. A good chef can go the old-school route by frying in a pot.

Spend: A ventilation hood.
What to look for: A low fan sound level so that you can still hear your guests while you’re cooking. One that can easily fit over your range and that can vent to the outside, to prevent smoke and too much heat inside. Look for a vent with the Home Ventilating Institute label to ensure it’s a good quality and certified system.
Here’s why: Good ventilation is essential when it comes to cooking in the kitchen. The last thing you need is smoke permeating through the house, rather than the smell of your food. “A great ventilation hood or hood enclosure offers a great design expression and serves an important function of removing moisture, odors, and grease,” Davis explains.

8211 Inwood kitchen 2

Save: Give up the microwave.
Here’s why: For starters, anything that can zap your food to the point that it’s steaming hot in 2-minutes cannot be good for your health. Nothing ever tastes the same if it has been reheated in a microwave.

Spend: A built-in combi steam oven.
What to look for: An oven that is large enough for your needs — think about what you’ll be steaming. You only need one combi oven, especially if you’ve got double convection under your range.
Here’s why: Use that money you would have used for a microwave and apply it to a combi oven — an oven and steamer, in one appliance. “They can produce a moist cooking environment which produces amazing results and is great for ‘refreshing’ leftovers,” Davis says. In my fantasy world, I’d invest in two Miele Combi-Steam Ovens.

Rachael AbramsRachael Abrams is a personal chef and freelance writer who is obsessed with home decor and practically mainlines Pinterest. Find out more about Rachael and her excellent taste by following her on Twitter.