Much is said about creating curb appeal when you put your home up for sale. But is it really that important in our sizzling real estate market? And what projects will get the biggest bang for the buck and attract the right buyer?

Why not ask Realtors? They’re on the front lines with buyers, hearing comments and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

“Curb appeal is one of the most important factors when it comes to the marketing of your home,” said Brandon Travelstead, a Realtor with Dallas City Center Realtors. “It’s all about what the potential buyer sees when they pull up out front, get out of the car, and walk to the front door—you really have 30 to 45 seconds to capture that buyer’s attention before they form their first impression.”

Dennis Hammett, Ebby Halliday’s 2015 “Rookie of the Year,” considers curb appeal one of his areas of expertise and offers specific recommendations for clients.

“I work with a wide range of buyers, sellers, and investors in the readiness and prep to get the most of the home’s appearance,” Hammett said. “Whether listing a $200,000 or a $2-million property, you only have one chance to make that first impression—I’m always looking for that ‘wow’ factor that will attract potential buyers.”

We asked top Dallas Realtors to weigh in on curb appeal improvements sellers can make to their properties. We’ve divided their answers into budget-friendly, mid-range, and high-end so you can easily see where to best spend your money. Let’s hear what they have to say!

 

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pirate playhouse 3Playhouses are some of the tiniest examples of good building and design. For the lead carpenter of Sardone Construction, a backyard playhouse was an opportunity to make his house fit the needs of the whole family – toddler pirates included.

Bryan McLain was given the challenge to design a pirate ship playhouse for his son’s third birthday party. McClain turned his son’s imagination into a real-life pirating adventure, in just three days time.

McLain is known for his Dallas home renovation work, and attention to continuing to hone his craft. After the completion of the pirate ship playhouse, and the smiles of the tiny partygoers, he is planning to create more unique playhouses.

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First prize in the ‘Sitting Pretty Porta Potty Screen Contest’ goes to All photos: Sardone Construction

First prize in the ‘Sitting Pretty Porta Potty Screen Contest’ goes to Brian Paletz, AIA. All photos: Sardone Construction

Last month, we told you about the “2015 Sitting Pretty Porta Potty Screen Contest,” created in response to Highland Park’s new rule that portable toilets be screened from the public’s view at residential construction sites.

The contest, sponsored by Sardone Construction and HPD Architecture, closed June 29 and the winners have been announced. Close to 30 people registered and 17 submitted designs.

To refresh your memory, the challenge was to create screens that were more attractive than the standard plywood construction, “to design a porta potty screen of your own. Something with a bit of flare! Maybe a little splash! A screen that says, “When ya gotta go, you might as well do it in style!”

Four winning entries showcase originality, splash, and practicality. The first-place design will be built by HPD and Sardone in the coming weeks.

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An example of an acceptable portable toilet screen sent by Highland Park to contractors working in the town. All photos: Highland Park Building Inspection Department

Highland Park is implementing a new requirement that portable toilets be screened from the public’s view at residential construction sites. No one wants to pooh-pooh* the new rule, so instead, two Dallas companies are encouraging creativity and responding with humor.

Sardone Construction and HPD Architecture launched the “2015 Sitting Pretty Porta Potty Screen Contest” Monday. Here’s the challenge:

We are challenging you – our readers, friends, and colleagues – to design a porta potty screen of your own. Something with a bit of flare! Maybe a little splash! A screen that says, “When ya gotta go, you might as well do it in style!”

“When I got the email from Highland Park, they included a couple of pictures, examples [of screened portable toilets], and all I could think was, ‘We can do better than that!,” said Larry Paschall, architect and founding member of HPD Architecture. “Those plywood boxes aren’t necessarily going to look any better than the portable toilets. Why not see what people can come up with?”

In the email sent from the Highland Park Building Inspection Department to contractors, they wrote,”Our department is requesting the very best quality of screening that you can provide.” No one wants wasteful spending, but this contest might elicit some spectacular design options.

The town’s No. 1 and No. 2 concerns were that portable toilets are unsightly to the public and bothersome for neighbors.

“A typical construction area looks like a missile testing site and in the middle is a bright blue or bright orange porta potty that looks bad,” said Stephan Sardone, owner of Sardone Construction. “I was thinking how funny it would be if we had really ornately designed screens for these porta potties that fit their new rules.”

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Stephan SardoneParting is such sweet sorrow. At least it is for us at CandysDirt when one of our favorite homebuilders puts his sensational reno on the market.

Stephan Sardone, owner of Sardone Construction, took the L-Streets house at 10229 Linkwood Dr. in Lake Highlands to the studs and reimagined the space entirely. What emerged is extraordinary—we’ve written about it twice, here and here.

“We essentially demolished its entire insides and redesigned it into an open concept that maximized every inch of the home,” he said. “We were able to fit three full bedrooms and two full bathrooms—and the master bath is really large—as well as an incredible open living space and nice-sized kitchen.”

Stephan SardoneTo make this house happen, Sardone partnered with Larry Paschall of HPD Architecture in Oak Lawn. Together, they totally overhauled the 1,320-square-foot interior. They moved all interior walls, changed the layout of the space, and created a vaulted ceiling with wood beams by pushing out a gable on the roof.

Sardone’s abode served both as a home for him and his wife, and as a contractor showcase to show potential clients just how to create a smart, efficient design. It was a no-brainer to choose it as today’s Thursday Three Hundred. It was listed Friday by Michael Cassell at Gilchrist & Company Real Estate for $379,900.

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All photos: Sardone Construction

All photos: Sardone Construction

Stephan Sardone did not arrive at his career in home renovation by direct route.

The Flower Mound native headed to graduate school with the intention of earning his masters, then traveling to Papua, New Guinea, to work with indigenous tribes and translate their native languages, as well as aid with microfinance projects and community development.

Now, with two masters degrees in hand, he performs a different kind of community work: helping Dallas homeowners translate their vision for a home remodel into reality.

The transition started with a side business during his undergrad days. Sardone was an eager student with an entrepreneurial spirit and a knack for laying tile. It lasted into his graduate school days, and he drove around in a minivan, filled to the brim with tiles, and took on clients under the name Tile Fast.

“Tile Fast was never supposed to go anywhere, it was just supposed to teach me business and such, but then it turned into kitchen remodeling, then into full-scale remodeling,” he said. “It took about six months after I graduated to realize I was going to stay in the business because I really liked it.”

Stephan Sardone portrait

He changed the name of his company to Sardone Construction in 2010 and has earned accolades as his reputation has grown for creating smart and efficient designs that maximize space in a truly beautiful way.

The most important thing is to do really high quality work, have high standards, and give our clients a good experience,” he said.

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With a dark paint scheme and standing seam roof, this home at 8725 Stanwood is the perfect project for using innovative materials. (Photo: Sardone Construction)

What stands out the most about Stephan Sardone‘s project on Stanwood in Casa Linda Forest is the homeowner. Not that Sardone isn’t a very talented builder and contractor, as he very much is. It’s that Larry Paschall, AIA, is a co-founder of HPD Architecture and straddles the lines of client and co-worker to collaborator, as he’s worked hard to design a modern, flexible space in his 1961 ranch.

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“We don’t need to go watch HGTV for drama. This was real drama — it wasn’t ‘staged,'” said Michelle Lynne, catching herself, a real estate stager, in an accidental pun. The drama was, of course, the last-minute flurry of activity before the doors opened at 10229 Linkwood, an L Streets home built in 1955 that got a complete facelift thanks to Stephan Sardone of Sardone Construction.

Yes, look closely at the photos, because this is the same home we featured in July. What an incredible transformation!

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“I am in love with the office. It is definitely the best use of space,” said Lynne, echoing the comments I overheard all evening as Realtors and trade representatives perused the home as Main & Sides chef Shaun Collins dished out amazing hors d’oeuvres and Lakewood Brewing offered sweltering guests cold beer at the outdoor kitchen.

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I was truly floored by what Sardone Construction accomplished without increasing the 1,320-square-foot footprint of the home. By vaulting ceilings, opening the space, and increasing the flow and utility, the home got a second life as a modern marvel.

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All of the closets are completely organized, thanks to Elfa systems courtesy of The Container Store. The office got the Elfa treatment, too, which will help the homeowners immensely, I’m sure! Another amazing feat is the five-piece master bath Sardone managed to shoehorn into a 5.5″  x 12″ space. It incorporates a rather new trend called a “wet area,” and when fully complete, will include a frameless glass door that separates the vanity from the shower and soaking tub.

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Tina Garry, a sales rep from Floor & Decor, was amazed at what Sardone had accomplished with the home. Her company contributed the penny accent tile that covered an entire wall of the kitchen — a high-impact detail that doesn’t overpower the whole room, but begs to be noticed. Floor & Decor also contributed the tile in the master and guest baths.

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(Guests, including Larry Paschall, Michael Veale, and Robert Hernandez, padded through the home in socked feet to protect the refinished hardwood floors from Lumber Liquidators.) 

And the master bedroom featured several LED lights canvassing the ceiling, giving off a subtle glow that fills the room without tons of shadows. LEDs are incredibly efficient, too, and Nauhaus Lighting & Decor sourced some great models for this home.

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In the kitchen, well, it’s a far cry from the dated and bland one that once stood in its space, and features a huge island and chef-grade Jenn-Air appliances from Capital Distributing. Of course, I am sure the homeowners wish Chef Collins could come with the kitchen, too.

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Truly, this home was amazing, which was attested by the crowd that turned out last night. The design, an outstanding work of art from HPD architect Larry Paschall, will be one that will last.

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