Now why didn’t I get THIS for Mother’s Day? In the kitchen at 3624 Dartmouth stay tuned for more details… 

You may recall that I told you, last year, about the Screenfest we have had on our porch ever since we screened it in with retractable screens by KJ Custom Screens. Teresa Staggs, who owns KJ Custom Screens & Outdoor Living, the premier North Texas distributor and installer of the world’s top exterior motorized screens, personally installed them. The screens gave us a whole new wonderful living space. KJ Custom Screens & Outdoor Living contracts with the top luxury home builders in North Texas, installing amazing retractable screens into the bones of a patio that creates true year-round living in the great outdoors. Many builders choose to install the screens during the building process. We know demand for outdoor living areas that are comfortable year-round tops most luxury homebuyer’s lists.

I just never realized how much screens could contribute to keeping a patio warm, and protected. Not warm just in the winter, but in a super chilly spring.

Case in point: we had Supper Club at our home Saturday, and needed to have at least six outside to eat. Turns out the outside tables were in hotter demand than those inside: people naturally love dining al fresco, and KJ’s retractable screens make it all the more do-able. 

Mount Auburn

Gentrification is washing over Dallas like a wave. Neighborhoods that were once working class and affordable are vanishing faster than you can say “tear down.” One such neighborhood is directly behind me, so it has hit home (literally) in a big way. I have lived on Valencia Street in Hollywood Heights since 1990 and the Mount Auburn neighborhood starts at my back fence, and it’s changing by leaps and bounds.


First Internationally Certified Passive House in Texas to Hit Market Monday |

Dallas gets some big bragging rights today as the first internationally certified Passive House in Texas goes on the market. If you don’t know what that is, listen up and prepare to be impressed with this tale of two men’s vision to bring a new building standard to the state. 

The Northwest Dallas house at 3846 Lively Cir. is 3,230 square feet on two stories. For the past several weeks, the air conditioning as been at 71 degrees and the heat at 69. Lights were burning bright, appliances were buzzing, and people were walking in and out as the property was prepared for sale. 

During all this activity, the house’s electricity usage has averaged $1 a day, about 90 percent less energy than a comparable structure built using standard techniques, says builder Connor Fagin, who with his father Kyle Fagin, owns Fagin Partners

“The Passive House originated in Germany and results in ultra-low energy usage,” said Connor. “We’ve got 14-inch thick [exterior] walls, an 18-inch thick roof, and even when we have a sharp temperature change outside, it takes about 24 hours for the heating or cooling system to have to turn on inside.” 

Built as a spec home, this Passive House uses leading-edge materials and “green” technology to create a comfortable, beautiful dwelling.

“This is a high-quality, well-made house — but it’s just a house if you don’t know anything more than that,” said listing agent Vicki White with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty. “But then you find out it’s the best of the best in Texas, something one-of-a kind, and it [creates] a whole different level of appreciation.” 


Does this look familiar? Every Spring the elements wreak havoc on satellite dishes

If you have lived in North Texas for any period of time you know what happens to your satellite dish when the weather takes a turn for the worse.  It’s neither fun nor pretty.

When the rains come, wind blows, and hail makes its way to North Texas, it’s a guarantee that your Internet will stop working and favorite television show will turn into a fuzzy screen. Nothing can be more infuriating when watching your show or playing your game and the TV and Internet signal are interrupted or lost.

Furthermore, a satellite dish are an eyesore.  That is, until now.


The Highland Park town hall features cut stone from Continental Cut Stone (photos: Continental Cut Stone)

Thirty years ago, a young 27-year-old alumnus of Highland Park High School and Vanderbilt University with an engineering management degree found himself in the cut stone business. With the help of family members, Rob Teel, was able to purchase a foreclosed stone mill in Florence, Texas, and turn it into Continental Cut Stone, one of the best and most sought-after stone facilitators in Texas.

So what is cut stone and why should readers care?  Because we not only tell you about homes, but we want you to learn something new about them.


This green roof in Germany is a perfect example of how more buildings are becoming sustainable.

Matt Smith
Special Contributor

As in fashion, there are also some popular trends in the roofing industry. Sustainability is one, and in the next year, homeowners across the planet will be building new homes, and each will need a well-constructed, functional, aesthetically correct roof. If the roof is made of eco-friendly material – even better!

Sustainability went from the margins to the mainstream big time during past few years. It is nothing new, yet it is growing more popular. The idea of being energy independent, spending less on electricity, and reducing the level of carbon emission seems like a triple win situation.

You don’t have to be clairvoyant to see that when building roofs, constructors will be inspired by nature in 2018. The emphasis will be on the green building materials and the style which imitates the artwork of one of the world’s top designers – Mother Nature. Solar panels and living green roofs will become a much more common sight.


This live Thermador kitchen in the Capital Distributing showroom is one of the multiple areas that you can “try before you buy.” (Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography)

You never know where the research for an article idea will take you. When the editorial team started talking about doing some myth busting on how long your appliances should last and the difference in longevity between American and European appliances, it sounded right up my alley. What I didn’t expect was to be talking about technology that looked like science fiction.

When I watched The Jetsons on Saturday mornings, no one dreamed we could actually have cooking in our home be so automated, but a connected kitchen is probably in a home near you. After seeing these new trends, you will never look at kitchen design the same way again, and you’ll be wishing it was time to change out all of your appliances! (more…)