This new custom home by Avida Homes featured un-lacquered faucets and hardware for an authentic look, which makes it feel more luxurious. (Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography)

What’s in a name? Everything, especially if you are talking about home design. Our Dallas housing market is robust right now, and it made us think about the words and names that builders and Realtors use to describe their homes. One of the most overused terms is “luxury,” and it’s used to describe everything from a large bath in a $100,000 home to the lifestyle that’s offered in a $10 million home.

When we heard that ROHL was coming to Dallas with their Auth Lux Summit, we were anxious to hear what they had to say.


Kneif & Company’s K-Stone Pride Bathtub. Soup’s on!

Even before Lady Gaga popped out of an egg at the 2011 Grammy’s, I was over the plethora of egg-shaped bathtubs.  I realize that bathtub shapes are limited by what is placed in them … namely people. But men, always enjoying a little manspreading (it floats, you know), would rather not have a bathtub that narrows at the legs.  So speaking for all men, the recent fad of egg shapes has tired us out.  It’s time to crack some eggs and see what else is out there.


JEE-O’s Pure wall mount faucet

“There are two things that Jack Bauer never does. Show mercy and go to the bathroom.”

Kiefer Sutherland

In light of Hurricane Harvey, I thought we’d explore some of the better, less overwhelming aspects of water.  The first (OK, second) place we encounter water each day is our bathroom faucets. It should be functional, sure, but it should also be a beautiful way to kick off the day.

Faucets have long been my weakness since seeing Kallista ads in Architectural Digest in the 1980s (yes, I was that kid). Since then, as I renovate homes, I take special fun in picking really great faucets.  Sometimes I buy them in strange and exotic places like eBay, but I always get a deal.


Viyet sells all sorts of spendy furniture. Giorgio USA is among the priciest and most popular.

Bargain hunters (with taste), start your engines. Recently I’ve been in a decorating mood.  It all started with a pair of bedside tables I stumbled upon at Mitchell Gold that were on the sale rack.  I spiffed them up by adding quartzite tops. It’s been weeks and I still smile when I see them.  While I was looking for remnant stone, I found marble baseboards that match my bathroom floor.  From there I decided to finish a hall closet that had been junk storage.

Note: Another reason high-rises are good.  When you need someone to install a small amount of baseboard, you can knock on doors of renovating neighbors and see if their tile guy wants a small side job. The perfect solution for tiny jobs that are notoriously difficult to get done these days.

Finally, I decided to design my own media cabinet, end tables, and a built-in shelving unit/bar. I visited the Design District to see all the styles I love, but am too poor to afford, for inspiration. Quite ambitious of me.

Of course the day after I’d sent the plans to the carpenter, I opened my browser bookmarks and found listed in a 2014 Huffington Post article.  (Yes, I’m that anal.)

Not just furniture and lighting. Fabric for drapes and upholstery too.

For those who don’t recall the 2014 article (ha!), Viyet (a play on “vignette”) is a virtual consignment shop opened in 2013.  But it’s more.  They only take the cream of the design district crop.  Furniture must retail for over $1,000, lighting over $500 and knickknacks over $100.   In any of these categories you’ll be hard-pressed to find much approaching these minimum standards.

The stuff comes from showrooms who don’t want to sully themselves by selling sample pieces to consumers, plus rich folks jettisoning treasures while remodeling. Viyet staff evaluate, photograph and measure each piece (so you know the real condition of a piece and that their judgement is consistent). They document and photograph any boo-boos. “Gently used” likely being the worst condition they sell. There is a “revive” category for restoration work, but it’s usually reserved for antique pieces. Scratches are the most common fault. They also help sellers set prices.  But prices are not hard with all items having a “make an offer” button. And like any consignment store, DO make an offer.

Because items are personally inspected, Viyet only receives items from certain areas like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, etc.


Granite in a non-white kitchen (for commenter “JT”)

Back in 2015 I wrote a pair of columns on countertops, and specifically issues I’d been having with mine. Based on new information, I thought a revisit was in order. In Part One I wrote about some of the more unusual countertop options like paper, wood, and glass before diving into the varieties of stone.  In this column, I’ll finish up with the rest of the stone landscape.  As with any list, it’s by no means exhaustive.  New stones are being mined all the time and new materials are being pressed into service (who’d have thought about lava rock 20 years ago?).

Regardless of the type of countertop you select, understand that there are different things that impact overall pricing.  Each material has different grades, which equate to different prices for the raw material.  Often it’s based on rarity or difficulty in manufacturing the product.  From a fabrication perspective, complicated shapes, cutouts, and edge treatments can add cost depending how complicated you get (complication equals time/money). Finally, there’s installation.  How easy will it be to get the countertops into the building?

That said, let’s talk about marble …


Quartzite-covered counters

Back in 2015, I wrote a pair of columns on countertops and specifically issues I’d been having with mine.  Based on new information, I thought a revisit was in order.

Here in Part One, I’ll talk about the various choices along with my thoughts on quartzites and calcites.  In Part Two, I’ll talk about the rest of the stone spectrum, including marble, onyx, granite, soapstone, and manufactured quartz.

There are myriad of options for kitchen and bath countertops.  Some of them are better than others for certain jobs.  Most of the better or worse comes from durability and their ability to resist staining, fading, yellowing, chipping, and my favorite, etching.

Before we dive into the stone options, there are a lot of other options available.


Kohler Exterior 1

Last night, my head was filled to capacity at the Kohler showroom grand opening do — invite-only ‘natch. Our own Leah Shafer scored me tix after she alerted us of the impending opening.

First, the Kohler companies — Kohler, Ann Sacks, Kallista, and Roburn — filled my eyes and brain with ideas galore.  Then La Duni filled my taste buds with treats as I walked around the joint. Thankfully, I ran into Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate gal pal Sharon Quist or I’d have been faucet-fondling all on my own, and probably on a watch-list by now. As it was I got to meet design power couple Sherry Hayslip and architect-husband Cole Smith.


Geoluxe Eramo 1

The Kitchen and Bath International Show 2017 that wrapped up in Orlando last week was a wonderland of ideas for builders, designers and renovators.  Last time I showed off some of the coolest accoutrements for the bathroom.  Now it’s time to see the trouble you can get into in the kitchen.

In King and I fashion, first up is the new Geoluxe countertop offering from the Siam Cement Company (yes, really, really from Thailand).  One of the things I don’t like about manufactured quartz counters is their fake look when compared to stone.  I think of quartz like Corian 2.0 (ouch!). Enter Geoluxe. Crafted with a new process the firm creates what they call Pyrolithic Stone that gives the true appearance of natural stone but with the added durability of a man-made product.  It’s their patented GeoMimicry process that creates the natural stone-like veining.