Photo: GJ McCarthy

Editor’s Note: Due to yesterday’s incredible storm, much of the staff is without power. We’re re-running a couple of stories to help consumers avoid common scams and fraud schemes that always crop up after big storms.

I was thinking about this yesterday: with 500 plus homes needing repair in Rowlett, the scam artists will be making their way to Rowlett soon to rip off those who have already been ripped off by Mother Nature! Don’t let them! The Dallas Builder’s Association has come to the rescue offering tips and guidelines to help make sure the contractor not only gives you quality service but is scrupulous. In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask any of the builders in this group for a first, second or third opinion. As you know, we have our Hot Builders, preferred home builders who we vet, know and trust. Any one of them can build us a house or put one back together. We here at will keep an ear to the ground, too, and are here for you for questions, help and suggestions.


Dallas Builders Association Offers Guidance to Protect Residents from Further Damage Following North Texas Storms (more…)

OutdoorEditor’s Note: We have a three-day Memorial Day weekend, so we’re looking back at our library of stories about outdoor living in North Texas. In 2013, Executive Editor Joanna England got the dirt on how to make an outdoor space you use all year long from Margaret Chambers of Chambers Interiors.

Every spring I face a dilemma: What do we do about our back deck? We’ve tried a lot of different things to make it more inviting — having a corner bench built, putting up a Coolaroo shade, adding plants, putting down an all-weather rug — and still, when the summer starts to peak, we head inside.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Margaret Chambers, the founder of Chambers Interiors, has some great tips for making your outdoor space a spot you’ll gravitate toward all year long:


Outdoor living spaces have become more popular in the last ten years. If you are fortunate enough to have a covered patio, balcony, or deck, there are many clever ways that you can turn these spaces into exciting outdoor entertaining rooms. Whether you already have an outdoor area or are planning on building one, keep these helpful hints in mind.

A fireplace and small, inconspicuous heaters on the ceiling can add warmth in the fall and winter months. For the spring and summer months, ceiling fans are a must. If the budget permits, you might want to install misters in the ceiling.

Consider an outdoor grilling area, a small refrigerator, and an ice maker in your outside kitchen for entertaining a large group. You can also ice down drinks using galvanized aluminum tubs. An old pine armoire on a covered porch can be handy for storing your party accessories, games, and extra towels. (more…)

Outdoor kitchen

Photos courtesy Capital Distributing

Editor’s Note: During the three-day Memorial Day weekend, we’re looking back at some of our great stories about outdoor living in North Texas. Enjoy this great piece by personal chef and freelance writer Rachael Abrams as you contemplate upgrading that lonely grill to an outdoor kitchen.

By Rachael Abrams

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:



All photos: Devin Miller

Editor’s Note: As the three-day Memorial Day weekend kicks off, we thought we’d take a look back at some of our great stories about outdoor living in North Texas. First up: Five tips for outdoor living spaces, originally published in 2015.

By Leah Shafer

Transforming backyards into additional living spaces is a growing trend in North Texas. Even the hottest summer day turns into a pleasant evening, and the other three seasons are mild.

Upgrading outdoor living spaces can range in investment. A higher-end renovation and finish-out could include utilizing a professional designer and contractor to implement adding structures like cabanas, swimming pools, built-in kitchens, and covered patios. A DIY project could include updates to existing structures and surfaces that homeowners can implement themselves.

We talked to Nicole Arnold, who owns a full-service Dallas interior design firm, Nicole Arnold Interiors, recognized as a Dallas Top 10 Design firm and a Best of Houzz in 2014 and 2015 for customer satisfaction.

Nicole Arnold

She’s worked with many homeowners to create cool, comfortable outdoor living spaces that work with the rest of their home’s design.

“In a lot of cases, these outdoor retreats are visible from a main living area inside your home—therefore, make sure they look on par with the rest of your home, and, ideally, a natural extension of your interior style,” Arnold said. “Of course there’s a wide spectrum of upgrades and accouterments available to personalize your particular space, make it aesthetically pleasing, comfortable and functional.”

Read on to see her top 5 tips for accentuating an outdoor living space, regardless of the scope of your project. (more…)