From left: Blackline Renovations Office Manager Jennifer Holloway, President Chris Black, Project Manager Taff Welborn and Interior Designer Jenifer Wiley. Wiley, the owner of J. Wiley Designs, is also Black’s wife.

Blackline Renovations founder and president Chris Black says that one of his biggest challenges these days is standing out from the crowd. By his count, there are more than 3,500 remodeling companies in Dallas alone.

“Demand is high but so is the sheer numbers of remodelers in the business,” he said. “We see new names popping up on signs all the time.”

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[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2018! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at CandysDirt.com!]

From Jon Anderson: Too many think of December as the month to start counting their Santa haul. How about helping those less fortunate and yourself?  earlier in 2017 I urged you to check out Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore shops.  You can donate to ReStore for the tax write-off and buy from ReStore for bargains to help you make your home more homey. That’s a win-win regardless of your beliefs this time of year.


Sometimes it kills me to watch HGTV.  Eager beaver renovators gleefully rip through their home with sledgehammers ablaze without a thought that some of what they’re splintering could be reused. Sure the cabinets aren’t spankingly trendy and the appliances aren’t stainless, but for someone without, they’re precious.

When I gutted my 1960s home, I called ReStore.  They’re a division of Habitat for Humanity that takes donations of furniture, appliances and construction materials from individuals and businesses and resells them in their stores. Donors get a tax write-off and a lighter conscience.  Someone renovating their house on a shoestring gets some bargains.  Someone else gets housing from Habitat for Humanity.

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Before and After. I’ll let you decide which is which

Back in March, I wrote about a condo at the Athena that I called a “dump” that hadn’t seen better days in decades.  It was a bastardized two-bedroom, two bathroom on the ninth floor with 1,770 square feet listed for $249,900 with HOA dues of $1,037 that include utilities, TV and internet.  It sold pretty quickly and immediately went under the knife.

Flash forward to last Friday and the unit re-hit the MLS after its nearly stem-to-stern renovation and reconfiguration.  This time it’s listed with James Glynn with JG Real Estate for $425,000. Yes, that’s a big jump, but as you’ll see, a bundle has been spent.  The owners intended to live in the unit, but circumstances changed and so now it’s a flip … but definitely with flip-plus quality.

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Dallas Home Projects with Highest ROI | CandysDirt.com

If you’ve ever contemplated home renovations, the big question is usually, “How much is this going to cost me?” This is often closely followed by, “Will I get any of my money back from these projects if I sell my home?” 

There are tons of opinions on the Internet and TV about the best home renovations. General contractors and homebuilders know a lot, too. But return on investment (ROI) varies hugely region by region, and it can be hard to get a handle on the local situation. 

For an unbiased, third-party opinion of how much it really costs for a pro to do a typical remodeling projects — and a Realtor’s opinion as to how much a project will increase a home’s value if it’s sold within a year of when the work was completed — you can’t beat the annual Cost vs. Value report. For 30 years, this report has offered homeowners a resource for looking at ROI nationally, by region, and even down to certain cities. Dallas happens to be one of them. 

So what Dallas home projects will give you the most bang for your buck? Read on to find out. 

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Chris3_a

Chris Black comes across as a no-nonsense kind of guy. Straight-forward and to-the-point, he possesses a calm, level manner. Black is exactly the kind of person you’d put in charge of dismantling your family home. Because when he puts it back together, it’s a vision come to life.

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Athena Exterior 1

Yes, I’ve recently written a lot about the Pink Wall (the fire and all) including an Athena double-unit listing at $1.1 million, and normally I’d be loathe to write about the same building so soon, BUT …

Unit 915 at the Athena is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit with 1,543 natural square feet that picks up 230 more feet from an already enclosed balcony.  HOA dues are $1,037 per month but in addition to all the usual high-rise maintenance and such, also includes all utilities, cable TV, and internet.  It’s listed for $249,900 with Diana Boswell of JP & Associates.

That’s $141 per square foot. No high-rise in Dallas is trading at that rate.

Of course there’s a reason.  While the agent says, “With a little bit of TLC…” I’d say, “It’s a dump” … but in a good way.  To a renovator, “It’s a dump” means, “Tell me more.”

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ReStore Logo 1

Sometimes it kills me to watch HGTV.  Eager beaver renovators gleefully rip through their home with sledgehammers ablaze without a thought that some of what they’re splintering could be reused instead of in a landfill. Sure your old cabinets aren’t spankingly trendy and the appliances aren’t stainless, but for someone without, they’re precious.

When I gutted my 1960s home, I called ReStore.  They’re a division of Habitat for Humanity that takes donations of furniture, appliances and construction materials from individuals and businesses and resells them in their stores. The global charity operates in 70 countries and 1,400 communities.  Donors get a tax write-off and a lighter conscience.  Homeowners renovating on a shoestring get some bargains.  Needy families get renovation help and housing from Habitat for Humanity.

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Original Range Suffered from Salty Sea Air (Rust)

Original Range Suffered from Salty Sea Air (Rust)

It seemed straight-forward enough. Replace an old slide-in gas range with a new one.  Not so fast.

Of course, I began by researching which brand and model offered the best combination of reliability and performance (it’d be in a rental property so reliability is important).  I trundled over to the library to check out Consumer Reports.  From there, I visited various ratings sites to see what actual users had to say about each of my finalists … a Bosch and a Samsung.  Finally, I visited brick and mortar stores … literally all the way to Mesquite for one … to actually see and touch each.

Even with all the swirl about Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 candelabra function and washing machines with projectile lids, I selected Samsung. The whys were more about me.  The Bosch’s storage drawer had no handle and was annoying to open.  Also, the touchpad was completely vertical meaning all oven programming required bending over. The price differential was about $10 due to various sales, making cost not a deciding factor.

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