In the not-too-distant future, I will write a book on how homes heal and nests nurture. I have many friends who, stung from later-life divorces, have found salvation in new home renovation — contracted out or even built with their own hands. There is nothing as fulfilling as ripping apart an old bathroom or kitchen, with several great whacks of the sledgehammer. The rooms — worn down, out-of-style, dysfunctional — turn out to be a lot like their former marriages. Re-creating a beautiful new space in the old structure gives them purpose, passion and a new lease, not to mention the self-satisfaction that comes when the project is complete. You move in and finally relax with a glass of wine and (hopefully) a new romantic interest.

But a house doesn’t have to be divorce therapy to nurture. It can also house a new beginning that comes through, say, a dual adoption and marriage.

For Dr. Jennifer Denning, 6918 Pasadena was the home she bought to raise her adopted daughter, to give her a storybook life.

She is the sixth owner of the Tudor-style home, whose primary owners lived in the tidy house for almost 30 years. Built in 1923, the home was first owned by Bernard and Jane B. Shields, Bernard being employed by WM Simpson & Sons. The home went to market from 1948 to 1950; it was sold and remodeled. Originally a three-bedroom one-story structure, subsequent owners knocked out walls and added a second story with dormers and tall ceilings, bathrooms, and more rooms in 2005.

But oh my, this story is about so much more than a home.

“If Norman Rockwell were a single working mom, this is the house he’d buy,” says Jennifer.


LakewoodKendra Benningfield was admittedly very new to homebuying when she saw her Lakewood townhouse for the first time — but she knew that it had good bones if the right person got ahold of it.

And she knew she was that right person.

“I originally found my place while living in Uptown and realizing I wanted to be in an actual neighborhood/community,” Benningfield recalled. “I was very green when it came to home buying so I just started looking on Trulia.”

“After a few hours of scrolling the map around to see what would pop up, I happened across this amazingly well built Charlestonian townhouse smack dab in the middle of Lakewood.”

But it wasn’t completely love at first sight. However, Benningfield knew she could put her stamp on the interior of the home.

“It was very closed-in when I purchased, but I knew the bones were there,” she said. (more…)

When the Castellanos family was looking for a place to land in the Park Cities, they were searching for answers in every direction. When push came to shove, their query on is what got them the answers they needed. 

“Six years ago you helped us find the perfect home for our growing family when we were featured in Ask Candy,” said Amy Castellanos. “We ended up stretching ourselves to the max to buy a fixer-upper, starter-home in University Park.  It was one of the best decisions we ever made!”

But, that was two kids and several years ago, so the Castellanos family is moving on to new digs after outgrowing their adorable cottage on Daniel Avenue in University Park.

“We truly poured love and care into our family home,” said Amy’s husband, Luis. “We took down a wall, added a closet and updated the finishes. It was a roomy 2,722-square-foot, ranch-style home, and we liked it so much that we began talking to architects about adding a second story as our family grew.  Then one fateful, free Saturday late last year, I thought it would be fun to check out an open house to ‘get ideas.'”

We see where this story is going …


When the Margritzes moved to their Oak Cliff home, they thought it would be forever.

When Sandy Margritz left Little Rock, Arkansas, to move to Fort Worth to join her soon-to-be husband, Josh, she left a world behind. Not just the Ozarks and canopied treetops and mountains, she left an entire profession, too. She was an environmental scientist that traveled around after natural disasters to test water and soil and make sure it was safe for the locals and relief workers. She said, “I don’t know if this is interesting or not…” Hello? Of course, it is and what came next was just as fascinating.

She and her husband realized they both couldn’t travel like crazy – someone needed to call Texas home – so Sandy raised her hand. “I was a little burned out on travel, but I didn’t really have a clue what I wanted to do.” Then she told her husband, “Well, I really liked getting married, maybe I’ll do something with weddings?” She got a job with Boxwood Hospitality and that was that. Until it wasn’t.


Merriman ParkIt happened this week — Lindsay Sikes Nicholson mentioned on Park Cities Resale Shop (a sort of virtual Facebook swap meet but way, way fancier) that her beloved Merriman Park home was going on the market.

“Our precious home will be hitting the market this weekend. Fully renovated in Merriman Park,” she wrote. “This has been a great home and I would love to see it go to someone that will love it as much as we have!”

At last count, there were 73 comments from people asking for more information. So uh, if you’re in love with this house like we were, you better get to hoppin’.

We took a minute to ask Nicholson what prompted the move — after all, the home is immaculate and adorable. Why leave now? (more…)

If you live in Lakewood, or you have kids at Lakewood Elementary, you already know Gretchen Stofer Darby. The PR powerhouse and mom of three kids has worked tirelessly to promote fundraising events through her agency, GDC Public Relations and Promotions. While their tenure in the most sought-after neighborhood in East Dallas has been fruitful Gretchen and her husband, James, made the difficult decision to pull up stakes for more wide-open space in Prosper.

“We decided to move out to the country for more space, a bigger home, safety, small-town feel, slower pace of life, and to custom build our dream home,” Gretchen said. 

That, of course, means that their Lakewood digs are on the market. 

“Our beautiful home in Lakewood has been well-maintained and will be a fabulous home for the next perfect buyer,” she added.


IrvingWhen Britta Stanton bought the home she and her four children would move into after her divorce a few years ago, she didn’t think she’d ever move again — she loves her home in Irving that much.

“I thought I would never move, I decorated it like I would never move, and now I’m moving,” she said, with a chuckle.

But with good reason — Stanton got married yesterday, and while her fiance loved the home too, she suggested that they at least go look at something they could buy together for their newly blended family.

“When my fiance and I were talking about this house, I said, ‘Let’s just go look at other houses just to make sure we both choose together,’ because I picked this house out myself,” she said. “And he was like, ‘No, I love your house.’”

So that seemed somewhat settled, because Stanton loved her house, too. But then she discovered that a brand new development was going in right behind her children’s school (they go to Uplift North Hills), which is a kindergarten through 12th-grade charter school — which means that a home closer to it makes for a friendlier commute for all four children right up until college. (more…)

bachelorRobert Belcher was a bachelor when he snagged his light, airy, and well-appointed Travis Street condo a few years back — but things have changed, and now he’s parting with it because something even bigger happened: He fell in love with Rebecca.

Robert and Rebecca met on New Year’s Eve and fell in love, and now his Uptown condo is listed (photo courtesy Robert Belcher).

“It’s just time switch things up,” he said. “I have a wonderful girl down in Austin that I’m very in love with.”

Although the two have mutual friends, it was a New Year’s Eve meeting in Tulum, Mexico, that initially connected them.

“Yeah we’ve just really hit it off,” Belcher said. “Everything’s sweeter with a little risk, so I guess I’ll just take one and move down to Austin.”

But that’s not to say that he’s not going to miss his condo, nestled at the back of a small development but within walking distance to all kinds of uptown amenities.

“I’ll tell you I’m a little bittersweet about it — I’ve lived here in Dallas for 13 years,” he said. “I was born and raised in Fort Worth, so I’m a DFW kid, with the exception of about six or seven years when I was away for college and in Colorado right after.”

The location of this 2,248 square foot, two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath condo was one of the big selling points for Belcher, but the floorplan was an even bigger one.