The kitchen is most important room in house hunting

700 North Bailey is the perfect kitchen to congregate for Turkey Day

Kitchens.  We’ve discussed this previously but just in case you’ve forgotten, after location, the top three things buyers look for and sellers should focus on when dealing with homes are:

  1. Kitchens
  2. Floors
  3. Master Suite (bed, bath, closet)

If a home gets a “thumbs-up” on those three factors then 99.99 percent of the time buyers are willing to overlook other areas of a home that might be less than stellar.



I am dying over these pics. The San Francisco Globe published these amazing photos of an untouched 1956 PINK kitchen filled with vintage GE appliances that have never been used! The home’s owner, furniture designer Nathan Chandler, bought the home in 2010 and posted the photos on FLICKR to sell the vintage kitchen. It’s unclear why the prior owners had the home essentially sealed. Though it has allegedly sold, I was so tempted to buy a cottage in Briarwood that I’ve had my eyes on and install this kitchen!


4236 Lorraine kitchen

When it comes to designing a dream kitchen for an expert home cook, the cost can be frightening. Though it’s easy to get carried away in the pages of Architectural Digest and drool over pristine statuary marble countertops, you shouldn’t feel obligated to indulge in every high-end kitchen accessory and appliance. After all, it’s not the kitchen that makes the chef; it’s the chef that makes the kitchen.

Here’s a little guide on where to spend and where to save in your kitchen:

Spend: A good gas range.
What to look for: A range with 6 burners is ideal. Get a range with a convection oven (or double oven) below, that way you can go from stovetop to oven without walking two steps.
Here’s why: I don’t care what anyone says about electric stovetops, gas is the way to go. You can get an instant flame, rather than an electric cooktop which might take a few minutes to get heated. Plus, you never know when you’ll need a flame to blister eggplants for your famous babaganoush. Viking, Thermador, and La Cornue are at the top of my list.

Meadowcreek Kitchen

Save: Go with countertops you can afford.
Here’s why: Countertops are all about cosmetics; if you can’t afford marble or granite go with an alternative such as Formica laminate that still looks good and is easy to clean. Don’t worry about it being scratch resistant. No one uses their granite countertops to chop vegetables without a cutting board anyhow. Go for the more affordable route and get yourself a good cutting board.

Spend: A built-in refrigerator.
What to look for: Dual refrigeration with separate sealed systems to ensure your food tastes fresh. Ample space and shelving is also important. If you often buy bulky items at the grocery store, keep that in mind. A produce drawer — every chef needs one.
Here’s why: In addition to saving space in your kitchen, President of Capital Distributing Michael Davis adds, “Built in refrigerators offer a great high-end look and integrate into your cabinets.”  In a dream world, I’d have a Sub-Zero refrigerator. The brand promises the highest quality to ensure your food will stay preserved.

5549 Fallas kitchen 1

Save: Pass on the built-in fryer.
Here’s why: Unless you find yourself making fresh donuts or fries on a daily basis, save on the extra cost. A good chef can go the old-school route by frying in a pot.

Spend: A ventilation hood.
What to look for: A low fan sound level so that you can still hear your guests while you’re cooking. One that can easily fit over your range and that can vent to the outside, to prevent smoke and too much heat inside. Look for a vent with the Home Ventilating Institute label to ensure it’s a good quality and certified system.
Here’s why: Good ventilation is essential when it comes to cooking in the kitchen. The last thing you need is smoke permeating through the house, rather than the smell of your food. “A great ventilation hood or hood enclosure offers a great design expression and serves an important function of removing moisture, odors, and grease,” Davis explains.

8211 Inwood kitchen 2

Save: Give up the microwave.
Here’s why: For starters, anything that can zap your food to the point that it’s steaming hot in 2-minutes cannot be good for your health. Nothing ever tastes the same if it has been reheated in a microwave.

Spend: A built-in combi steam oven.
What to look for: An oven that is large enough for your needs — think about what you’ll be steaming. You only need one combi oven, especially if you’ve got double convection under your range.
Here’s why: Use that money you would have used for a microwave and apply it to a combi oven — an oven and steamer, in one appliance. “They can produce a moist cooking environment which produces amazing results and is great for ‘refreshing’ leftovers,” Davis says. In my fantasy world, I’d invest in two Miele Combi-Steam Ovens.

Rachael AbramsRachael Abrams is a personal chef and freelance writer who is obsessed with home decor and practically mainlines Pinterest. Find out more about Rachael and her excellent taste by following her on Twitter.

5527 Richard Front

This is exactly the kind of home I like. It’s in a quaint and accessible historic district near a ton of amenities, and it’s got absolutely none of the problems you often find with historic homes, such as horrible ventilation, mis-matched kitchens, sloping foundations, a complete lack of closet space, and antiquated bathrooms.

5527 Richard Living

This home, at 5527 Richard Avenue, is gorgeous inside. It hast three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a beautiful eat-in kitchen with a monster island, a gigantic master suite with a wet bar (yes, you read that right! A wet bar in the master!) and a wonderful balcony and back porch. This 2,999-square-foot stunner is on the market for $499,000 and listed by Nancy Speck of the Speck Realty Group.

5527 Richard Kitchen

Although the listing info says this Craftsman-style home was built in 1922, much of the house is completely remodeled. The only problem with this is that in the course of remodeling, Historic homes often lose some of their charm. Still, don’t let that keep you from marveling at some of the great updates on this home, like the open floor plan on the first level that connects the living area to the kitchen just about seamlessly.

The kitchen is beautiful, especially the oversized island. The counters are granite and the backsplash is marble and the cabinets are custom. All of it is gorgeous. The appliances are all stainless steel, too, which you would expect from a home in this price point.

5527 Richard Sunroom

There’s a sunroom right off the kitchen that is a perfect spot for a chaise lounge, or maybe a little conversation set to enjoy the rays during the winter months. It also gives you a great view of the backyard, which is a good size for a family of 4.

5527 Richard Master

Upstairs you’ll find a gigantic master suite. I mean, this is the largest master I have ever seen in a home this old. The room is a whopping 28 x 16! Incredible! It has a ton of windows and room for a separate sitting area.

5527 Richard Master Wet Bar

Another great feature of this master is the coffee wet bar just outside the oversized balcony. This is a great feature you don’t see very often. It’s perfect, because if you put a little bistro set on the balcony, you have a great spot for a morning cup, which you don’t have to go downstairs to get! Genius!

5527 Richard Master Bath

The master bath is huge, and is a five-piece outfit. The shower and tub combo is a little weird for me. I’m not sure what the idea was to put the tub in the same divided area with the shower, which is huge. Still, I’ll get over that because, man, did you see the size of that shower?

5527 Richard Back

Want to find out more about this house? You can get a glimpse inside on April 7 during the open house!

5930 Richmond FrontWhile this house isn’t technically $300,000, it will be worth at least that much when you renovate the kitchen. Located in the Belmont Addition, this cute Craftsman at 5930 Richmond Avenue is listed by Dallas City Center at $290,000.

That’s a fair price considering that, while this home is fresh and pretty on the outside, several rooms inside are still quite dated. And while I am a staunch believer in curb appeal, you can’t fix everything with great landscaping. Still, this house has so much going for it! It’s a two-bedroom, two-bath house in a great neighborhood — within walking distance to Whole Foods — and is in the Woodrow Wilson High School attendance area.

5930 Richmond Living

There are two living spaces separated by a single glass door. If you wanted drama, I guess you would have two French doors, but whatever. One is more formal with a fireplace, with a view out to the street. It has fresh paint, which makes the gorgeous hardwood floors really pop.

5930 Richmond DenThe den is less formal, and is a great place to watch a game. From here, the rest of the house has been opened up, with doorways expanded and views unencumbered straight through to the kitchen. That was a great idea, I just wish they had opened up the formal living area a little more. It feels a bit closed off from the rest of the house.

5930 Richmond Dining

From there you move to the dining area, which is more of a nook because of the layout of the breakfast bar area of the kitchen. Still, the dining table takes advantage of a lovely little windowed area. And those hardwoods again! Gorgeous! I also like the Tiffany-style fixtures, which definitely keep in tune with the home’s age.

5930 Richmond Kitchen

Now, the kitchen, that’s the real stumper. The owners shelled out for a tumbled stone backsplash, new countertops, a breakfast bar to give a home to the range, which is often placed rather haphazardly in homes built in the 1920s due to the large size of older gas ranges (they took up entire sides of the room!), and a new refrigerator and dishwasher. But why do all that and not re-face the kitchen cabinets?

5930 Richmond Master

Most of the rest of the house is repainted and looks as clean as the outside. The master has an attached office/nursery/exercise room that could use a little help. Still, it’s a great looking house, and a pretty decent sized one, too, at 1,848 square feet.


5930 Richmond bathThe backyard has a large concrete patio for entertaining, but if you really want to make it party central, add a covered deck or a hot tub! That would make you a popular stop with the neighbors!

5930 Richmond Backyard

Capital Distributing 1.13

Houzz Founder Adi & Candy

Capital Dist 1.13 all sponsorsSo we all love HOUZZ, that way cool design site that gets like a trillion hits a day and fills us with photos, millions of photos of beautiful “HOUZZes” and rooms. Houzz was founded just a couple of years ago by Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen, two Palo Alto residents who were remodeling a ranch home on the Peninsula there in northern Cali and were tired of cutting pages out of magazines for their inspiration file. Houzz soon became an online national photo database and idea generator for people in the process of building, remodeling and decorating. By December 2012, the Houzz i-pad app was downloaded over five-million times and the website featured one-million images. Houzz has a directory of 1.5 million home improvement professionals who use the site to connect with homeowners. So it was no wonder then that when Houzz decided to do a big party in Dallas to promote the site, they chose Capital Distributing (and Thermadore, ModernLuxuryDallas and your’s truly, to partner and party with. I don’t know of a better design central for your home than Capital Distributing, ASID’s 2012 Appliance Designers’ Choice Award” Winner. Last Thursday evening we rocked it up around the latest and greatest in kitchen gadgets, learned how the internet is influencing home design, and  got an earful of a survey commissioned by Houzz. There were at least 450 builders, designers, architects and contractors in the house. Lisa Hausman, from Houzz, told me the Dallas event was one of the best attended across the USA.

Oh yes, the surveys. Let’s start here: do you go over budget when you decorate? Hell yes, right? I am not alone: 45% of people report going over their design budget. Here are a few more Houzz survey tidbits:

Depending on the home price range, people are increasingly do-it-yourselfers: even upscale homeowners are taking a hands-on approach to building, remodeling and decorating projects.

“The survey found that while 45 percent of homeowners at upper income levels ($150,000+) are choosing to hire an architect, interior designer, general contractor or another remodeling or decorating professional to complete a project in its entirety, an equal number of them are combining professional help and DIY efforts, a proportion only slightly smaller than the 49 percent taking this combination approach in lower income brackets.”

Kitchens and bathrooms are the most popular remodeling projects among Houzz users, with 48 percent of respondents planning a bathroom remodel, and 45 percent redoing a kitchen in the next two years. This is no surprise having come from the midwest: Midwesterners have the highest budgets for kitchen and bath remodels at $30,500 and $13,600 respectively, while the South is allocating the least at $23,800 and $11,600. I mean, in the south you can have an outdoor kitchen, no can do that in frigid Chicago.

Of course, I’d eliminate the kitchen entirely if I could.

We love our Houzzes! Other key findings from Houzz’s national survey:

-In the next two years, 72 percent of homeowners surveyed plan to decorate or redecorate, 40 percent plan to remodel or construct an addition, while 10 percent are planning to build a custom home.

-Custom homes are more popular in the South.

-57 percent of Houzz homeowners planning to complete a project in the next two years and will hire a general contractor, 35 percent a kitchen or bath professional and 32 percent will hire a carpet or flooring professional.  Thirty percent are planning to hire an architect, 26 percent an interior designer and 24 percent a landscape architect or designer.

-About half — 52 percent — say they will save money by completing some projects themselves.

-The largest projects in terms of average spend in the last five years were custom home builds ($577,000), complete home remodels ($193,000), pool additions or replacements ($34,000) and kitchen remodels ($25,000)

-6 in 10 Houzz homeowners hired a general contractor in the past five years, and half hired a carpet or flooring professional. Windows and kitchen and bath professionals were each hired by 28 percent of respondents, while architects and landscape professionals were each hired by 24 percent of respondents.

  • Candy Marc Kleinman Liza 1.13

In honor of Thanksgiving, we’ve picked out a few of the most incredible kitchens and dining rooms Dallas has to offer as sites for our dream turkey dinner. They are truly a feast for the eyes! Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

9008 Briarwood Lane: This house has a stunning dining and kitchen combo, both with beautiful blue hues on both the dining room wallpaper and the kitchen cabinets. Also amazing are the chandelier and fireplace in the dining room. Surreal!

Platinum Series Kitchens by Mark Molthan: All of these kitchens are perfect for preparing your elaborate Thanksgiving dinner, but this one, with the bright lime bar and gorgeous cabinets, is incredible!

9784 Audubon Place: With an amazing wood ceiling and gorgeous cabinetry, I would be hard pressed to actually leave the kitchen at this home! It’s also open to the dining room, which will make serving a gigantic turkey that much easier!

4346 Park Lane: Christine McKenny with Dave Perry-Miller gets some of the most amazing listings, and this house is no joke. The kitchen has a not-too-often seen feature — curved cabinetry  — that looks so elegant.

Tatum Brown’s Crestbrook Residence: This kitchen is just so sleek and perfect, and there’s a TV just above the fireplace, so you can watch the game while you do prep work (just watch your fingers with that knife, please!).

Phil Romano’s Strait Lane Estate: There’s no outdoing this kitchen and dining room, which makes entertaining feel more like eating at a restaurant. The stainless steel buffet and counter-height tables make serving a snap!

Not many folks can afford to move into a stunning Lakewood abode when they’re just starting out. And of course, you have to start somewhere, right? Caruth Terrace is an excellent neighborhood for folks who want to be as close to Lakewood as possible without the huge price tag!

This neighborhood is full of Post War 1950s two-bedroom homes. You know the kind — Daltile bathrooms in a dizzying array of color schemes, paneling in the office/nursery, and a telephone nook in the hallway. Some of them have been lovingly preserved, and others have been remodeled to the point of looking brand-spanking new on the inside.

Now, 6231 Sudbury Drive — a two-bedroom, one-bath marketed by Drew Burroughs of Dallas City Center Realtors — is sort of half-way between being remodeled and preserved. While it feels light and airy on the inside with expert built-ins and molding, and the hardwood floors are gorgeous, the kitchen and the bathroom are pretty much 100 percent time warp.

Separating the breakfast nook from the prep area is a curved peninsula bookcase to hold your 40 copies of “The Joy of Cooking,” an original feature to the home. Of course, I see this kitchen as a big opportunity. For folks who love these kind of throwback details and craftmanship, you get that in spades. And for folks who want a pretty much blank slate to build a kitchen with some character — you really can’t do any better than a perfect rectangle of a room, can you?

Now, the bathroom, well, it’s peach and gray — not a shocker if you’ve stepped foot inside of one of these homes. It’s actually one of the more restrained color schemes I’ve seen, which tend to range from forest/pea green, teal/powder blue, purple/lavender, to maroon/pink. Like I said — you can keep it if that’s your thing, or you can remodel the heck out of it and come time for resale, you’ll definitely make your money back!

Of course, what really concerns you is location. Caruth Terrace is in the coveted 75214 Zip code, which is practically rubbing elbows with Lakewood and is super close to SMU and the Park Cities. This home is in the area bounded by Skillman Street on the west, Abrams Road on the east, Mockingbird Lane on the south, and Lovers Lane to the north. You’re also within cycling distance to White Rock Lake, and by extension, the White Rock Lake DART station, which is fantastic for downtown commuters. All this for $245,000. Yikes, eh?

Shopping isn’t too far either, and for that young couple just starting out, they’ll be thrilled about nearby Greenville Avenue.

Top it all off with a spacious backyard that is perfect for entertaining a few close friends and you’ve got a great house for a couple of newlyweds!

Do you know any other Dallas neighborhoods that are perfect for first-time homebuyers? Drop me a line!