Summer Bucket List

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What’s on your summer bucket list?

Summer break is in full swing and there’s a pretty good chance that very soon the fun of hanging out all day will wear off and the little ones will start asking what activity you have planned for them next.  

We asked our kids what was on their summer bucket list  - maybe their answers will inspire you.

(In no particular order)

  1. Watch all of the Marvel movies in order

  2. Sleep in

  3. Go to the beach

  4. Zip-line

  5. Indoor skydiving

  6. Staycation at the Hilton Anatole

  7. Indoor rock climbing

  8. Sleep overs with friends

  9. Go to overnight camp

  10. Practice soccer skills

  11. Go the DMA Dior Exhibit

  12. Make ice cream

  13. Get a phone (ha!)

  14. Play golf on a really good golf course

  15. Eat ice cream

  16. Play with friends

  17. Learn to write cursive letters

  18. Learn how to help cook dinner

  19. Go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower

  20. Decorate my room

  21. Read 100 books

  22. Make a giant pancake

  23. Get a new puppy

  24. Make the biggest poster ever

  25. Swimming

  26. Water balloon fight

  27. Go on a boat ride

  28. Build a sandcastle

  29. Plant flowers

  30. Play video games

And, of course, if buying a new home is on your summer bucket list, we can help!  

Agent Spotlight :: Meet our newest team member, Jenn!


Today we are highlighting Jenn Rice, the newest member of the Heather Guild Group. We are excited to welcome her to our team and want to give you all a chance to get to know her better!

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Why did you decide to move to Compass and HGG?

I’m excited to join the Heather Guild group at Compass and to work alongside such an amazing group of women. I’m inspired by their dedication to their clients and their East Dallas communities. By joining the group, and Compass, I am able to offer my clients an increased level of customer service by utilizing both Compass and the Heather Guild Group’s top-notch resources, including but not limited to complementary staging, in-depth market knowledge, and the ability to provide innovative real estate technology that is designed to make the home buying and selling experience more streamlined and efficient.

Jenn, help us get to know you. Tell us more about your life growing up (schools, cities lived in, family of origin, how you got to Dallas, etc.)  

I’m a Texas girl, born and raised! Born in Houston, moved to the Fort Worth area at age 11. Then moved to Denton to study Fashion Design at the University of North Texas, where I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts. After graduation in 1999, I leased my first apartment in Dallas right by the Lakewood Theatre. I’ve lived in East Dallas for 20 years now!

Tell us more about what drew you to your career in real estate.

After buying and renovating our first home in 2003, my husband, Josh (Principal of interior design firm, Joshua Rice Design) and I helped many of our friends find and remodel their first homes. I guess you could say that I was hooked from that moment on...  

I enjoy meeting and working with so many interesting people in our great East Dallas community. Everyone has a story, and each one fascinates me! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the unique life anecdotes that are shared with me. Working in the same community in which you live is especially rewarding. I have the opportunity to help improve my clients' lives. Most people move because they are experiencing a major life change, so it can be high on the list of stressful things to do. It feels good to not only ease the stress and burden for my clients, but to make it a positive, fun experience.

How long have you lived in the Old Lake Highlands neighborhood?  

My husband, Josh, and I first fell in love with the lake and the unique vibe of the Old Lake Highlands neighborhood back when searching to buy our very first home almost 16 years ago.  We were fortunate enough to find ourselves a fixer upper, and closed on our first home in OLH in December of 2003, shortly after getting married. We were drawn to the cool ranch-style and mid-century modern homes throughout the East Dallas neighborhoods. It wasn’t long before we found “the one” that became our home for the next 14 years! We had already fallen in love with the people in this great community and finding a cool MCM home near a fantastic elementary school was the cherry on top. We now are currently remodeling our third home in Old Lake Highlands, and we hosted our first OLH Neighborhood Porch Party in April. THIS IS OUR COMMUNITY!

You are incredibly involved in the White Rock Home Tour, can you tell us about that?  

The tour not only benefits our amazing neighborhood school, Hexter Elementary, it also provides a fun, highly anticipated weekend for our local community, and architecture/design enthusiasts alike. It provides for our kids, teachers, and White Rock Lake area residents in such an enjoyable way. This excitement motivates me to help in any way that I can, and to keep sponsoring year after year.

And how did you get involved with the tour?

We attended our first White Rock Home Tour in 2006 and we haven’t missed a single one since! Both Josh and I have been docents, sponsors, helped find homes, guest speakers, volunteers, and other sponsors. As a Realtor, volunteer, and proud Hexter mom, I am pleased and honored to give back to the community that has contributed so much to our family.

When you aren’t busy selling real estate, what do you like to do in your spare time?

My husband and I have always been big art, design, and music enthusiasts. We love attending local art gallery openings, design and architecture events, and going to live music shows. We’re also foodies and LOVE trying new restaurants in and around our neighborhood, and we enjoy spending time with family and friends in the outdoors and taking full advantage of the beautiful parks and a myriad of recreational and cultural opportunities that the White Rock Lake area has to offer. Our family gives back to our community by volunteering at both Victor H. Hexter Elementary and William B. Travis TAG Vanguard.



We Think Frontgate Is Totally Winning The Pool Game This Summer...

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It's Memorial Day weekend--the official start of summer at my house. For my family, summer equals new adventures, no packed lunches and as much fun at the pool as we can cram in.  With that in mind, all of us at the Heather Guild Group have been drooling over these very cool pool toys! 

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This float screams "Come relax on me!" To which I reply, "OK!" These marine-grade, fade-, stain-, and mildew-resistant Sunbrella fabric cushions are filled with buoyant foam beads that gently cradle the body while you relax in the water. Sounds dreamy - and like a perfect place to relax after showing houses in the hot summer sun! The kids have to have fun, too. Amp up their floaty options with these fun animals!

I can see the kids frolicking all day with these fun water creatures. Added bonus: they glow in the dark, too! 

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Speaking of the night, after the little swimmers have worn themselves out, what a better way to enjoy some peace and quiet by the pool than with these attractive LED floating orbs.

These floating globes create a magical ambiance in the pool, on the deck, or around the garden.

All of these items, and more, can be found at Frontgate, and they are, coincidentally, offering 25% off site wide. Treat those kids, and yourself.

Have a favorite pool find?  We want to know about it!  Be sure to comment (or better yet, post a pic!).  

- Written by Valerie Caddell




Protesting Property Taxes :: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Thinking about protesting your property taxes but aren’t sure where to start?  

Here is our step-by-step guide.  

  1. Know your numbers:  DCAD’s market value is a combination of their appraisal of both your land and improvements (house, pool, etc.).  Look at both values to see if either one appears to be out of line with the market.

  2. Do your research:  Ask a trusted real estate advisor to send you a list of homes similar to yours that have sold in the last year.  In general, homes should be similar in age, condition and size.

  3. Document the differences:  After reviewing the data, realistically assess if your home is overvalued in comparison to those that have recently sold.  If so, put together a spreadsheet listing the difference between the valuation of your home and those sales. Photograph any items that make your home less desirable than the properties used as comparable sales (outdated bathroom/kitchen, exterior/deferred maintenance issues, etc.)

  4. File your protest online:  DCAD makes it incredibly easy to protest your taxes online.  Choose the uFile Online Protest link on your property’s appraisal page.  Follow the step by step instructions online to submit your opinion of value of the property.  You will need to upload documents to support your opinion of value (I suggest putting all of your documents into one pdf and adding notes to the pdf for an appraiser’s review).  

  5. Once you complete the uFile process, the website will tell you if you are eligible for a settlement offer or not.  If you ARE eligible, this offer will come via email after an appraiser has reviewed your opinion of value and documentation (in the meantime, you may get a notice of your hearing date to protest the appraised value).  If you agree with this value, you can accept it online and no further action is required on your part. If you are NOT eligible for a settlement offer, you will receive a notice of your hearing date in the mail. Note that you can meet with an appraiser for an informal hearing at any time prior to your hearing date.  

Learn more about the DCAD Protest Process

If you would like for the Heather Guild Group to send you a list of homes similar to yours that have sold in the last year for comparison purposes, please let us know.  hgg@compass.com

Last, but not least, the LAST day to file a protest is May 15th!  

Agent Spotlight :: Valerie Caddell

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It’s Teacher and Nurse Appreciation Week, and our entire team is thrilled to celebrate the teachers, school staff and nurses that make such an amazing impact in our kids’ lives! Our own Valerie Caddell worked for fifteen years as a nurse before changing careers. She spent part of that time as a school nurse, working in the lives of children each and every day. What better way to celebrate this week than to hear from one of our own team member’s experience and how it correlates into her role now, as realtor?! Our marketing team sat down to do a little Q&A with Valerie below…

What was your favorite part of being a school nurse and why?
The schedule! I had an infant when I started working for the school. I loved having more time to be a mom on the weekends, winter and spring breaks, and enjoying summers off with my family. Another big bonus…all the kids in our school were amazing! I really had to use all my nursing skills as well as learn new ones. I enjoyed being able to teach the students how to be in charge of their diseases: teaching them how to test blood sugar, draw up and inject insulin, how to manage their highs and lows. Most kids come see the nurse with a tummy ache or needing ice for an injury, but there are also a lot of high and critical need kids in school.


What skills did you learn working in a school that have helped you in your role as a realtor?
Communication skills. You have to learn how to translate the professional speak into terms that are easily understood. Over the fifteen years I spent as a nurse, I learned lots of ways to better articulate to my patients what was going on and what to expect. I think it's really important to be able to explain things without overwhelming your patient, client, or customer, with too much professional jargon.

Was being a school nurse harder than being a realtor & why?
The hardest part of being a nurse is seeing someone suffer. Most of the time in real estate, I am helping people fulfill a need--whether it's buying, selling, or renting. Accomplishing that is great fun for me, and it is very joyful for the client. As a school nurse, I saw kids who lacked the support of a stable home environment which sometimes manifested itself as poor hygiene, poor nutrition, and/or poor behavior. I'm so thankful for the nurses, teachers, and counselors who are saving these kids every day. 


What are the best teacher gifts you got and what are the worst?
Best: Gift cards, hands down, are the best gift!!

Worst: Mugs--so many mugs! They are handy, but there are only so many one needs! 


What are a couple of ways that parents can best support teachers and staff in schools?
My mom always said, "It's better for your kids to be angels at school and devils at home." So, with that in mind, I always encourage kids to use good manners--especially at school.  

Thank you, Valerie, for sharing and to all our teachers, school staff and nurses that support and educate our children on a daily basis!!!

Spring Hail Preparedness in North Texas

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As Spring storms moved through Friday afternoon and over the weekend, I spent a good hour cleaning out my garage to make sure I could get a car inside in the event of hail (I’m not the only one who rarely parks in my garage, right?) With that in mind, our guest blogger today is my friend and business partner David Rambie with Dexter & Company. He is sharing timely and pertinent information on hail damage and home insurance coverage with us below! Thank you, David!

 Hail is obviously a big issue in DFW and especially so this time of year. The age of your roof is probably the number one driver of homeowners’ premiums so it’s important to accurately reflect the age of your roof when obtaining insurance so that if/when claims do occur, there are no discrepancies or issues replacing the roof. We almost always suggest 1% wind/hail deductibles with our customers.

The insurance companies have very specific formulas when it comes to hail. Generally speaking, hail damage needs to be at least ping pong but usually golf ball sized hail in order to cause roof damage. Additionally, if there are very high winds then it could make sense for smaller sized hail to cause damage. You can tell the difference with high winds as the damage to the roof is usually pulled up and/or ripped shingles. The adjusters for any insurance company have access to an online database that will show storms that generate hail, the date, size of hail and wind velocity. They have tools that will show what damage was caused by which storm.  

When it comes to hail claims, the actual owner of the home is responsible whether the house is their primary residence, used as a rental property and leased out, under contract with a new buyer, and even if the property is under renovation.

As with all claims, I always tell my clients to call me first so I can guide and advise them on the proper steps. I suggest getting an independent evaluation of the roof before filing a claim or even calling the insurance carrier.  These days, even calling into the insurance company will show up on your insurance record for five years, regardless of whether or not you end up filing a claim.

Have other insurance related questions for David?  Let us know.  David Rambie is a resident of Lakewood.  In his free time you will find him coaching baseball and soccer or playing golf with his 1st grade son, Tres.

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Lifestyle Entertainment with Matt Stafford of Free My Music

If you ask anyone to name their top favorite things about East Dallas, the neighborhood’s abundance of local businesses and restaurants is sure to be at the top of their list.  

 This week we had to privilege to sit down with our friend and fellow East Dallas resident Matt Stafford, owner and founder of Free My Music in Lakewood. Matt has a background in architecture and a deep love of music and we asked him to share some of the most popular current trends in home tech.  

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Voice, Voice, Voice — Alexa, Google and Apple Siri (HomeKit) are continuing to gain in popularity, with 98% of respondents saying they have positive experiences with voice. Moving beyond the standard “Google, what’s the weather?” and “Hey Alexa, Play Beyonce”, by incorporating additional smart home hardware, users can issue spoken commands to their lights, shades, temperature and complete entertainment systems. The recent addition of “Routines” in the Alexa puts true, multi-disciplinary automation in the hands of the end-user, and has been a very exciting development in the Smart Home world. What customers choose to do with this technology is really only limited by their imagination…and ultimately their budget!

Securing the Perimeter — Smart Doorbells from Ring and Nest, along with locks from Yale, August, Kwikset and Schlage give homeowners a sense of security and control for their front (and back/side/garage) doors. 2-way communication, alerts, theft deterrence and video recording are all benefits of these systems. If users require more security around their homes, they can integrate cameras from the same brand as their doorbell (ie. Nest/Ring) so they have a comprehensive security solution in one easy app. Installing inside smart cameras is fairly straightforward, but exterior cameras often require a professional to install/configure…and good wi-fi (see #4 below) is always a must.

Lighting the Way — In addition to music, smart lighting is becoming easier (and cheaper) to implement than ever before and can give users scene control, sunrise/sunset automation, voice activation and geo-fencing so they never come home to a dark home. Lutron has been the predominant innovator in this space for 20+ years and they have a product line that ranges from the affordable (Caseta), to the highly functional (RA2/Select) to the complex and full-featured (HomeWorks). Also, recent start-up company Brilliant just won awards at CES 2019 and offers a unique, affordable and elegant solution that’s worthy of consideration. Users agree that the sense of security, comfort and entertainment value that automated lighting offers is well worth the investment.

Wi-Fi of Champions — As our laptops, tablets, phones, TVs and smart devices consume more and more data and 4K video proliferates, a good solid data network and wi-fi has never been more important. For the best performance, homeowners will definitely want to move beyond the wi-fi built-in to their ATT/Spectrum routers. There are a myriad of consumer-friendly wi-fi solutions out there (eero, Google, Linksys, etc.) that offer multiple wi-fi “access points” for 2.4 and 5G networks and are fairly easy to set up. Features to look for in selecting an upgraded wi-fi solution: a high grade router, robust security capabilities, ability to hardwire access points w/Cat5/6, amount of simultaneous users supported and # of antennas (2x2 vs. 3x3). Those with slightly higher budgets (and less free time) can opt for a professionally-installed commercial-grade wi-fi solution by brands such as Luxul, Araknis and Ubiquity, which offer the ultimate in performance and reliability.

Let the Music Play — Last but certainly not least, at the end of the day most homeowners just want to kick-back and enjoy high-quality music with their friends and family. On the hardware side bluetooth speakers are certainly an option but users looking for a more robust “whole house” solution upgrade to wireless systems such as Sonos that offer connectivity to multiple users in multiple rooms. On the music content side, full-featured subscription services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal allow users to enjoy the proverbial “any song, anywhere, anytime”, and provide a ton more value that simply streaming from Pandora, YouTube or Sirius XM — plus considerably better bit rate/sound quality. Also, with Sonos users can integrate high-quality portable speakers with a home’s built-in architectural speakers for amazing sound everywhere — party on Wayne!

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Want to learn more about how you can add some of the latest tech trends to your home?  Visit with Matt and his Free My Music team so they can show you all of this technology at their store, located in heart of Lakewood Shopping Center.  



PREPARING FOR FREEZING TEMPS IN DALLAS

The temperatures are going to drop DRAMATICALLY this weekend. Windchills expected to be in the teens and actual lows in the 20’s! 

Here are some tips for preparing for cold weather in Dallas:  

Heat Your Home: Keep the temperature inside the house at 65 degrees or more. The reason for this is that it’s significantly colder inside the walls, where a home’s pipes are situated. A home that has it’s temperature less than 65 degrees may provide an opportunity for pipes to freeze.  Additionally, don’t forget to leave doors to bedrooms and bathrooms open.  Don’t forget to set the thermostats on any vacant income properties as well.  

Know Where Your Water Shutoff Is Located: In case a pipe does burst, it’s important to know where the house’s main water shutoff is located. Homeowners should be certain they know how to use if necessary.  Many water shut offs require a water main key to open.  These can be purchased at your local hardware store.  Know where your key is and how to use it.  

Protect Your Pipes: Make sure all pipes are well insulated, especially outside. You can purchase faucet covers and pipe insulation at your local hardware store (or at the Skillman Home Depot, aisle 8 :))  If you notice that your faucet isn’t working, call your water company immediately. It’s also a good idea to open your hot and cold water faucets and let them slowly drip. When water is moving inside pipes it will prevent freezing.  

Fix Frozen Pipes Immediately: If you discover that a pipe is frozen, don’t wait for it to burst. Measures should be taken to safely thaw them, such as heating the pipe with a hair dryer. If this fails, the homeowner should immediately call a plumber for assistance. If a pipe has burst, turn off the water and clean up any spills.  Speaking from experience…a tea kettle full of steaming water poured down a drain near the frozen pipes worked wonders for us (though no guarantees for you!) 

Know Your Fire Safety: Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and make sure everyone in your household knows how to use it. You are at a higher risk for a house fire if you use alternate heating sources, especially if they’re not well-maintained and monitored. Winter is also a great time to start using your fireplace again, but make sure you’re flue is open and you don’t leave your flames unattended.

Reverse Ceiling Fans: Pull that anonymous string on your ceiling fan to reverse it. This will push warm air down and keep air circulating. The blades should be turning clockwise this time of year.

Test and Check Batteries: Test and replace batteries on smoke and carbon dioxide detectors!

Don’t Forget Your Fireplace:  We don’t use them a lot in Texas, which means it is easy to forget proper fireplace etiquette.  Make sure your flue is open, if your fireplace has a gas key it’s important to add the flame first (we recommend a long reach match) then turn the gas on.  If you need firewood, stock up now and keep it in an easy to reach place.  

Foundation Vents:  We always recommend that you to remove these!  And generally, these should be off throughout the year to allow the dirt under your home to stay dry. However, in cold weather, it’s a good idea to put these on to insulate the pipes under your home as much as possible.  

The Heather Guild Group loves being a resource to each of you for all things HOME! Stay warm this weekend!


BUYING AND SELLING IN A BUYER’S MARKET

Considering buying or selling a home, but wondering how the current buyer’s market affects that decision? 

We all hear the term “buyer’s market” bandied about on news programs and in the media, but what does it really mean?  Typically, a buyer’s market refers to a 7-8+ month supply of available homes.  Making the assumption that homes continue to sell at the current rate and assuming that no new homes come on the market, it would then take 7-8 months for ALL of the homes on the market to sell.   Historically, this large of an inventory has shown that the supply of homes outweighs the demand for homes. 

So, what do you need to know to take advantage of this market regardless of whether you need to buy or sell?

Most importantly, everyone must realize that even though there may be a lot of homes on the market, the percentage of well-maintained, move-in ready homes is low.  I recently toured 15 properties with a client.  Of those, only one was occupied and/or had furniture in it.  Buyers, if you want to buy one of these homes, you need to be prepared to make an offer.   Don’t wait or someone else will buy it.  Want to buy one of the vacant properties?  Be prepared to find a laundry list of maintenance items that need to addressed on the inspection report.  After all, if the homeowner couldn’t afford their mortgage, they probably weren’t servicing their HVAC on a regular basis.  Sellers, make your home move-in ready for the next buyer.  Do an inspection prior to putting it on the market and fix the items on the report.  Declutter and stage your home so that it looks large and welcoming.  These efforts will be well worth your time and money. 

If you’d like more tips on taking advantage of this market, don’t hesitate to give me a call.  I’m here to help you with your home buying, selling or investment needs.


Protect your home this holiday season

Protect your home this holiday season

Protect your home this holiday season


Over the past year, I’ve had my home and car broken into.  Well, technically the garage door of my home was open, so instead of “breaking and entering”, the thieves just “entered”.   Either way, it was not a fun experience and has made me more aware of my safety habits.


10 Tips for Preventing Crime this Holiday Season:

  1. Get a new TV, X-Box or Sonos this Christmas?  Don’t advertise your new goods to thieves. Break down the boxes and make sure they are well covered in your recycle bin.  Do not place empty boxes advertising expensive new toys on the curb for trash pick up!

  2. Don’t make it obvious you are out of town.  Keep your shades in their normal position. Set timers on lights so that they come on a different times of day (a number of companies offer “smart bulbs” that you can control from your phone to make this really easy!)  Stop your mail and newspaper.

  3. If you do plan to be out of town, ask a neighbor to monitor your house while you are away and collect any packages or alert you to anything unusual.  Asking a neighbor to park in the driveway on occasion is also a great idea.

  4. Most burglaries occur between 10 am and 3 pm, when homeowners are away from the house either at work or running errands.  Make sure you lock your doors, even if you just leave for a few minutes!

  5. Install a RING doorbell or other video security system.  It may not prevent the theft, but it will provide important information to the police.  

  6. Is your Christmas tree sitting in the front window with presents on display?  Consider putting gifts under a secondary tree out of view from potential burglars.

  7. Make sure your home is well lit and that shrubbery is trimmed - don’t give thieves a dark place to hide!

  8. Be aware of what you are posting on social media.  Don’t post about expensive new gifts or travel plans.

  9. It’s tempting to leave gifts in your car until you can wrap or hide them.  Don’t! If you park outside, make sure you car is empty of all items that a thief could mistake for a big score.

  10. Have packages shipped to a business address.  The majority of the thefts in our neighborhood are from porch thieves.  Send anything you need before the holidays to your office for safe delivery.



Holiday Decor Ideas

A HUGE thank you to Ashley Bell Interiors for sharing her thoughts on how to decorate your home for the holidays with us! Ashley may now live in Colorado, but her tips are timeless and work wherever you call home!

We’re already a week into December (I know…where does the month go?!?) and if the idea of decorating your whole home for the holidays is a bit overwhelming, you’re in good company.  Just like anything else that seems daunting, start by honing in on that one thing that can be your catalyst for all your holiday décor.

It could be a color, an ornament you saw in a store, a certain heirloom piece, a Chip and Joanna Gaines episode (although please don’t try to put shiplap on your tree) ;), art the kids brought home from school…there is inspiration EVERYWHERE. I’m not a big fan of design “rules” as it is but I feel like especially with Christmas décor, anything goes. Perhaps that’s why it can be so overwhelming.  Choosing to start with one thing and then bringing whatever that is in various ways throughout your house is a much easier strategy that will hopefully leave you feeling the spirit of this glorious season and not pulling your hair out (that’s for when the in-laws come). 

What do I mean? Ok. For example, I found these cone trees a couple of years ago and fell in love.  

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Instead of buying a few and adding to all the other random Christmas décor I had in boxes…I waited for them to go on major sale and bought more than I care to admit.  However, what that did was give me a common theme to bring throughout our home.  I have them in every single main living space (and kitchen, bedrooms, etc.) but decorated them with the colors I wanted to bring into each of those rooms. In the living, dining and kitchen I added turquoise and rose gold accents to match the color scheme in those rooms.  In the den, I kept them more neutral and in the playroom, I surrounded them with lots of fun colors for the kids. 

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What I did with the cone trees can apply to anything.  Say you want a more natural approach.  How about something as simple as greenery?  Greenery that you bring throughout your home by placing some on each mantle, some in a big vase on the kitchen counter, along the banister, a wreath hanging on your backsplash or on your shelves, little sprigs in small bud vases on a stack of books and so on.

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To me, one of the easiest and budget friendly ways to spread Christmas cheer throughout the home is ornaments.  You can buy boxes of them in colors that match each room, a few colors that you carry all throughout the home or even just one single color.  You can use ornaments in so many ways, a quick Pinterest search will have your head spinning.  The simplest way is to get a large bowl and just pour them in. If you want to be more festive, add a small string of those tiny LED lights or some magnolia leaves/greenery. I had votive holders on my mantle that are there year round and they were the perfect “perch” for an ornament in each.  Candlesticks are another great place for ornaments to hangout.

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Even those succulent arrangements (inside and out) that we all have can be a great opportunity for a little holiday pizazz. I’m going to have to copy that first pic on the top left from Debra Lee Baldwin – talk about a great décor project for the kids to jump in and help with! 

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In the end of course, there is no right or wrong way to decorate for Christmas. If you pulled it all down from the attic and are looking at the pile with a thousand yard stare, one of the best things to do is to lay out everything you have and edit. EDIT. Cut out anything you haven’t used in the last 5 years (other than family keepsakes of course) and donate it. Less is more. What a great thought to end this post with during the season of packed schedules and endless Amazon purchases. Less is more. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!    

Cheers, 

Ashley 


Follow Ashley and all of her decorating genius online http://www.ashleybellinteriors.com/

FALL HOME MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST:

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The calendar says October, and Halloween is tomorrow…surely all of this means that fall weather is right around the corner (we hope!).  Before the cold weather moves in, it’s important to get your home ready for fall and winter.  We’ve put together a fall home maintenance checklist to help you get started.

  1. Hire a chimney sweep to clean and inspect chimney – Make any necessary repairs and understand how to properly light and vent your fireplace.

  2. Service HVAC – Texas homes typically run on electric air and gas heat.  It’s important to have the heater checked and serviced prior to turning on the heat this winter.

  3. Test and change batteries in smoke detectors.

  4. Replace bulbs in outdoor light fixtures – it will soon be dark when you get home from school and/or work.  Consider setting one or two lights on timers or motion sensors.

Emergency Preparedness

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Our hearts and minds are with the East coast this week as they prepare for Hurricane Florence.  It was while living in Durham, North Carolina as newlyweds that John and I learned being prepared for storms and natural disasters is important and not to be taken lightly or for granted.


The first winter we lived in North Carolina, a debilitating ice storm hit the city and we were without power for over a week.  On our second morning without power, we woke to a tiny little apartment so cold that you could see our breath - with no fireplace or electric heater we were starting to become concerned for our safety. We were fortunate that while trying to determine how we would stay warm until our power was restored, John’s school sent a message welcoming students to bring their friends, families and pets to the school.  The school was on the same power grid as the hospital and thankfully, had power. This experience made a strong impression on us and motivated us to be more aware and better prepared.

While Dallas isn’t directly impacted by Hurricanes we see our share of natural disasters and storms.  Over the years, John and I have compiled a list of items we like to have on hand during an emergency or power outage (and if you live in East Dallas, you’ll surely lose power every now and then!).  

Necessities:

  1. Cash - in the event of a power outage, debit and credit cards will not work

  2. Gas -  if you know that a significant storm is coming, go ahead and fill up your car with gas.  Make it a practice to never let your car get below ¼ tank in the event something requires you to leave immediately without planning.

  3. Water - the CDC recommends that you store 1 gallon of water per family member/pet per day and that you are prepared with a 3 day supply of drinking water. Purchase emergency water packs from the American Red Cross or simply keep a few jugs of water stored in a cool, dry place.

  4. Food - It’s always a good idea to have high-protein, non-perishable items on hand in your pantry.  My brother stopped for emergency food supplies on his way home from work right before Hurricane Ike and was only able to find beer, pretzels and cereal bars!  Want to be extra prepared? The American Red Cross also offers a 72 hour food supply kit.  

  5. Emergency Kit - it’s easy to put together your own food and water supply, but if you buy nothing else from the American Red Cross, purchase one of their Emergency Kits.  These will include a hand-cranked radio, flashlight and batteries, breathing mask, emergency blanket and more.  

  6. Medicines

  7. Pet Food

Luxuries:

  1. Coffee - a French Press will allow you to make really good coffee without power, or keep it simple and keep few instant coffee packages on hand.

  2. Chargers - keep a handful of “all-in-one” chargers powered up so that you can easily plug in your phone or tablet during a power outage.

  3. Lights - we like to keep a few book lights with our emergency kit so that we can all read without holding a flashlight!  

  4. Books and board games - teach your kids what the “old days” were like with hand-held books and old fashioned board games!

  5. Red Wine - as much as you can possibly keep on hand...plus it doesn’t need to stay cold.  

Being prepared to shelter in place is an important component of any family safety plan, but regardless of how prepared you feel you are to weather a storm at home, it’s imperative that you heed the advice of local authorities as it pertains to evacuations and other emergency procedures.

In the event that a significant emergency or natural disaster occurs, you can notify friends and family you are safe at the “Red Cross Safe and Well Website

My Top 5 Favorite Building & Remodeling Interior Design Trends for 2018 - By Angela Jackson

Ahh, trends---love them or hate them, follow them or don’t. The fact is that they drive manufacturing and therefore what you will have available to you for use in your home design. I don’t like saying something is “out” or “in” because if you truly love something it will always be “in” for you. But we can look at what the trends say homeowners are moving toward.

With that in mind, here are five of my favorite things the experts are saying we should expect to see more of this year.

1.     Moving away from-All white kitchens

       Toward-Color in the kitchen

Photo credit: Decorpad

Photo credit: Decorpad

Have you been feeling like your all white kitchen is lacking something? Well, you are obviously not alone. This year, the number one trend that I’m seeing across the United States, and even across the pond, is a move toward color in the kitchen. While white kitchens are still popular, we are seeing a huge move toward adding color. I think this has something to do with the overall trend of homeowners looking for a hygge (pronounced HOO-GAH)-or cozy feel in this uncertain world. Now, this doesn’t mean that kitchens will be moving back to the dark woods and Tuscan looks—those are apparently gone for a while. But it does mean that homeowners are asking for things that will help warm up the white, like colored islands and warm fixtures.  Wood countertops on islands and adding wood beams to ceilings are also great ways to make the room feel less stark and more welcoming.

 

 

2.     Moving away from-Shiny matching metals

        Toward-Mixing matte metals

Gone are the days where all your metal fixtures had to match! You can achieve a much more interesting look by mixing your metals in just the right way. The trend is going away from the more shiny metals and into the matte or aged-look ones, with black matte metal taking the lead now, especially in bathrooms and shower glass frames. My favorite examples of this are mixing matte black and matte brass in kitchens and bathrooms. But matte black still looks great with a slightly shiny brass too.

Photo credit: Houzz

Photo credit: Houzz

 

3.     Moving away from-White or stainless sinks 

       Toward-Composite, concrete or copper sinks

Photo credit: Alexis Hamilton via Remodelista

Photo credit: Alexis Hamilton via Remodelista

According to Houzz, we can expect a move toward using more dark-hued concrete, stone, copper, and granite composite sinks in place of the traditional white or stainless steel. I especially love the way the warmth of the copper sink sets off the coolness of the Carrera marble in the photo above. That mixed with the blue cabinets creates that warm yet modern vibe.

4.     Moving away from-plain floors

        Toward-Statement floors

Photo credit: theverygirl.com

Photo credit: theverygirl.com


Why going boring when you can wow with your floors? That seems to be what homeowners are thinking lately. Personally, as much as I love the look of a patterned floor like the one above, this is the one trend I would have trouble getting on board with for my home. It’s just so hard (and messy!) to rip out and replace a tile floor and I tend to change my décor often. But if this is your jam and you can live with it for a while, go for it! You will definitely get a huge design bang for your buck with this one.

 

 

5.     Moving away from-Boring Backsplashes

        Toward-Wallpaper-like backsplashes

photo credit: Rachel Loewen Photography/Houzz

photo credit: Rachel Loewen Photography/Houzz

Again, homeowners are moving away from stark and toward interesting. A fun and easy way to do this is using a pattern in your backsplash. This doesn’t mean you have to go crazy with color and pattern (although you certainly can!). Using white tile with an interesting shape can be just as impactful and less risky. I recently installed a white hexagonal tile with charcoal gray grout in a kitchen and it turned out beautifully. The kitchen above is a great example as well.

 

Photo credit: Houzz

Photo credit: Houzz

And if you want more color and interest, this laundry room is perfection! That backsplash has just enough going on to draw you in, while the rest of the room is subtle enough to let it take center stage.

So there you have it! These are my favorite trends for 2018 and the ones I think we’ll see in this area the most.  Overall, the trends in building and remodeling are echoing those we saw in the paint color trends—a move toward warmth and character in our materials, and in our homes in general.


Stay tuned…my next post will feature design trends for décor. Spoiler alert—cozy and interesting are in!

My HOUZZ page:

https://www.houzz.com/pro/angeladecorates/__public

Summer Reading: Kids Book Club

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It’s August, so it’s no surprise that:

1) it feels like it’s 1,000 degrees outside

and

2) it feels like it’s been 1,000 days since school let out for the summer!  

If you are like our families, you have vacationed, camped, day camped, swam and generally worn yourselves out “summering”!   Last week we featured some fun indoor activities to keep your kids entertained in the dog days of summer, but this week we are switching it up and bit! 

Whether you are headed to the beach, about to tackle ANOTHER road trip or are just tired and ready to chill on the couch for a few hours, we have the perfect summer reading list for your kiddos!  Recommended by the kids in our own LECPTA Book Club, these books are sure to keep your kids entertained over the LONG dog days of summer.

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List of Books (as recommended by our kiddos) in no particular order:

  1. Jedi Academy Series

  2. The 39 Clue Series

  3. The Secret Rescuers Series

  4. Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like

  5. Mr. Wormwood

  6. Mr. Popper’s Penguins

  7. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Trilogy

  8. Clifford Finds a Friend

  9. Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig

  10. Nancy Clancy

  11. Captain Underpants (recommended multiple times and a sure crowd favorite!)

  12. Again!

  13. The Land of Stories Series

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Water Is Awesome, But Use It Wisely

Wondering how much water your lawn needs in this heat wave?  We were (especially after opening our own water bills this month!) and we reached out to our favorite, local, East Dallas gardening expert for her recommendations!

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"Your lawn needs between 5 and 10 minutes of watering twice a week at the most to remain healthy, says Courtney Esposito of Bee Contained, "Overwatering your lawn is not only wasteful to your pocketbook it is wasteful to our most precious resource."

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The City of Dallas passed a Water Conservation ordinance in 2012 which limits "non-essential" watering to twice a week.  This ordinance is in effect starting April 1 and runs through October 31st.  Since the water conservation program began, Dallas has decreased the number of gallons used per capita/per day by 22% - a number that really makes an impact when you think about how much Dallas is expected to grow (and how much water we will be using) over the next 10-20 years! Variances may be given for new landscaping that needs additional watering to take hold and residents are permitted to use soaker hoses and hand watering at their discretion.  

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Our friends at The Richards Group just launched their third iteration of the Water Is Awesome Campaign for the City of Dallas and the Tarrant Regional Water District. The goal of this year was to get residents to sign up for weekly watering advice. The watering advice uses weather stations from all across Dallas/Fort Worth to give you a precise amount of watering for your zip code. To sign up go here. 

How do you conserve water when it's this hot outside - we want to know!  Send us your own tips and tricks. 

What to do in Dallas when it’s HOT!

What to do in Dallas when it’s HOT!

by Heather Guild

This Mediterranean Transitional in Prosper’s Whitley Place is more than 6,000 square feet of family-friendly space that is also grown up enough for great entertaining.

One of the reasons I love living in Dallas is that there is always something fun and interesting to do---fast forward to August in Dallas when it’s unbearably hot and it’s essential to seek out indoor activities!  We recently had friends visit from out of town and treated their trip as a mini-staycation, exploring different attractions around town.  As the forecast is calling for one of the hottest weeks in the last few years to settle upon Dallas this week, I’m sharing some of our favorite indoor activities for you and your family this week!  

This spacious home at 4221 Glacier Point Court backs up to a lush greenbelt.

IFly
This may be my son’s new favorite activity!  Designed to simulate skydiving, IFly offers kids as little as 5 an opportunity to “fly” in their windtunnel.  Each flight provides two-1 minute flights with an option to go “high” on the second flight.  A great half day of fun for all ages (I may have even tried it out)!  If you love the experience, you can buy additional flights for future use at a discounted price AFTER you finish your session. Need to make this a full day’s worth of fun?  Finish your flight and head over to the Dave and Buster’s next door!  
 

The Perot
It’s no surprise that The Perot Museum tops any list of great indoor activiites, but even if you have already been this summer, the new “Ultimate Dinosaurs” exhibit is worth going again!  An interactive exhibit on Pangea fascinated everyone in our group and the checklist of activities to complete before leaving the special exhibit kept our kids goal oriented and entertained!  Plus, it’s always fun to race the dinosaurs in the SPORTS HALL!  

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Creamistry

No day of science is complete without a trip to one of Dallas’ newest ice cream parlors!  Creamistry uses liquid nitrogen to create your ice cream right in front of you!  Located on Greenville Avenue, it’s a fun and unique experience - and a perfect treat when it’s 105 degrees outside!
 

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Bowl and Barrel
I love this place, but it’s not usually our first option for economical bowling with the kiddo.  That being said, they are running a  fantastic summer promotion!  Every Monday-Wednesday, kids can bowl for an hour and get shoes, lunch and a drink for $10! Plus, the happy hour specials from 3-5 are pretty awesome too! I think that makes this a win for everyone!  

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Other indoor activity ideas:
Catch a movie at the Alamo Draft House in Lake Highlands!
Spend the day rock climbing at Summit
Check out the new Crayola Experience in Plano! (everyone I know who has gone said their kids loved it!)
Enter the Oval Office and Situation Room at the George W. Bush Presidential Library
Visit the newest indoor water park in DFW at Epic Waters 


Have a favorite indoor Dallas activity - we want to know about it!  

Candy's Dirt - Prosper Listing Hightlight

Whitley Place Custom Home Provides Family Friendly Luxury in Prosper

by Bethany Erickson

This Mediterranean Transitional in Prosper’s Whitley Place is more than 6,000 square feet of family-friendly space that is also grown up enough for great entertaining.

This Mediterranean Transitional in Prosper’s Whitley Place is more than 6,000 square feet of family-friendly space that is also grown up enough for great entertaining.

If you’re looking for a custom luxury home, on a one-of-a-kind lot, but also want a neighborhood that is family friendly, you can’t get much more perfect than homes in Whitley Place in Prosper, trust us.

Whitley Place offers some of the best amenities — a community pool, creek, lake pavilion, walking trails, and even a special playground for the tiniest kids (complete with splash pool). And the greenbelt — we can’t rave enough about. A hybrid of park area that was donated by the developers to the Town of Prosper and a private open space owned by the Whitley Place HOA, plenty of green space and trees means family outings are an easy walk from your home.

None of that is a surprise, by the way, when you factor in that the developers of Whitley Place — CC Joint Ventures — are also responsible for some of the nicest communities in Southlake and Westlake, too.

And Haley Wagstaff, member of the Heather Guild Group with Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate, has just the home for you, too — 4221 Glacier Point Court.

This spacious home at 4221 Glacier Point Court backs up to a lush greenbelt.

This spacious home at 4221 Glacier Point Court backs up to a lush greenbelt.

Listed at $1.75 million, the Mediterranean Transitional is a home you’d be proud to entertain in, but also a home that is kid-friendly — right down to the en-suite bathrooms in all three upstairs bedrooms, which means no fighting over bathroom time on busy school mornings.

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Upstairs also features a large game room and media room.

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Downstairs, a spacious, open floor plan (the whole house is more than 6,000 square feet of living space) provides opportunities for formal entertaining, or less formal gatherings — things Wagstaff says make this home “truly an entertainer’s dream.”

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“The spectacular chef’s kitchen boasts two large islands with gorgeous countertops, top-of-the-range Thermador appliances and refrigerator, and designer lighting,” Wagstaff told us.  

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Downstairs also boasts a master bedroom that is truly a retreat. It overlooks the backyard (more on that backyard in a minute) and opens to an en-suite, spacious bathroom with a beverage center, double vanities, and a large walk-in closet.

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Also downstairs? A great study and a guest bedroom (if you’re keeping count, that’s five bedrooms, five full baths, and one half bath).

 

 

But you don’t have to do all your entertaining inside, either — the backyard offers a whole new option, complete with an outdoor kitchen and gorgeous outdoor living and dining rooms. A fire pit with seating area and a play set complete the family-friendly, entertaining-friendly dream backyard.

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But the other bonus is that you’ll be living in Prosper (which known by the slogan, “A Place Where Everyone Matters”), a town that first grew up around the Saint Louis and San Francisco Railroad, and then more recently along the tollway extension, U.S. Highway 380, and Preston Road.

And Whitley Place has its own spot in Prosper history, sitting on land that once was home to the very beginnings of what would become Prosper, with the Sway Back Union Congregation Cumberland Presbyterian (later the Walnut Grove Presbyterian Church) planting its roots in a white wood frame church in 1852, remaining there until 1994. The former church site is now home to a family who lives in Glacier Point Drive.

You can go have family lunches at the Cotton Gin downtown, and stop by Menchie’s for frozen yogurt in the hot summer afternoons. If you work fast, you might even be in your new home in time to take part in the town’s Fourth of July Festivities. And you’re also close to family fun in Frisco as well – from The Star to Roughriders games to MLS soccer matches.

And Prosper ISD schools are some of the best in the state, with students routinely winning and placing well in UIL competitions. The home is zoned for Cynthia A. Cockrell ElementaryLorene Rogers Middle School, and Prosper High.  

Looking to sell your home this summer? Staging Is A Must

A Client's Perspective

"Heather, Valerie and company did a fantastic job of selling my house.  I had an offer within 6 days of my one and only open house in  February.

I was a little out of sorts with the staging process but it worked exceptionally well.  The house looked much different than a bachelor’s interpretation of furnishings. Apparently, it looked a lot better to the general public!

I think the Heather Guild Group is a wonderful assemblage of ladies that work in unison for the purpose of selling their client’s real estate." - Duncan Mackenzie (6930 Southridge)

As an added value, we offer complimentary staging services to our clients.  Curious how much staging makes a difference, check out some of these before and after photos. 

Contact us and let us go to work selling your house for the maximum price possible.