4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting an Outdoor Living Remodel

As the end of February approaches, we’re well into the doldrums of winter. The cold weather and shorter days have been around long enough to be more tiresome than a relief from last summer’s heat (at least for those of us who prefer the warmer weather to cold). There’s still some time to go before spring and summer get here, but this is the perfect time to start making plans to capitalize on one of the best ways to spend those warm summer days: outdoor living. But before you start making those plans we recommend asking, and answering, these four questions to ensure that you can create an outdoor living space that best fits your wants and needs.

How do you plan to use your outdoor living space?

These homeowners wanted to create an entire outdoor oasis. This pool house cabana features a large outdoor kitchen, dining area, entertainment area, and enclosed pool bath. Its proximity to the pool makes it easy to use both areas without feeling much of a separation between the two key outdoor living features.

This is probably the most important question you need to ask yourself as you approach an outdoor living remodel. The answer is going to guide you not just through the rest of these questions but also through the rest of the entire remodel process. Outdoor living can encompass a wide variety of things. It could be something as simple as a covered porch that is ideal for a few pieces of lounge furniture where you can relax and enjoy the fresh air. Or it could be more complex like a full-size pool house complete with an outdoor kitchen, entertainment and lounging areas, a pool bath, and of course the pool. And then there’s everything else in between. How you want to use your outdoor space will determine just where you fall on the simple to complex scale. If you just want a place where you can enjoy a good book while sipping on some lemonade then you’re not going to need something as substantial as the person who loves to cook and wants to host a bunch of summer parties where they can bust out their skills for their family and friends. Define your goals and approach every decision with them in mind.

 

How much space do you want to devote to outdoor living?

With a small backyard, the homeowners knew they were limited in space for outdoor living. But they made the space between two wings of the house work for a small patio that includes room for quite a bit of seating as well as a built in fire pit.

Your answer to the previous question will likely play a factor in the answer for this one. The amount of type of amenities that you want to include within your outdoor living space will play a key role in how much space you will need to devote to them. But you should make sure you have realistic expectations of what can be achieved with the space that you have. The size of an outdoor living project can vary greatly. For example, an outdoor kitchen could be as small as a built-in grill with some cabinets and countertop space or it could be large enough to fit multiple cooking appliances, an outdoor refrigerator, clean up station, and even a full-sized dining table. How you answer this question will also likely be determined, at least in part, by the amount of space that is available. But good news, you don’t need to have a giant backyard to be able to take advantage of outdoor living! Even within a small backyard there is likely still space for a petit covered patio or small grilling station. Brining in a professional designer could be a big help in maximizing your space, regardless of whether it is small or large.

 

What is already there that is worth keeping and working with?

This home already had a small covered patio with space for a built in grill and some seating. The homeowners decided to expand the covered porch and extend it towards the pool so that it would be large enough for a full size outdoor kitchen, a large dining area, and a separate entertainment area.

Working with what you already have can save both time and money. That doesn’t mean you have to keep everything, but it may serve as a good starting point in creating your ideal outdoor living space. An already existing covered patio could be expanded and remodeled to fit a large outdoor kitchen and entertainment area. Or perhaps that patio would become your ideal outdoor living area with the addition of a few simpler things like special lighting, built ins, or just a general makeover. Another item you may want to consider working with is an already existing pool. Pools, especially in Texas, can be a big part of an outdoor living area. In the heat of the summer there is nothing better than cooling off within the comfort of your own backyard. Adding new outdoor living fixtures within close proximity of the pool would be a great way to tie the spaces together and create easier back and forth.  

 

What is your investment amount?

The homeowners strategically chose to open up the third car bay in their garage to create a small covered outdoor patio. While not as extensive as some of our other outdoor living projects, the homeowners invested their budget in creating the specific French country house design that was important to them.

When it comes to home remodeling projects it is essential to have a set budget amount before any work begins. That holds even more true when the project falls more into the want column instead of a need. Ideally, you should have a close to definite number in mind before even contacting any professionals about doing the work. Why? Because it is all too easy to get lost in the excitement of creating plans and end up in over your head in how much it will cost. You need to know how much you want to spend so that you can make the necessary decisions in the planning phases of the project instead of being led down a rabbit hole of wishes and dreams that can only turn into disappointments when they can’t fit within your budget. When you know the budget that you are working with then the professionals that you bring on board will be better able to assist you in spending your money in the best way possible. And make sure that you set aside part of your budget as a contingency fund. Even with the best laid plans things will go wrong and unexpected costs will happen. Plan for it in advance so that it won’t be a major crisis when those things inevitably happen.

Project Spotlight: Luxe Remodel Brings New Life to Kitchen

As one of the most important and most used rooms in the home, a well-functioning kitchen is essential to a well-functioning home. And while not quite as essential, style and design can also make an immense difference in whether the kitchen is a place that is loved or dreaded. With over twenty years since its last remodel, the kitchen of this Dallas home lacked in both functionality and design. The homeowners partnered with Mark Fletcher of Deleo & Fletcher Designs to design a high-end kitchen that both honored the home’s history and traditional design while also incorporating modern amenities and luxuries. Key Residential was brought onboard to bring the design to life.

 

Before the remodel, the kitchen had a very dark and enclosed feel. The dark stained wood of the cabinets, the fir downs, and the narrow door frames only exacerbated the cramped feel. Creating a room that was more open and felt larger was a key goal of the homeowners. Furthermore, they wanted the room better connect with the adjacent living areas. Without many options to truly expand the room, the homeowners made strategic design decisions to maximize the space and give it that larger feel that they desired.

 

For starters, the homeowners did find a way to claim more actual square footage for the kitchen: by expanding it into adjacent rooms. The small breakfast room off the kitchen was the easiest space to connect. Removing the narrow open-door frame that separated the two areas increased connectivity and made the breakfast room feel like a natural continuation of the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A smaller room, the homeowners decided that converting the breakfast room into a morning room would be a better use of the space. Buffet cabinets were added along one wall and frame a wall mounted TV. Two comfortable recliners were added, providing a space where the homeowners can relax in the morning with a cup of coffee while catching up on the news. Completing the renovations in the morning room are new larger windows that allow an influx of natural light into the room, a proven design trick for making a room feel larger.

 

But now a new location needed to be found for the breakfast room. Luckily there was an easy solution. Adjacent to the kitchen, but again separated by a narrow open-door frame, was a garden room. With ample general living space in the nearby living room, commandeering the garden room for use by the kitchen would not be an issue. Plus, with a growing extended family, a larger breakfast room would provide the homeowners with a more intimate and low-key setting to host family meals together.

 

As with the morning room, the door frame that separated the new breakfast room from the kitchen was removed.  Matching buffet cabinets, albeit in a different color, were added along a wall of the room. The quartz countertop and backsplash and the leaded glass fronts for the upper row cabinets give them a luxurious appearance. The area is spacious enough to fit a large dining table without feeling cramped and new floor to ceiling steel framed windows provide a beautiful view of the backyard. But if the homeowners need privacy then the Lutron controlled shutters can easily be brought down to obscure the view.

 

Within the original kitchen space new cabinets that follow a similar footprint as the old cabinets were added and match those added in the morning and breakfast rooms. Removing the imposing fir downs allowed the new cabinets to extend to the ceiling. The white color of the cabinets helps to create a lighter and more open feel in the room. The cabinets feature a recessed panel design with feet to mimic the look of furniture, details that fit well within the traditional design scheme of the house. The upper level cabinets feature glass fronts so that the homeowners can display their more artistic dining pieces. While this cuts down on available storage space in the kitchen it is made up for by the additional cabinets in the morning and breakfast rooms. Ample storage space is one thing the homeowners will hopefully not need to worry about in their remodeled kitchen.

 

New top of the line appliances were added including a 6 burner gas range top, panel ready refrigerator and freezer, microwave drawer, and trash compactor, to name a few. The light-color of the quartz countertop and quartz tile backsplashes was a strategic choice to help make the room feel open and light. The darker blue color of the walls might create an imposing feel but the use of lighter colors throughout the room and the general lack of open wall space to feature the blue color help mitigate the risk. Under cabinet task lighting s additional lighting to help chase away any lingering feelings of darkness.

Five Ways to Create an Exceptional Fireplace

We’ve come a long way from the days when the fireplace was an essential and often daily used part of the home. These days we can cook food and keep the house warm without using a fireplace, and more efficiently too (although we can’t argue against how nice it is on a cold winter’s day to curl up in front of a warm fire). No longer necessary for a functioning home, the fireplace has been allowed to take on a new role, one that involves more of a design element than performing crucial functions. A well-designed fireplace can be a real standout in a room and we’ve outlined a few ways below on how to create an exceptional fireplace

 

Built in Firewood Storage

If you plan on using your fireplace for its intended purpose of burning a fire then consider adding a built-in storage cabinet or cubby close to it where firewood can be stored. The convenience of storing firewood so close will make it easier to get a fire started and to keep track of when you need to restock. Or if you’re someone who wishes they used their fireplace more often having the firewood right there and ready to go might be the encouragement you needed. And even if you don’t fall into either of those camps, having some wood stored next to a fireplace can create a homey feel and would be a great design element, especially if you’re a fan of country or rustic style.

 

Don’t Ignore the Surrounding Space

When designing a fireplace it can be easy to get caught in the trap of thinking all the attention should be on the fireplace itself. But the areas immediately around it can be just as important. In many homes the fireplace has quite a bit of wall space surrounding it, be it to the sides or above. Instead of ignoring this space, use it to enhance the design appeal of the fireplace. For the surrounding walls consider built in shelving or cabinets to help frame the fireplace and focus the eye. If there is ample space above the fireplace then consider carrying the material that frames the firebox, be it stone, tile, wood, or any other material, to the ceiling to create a real statement piece.

 

Interesting Mantle

Fireplaces have been around since the early 1000’s, but the mantle as we’ve come to know it didn’t appear until the 1800’s. Originally the mantle was designed to be part of a hood meant to catch smoke. These days, the mantle of a fireplace, if there is one, serves primarily as a decorative piece rather than something vital to the fireplace’s function. With this in mind, consider using the mantle as a way to add distinct character. An intricately carved wood mantle would work well within traditional design, a quartz or other stone type countertop surround lends itself well to contemporary and modern design, or try a reclaimed wood beam for a country/rustic design.

 

Don’t Stick with Tradition

What first comes to mind when you think of a fireplace. For most people we’d bet it’s a rather traditional image: a fire box with a hearth below and mantle above, perhaps surrounded by stone or brick or wood. But with the shift towards design as a main function of the fireplace that traditional image no longer needs to be strictly adhered to. Contemporary and modern design with their affinity for new styles and pushing the boundaries have taken the lead in changing what a fireplace should look like and have brought about things like the absence of a true mantle or hearth, long linear fireplaces that are completely flush with the wall, and double-sided fireplaces that are shared between two rooms. Don’t let tradition limit you. Get creative and think outside the box when designing your fireplace!

Bring Back Some Functionality

While functionality in terms of completing essential roles in the house is no longer necessary for fireplaces, that doesn’t mean it should be completely overlooked, especially when it comes to cooking. We’re not suggesting going back to the old days when all meals were cooked over an open fire, but cooking over an open flame can take some foods to the next level. Devoting enough space in your kitchen for a fireplace may not be a feasible option, but outdoor living presents a great way to incorporate a more functional fireplace. Plus it will help keep the excess smoke and mess outside where it will hopefully be easier to deal with.

Project Spotlight: New Pool Cabana is Outdoor Living at its Finest

Outdoor living and Texas are two things that tend to mix well together. With hot summers and mostly moderate winters, spending quality time outdoors is close to a no brainer for us Texans. From large grassy backyards, to refreshing swimming pools, to outdoor cooking equipment, or even just dedicated space to lounge around outside, there are a multitude of ways for homeowners to equip their house to enjoy the outdoors. The owners of this Dallas home decided to take advantage of several an maximize their home’s outdoor living capabilities. The project culminated in the remodel of the pool and backyard landscaping and the addition of a pool cabana that includes a fully equipped outdoor kitchen and ample entertainment space.

Before construction could begin, an old back house in the backyard needed to be removed. The enclosed back house was original to the property and featured a handful of rooms. But it was lacking in two ways. First, it did not match the main house and as such stuck out like an eyesore. The main house had been rebuilt several years prior and featured a sleek contemporary design. Compared to the main house, the old back house felt dated and shabby. Second, the enclosed nature of the back house meant that it wasn’t ideal for outdoor living purposes. With the back house taking up prime backyard location (right next to the pool, no less), it was decided that the best option was to tear down it and build the new pool cabana in its place.

 

 

The cabana and backyard concept was designed by Randy Angell (Randy Angell Designs) and reflects the contemporary design of the main house. It incorporates several elements that are common to contemporary design: clean lines, large and uncluttered open spaces, flat panel cabinetry, and minimalist décor with a few standout design features. Despite being built at separate times, it was important to the homeowners that the pool cabana felt like a natural inclusion and not a tacked-on afterthought. Great care was taken to match certain materials used on the cabana with the materials used to construct the main house. The brick and stone masonry used on the cabana are the same materials used on the main house and the colored concrete flooring is similar to rooms in the main house.

The outdoor kitchen area was designed to be a fully functioning unit. When in use, the homeowners did not want any back and forth between it and the main house. One way this goal is achieved is through the ample storage and countertop space that the kitchen provides. The cabinets and drawers were custom designed and offer enough storage space for essential kitchen items. Weatherstripping installed along the interior edges of the cabinets and drawers keep their contents safe from dust and dirt. The adjacent enclosed storage closet includes a pantry to store foods where they will be safe from environmental factors. The storage closet uses a mini-split unit for temperature regulation, a smart choice for smaller rooms that need temperature control but are not large enough to require a full HVAC unit. Cooking equipment in the kitchen include both a Big Green Egg and double side burner. The range hood has an extra-large depth to accommodate for the excessive amount of smoke that is generated by outdoor cooking appliances.

Adjacent to the kitchen area is a dining area with enough space to fit a large dining room table. The eclectic mixture of wood and metal for the table works well with the style of the cabana. There is enough space to comfortably fit ten of the bright green chairs, perfect for the homeowners to host large gatherings of family or friend. And if there still is not enough seating room then bar seating can be found along the half wall that frames a side of the kitchen. provides temperature control for the room.

To the other side of the kitchen is an entertainment and gathering area. It features ample space for several couches and lounge chairs and allows the homeowners plenty of room to lounge outside by themselves or comfortably host guests without feeling overcrowded in the space.  The linear fireplace is the focal point of the room. The fireplace hearth extends past the pool. It both provides additional seating around the pool and helps to tie the two spaces together. A flatscreen television overhangs the fireplace and provides even more of an excuse to get outside. Who wouldn’t enjoy a watching your favorite sports team play during an at home barbeque cookout? Furthermore, the cabana is designed to be comfortably used throughout the year. Infratech ceiling heater and two outdoor Haiku fans help make the cabana more comfortable in colder or warmer temperatures respectively. A built-in mosquito spray system was also installed throughout the cabana and backyard to keep bugs at bay.

Completing the cabana is an enclosed full-sized bathroom which allows the homeowners to clean up from swimming before returning inside. The bathroom features a custom built floating vanity with a quartz countertop and vessel sink that complement the overall contemporary modern design of the structure. The large walk in shower features a built-in soap niche, handheld and rain shower heads, and pebble tile flooring. The room features uniquely shaped green tile on the walls which adds unique style to the room.

 

 

 

Next to the cabana’s entertainment area is the pool. The pool itself underwent a few cosmetic changes during the project but most of the changes were to the surrounding area. Originally the pool was a relatively boring part of the backyard that brought little cosmetic value. An architectural water fountain feature was added along the backside of the pool where the extended fireplace hearth ends. To the other side of the foundation are three oversized built in planter pots. Jason Osterberger with Jason Osterberger Designs reworked the landscaping behind the pool and created a unique look that fits perfectly with the contemporary design of the home. Additional concrete pavers were added around the pool while others elsewhere in the yard were removed allowing for more uninterrupted green space in the yard.

2017 Winter Home Maintenance Guide

Winter is here! For some, you might already be experiencing the solder temperatures associated with this season. For others (like us) it may feel more like winter tomorrow rather than today. But regardless of whether how much it may, or may not, feel like winter outside, it's time for another list of tasks to get done around the house. Keep reading to find out more about some of the tasks we recommend adding to your to-do list this season.

Winterize Outdoor Plumbing

Below freezing temperatures do not mix well with outdoor plumbing. If you haven’t winterized your outdoor plumbing fixtures then this is the time to do it. Methods vary depending on the type of fixtures you have (hose hookup, sink, etc), so either jump online to research specifics for your equipment or put in a call to a professional who can do it for you instead. It is money well spent to avoid costlier damages.

Mix Up Your  Décor

When it comes to home décor, how often do you switch things up? For many people we bet the answer to that is not all that often, save of course for putting up holiday decorations throughout the year. Switching up home décor can help make your home feel fresh without having to make many changes. To avoid making too many new purchases try swapping current items between rooms. Tackle this task during your post-holiday clean up, that way your home won’t feel so bare after putting all the holiday décor away. The project pictured to the left was completed and photographed several years ago. Last year it was featured in Country Sampler's Prairie Style magazine with new photos. Between the time of the two photoshoots the homeowners made a few changes to the decor including swapping some pieces out completely and changing the location of others. Take a look at the magazine's photos here.

General Winter Maintenance Tasks

As with every season, there are a handful of general maintenance tasks around the house that are ideal to get done this time of year. It might seem redundant since we also recommended this in the fall, but clean out your gutters again once the trees are done losing all their leaves to prep for the wetter spring months. Visually inspect trees for dead or broken branches and get them removed before any bad winter weather hits. Inside the house clean out the duct lines behind the dryer and inspect the washer hoses for signs of deterioration. Finally, ensure that your fire extinguishers are up to date on their inspections. And if you don’t have at least one extinguisher in your home add it to your shopping list.

Enjoy Some Downtime

The start of the winter season can often be a very busy time. Between preparing for and celebrating holidays, hosting guests, kids home from school for a few weeks, perhaps a vacation, and anything else you have planned, it can be easy to get caught up with little time to just take a deep breath. Set aside some time for yourself to just refresh and relax in whatever way works best for you. This could mean finding a quiet corner where you can read a book, catching up on a television show or watching your favorite movie, or even closing the blinds in your bedroom one weekend morning so that you can sleep in.

Clean/Organize Your Kitchen

Save this task until after the holidays are over! The last thing you want while prepping a big meal is to have to remember the new place you stored that one spoon you desperately need. But once things have calmed down, plan time to restore some order to your kitchen and hopefully make your life easier. Go through all the drawers and cabinets to get a good handle on just what you have stored away. Be on the lookout for things that may have gotten lost behind other items, items that you don’t use anymore or that you own double, and group and for ways to better store things that will make them easier for you to find or use in the future. And if you find that some extra clean up and reorganization just isn’t enough, then that leads us to our next task…

Plan Kitchen Remodels

The winter holiday season tends to be a time when the kitchen gets pushed to its max. This greater amount of use in one of the most essential rooms in the house can make it easier to see what ways it is up to par and in what ways it falls short. Instead of spending another year trying to work within the limitations of your kitchen, take the time to figure out which changes would make the most impact and start planning a remodel. Once the holiday season is over start contacting contractors to get the project put into motion so that there will be enough time to get everything finished before the 2018 holiday season comes along.

Project Spotlight: Outdated Master Bath Receives a Much Needed Transformation

Outdated and incompatible with the needs of the older homeowners, the master bathroom in this Dallas home was in desperate need of a major update. The room featured many old fashioned details: carpeted flooring, an enclosed step into shower, and a partially built into the ground bathtub. The room itself was on a lower foundation and required stepping down into from the master bedroom in order to enter. While the homeowners were happy with the overall layout of their bathroom they knew that it needed a major upgrade both in function and design. They partnered with Pat Ratcliff of The Ratcliff Company to redesign the room. Once a new design had been created Key Residential was brought on board to bring the vision to life.

The first task in the remodel was solving the floor height difference between the bathroom and master bedroom. Stepping into and out of the bathroom was not a feasible and safe option for the homeowners. The best option was to raise the floor level in the bathroom to match the level of the bedroom (and the rest of the house). Additional concrete was added to the slab so that it would be flush with the adjacent master bedroom. Extra care was taken during the concrete pour process to ensure that the plumbing lines for the bathroom amenities would still be accessible after the additional concrete was added so that new fixtures could be installed reusing the original lines.

 

The homeowners did not want to change the general layout of their bathroom during the remodel, both because they were happy with the current setup and also as a way to help control the costs of the project. However they still wanted to replace their outdated bathroom amenities. So while updated and replaced, the main bathroom fixtures did not change location. Moving around plumbing or electrical is a quick way for any remodel budget to increase. By making minimal changes to these two items the homeowners were better able to control the cost of their remodel.

At the entry to the bathroom from the master bedroom is the dual sided his/her vanity. There are two doorways into the bathroom, one by each side of the vanity. The back to back dual vanity was a concept original to the pre-remodeled bathroom. However, some design and aesthetic changes were made to make it feel fresh and more in line with modern design trends such as new custom designed white cabinets and black countertops with undermounted sinks

 

A key change to the vanities was the mirror wall that separated the two sides. Originally a double-sided mirror hung via chains from a fir down in the ceiling. While it might have been a unique and desirable design when the house was first built, it now seemed strange and dated. The fir down was removed which helped give the room an even more open feel. A new thin wall was built for the mirrors to hang from. The large mirrors were framed with tram that matches other new trim installed throughout the room.

 

The walk-in shower was expanded and several changes were made to make it aging in place compliant and easier for the homeowners to use. Entry into the shower was changed to curbless, multiple grab bars were added, and a built-in shower bench was made. The inclusion of these features in no way detracts from the style and design of the shower, it is ADA compliant, stylish, and functional. The shower is completed with both a handheld and rain shower head and a custom built in soap niche. Long narrow windows along the outer wall of the shower allow for an influx of natural light without sacrificing the privacy expected in a shower. The frameless glass shower door and enclosure help contribute to an overall feeling of openness in the bathroom, a stark contrast from the enclosed feeling of the old shower.

 

A new freestanding tub replaced the old tub that was built into the ground. The new tub would be significantly easier for the homeowners to get in and out of.  The bathtub features a handheld shower wand for even easier use and is located next to three frosted glass windows that allow even more natural light to enter. The windows were not replaced in the remodel, another cost saving strategy. Green geometric wallpaper was used throughout the bathroom. Heated tile floors with a marble design were installed and match the tiles used in the remodeled shower. The heated floors extend throughout the bathroom and into both the toilet room and the walk-in closet.

Small Details that Make a Big Difference in Kitchen Design

Options abound when it comes to kitchen remodeling. And as one of the most used rooms in the house, having a well-designed and thought out kitchen can make your life significantly easier. But with all the available options it might be hard to know where to start. Figuring out the basics, like whether you want wood or painted cabinets, what material you want for your countertop and flooring, or what appliances you want to replace, can easily monopolize decision making efforts and cause you to miss out on some smaller details that can not only make your kitchen look better but also make it easier to use. Check out a few of these smaller detail ideas below.

The bottom row cabinets in this kitchen feature all drawers, making it easier for the homeowners to store their belongings without them getting lost behind other items.

The bottom row cabinets in this kitchen feature all drawers, making it easier for the homeowners to store their belongings without them getting lost behind other items.

Drawers Instead of Cabinets

One of the key functions of a kitchen is storage for the many items it contains. And with how much there is, it isn’t uncommon for things to get shoved inside cabinets and get lost behind other objects. One way to make your kitchen storage more effective is to add in more drawers for your lower cabinets. Large drawers can accommodate things like pots, pans, or other baking tools and makes them easier to pull out later. No more digging through cabinets. Just pull out the drawer, find what you need, and get to work.

 

These pull our spice drawers frame the oven and range unit. Their design makes it easy to store and then find specific spices.

Specialty Drawers and Cabinets

While we’re on the topic of cabinets and drawers, consider adding in a few specialty drawers to help make storage even easier. Spice and knife drawers are some of the most popular options. One option is to add narrow but tall drawers with multiple shelves that frame a built-in oven or range for spice storage. These drawers help keep your spices organized and easy to find. Specialty cabinets can also be quite helpful in storing smaller appliances that normally take up space on the countertop and can be an eye sore. Another very popular trend is to build in trash and recycling drawers that make them easy to access but safely out of sight.

 

 

 

This area previously served as a breakfast room but was turned into a morning room where the homeowners can comfortably enjoy their breakfast and coffee while watching the news.

Turn the Breakfast Room into a Sitting Room

Many homes come equipped with both a breakfast room/eating area connected to the kitchen and a separate formal dining room. But how often do both rooms see significant use? Or how often are meals spent eating on the couch in front of the TV? Why not convert the breakfast room space into something more useable? If you have school aged children this might mean creating a better equipped work station for them. Or you could just fully embrace the TV watching by adding in comfortable chairs and a television. The proximity means it’ll be easier to return dirty plates to the kitchen or grab more food if you’re still hungry.

 

The refrigerator features front panels designed to match the adjacent cabinetry. The dishwasher, mostly obscured by the island, also features a custom panel front.

Cabinet Fronts for Appliances

If you are looking for a cohesive and clean look in the kitchen then consider using special panel fronts for your appliances that match your cabinets. Appliances like refrigerators, freezers, and dishwashers tend to be the best options for custom panel fronts. This simple change can elevate your kitchen and give it a very sophisticated look. Many appliances come with a panel ready option. Just be careful to keep track of which cabinets are truly cabinets and which are appliances.

 

 

 

 

The upper row glass front cabinets in this kitchen allow the homeowners to artfully display some of their special china dishware.

Glass Front Cabinets

This feature will require a bit more upkeep and organization inside your cabinets, but regardless of any added work associated with them, glass front cabinets are an increasingly popular trend in the kitchen. Their see-through fronts allow these cabinets to serve the role of both storage and décor. You don’t need to have any standout dishware to display in order to justify glass front cabinets. Well organized stacks of plates or neatly arranged glasses can look just as good.

 

A farmhouse sink is right at home in this rustic country styled kitchen.

Farmhouse Sink

The farmhouse sink has become one of the most popular staples in a kitchen. The large oversized bowl makes it ideal for cleanup as it can more easily accommodate larger items. If you’re unwilling to part with a double sink then a double apron sink is an option, but it will come at the expense of the large bowl. Apron sinks will overhang the cabinets slightly so make sure to pick a sink in a finish that will match your kitchen’s style. Luckily, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The color, shape, and mosaic nature of this tile backsplash make it a standout feature in this outdoor kitchen.

Backsplash Feature

A kitchen cannot be complete without a backsplash. However, instead of using just a standard tile backsplash why not use the backsplash to bring in some extra design and appeal? One way to do this is to use a uniquely shaped tile or by laying a standard shaped tile in an interesting. Choosing a standout color can also add interest. Specific sections of the backsplash, such as above the range, can also be used for a special built in tile feature. Don’t settle for a standard backsplash, find some way to make it stand out that works for your design aesthetic and needs.

2017 Fall Home Maintenance Guide

Another summer has come and gone now that fall has officially begun. The start of the new season brings with it cooler temperatures, a new school year, the return of football, and hopefully some beautiful fall foliage to admire. It also marks a good time to tackle some home maintenance projects. Keep reading for some ideas on what tasks you should add to your to do list.

 

Set up a Homework Station

School is back in session. To make life easier on both the school-goers and yourself set up a space that can be a designated homework station. Find an area with a large work surface and keep it stocked with the necessary supplies, such as pencils, paper, calculators, arts and crafts supplies, or anything else your students often find themselves needing. This could also be a good spot to corral backpacks and other school items to help prevent those frantic early morning searches or forgotten items.

 

 

Add Attic Insulation

A common concern most homeowners have when approaching a home renovation project is how much return on investment they will receive. Achieving a high level of return can be a challenge, but there is one project that consistently has a close to or greater than 100% return rate: attic insulation. While not the most visually appealing of projects, the effects of new or added attic insulation are well worth it. Not only is there a high return on investment but there should also be a quick effect on your heating and cooling bill. Get the new insulation done in the fall and it should hopefully require less heat to keep your home warm come winter.

 

Freshen Up Guest Rooms

The holiday season will soon be here. If you’re planning on hosting overnight guests in the near future then spend some time freshening up the guest rooms. Even if you’re not planning to host guests it wouldn’t hurt to give some extra care to these rooms that likely don’t see much attention. Open windows for a few hours to let some fresh air in. Wash all the bedding and towels or consider replacing them depending on their condition and age. Changing out the décor or moving furniture around can also help add new life into the room.

General Fall Maintenance Items

There are a few general maintenance tasks to perform in the fall. First, clean out your gutters. Proper exterior drainage around the home is essential to help avoid other more damaging problems. Plus, with leaves about to start falling you’ll want your gutters prepared to handle the additional load. While you’re outside make sure your exterior lighting is up to par. The days are getting shorter and you don’t want to come home to a dark house. Also, consider beginning the process of storing any exposed outdoor furniture. Inside the home make sure all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Finally, give your heater a test run to make sure it works and to clear out all the dust.

Deep Clean Bathrooms

Cleaning bathrooms is a necessary evil. We’re pretty sure most, if not all, do not enjoy this task. But that’s no excuse to ignore it. Given the mess that can build up in the bathroom, an occasional intensive deep clean is a good thing to do. Break out the rubber gloves, sponges, and bleach and get to scrubbing. Wash or replace the shower curtain and liner if you have them, wipe down the walls and baseboards, and mop the floors. Finish it off with some air freshener, a candle, or a few hours of fresh air by opening a window if possible. Or just hire a professional cleaning service instead.

Furniture.jpg

Update Older Furniture

Chances are as the temperature drops you’ll be spending more time indoors. If you have old or uncomfortable furniture you may not be looking forward to that idea. Furniture is an investment, so if you need to replace any try to do just a few pieces at a time. Don’t rush the process. Find pieces that you like and are comfortable. For the pricier pieces that you plan to keep for many years pick a neutral color or style. Change out less expensive things like pillows, bedding, or décor when styles change instead. And even if you’re not replacing any furniture pieces you could still consider swapping out a few of these accessory items to keep things fresh.

 

Open Windows

One of the nice things about fall is the e pleasant temperatures. Hopefully you’ll get some in between time when you won’t have to run either your AC or heater. Try to find some time during one of these days to open windows and let some fresh air in. The fresh air will help refresh your house and chase away any lingering stuffiness. Bonus points if you can also do this at the same time you test run the heater. The house still may not smell quite as pleasant afterwards but it will be not quite as bad than if you weren’t able to open any windows during the test run.

 

 

 

Prepare for Cold and Flu Season

One of the not quite so pleasant parts about fall is the prevalence of illnesses, namely colds and flu. Prepare early by stocking your home with plenty of soap for hand washing, disinfecting cleaning supplies, tissues, and any other supplies that will aid in your quest to stay healthy. You might also want to stock up on food items like canned soup or crackers that have a longer shelf life so that you’re ready should illness strike.

Key Residential Has Gone to the Dogs

Over the years we’ve had the pleasure of working on projects that are home to some rather adorable dogs. And while we wouldn’t recommend planning any remodels solely around the needs of a pet it’s hard to not consider their needs and what might make their lives a bit easier. Take a look at a few of the projects we’ve done and find out about some of the features that the dogs that call those projects home like best.

This long and lanky dog seems to really enjoy stretching out and relaxing on the floor. We’ll bet it has something to do with the pleasant coolness of the stained concrete flooring and the relief it can provide in the hot Texas weather. The minimalist and open design of this modern house makes it an easy place for this dog to roam around. Plus, the plethora of windows means plenty of opportunities to keep an eye on what’s going on outside.

The owners of this Dallas home wanted to create a house that was reminiscent of a French country home. Their dog looks like he would fit right in with that French countryside image. He has his own little dog room that has quick access to the backyard and a half door for access to the main home so that he can feel part of the family even when he is confined to his room. We'd also like to think he enjoys the very detailed style of the home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two fluffy balls of fur who call this 1929 Tudor style house their home look as comfortable as can be in their newly remodeled living room. While some of the new features, such as the custom designed built in bookcases or many high end art pieces, are likely not of much use to the dogs there are definitely other features of the remodel that they can enjoy. The new larger windows give them easier access to survey and guard their property. They even have a custom designed pocket doggy door so that they can be corralled in style.

This golden retriever looks like the perfect family pet and seems a good fit for the traditional design of this remodeled home. The hardwood and tiled floors throughout the home likely help keep him cool beneath all the fur. The remodeled office of this house is also home to some comfortable furniture which will make it even easier for this dog to keep its owners company while they are busy working.

While this blog post is mainly devoted to the dogs we’ve had the chance to get to know through our remodels it would seem a shame to not include the other four legged and furry creature that is a popular pet. So here’s a bonus feature on one of the cats we’ve had the chance to work with. This cat’s home is one of Key Residential’s custom home builds. There are plenty of comfy beds throughout the house for it to rest on, as well as built in window seats in the breakfast room and master bedroom. An open stairway to the second floor and tall ceilings give the cat plenty of places to survey its territory.

Project Spotlight: New Addition, Porch, and Pool Adds A Closer Connection Between Indoor and Outdoor Living in Dallas

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog then you’ve had the chance to watch this Dallas addition and outdoor living remodel come together piece by piece. If you haven’t then we recommend going back to read more about the step by step construction process of this project, or at the very least take a few minutes to look at some of the photos to see all the changes. We’re excited to finally unveil the finished project, complete with stunning after photos from LAIR Architectural + Interior Photography. Read on to learn some more about all the features of this project and how it came together. And, of course, enjoy some of the fabulous photos.

 

In approaching the project, the homeowner’s desired two things: more general living space in their small cottage style house and a backyard that provided more entertainment options and promoted an easy transition between the indoors and outdoors. Their solution was adding a family room addition that would connect to a new adjacent backyard patio and pool. However, the existing backyard was not very large. The smaller amount of available space in the backyard required smart planning to fully maximize every square inch of space and led to some unique and fun design decisions.

Originally a door in the open floor plan kitchen and living area served as entrance to the home’s backyard and was directly across from a carport located at the rear of the backyard. Adding the addition to this area made the most sense and required the least amount of reworking to the existing home to accommodate and access the new room. Plus, it would allow the carport in the backyard to be accessible without having to go outside, a benefit the homeowners will certainly enjoy on days when Texas is experiencing some of its more temperamental weather.

The backdoor doorway was expanded to create a large door frame that will allow an open flow between the existing house and the new family room. The existing house is on a raised foundation while the new family room would be at ground level to better connect with the outdoor patio and pool. Floating stairs with under step LED lights allow for the height transition between the two areas. A large built in bookcase shares the back wall with the floating stairs. The deep blue walls at the back of the bookcase match the blue cabinets in the kitchen. Undershelf LED lights illuminate the bookcase and make it a standout feature of the room, especially at night.

On the opposite wall is an unvented gas fireplace. Round blue mosaic tiles surround the fireplace. White grout was originally used but did not compliment the tile. The grout was then hand stained to give it a blue tint, a small but effective change that helps to blend the tile. The hearth and mantle feature a quartz surround and extend to the side in front of the dummy door that matches the door on the opposite side of the fireplace that opens to the carport. The doors feature a large panel of glass to better allow natural light into the room. Long narrow windows on the side wall further contribute to adding natural light to the room. The size and location of the windows high on the wall was strategically planned so that there would not be a view of the property line fence outside the room.

The room capitalizes on the homeowners’ unique design style that blends rustic country with modern contemporary elements. The built in features, such as the bookcase and fireplace, feature clean, sharp lines that are common with contemporary design. The architectural chandelier also brings a modern feel to the room. However, the brass finishes throughout bring a more rustic vibe to the room. Further, the pendant style lights that overhang the carport door and matching dummy door feature a design common to rustic country design.

Sliding panel doors open to the new patio addition. The large glass panes and six foot opening provided by the doors gives greater connection between the inside and outside. Matching doors were also installed on the other side of the patio in the master bedroom for additional access. A small elevated Trex deck with built in stairs and bench transitions the height difference between the master bedroom and lower patio. The patio features large set tile flooring that matches the flooring in the adjacent family room addition, further promoting the easy transition between the indoors and outdoors. A small firepit was built into the patio in place of one piece of the tile. When not in use the firepit can be covered with an extra piece of the tile.

The pool was designed by Randy Angell with Pool Environments. While small, it does not skimp on amenities or style. It features an extended wet deck area and an offset submerged seating area. Concrete pavers provide separation between the seating area and the rest of the pool. A sharp green architectural wall feature and plant bed frame the back wall of the pool and provide a more visibly pleasing backdrop than the new fence.

 

Scroll through a few more photos from this project below.

What is Your Bathroom Style?

While the bathroom might not be the most glamorous of topics to discuss, it certainly does not lack an ability to be glamourous in its style. And when it comes to style options for the bathroom, there are a wide range of options depending on how your tastes run. In fact, the bathroom is one of the rooms that allows for the most options with design and style. From selecting cabinets, countertops, flooring, and plumbing fixtures, there are a plethora of decisions to be made that can influence the style of your bathroom. Check out a few of the more popular styles below and see how we at Key Residential have incorporated some of those styles into our own projects.

For many years traditional style has been the go-to favorite for bathrooms. While recent years has seen popular opinion slowly shifting away from traditional style, it remains a classic and polished look for the bathroom. The traditional styled bath will likely not incorporate many new-age styled design options. Instead it basks in the comfort of the tried and true staples that give the room an established and comforting feel. They will likely feature vanities with shaker style cabinets either in a wood stain or neutral paint color that still shows the grain of the wood. Stone countertops, such as granite or marble, are strong staples in a traditional styled bath. Plumbing fixtures will likely be the classic white and hardware will be a metallic material.

On the opposite side of the spectrum from traditional is modern. Modern style can be hard to define in specifics because it encompasses such a wide range of eclectic options. Overall, modern style incorporates a look of minimalism through the use of clean, sleek lines and glossy finishes. Typically with modern design there will be a specific stand out element. This could range from an architectural feature to tile color or unique shape or to a stand out tub or vanity. Modern style is not afraid of the new, and so things like floating vanities, trough sinks, and integrating technology are often embraced.

 

Contemporary style can sometimes be seen as a medium between traditional and modern style. It tends to rely on the clean and simple lines often seen in modern style but in turn it incorporates some of the more comforting features of traditional style like wood finishes. Contemporary style isn’t afraid to play around a little with unique features, such as with colors or plumbing fixtures. But it grounds those special touches by surrounding them with more common staples. Things you might see in a contemporary bath are flat paneled wood vanities with a vessel sink or perhaps a shower with a unique tile pattern design.

 

Rustic is one of those styles where you can either fully commit by using it throughout your entire bathroom or you can pick and choose a few pieces that really exude country charm and pair them with elements of another less distinctive style. These bathrooms often feature a lot of wood details and have an aged or well lived in appearance. Clawfoot tubs are a popular feature of country/rustic bathrooms. Vanities often have the design of a furniture piece if they were not repurposed from an old piece of furniture already. Antiques make for great decorations in these bathrooms.

Top Trends in Outdoor Living

The popularity of outdoor living has been on the rise in recent years. As more people are looking for ways to spend increasing time outside without having to leave the comfort of their own homes. And can we really blame them? Now that we’re in the heart of summer coming home to a shaded patio, refreshing pool, or a home cooked barbeque seems like the perfect way to end the long work day or to enjoy a relaxing weekend. Regardless of whether you have a sprawling backyard or a small confined space, there are plenty of ways to upgrade your home so that you can have an easy excuse to spend more time in the refreshing outdoors. Need some ideas? Check out a few of these current popular trends.

 

Easy Transition from Indoor to Outdoor

With how much people love getting outdoors these days, it shouldn’t be a surprise that one of the current top trends is to make the indoor to outdoor transition as easy as possible. Luckily innovations in the door industry has made this a manageable goal. Look for doors that either provide a large opening, have a lot of window space, or even accomplish both. French style doors have long been popular, but some newer options that are gaining traction are things like sliding doors or stackable doors. These doors can be opened to allow for large openings between the outside and inside.

Maximize Space

A large backyard is not required to be able to enjoy outdoor living. Smart planning and use of space can help turn even the smallest of backyards into a personal oasis. Available space will play a factor in what elements of outdoor living can be included (unfortunately things like pools do need a certain amount of space). But patios or outdoor kitchens can more easily be adapted depending on available space. And smaller spaces often mean more money can be invested per square foot.

 

Seamless Integration

Ensuring that outdoor living spaces feel like a natural part of the home is another top trend. Outdoor living spaces are being designed to fit in or complement the existing home and not stand out as a strange eyesore that doesn’t belong. A modern or contemporary design will feel strange when paired with a traditional or country rustic designed home. Using similar if not identical materials to the home itself is another key to achieving this seamlessness. Exterior brick and siding can easily be transitioned for use on outdoor built ins and there are some materials, such as tile, stone, and some woods, that are able to be used both inside and outside.

Fully Equipped Outdoor Kitchens

Grills and smokers are nice, but a fully equipped outdoor kitchen is the way to go if you’re looking to spend a quality amount of time outdoors. Plus it can help cut down on mess and too much back and forth between the inside and out. The less transfer required between your indoor kitchen and outdoor kitchen the better. Some things to consider beyond the standard cooking appliances are a cleanup station, cabinets with plenty of countertop space, and even perhaps a refrigerator or smaller beverage fridge. Unique cooking appliances, such as pizza ovens or deep fryers, are also becoming quite popular.

Protection from the Elements


Summer is likely the first season that comes to mind when thinking of times when an outdoor living area will see the most use. But with the right planning outdoor living could be used year-round. One way to achieve that is to include protection from the elements. Outdoor heaters, fireplaces, or fire pits can make outdoor living spaces more habitable in the winter. Screens or mosquito sprayers can help combat unwanted pests from getting in. And even in the summer, things like outdoor fans or built in shade can help make an outdoor space more habitable.

 

 

 

Minimal Maintenance Materials

Perhaps you have avoided adding an outdoor living space because you just see it as more space to care for. Completely neglecting the care of your outdoor living space is inadvisable, but there are materials that require less care than others, and that is probably one of the key reasons why they are currently so popular. For flooring consider using concrete or stone versus wood. Landscaping that requires less upkeep would be good to consider and you could always add in more hardscaping to cut down on how much greenery you will need to care for.

 

Clever Lighting

Don’t let the lack of natural light force you to retreat inside. Outdoor lighting can help to extend the amount of time you spend outdoors. It is also a clever way to decorate and add some design to your outdoor space. Cafe string lights are a popular choice. Lighting can also be used to either highlight certain architectural features or be a feature all on its own. Color changing pool lights can also be a fun way to liven things up.

2017 Summer Home Maintenance Checklist

Yesterday marked the first official day of summer, although if you have school age children or live in an area with hot temperatures it may have felt like summer began quite a bit earlier. With the change of season comes a new list of tasks to get done around the house. Keep reading for a few project ideas you should consider adding to your to-do list this summer.

 

Check Safety Devices

One of the best ways to ensure that your home is keeping you safe is by regularly checking the devices that are designed to do just that. If you haven’t already, set up a monthly schedule for checking the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Ensure that fire extinguishers are not expired. If they are past their expiration date either schedule a maintenance appointment or replace them if they are not a maintenance abled type.

 

Prep Your House for Travel

If you’ve been waiting all year for summer vacation time to arrive then you’re in luck! But while you’re off enjoying your adventures and creating new memories elsewhere, make sure your home is ready to withstand your absence. Inspect all entrances to your home, including your windows and doors, to ensure that they are secure. Timed or motion sensor exterior lights can help give the illusion of an occupied home. Put mail and any other regular delivers on hold or have a trusted neighbor collect things as they arrive.

 

Check for Signs of Pests

Unplanned critters, whether they be bugs, rodents, or any other creature that doesn’t belong, can be an absolute nuisance. Plus, they could potentially cause considerable damage to your home or yard if not caught and addressed in a timely manner. Help to prevent their unexpected arrival by periodically checking your house for signs of them. For some pests, like termites, you may want to bring in professional and periodic help.

 

Clean Out/Organize the Pantry

The pantry tends to be one of those places that is either super organized or easily a source of clutter and mess. No matter the state of organization, take some time to go through the pantry, take stock of its contents, and get everything in order. Even if you’re not an organizing guru, a little extra time and attention in the pantry will pay itself back in making things easier to find and cutting down on wasted and forgotten food.

 

Inspect Irrigation Systems

The summer heat is here, which means your sprinkler system is likely hard at work. Keep a watchful eye throughout the summer to ensure your landscaping is getting the proper amount of water and that your watering systems are up to par. Another thing to watch for is proper water drainage. Standing puddles of water could quickly become mosquito breeding grounds while water pooling around the house could cause things like foundation damage.

 

Host a Party

What is summer without a little bit of kicking back and celebrating. With the longer days and pleasant weather, summer is the perfect time to invite a few (or a lot) of people over for some outdoor fun. Backyard barbecues and pool parties are a staple of summer, and are often more fun with a larger group. Keeping the party outside means you won’t have to worry as much about preparty clean up inside your house. You can take some of the pressure off by hosting a potluck or asking your guests to bring with outdoor themed activities or extra pool toys.

 

Freshen Up Bedrooms

Summer is a great time to give the bedrooms in your home some extra love. Aim to make the bedroom feel fresh and airy. Flip the mattresses to help prolong their life and break out the lighter weight bedding. Dust all surfaces and in those hard to reach or often forgotten areas, such as fan blades, baseboards, and lamps. When you’re done consider bringing in some fresh flowers or a new plant to complete the freshness feel.

 

Plan Smaller Interior Update Remodels

Use the summer to take careful stock of your home’s interiors and start making plans to update or change out some of the smaller things that you don’t like or have grown tired of. Small changes can often breathe a lot of new life into a home. Some less intensive projects could include things like repainting, swapping out cabinet hardware, or replacing smaller plumbing fixtures and appliances.

Five Things to Include in an Outdoor Kitchen

When it comes to adding an outdoor kitchen, regardless of how simple or complex the finished product is, there are a few overarching items that should be considered for inclusion. Take a look below at the five things we think should be included when designing an outdoor kitchen.

 

Outdoor Kitchen 3.jpg

Cooking Appliances

When creating an outdoor kitchen the most important element to include is a way to prepare food. An outdoor grill is the most popular choice for outdoor cooking appliances. But don’t be limited just by the more popular choices. Depending on the level of cooking skills you possess and the amount of outdoor entertaining you want to do there are plenty of other options that can be included, such as a smoker, pizza oven, or even a fire pit.

Dining Area

While including a dining area seems like common sense in a kitchen, it can easily be overlooked. Once food is made, you’ll want a place where you and your guests can sit and enjoy it. Again, the size of the dining area will greatly depend on how many people might be using it at a time. Bar seating across a countertop might be sufficient for your needs, or perhaps you’ll want enough space for a full dining table.

Countertop and Storage Space

Having ample storage and work space should be considered another important factor in designing an outdoor kitchen. Just was with trying to keep cleanup outdoors, minimizing the need to transition between inside and outside when using an outdoor kitchen will increase efficiency and help contain areas of activity and mess. Work with hardy materials that will stand up well to the elements, such as metal for the cabinets and a nonporous material for countertops.

 

 

Cleanup Station

Devoting space in an outdoor kitchen for the sole purpose of unglamorous task of cleaning up may not hold much appeal, but in the long run it will make things easier. Even something as simple as a sink will allow you a space to coral dirty dishes and at the very least spot clean items before bringing them back inside. Trying to meander back and forth between two kitchens at one time can be inconvenient and a hassle. If you plan on having a lot of dishes to clean up it may also be worth investing in an outdoor grade dishwasher to further make life easier.

Lighting

Natural light shouldn’t be too hard to come by in an outdoor kitchen, but natural light may not always provide the right quality of lighting or even an ample amount. Cooking in the dark when the sun goes down isn’t an ideal option. Adding in general lighting for the outdoor kitchen space will make the area useable regardless of the location of the sun. But even when the sun is shining, adding in lighting in specific areas will help improve the quality of your outdoor kitchen. Think about adding light around cooking areas so that you’ll be better able to see what you are doing.

 

Project Spotlight: Downtown Views and a New Kitchen in a Dallas High-Rise Condo

With almost every remodel project there is a unique set of challenges that must be overcome to reach the final beautiful finish. Some of these challenges might be small, others large, but it is often these challenges that create the most memorable moments in a project. The award winning balcony enclosure and kitchen remodel in this uptown Dallas high-rise condo unit presented a few very unique challenges of its own. And while some challenges are simple to solve, the challenges for this project were of the type that required the use of a construction lift to solve.

The first part of the project focused on the balcony and how to best utilize its space. Located on the sixth floor of the building, the condo offered a spectacular view of the downtown Dallas skyline. However, the small corner balcony, easily the best area in the condo to enjoy the stunning view, was not user friendly. It was small and felt enclosed due to its boxed in nature. The height amplified the effects of wind and the south facing orientation left it susceptible to glaring sunlight throughout the day, especially as it reflected off nearby buildings. Plus, the increase in nearby construction and its associated noise made the balcony a less than pleasant space for the homeowners to use.

 

With all these issues plaguing the balcony space, the homeowners decided that the best solution was to forgo the outdoor balcony entirely and instead enclose the space and incorporate it into the main living area of the unit. In doing so, however, the homeowners wanted to ensure that the additional space would seamlessly tie in with the existing space and that their view of the downtown skyline would not be lost. Located in the corner of the open floor plan living area, the newly enclosed space needed to feel like it was a natural part of the floor plan. One of the biggest challenges with doing this was the flooring. When the area was a balcony the floor needed to slope downward away from the building so that water could properly drain. Now enclosed, the floor had to be levelled before hardwood flooring that matched the existing white oak floors could be installed.

To maximize the downtown view, the homeowners wanted the new outer wall to be mostly made up of windows that were as large as possible. Further complicating matters, the outer wall of the balcony had a curved 90-degree angle that needed to be maintained due to the building’s structure. The solution was to install five large curved picture windows along the wall. But deciding on this option was only half the battle. The second, and even more difficult part, was figuring out a way to transport the windows up to the unit. Due to their size, the windows would not fit in even the building’s freight elevator. The only option was to transport them to the unit outside of the building. For that, we had to bring in a Skytrak construction lift. The windows were each carefully transported up to the unit from the street.

 

 

With the windows in place, the homeowners are allowed an almost entirely unobstructed view from the safety and comfort inside their condo. The wall of windows was finished with a short window seat book shelf that runs along the entire length of the wall in between the bottom of the windows and the floor. Electronically controlled shades allow the homeowners to easily block out the glaring sunlight during the worst parts of the day and easily enjoy their spectacular downtown view during others.

For their kitchen renovation, the owners partnered with the design team at Poggenpohl in Dallas to create a kitchen that fit with the contemporary design style that they favored. Due to their condo location, the owners were limited in making any major structural changes to the layout of the room. However, that did not prevent them from being able to completely gut the old kitchen and start fresh. Despite following the same footprint as the old kitchen, the remodeled kitchen is entirely new and includes many high end and modern fixtures.

 

The new kitchen features glossy white cabinets with light gray countertops. The old range was replaced with a stainless steel induction cooktop. The stainless steel vent hood and backsplash help give the kitchen an industrial vibe that complements the contemporary feel of the space. The sink faucet is motion and touch activated. The refrigerator and freezer have built in front panels to match the cabinets. Completing the kitchen is a small desk provides the owners with a nearby work station.

2017 Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

Say goodbye to the short and cold days of winter! Today marks the official start of the spring season. Even if you live in an area where the weather might still be a bit variable, take comfort in knowing that warmer weather is on the way. It’s time to start crawling out of winter hibernation and prepping for the sunnier days ahead. Keep reading for a few tasks around the house that are ideal for completing in spring.

Spring Cleaning

Almost everyone has probably heard the phrase “spring cleaning” before. After the cold and doldrums of winter it is nice to give your home a fresh and clean start. Take it a step further this year and instead of trashing things you don’t need or want anymore, try putting together a garage sale, visit one of the many secondhand stores willing to buy gently used belongings, or donate the unwanted items that are still in decent condition.

 

 

 

Inspect and Maintain Garage Door

Proactively inspecting and maintaining a garage door can save on future time and hassle. Plus, a damaged garage door is both a security concern and major safety hazard. Weather can play a factor in how the springs and inner workings of a garage door operate and spring is the ideal time for the functionality and state to be tested. Garage door repairs are a task best performed by a professional. A poorly repaired garage door could fall and cause severe damage to both a home and its occupants.

 

Fix and Reseal Exterior Woodwork

Maintenance on exterior woodwork should be performed annually to keep it in good condition and extend its life. Winter weather especially can wreak havoc on exterior woodwork. When the weather starts warming up is a good time to inspect and repair any damage that is present. Once all the damage has been addressed apply some fresh paint or stain and reseal the wood so that it is well protected until next spring.

 

Inspect/Service Sprinkler Systems

Hopefully spring will bring with it plenty of rain so that the sprinkler system can rest until it needs to work extra hard during the hot summer months. Make sure there are no problems with your sprinkler system and get any you find fixed now before you are left scrambling to fix them when you and your lawn most desperately need it to work in the summer to keep your lawn looking beautifully green.

 

Make Kitchen Remodel Plans

Thinking about making some updates to your kitchen? This is the time to start making those plans in earnest so that everything is done and ready to go when the winter holidays role back around. It may seem a bit early to be thinking about the holidays again, but when you factor in the time needed plan a remodel, order materials, and then have the actual work done then your completion date will end up falling closer to the end of the year than you might originally expect.

 

 

Clean Out the Garage

The garage tends to be a place that attracts clutter. If it’s a struggle to fit your car among everything stored in your garage or if you’re uncertain about just what exactly is stored in there then it is time to spend a few days cleaning up and getting organized. Use care when disposing of anything as many common items stored in the garage will require special disposal methods (i.e. old paint and motor oil). Once the cleaning is done, consider adding in some hanging shelves or compact cabinets to help keep everything organized going forward.

 

Spruce Up Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is the first impression that your home makes. It’s the first thing that visitors and passerby’s will see. A house and front yard that looks well cared for can leave a strong impression about the people who live there. Some simpler ways to add curb appeal might be new house numbers or a new mailbox. Some basic clean up or additions to your landscaping is also an easier way to spruce things up. More intensive curb appeal projects might include an entire landscape makeover, repainting siding, or a new front door.

 

Test Run Air Conditioning

The temperatures outside probably don’t require much use from an air conditioning unit yet (unless you live somewhere like Texas where spring weather started in early February). However, if there are any issues with your air conditioning unit it is better to find them and get them resolved now before the significantly warmer summer heat hits and your AC unit is working overtime.

Popular Bathroom Design Trends for 2017

In our last blog post we highlighted the top ten trends that the National Kitchen and Bath Association predicts will be seen in kitchens in 2017. You can read that post here. Now we’re going to switch the focus to the bathroom and the trends that the NKBA predicts will be popular for this coming year.

 

Design Style

As with the kitchen, the most popular overall design style for the bathroom is transitional. Clean, sleek, and modern are three words that are often showing up when describing current trends in bathroom design. Transitional style exemplifies these traits through the use of clean and simple lines, neutral colors, natural materials, and comfortable style without excessive accents.  

Cabinet Colors

Popular cabinet colors in the bathroom is another category that mirrors similar trends in the kitchen. White, off white, and gray are the top cabinet color choices for the bathroom, likely for many of the same reasons for why they are popular in the kitchen. It is a classic look that can complement many different styles and designs. And by using a neutral color for the cabinets other design elements are better able to shine. Blue is slowly emerging as another popular choice in the bathroom for those who want something with more color.

 

Storage Options

Wood vanities and linen closets are the popular picks when it comes to storage options. Floating vanities and open shelving have gained recent popularity and are a good option for those who want something a little different. Specialized storage options, such as custom medicine cabinets and drawers for hair dryers and other styling tools with built in electrical outlets, are also popular in the bathroom.

 

 

 

 

 

Flooring

Ceramic tile, the long time bathroom flooring favorite, continues to be the top choice. With a plethora of shapes, sizes, and colors available, ceramic tile offers many possibilities and options. In general, hard surface materials, such as tile and vinyl, tend to be very popular in bathrooms. Hardwood, a product favored in other areas of the house, isn’t as popular in bathrooms because it does not stand up as well against water. However both tile and vinyl have popular options that give the appearance of wood without sacrificing durability.

 

Sink Type

Undermounted sinks, where the sink is mounted underneath the countertop, is the most popular option currently. This type of sink provides a clean and polished look that has been a long time classic in bathroom design. For those wanting something a bit different but still trendy, trench style sinks are growing in popularity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tub vs. No Tub Debate

The most divisive topic when it comes to bathroom remodeling is whether or not a tub should be included in the master bathroom. Most new construction homes are not including bathtubs in the master bath whereas about half of people remodeling existing homes wanted to keep a bathtub in their master. So when it comes down to it, homeowner preference is the deciding factor. For those choosing to include a tub, freestanding is the most popular style. In guest or hall baths, the combined shower/tub remains popular.

 

 

 

Finishes

Classic white remains the popular finish for plumbing fixtures. Off white colors, such as bone or biscuit, have been steadily trending downward in recent years. For bath hardware, such as cabinet pulls and faucets, chrome and polished nickel are the most popular options.

Safety and Comfort Features

Aging-in-place amenities have steadily grown in popularity recently, even among those who may not have a pressing need for them currently or anytime in the near future. The bathroom is one of the areas of the house where aging-in-place features can be vitally important for those who need them. But they also add a level of convenience for any user of the room. Grab bars, comfort-height toilets, shower seats, and curbless showers can make life easier for everyone with or without a current need for them. Adding more comfort to the bathroom is also a popular trend. Amenities like heated flooring, smart toilets, and low maintenance features are a few of the most common ways to create a more comfortable setting in the bathroom.

 

Environmentally Friendly Fixtures

Almost all plumbing fixtures on the market include water saving techniques that are friendly to the environment without sacrificing efficiency. Water saving toilets and faucets for the sink and shower are the most prevalent areas where these technologies are employed.

 

Technology

Integrating technology in the bathroom is an emerging trend but it is one that will likely only gain more and more popularity in the years to come as technology continues to advance and be more prevalent. Adding televisions or built in speaker systems are two ways that technology is beginning to be seen more in the bathroom.

Popular Kitchen Design Trends for 2017

Every year the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) surveys design professionals to determine the styles and trends that are expected to be popular in kitchen and bath designs for the coming year. By surveying members from across the nation, the report provides a realistic prediction of design trends worth watching and to consider including in your own kitchen or bath remodel. Check out which trends made the top ten list for kitchen design below, and check back in a few weeks to see what made the list for bathroom trends.

 

Design Style

When it comes to the overall design style, transitional was found to be the most popular in kitchen design. By integrating the classic sophistication of traditional design with the clean lines and simplicity of contemporary and modern styles, transitional style is like a happy medium between the two extremes. Key design staples in a transitional kitchen include cabinets with simple and clean lines, natural materials used for flooring and countertops, simple accents, neutral colors, and incorporating a mixture of natural and manufactured materials.

 

Cabinet Colors

White, off-white, and gray are the top choices for cabinet colors. White cabinets have been an emerging trend over the past few years. They have a classic and clean look that can complement any overall kitchen style. White provides a neutral backdrop that will allow other elements of the kitchen to shine. Off white and gray provide a similar neutral backdrop without quite as much upkeep required to keep clean as white. Overall, neutral color cabinets continue to be a popular choice.

 

Mixing Colors and Finishes

Adding contrast by mixing colors and materials is an emerging trend that is gaining traction in kitchen design. Using two different colors for various sections of cabinets or pairing lighter colored cabinets with darker colored countertops or backsplash are a few ways to add variance in color. Combining multiple countertop materials is also becoming popular. A small section of wood butcher block countertop paired with stone, in particular, is an increasingly popular trend.

 

 

 

 

Cabinet Material

Wood cabinets have long been the popular choice and continue to remain the top choice in kitchen design. Quality wooden cabinets can last a long time and can be restained or painted a different color as trends or personal tastes change over time. Metal cabinets, gaining in popularity, are well suited for contemporary and transitional style kitchens.

 

Cabinet Features

Popular cabinet features include furniture like accents, pull/roll outs, and under cabinet lighting. Built in conveniences have seen a surge in popularity recently, and in the kitchen this often equates to things like pull out drawers for trash and recycling, specialty drawers or cabinets for spice and knife storage, and built in storage for small appliances like mixers or coffee makers so that they aren’t cluttering the counter when not in use but are still easy to access when needed.

 

 

 

 

Countertop Material

Countertop material is an area that is seeing a shift in popularity. Granite used to be the favorite, but quartz is now the go-to stone material. The slightly higher price tag with quartz is more bearable due to the higher durability and color options. Since quartz is not 100% stone it also doesn’t require quite as much care for upkeep when compared with granite.

 

Turtle Creek.jpg

Appliances

The popular appliances this year are expected to be ones that incorporate newer technology and contribute to better overall cooking quality. Induction cooktops, which will only heat up the specific cookware used on them instead of the entire cooktop surface, and convection ovens, which use a fan to evenly distribute heat throughout the oven, are both expected to be popular. Microwave drawers versus freestanding or built in microwaves were also noted as a popular appliance.

Barn & Pocket Doors

Both barn doors and pocket doors have the benefit of not having a swing path to contend with. Instead of needing to make sure there is enough space available to swing a door open and closed, barn and pocket doors instead slide to the side or retreat into the wall and out of the way.

Technology

Integrating technology into the home continues to grow in popularity. When it comes to the kitchen this is being seen in internet connected appliances, such as ovens that can be set and tracked via a smartphone app. Built in docking and charging stations are also being added into kitchens.

Accessible and Universal Design

Designing a space to be accessible for everyone regardless of age or ability, known as universal design, has been steadily growing in popularity over the years, especially as people age and decide that they want to keep their current home. In the kitchen universal design choices aren’t particularly stand out. Things such as small sections of shorter cabinets, additional lighting, hard flooring, and certain cabinet handles make a kitchen easier for all users.

 

Behind the Scenes of a Dallas Addition: From Finishing Touches to Completion

This Dallas family room and outdoor living addition project has come a long way since our first behind the scenes look. What started as an open area of grass is now a beautifully finished family room that connects to a new outdoor patio and pool, perfect for the homeowner’s entertaining needs. Our previous update ended with the installation of flooring, which left us with mainly just the finishing touches to complete in the family room. For this final behind the scenes look we’ll start with those finishing touches in the family room and then highlight the deck and pool construction for a complete look at the final stages of the project.

 

Family Room Finishes

Our next step in completing the family room was to add stairs connecting the room to the existing house. The house is set on an elevated foundation several feet above ground level. The homeowners wanted the new family level with the new patio and backyard to make the transition between the indoor and outdoor areas easier to navigate. This decision meant that there was a multi-foot drop from the existing house into the family room. The homeowners decided to add wooden floating stairs to bridge the distance. The stairs tie in well with the existing wood floors in the main house and provide a smooth transition between the two rooms. Lighting was installed underneath each step to make them easier to navigate.

Next came the finishing of the fireplace, easily one of the most prevalent design features in the room. The off center setting of the firebox adds visual interest and makes the room appear not quite so cookie cutter perfect. The mantle and hearth have a modern design that reflects the homeowners contemporary leaning tastes. They are both finished with a quartz material that includes bits of metallic and reflective pieces in the material, giving it extra sparkle and shine when the light hits. Both the mantle and hearth extend to the wall in front of the dummy side door, allowing more seating area and continuing to promote the asymmetrical feel of the fireplace. Surrounding the fireplace is round blue mosaic tile with a blue tinted grout which standout well against the other neutral finishes used throughout the room. Wiring was added above the firebox prior to drywall so that a television could eventually be hung there.

While the overall design aesthetic of the room leans towards contemporary, there are some elements that incorporate a more rustic design within the contemporary. The mixture of these two design styles can be best seen in the light fixtures used throughout the room. The overhead chandelier has a tree branch like appearance that translates well to a more rustic feel.  However there is still a distinctly modern feel to it due to its unique design and construction. Two matching over the door light fixtures by the fireplace also have an older look that juxtaposes well against the more contemporary fireplace.

 

The Deck

Adjacent to the family room is a new deck area. It is sheltered on three sides by the house with the fourth opening up to the new pool. Eventually the deck will be home to the homeowners’ outdoor cooking equipment. The majority of the work on the deck took place towards the end of the overall project’s construction in order to coordinate with similar work taking place in the family room. The pouring of the concrete foundation, addition of doors from the master bedroom to the deck on one side and from the new family room to the deck on the other, and replacing the kitchen window along the back wall with a larger window all took place in conjunction with similar work being done in the family room during earlier stages of the project.

Apart from those items most of the additional work on the deck did not restart until the installation of tile flooring. The homeowners chose a neutral gray colored tile that complimented the exterior color of the home and will allow other outdoor features to shine. A small fire pit, about the size of one of the tile pieces, was built in when the foundation was poured. Filled with red lava rocks, it will allow the homeowners a convenient way to stay warm during cooler months (or be a great place to roast marshmallows for s’mores any time of the year).

As with the family room, accommodations had to be made to account for the height difference between the master bedroom foundation and the deck due to the new doors that were added to transition between the two areas. The solution was to add a wooden stair and bench feature along that side of the deck. The top step was extended towards the house to allow for a small elevated deck for seating. On the other side of the doors the wooden steps were extended to create a bench with built in storage underneath.

 

The Pool

The family room and deck additions were two parts of a larger outdoor living remodel. And here in Texas a full outdoor living remodel is often incomplete without one key element: a pool. The pool was designed by Randy Angell and built by Pool Environments. While we at Key Residential were not involved with the pool addition, its construction took place alongside our work, and the outdoor living area cannot be fully appreciate without also considering the pool. It features a larger main area with an extended wet deck and a connected smaller lounging section separated by three concrete walking pads that hover just above the water’s surface. The back side of the pool that borders a new fence has a bright green architectural feature and built in flower beds.

 

What's Next?

At this point the scope of work for the original project has been completed. The deck provides area for additional outdoor cooking options that the homeowners may decide to add at a later time. But with winter over half over and summer fast approaching, the homeowners will be busy enjoying their new outdoor living areas with or without the eventual additional work. Next up for us at Key Residential will be the official completion photos which we will be sharing as soon as they are ready.

 

Behind the Scenes of a Dallas Addition Blog Series

Part One: From Site Prep to Framing

Part Two: From Framing to Mechanicals

Part Three: From Drywall to Flooring

Part Four: From Finishing Touches to Completion

Our Outdoor Living Greatest Hits Part I

Trapped in the middle of winter, it may seem cruel to post a blog focused on outdoor living. But time has a way of flying by, and before we know it the heat, long days, and sunshine of summer will return. This is the ideal time to start thinking about how to use your outdoor spaces and making the necessary preparations. With that in mind, we thought this would be a great time to revisit a few of our more popular outdoor living projects and the features that made them so memorable. Perhaps it will provide inspiration for your own outdoor living spaces.

Outdoor Living Features Included: Kitchen, Dining Area, Entertainment Area, Fireplace, Pool

Unique Features: Pizza Oven, Built in Heaters and Fans

This award winning outdoor living addition and remodel took what was a very basic outdoor grill, covered seating area, and outdoor fireplace and upgraded it into a full outdoor retreat. The new outdoor living area features a full service kitchen complete with a built in grill, smoker, refrigerator, and a pizza oven. A sink and under counter dishwasher make clean up a breeze. There is room under the covered portion for a full dining room table and lounge seating. The fireplace received an upgrade to match the stonework in other parts of the addition. The covered area also features outdoor fans and heaters to help control the temperature and make the space usable year round. Rounding out the outdoor living area is a pool with an extended wet deck..

Outdoor Living Features Included: Kitchen, Dining Area, Entertainment Area, Pool

Unique Features: Vintage Fridge, Artificial Turf Grass

Exuding rustic and country charm, it’s hard to imagine that this home is located in the heart of the Dallas metroplex. It is the design and all the associated details with it that really stands out about this outdoor living space. The covered kitchen area includes a built in gas grill and vintage refrigerator. Built in cabinet doors protect the nearby television from the elements. The adjacent patio area has room for a full dining room table and connects with the sunroom, making the transition from indoor to outdoor even easier. A beautiful pool, also with an extended wet deck, is surrounded by artificial turf grass that will stay green all year long.

Outdoor Living Features Included: Kitchen, Entertainment Area, Pool

Unique Feature: Fire Pit, Pool Bathroom

The large pool dominates this outdoor living area. Occupying a large portion of the inside area of the U-shaped house, the pool features a small extended wet deck, hot tub, and built in stone waterfall features. The pool is surrounded by a stone and features a fire pit at one end that is perfect for roasting s’mores or for staying warm when the Texas weather starts to cool. The home also features an outdoor kitchen adjacent to the pool. The covered kitchen area features a built in grill, under counter refrigerator, fireplace with a mounted television above it, and room for seating. Additionally, a small pool bathroom allows for easy clean up before entering into the house.

 

Outdoor Living Features Included: Kitchen, Entertainment Area, Pool

Unique Feature: Multicolored Pool Lighting, Retractable Screens

Built for a young and growing family, this outdoor living area offers all the standard staples for an enjoyable at home outdoor retreat. The pool features an extended wet deck that allows for both relaxation in the cool pool water and a safer area for younger children to play. Multicolored pool lighting makes it an even more visually appealing area. The covered kitchen and entertainment area features a built in grill, under counter refrigerator, fireplace, television, and plenty of seating. The covered area also features retractable screens to enjoy the outdoors without having to worry about too many bugs and mosquitoes getting in the way.