Project Spotlight: A Remodeled Dallas Backyard is Outdoor Living at its Best

Summer and outdoor living go hand and hand here in Texas. And is really all that hard to see why? With our hot and sunny summers to the mostly moderate winters (save, of course, for the occasional burst of cold), enjoying the outdoors can be an easy and enjoyable task in the Lonestar State. That this Dallas home was lacking in ways to enjoy outdoor living was the true surprise. Luckily the homeowners decided to team up with Randy Angell Designs, Pool Environments, Jason Osterberger Designs, Claudine Roberts, and, of course, Key Residential, to create a multi-use outdoor living haven that would provide the with a plethora of options for enjoying the outdoors.


The back of the house was designed in a U shape and it originally had a small covered patio at the base of the U with large grassy areas taking up the rest of the backyard. The homeowners wanted to create more options for enjoying the outdoors at home for them and their children. Randy Angell Designs helped them to create their perfect outdoor living paradise. They designed the new backyard space to include a covered cabana, three separate pools, a built in firepit, a courtyard area in between the U-shaped rear wings of the house, and new landscaping throughout the area.

Key Residential’s part of the project focused on the covered cabana addition. The cabana includes an outdoor kitchen, dining area, living area, and enclosed half bath. The cabana was added onto one of the wings of the U shaped house. Dual French doors that match with existing exterior entry doors provide access to the new cabana from the home. They frame an existing fireplace inside of the house and a wall hung television in the entertainment area of the new cabana. The entertainment area has plenty of space for comfortable seating around the television for the entire family. Speakers are integrated throughout the cabana as well as throughout the entire outdoor living area so that sound can radiate throughout the space. So if someone is swimming in the pool or perhaps busy making s’mores at the firepit they can still keep up with whatever is on the TV or continue jamming to some tunes.

To the side of the entertainment area is the half bath. It includes a custom designed vanity cabinet with a quartz countertop, tile floors, and accent wallpaper. The mixture of textures and soft color palette give the room a relaxed and almost tropical vibe which is perfectly suited for an outdoor living bathroom.









The outdoor kitchen area of the cabana includes custom designed cabinets with quartz countertops and a glass subway tile backsplash. It features several appliances that are well suited for outdoor living, including a full-sized outdoor refrigerator, undercounter ice maker, two drop-in coolers, and a large apron sink with a gooseneck faucet and a separate filtered water faucet. Adjacent to the outdoor kitchen is the dining area. It has plenty of space to fit a full-size dining table where the family or guests can gather. With the nice weather that Texas offers we imagine the family takes full advantage of their ability to eat outdoors often. And for those who don’t feel like sitting at the table a long window seat bench provides additional seating in the area.


Year-round comfort and usability was an important factor in the design of the cabana. Two Big Ass Fans and four Infratech heaters provide temperature control for the space regardless of whether it is a 100 degree summer day or an unusually cold winter’s day. Bug screens were installed along the three exterior openings to provide additional comfort and safety from the elements. No more pesky flies or mosquitos getting in when the family is trying to enjoy a meal! The color of the screens was chosen to match the stucco and a thicker fabric was used so that the screens could also double as shades.

The pool was designed by Randy Angell and built by Pool Environments. It features an upper level general use pool with an adjacent hot tub on one end and a lower level lap pool on the other end. As former competitive swimmers, the lap pool allows the homeowners to continue doing what they love without having to leave the comfort of their own home. An infinity edge connects the upper pool to the lower lap pool. Concrete steps built into the foundation lead from the upper level areas to the lower level lap pool.

Jason Osterberger Designs completed the firepit area and landscaping throughout the new outdoor living spaces. With plenty of space for seating, the firepit serves as a great gathering place within the outdoor living space. Concrete pavers and new landscaping was installed throughout the outdoor living area to help connect the spaces within the spacious outdoor living area together.

The Open Floor Plan Kitchen vs. The Social Kitchen

For several years one of the top trends in kitchen design has been the open floor plan. These kitchens allow for greater function and flow between the work space of the kitchen and the areas where the rest of the family or guests gather. Furthermore, with the kitchen tending to function as the center of the house, an open floor plan concept provides better connectivity and accessibility to the entire home. At Key Residential we have seen first hand the popularity of open floor plan kitchens, both in our custom home builds and remodel projects. The design has many benefits and the trend seems here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.


By using an open floor plan, this small kitchen feels bigger and can easily serve as a gathering point in the home.

But now that the open floor plan kitchen design has established a strong foothold, the next trend is in perfecting that design to truly capitalize on its benefits. So instead of creating just an open floor plan kitchen, take it a step further to achieve a social kitchen. The social kitchen, like the name implies, places a heavy emphasis on the social aspect of an open floor plan kitchen. People want to be able to easily connect with others who are nearby, whether they are also in the kitchen or in the adjacent living area. So how do you make sure your open floor plan kitchen is also a social kitchen? It all comes down to smart space planning.


By spreading out major appliances, this kitchen can easily accommodate multiple users. The oven is located along one wall, the main sink along another, and the island houses both the range and an additional sink, all without having to sacrifice ample countertop space.

One of the first ways to help create a social kitchen is to ensure that it can accommodate multiple users at one time. Spreading key items and functions out more in the kitchen will help. For starters, take the work triangle concept to the next level by creating multiple work triangles. Don’t put all the cooking appliances next to each other. By spreading them out it will be easier for multiple items to be used at a single time when there are extra hands pitching in to help. Having ample counter space is also key. As with appliances, having plenty of counterspace and spread out tasks is a benefit. A large island could be a great asset. Finding ways to spread out the duties of the sink can also help alleviate some bottleneck. A fill up faucet by the range or a special clean up sink that is separate from the main sink area are two ideas on how to accomplish this task.

This kitchen incorporates two islands to provide the maximum amount of work space and storage and to help connect the kitchen area to the adjacent living room.

As already mentioned, a great addition in a social kitchen is a large island. This key feature can serve multiple functions that contribute to the features that make a kitchen a social kitchen. Ideally and most likely the island will be in an area that is close to another zone, be it a breakfast area with table and chairs or a living room type area with couches and a TV. This location allows the island to essentially serve a functional role in both spaces. The island can provide additional cabinet storage space and working countertop space. If hosting guests or holding a party, that countertop space can also be used as a serving area. The island also always seems to become a general gathering space for everyone. If someone is busy in the kitchen, family or guests tend to gather around the island to include whomever may be working in the kitchen into their conversation.


Without any walls separating the kitchen from the adjacent family room the two spaces feel like one room and allow the homeowners and any guests to easily interact between the two rooms.

Creating a space that feels open and has few visual impediments when it comes to seeing people anywhere else in the open floor plan is another important factor in the creation of a social kitchen. An obvious way to achieve this is by reducing the number of walls. Some walls are necessary, such as around the perimeter. But walls that float within the middle of the room or that block other general living spaces from the kitchen should be removed if possible. Any appliances that are tall or take up significant space should be located against the necessary walls so that they in turn do not impede the line of sight either. The other key item to focus on is cabinet placement. As with appliances, upper cabinets should be limited to areas where they can hang against a wall. Floating upper cabinets should be avoided at all costs. While this may cut down on available cabinet space in the actual kitchen, it does allow for the possibility to add cabinets in the general living spaces of the open concept area. In turn this will help add more connectivity and cohesiveness to the different zones.


This kitchen is spread out into a morning room and breakfast room to create more working space. The pictured breakfast room is home to the warming drawer and additional cabinetry for storage.

However, before jumping into the deep end and committing fully to the creation of a social kitchen there are a few downsides to consider. But luckily there are some ways around them that can help to ease any burden they create. One of the biggest downsides in that creating such an open and multifunctioning space can be that it create disorganization that hinders the efficiency of the space. Combat this by creating specified zones throughout the kitchen. If your kitchen has an island consider adding bar seating on the side that faces into the kitchen to give guests a place to easily gather without being in the way of whoever is working in the kitchen. Families with school aged children might want to create a specific homework zone that is stocked with all the essentials that might be needed. A nearby drop zone for belongings might also be a good idea. Within the functional areas of the kitchen itself try to create enough space for multiple work zones so that users of the space aren’t having to work on top of each other.

Project Spotlight: Remodel Brings New Life to Dallas High Rise Condo

A high-rise condo unit remodel comes with its own unique challenges and opportunities. Fully remodeling this ninth-floor unit in Dallas was no exception to that rule. But one thing is for sure, despite the unique setting the results are still spectacular. Originally a three bedroom-two bathroom set up, the unit had a very outdated look that had not been updated in a long time, if ever. The space felt cramped, especially in the small enclosed kitchen, and used design elements that hadn’t been popular for at least a few decades. When the homeowner purchased the unit it was clear that some changes needed to be made to modernize and make better use of the available space. Keep reading to find out more about the stunning results of this latest Key Residential remodel.


The first step of this remodel was to rework the existing footprint so that it would better suit the homeowner’s needs. As the sole resident of the condo, the homeowner did not need all three bedrooms, so converting one of them was an easy place to start. The interior walls surrounding the third bedroom were removed so that it could become incorporated into the general living area. The former bedroom area was converted into an informal den area.


Next to the new den is the formal living room area. With the addition of the den, the original living room area could now be used as a formal living area. Both the den and the living room get to take advantage of the stunning view out of the floor to ceiling windows. Also connected to the den and living room areas is the new dining room area (more on the decision to move that space in a moment). A small bar area was created out of an old closet in the dining area and includes custom designed cabinets with a marble countertop, an undercounter beverage fridge, and a mirror backsplash with floating glass shelves.





Another key area where space needed to be added was in the kitchen. The small, enclosed kitchen was vastly outdated and confined. Luckily the original dining area that was adjacent to the kitchen provided the perfect solution. The wall that separated the kitchen from the dining area was removed so that the kitchen space could be expanded. Doing this not only provided the kitchen with more space and a sense of openness, but it also helped to create a quasi-open floor plan feel with the adjacent den, relocated dining, and living rooms.


The new kitchen features custom designed gray painted cabinets with solid panel fronts, marble countertops, and brass finished hardware. The use of the brass finished hardware is uncommon in a world still dominated by the more popular polished nickel, but it helps give the kitchen a unique and distinct look. Along the sink wall open upper shelves were installed to provide additional storage space but not over clutter the kitchen with more enclosed cabinets. The cabinets were designed around a necessary structural column for the building that could not be removed. New KitchenAid appliances with a stainless-steel finish include the refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, and induction cooktop. The large undermount apron sink also has a stainless-steel finish that matches with the appliances.


The remodeled kitchen easily solves the enclosed and claustrophobic issue that existed previously. The additional space in the kitchen allowed enough room for a narrow, but long, island to be added that spans the width of the room. The island features a few extra drawers for storage as well as space for bar seating. The lack of cabinets below most of the island allows the bar seats to be safely stored out of the way when not in use. As with the perimeter cabinets, the island also features a marble countertop. The foot for the far end of the island uses the same marble countertop material and connects to the island with an infinity edge to give it one continuous look. The island also features a small section of custom butcher block countertop above the drawer storage section of the island.


The master and guest bedrooms required minimal updates, but the small changes that were made still provided a remarkable difference in the spaces. Both rooms received new custom designed built in bookcases and new curtains. A fresh coat of paint and new trim did wonders in helping with their transformation. In the master bedroom dual chandeliers were hung over the head of the bed and lighting controls were built into the side of the one of the bookcases so that they could be used without leaving the bed.


The two bathrooms were another area that saw quite a few updates. In fact, both were gutted and completely rebuilt with all new plumbing fixtures and cabinets. Within the master bathroom a few structural changes were made to make better use of the space. Originally the master bathroom was entered via a small hallway from the master bedroom. This hallway was removed and incorporated into the master closet and the master bathroom is now accessed directly from the master bedroom.


Both bathrooms received new custom designed vanity cabinets with marble countertops. The old floor to ceiling cabinets that were in both bathrooms were not replaced to promote a more open feel. In the master bathroom the old tub/shower combo was replaced with a large walk in shower. A light colored, marble designed tile that matches well with the vanity countertop was used throughout the master on the floors and shower walls. The shower includes a built-in bench and soap niche and a glass surround. In the guest bath the tub/shower combo design was kept, but the old tub was replaced with a larger contemporary styled tub and a glass surround was added to keep with creating a more open feel to the room. The dark tile surround in the tub/shower combo matches well with the hand painted black and white wallpaper used in the room.

Five Essentials Every Home Should Have

Regardless of whether it is a tiny apartment, a sprawling mansion, or anything in between, the space that you call your home is an essential part of your life. It’s the place where you begin and end most days. It is filled with things that you love and that help you function throughout your daily life. It is the place where you can both invite family and friends over but also steal some quiet time to yourself. As such an important place, what we put into our homes and how they are designed to function should be considered with care. There are a few items that we think are essential to have in a home. Keep reading to find out what they are.


Art and Décor 

Décor and art are all too often viewed as an after thought in the home. But without it you risk the home feeling sterile and lacking in emotional connection. Even just a few well-placed pieces can give your home personality and a lived-in appearance. Luckily, there are a plethora of options when it comes to home décor. And since it is your house, you get to choose the type of decor you want to display. The only person whose tastes you must satisfy are your own, and perhaps the other people who live there with you. Add art that is meaningful to you. That could range any where from a contemporary piece of art to stylized scenic scenes or perhaps something that would fit in well with classical art or even family or vacation photos that you have taken yourself.


Comfortable Mattress (With Quality Bedding)

One of the most important activities that takes place within a home is sleep. You may joke that you barely need it, but even the hardiest of individuals must admit that without at least some sleep your body will not be able to function the way it should. As such, ensuring that your home can provide you with the best sleep possible should be a no brainer. Achieving that goal should start with investing in the perfect mattress that fits your needs. Another thing that can play a big role in quality of sleep is bedding. This is another area that you don’t want to skimp on. Thread counts aren’t everything, but they do make a difference. Material choice can help regulate temperature so look for materials that will create the ideal sleeping environment for you. A nice comforter or duvet can also help to add a little bit of functional personality to the bedroom.


A Place to Entertain

Chances are at some point you will host guests, be it an intimate family gathering or large-scale party with friends, and when that happens you will need a place to entertain these people. The reasons for why you are hosting guests will play a big factor in what areas will be ideal. A quality kitchen will be important for people who enjoy hosting group meals, whereas if you more often have people over to watch movies or sporting events then the living room or family room will be more important. Or if you’re lucky enough to live in a place with good weather then you may find yourself hosting backyard pool parties or barbeques. If you know which areas of your home you will be most likely to use for entertaining then you can make sure it is equipped and ready for hosting those gatherings. Also, make sure you have a bathroom set aside that your guests can use.


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A Place to Relax

Your home is your space, and while that might include inviting other people over to share in that space with you from time to time, your home ultimately needs to suit your needs. And something that everyone needs at some point is to be able to unwind and relax. Preferred methods of relaxation will vary. Some people may like to take a relaxing bubble bath, others may want to find a quiet corner to curl up with a good book, others still may prefer to take a nap, or perhaps find a peaceful place outdoors where they can enjoy nature. Regardless of your preferred method, make sure your home includes a place where you can comfortably unwind and relax.


Window Treatments

Natural light can make a significant difference in how a room feels. More natural light provides a light and airy feeling that can make rooms seem larger and fresher. But leaving your windows unadorned in an effort to maximize natural light isn’t the best option. At the very least you will want to have blinds or screens of some sort to allow for privacy when needed or to block out the sun when it is at just the right height that it shines right in your eye. Another good option to try would be lighter weight fabric curtains. Even if you’ve taken the time to carefully add design elements throughout a room, completely bare windows will stick out like a sore thumb and make the room feel cold and unfinished.

2018 Summer Home Maintenance Guide

Are you ready to welcome in another summer season? Ready or not, summer officially started yesterday. And with the start of a new season comes the chance to start another home maintenance to do list. Keep reading to find out a few tasks that we recommend tackling this season.


Spend More Time Outside

We’ll start out with an easy and hopefully enjoyable task. Summer typically means nice weather accompanied by longer days, so it is the perfect time to enjoy some fresh air. If you’re home has an outdoor living area or pool then carve out some extra time to spend using it. Even just bringing a chair out onto a porch or laying in the grass to enjoy a good book are some great at home options for getting more outdoor time. If your home doesn’t provide any good ways to enjoy the outdoors then so some searching for a local park or just go for a walk through your home’s neighborhood.

General Clean Up

The time for spring cleaning might be passed, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to skirt around keeping your house clean. For the summer focus on tasks that will help keep you cool. Dust your fan blades so that when they’re running they’re not also spreading dust throughout the air. Do the same with your air registers throughout the house to further help prevent spreading dust. It will also help keep your A/C running more efficiently by eliminating blockage around the vents. This is also a good time to check and replace you’re HVAC filter. Finally, consider getting your HVAC ducts inspected and professionally cleaned if needed. Summer temperatures can get hot so ensuring that the A/C is running efficiently is vital.


Touch Up Exterior Paint

A little bit of paint touch ups can go a long way to making your house look great. Summer’s more pleasant weather makes this a good time to tackle this task, although if you live in an area where summers can get exceedingly hot you may want to get it done soon. You don’t need to do a full repaint of your house, although if it has been a while it might be worth considering that larger task, but do a thorough inspection of your home’s exterior and touch up any areas where the paint is peeling or looking a bit worse for ware. Other exterior areas where some fresh paint might be beneficial are exterior doors, window trim, and outdoor living areas.

Plan Bathroom Remodels

When was the last time your bathroom got a facelift? If the answer is a long time ago then perhaps it is time to start planning a remodel. A well done master bathroom in particular can be a great benefit both for your own needs and for the ultimate resale value of your home. The master bath should be a peaceful and private retreat where you can relax and unwind. If your master bathroom isn’t giving you those vibes then it might be time to make some changes. Start planning now so that you can get the project started late fall or early 2019.

Hot Water Heater Maintenance

Chances are you will not be relying on your hot water heater quite as much during the summer which makes this the perfect time to perform some maintenance and perhaps make a change or two to increase its longevity. A key maintenance step is to drain the tank and wash out sediment, a task that should be performed annually. Another worthwhile task is to check and replace the anode rod if it has deteriorated too much. Adding some insulation around the tank and/or pipes can help increase the unit’s efficiency. And given the outdoor heat, summer is a good time to turn the unit’s temperature down a few degrees and save on your electric bill.


Pay Attention to Water and Your Landscape

Being a plant can be rough in the summer with the hot temperatures and lack of rain. Keep a watchful eye on the wellbeing of your landscaping so that if plants or grass start to look a bit dry you can nip the problem in the bud before anything is too far gone to save. If you have a sprinkler system set it to run early in the morning before the sun comes up to maximize its effectiveness. Be sure to check if your city has any specific guidelines about lawn watering to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules. Also keep an eye out for any standing or pooling water as these can far too easily become mosquito breeding grounds.