The Home's Christmas Wish List

The holiday season is in full swing now that December is here and that means that the season of gift giving is also in full swing. Hopefully Santa is ready for the influx of wish lists that are heading his way. And while we might expect to see those lists from young children (or even some adults) we wondered what would happen if our homes got to write their own Wishlist to Santa. We’re not talking about the simple things, like a new paint job or a deep cleaning, because where is the fun in that? We like to think our homes would have big dreams for the gifts that they would want to receive. Here are a few ideas of what we think might make their list.


An Automatic Venthood

What is the best thing about the venthood in this kitchen? The fact that it can disappear back into the island at the touch of a button when the range is not in use. Space is at a premium in this small kitchen so maintaining an open line of sight was key to making the room feel as large as possible. There is no big and bulky venthood hanging from the ceiling that would impede the line of sight in this kitchen. Instead, they get a sleek venthood that perfectly complements the more contemporary style of the kitchen.

An Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor living in Texas is almost a must, and no outdoor living area would be complete without a fully equipped outdoor kitchen for all your cooking needs. The owners of this home were avid cooks and wanted an outdoor kitchen that could keep up with them. It includes a large outdoor grill, restaurant quality smoker, and even a wood fire pizza oven give them plenty of cooking options. An outdoor refrigerator and a clean up station that includes a sink and dishwasher ensure minimal back and forth is needed between the outside and inside when this kitchen is in use.


A Unique Master Shower

If you judge by the amount of money spent remodeling them every year, the master bathroom is easily one of the most important rooms in the house. A room this significant deserves a stand out feature and we think the shower is the perfect item to focus those efforts on. This rounded shower is truly one of a kind. From the rounded mosaic tile walls and glass walls, to the dual handheld shower heads and rain shower head, and to the built in soap niche and bench, this shower is full of great features. Doesn’t your shower deserve an upgrade of its own?


An At Home Gym

Working out can be such a chore, but an at home gym will make it less so. Imagine waking up in the morning and not having to make the trek to the gym in order to get your sweat on. Having a gym at home will allow you to tailor the equipment to fit your needs and not have to fight with all the other gym members for its use. One of the many things we love about this home gym is the carpet floor tiles. Flooring in gyms tend to get trampled on quite a bit more, but these floor tiles can be swapped out individually as needed.

A Pool

A pool in the backyard is a staple feature when living in an area that sees hot summers and mostly mild winters. Pools can range from simple to complex. The pool at this Dallas home falls far into the complex category with its three interconnected pools. On the upper level is a general use pool and spa pool. The lower level lap pool allows the family of competitive swimmers to continue to hone their craft from the comfort of their own home. It is connected to the upper level pools through a beautiful waterfall feature. But an effective pool doesn’t have to be quite so complex. Simpler features like an extended wet deck or architectural feature can create a unique and fun backyard pool.   

An Elevator

If your home has stairs chances are at some point or another you’ve found yourself having to dread making the walk up there, even if it was just one night when you were especially tired. What’s the solution? How about an elevator that does the cross floor traveling for you! We love how the newer technology feels right at home in this historic 1920’s built home. It has wood paneling and brass fixtures on the interior finish and outside was designed to look like a European castle turret to match the Tudor style of the home.

An Heirloom Piece

When it comes to home remodeling the focus seems to always be on the new. But sometimes looking into the past can offer some unique and stylish options. Take the piece that hangs behind the range of the remodel of this historic home’s kitchen. It is a cast iron fireback from the 1800’s in France that the homeowners were able to acquire. Its history makes it a stunning piece in a kitchen that is meant to provide modern luxuries and conveniences while also honoring its history and heritage.


A Bold Paint Job

Yes, we started this post off by saying the simpler upgrades like paint would not make a home’s wish list, but we like to think that repainting a room with a bold and standout color is a step above a simple paint job. This bedroom benefits greatly from the rich purple hue featured on its walls. It helps give the room some unique personality. Using such a bold color can be a risk, but if done correctly then the payoff can be fantastic!

Project Spotlight: Small on Size But Large on Style and Function

In an ideal world every kitchen would be a spacious room with plenty of storage and work space. Imagine having enough storage space for all of your things, or having enough counter space to spread out so that you’re not working on top of someone else, or even having room for a few specialty appliances beyond the standard necessary ones that all kitchens need. Wouldn’t that be the dream? Well, unfortunately the world is not always ideal and not all kitchens can have the perfect amount to space to make all those wishes come true. But luckily those dreams don’t have to come crashing down entirely just because a kitchen is on the small side. This remodeled Dallas kitchen is the perfect example of how to create a hardworking and stylish kitchen when space is at a premium.

When it came down to it, limited space was not going to stop these homeowners from achieving a great kitchen. The right remodel that incorporated strategic space planning and a fresh design aesthetic would be the answer to their woes. Plus, it didn’t hurt the homeowner’s desire for a remodeled kitchen that some changes to the room were going to be necessary to accommodate a new family room addition that was being built off the back of the room. (You can read more about that project in a previous blog entry).

The most important factor in remodeling this kitchen was in redesigning the work space layout. A larger kitchen has plenty of space and options for spreading out major appliances. But in a smaller kitchen like this one it was essential to make sure that those major appliances were spaced apart. If the appliances were too close together then multiple users of the kitchen would risk having to work on top of each other. To maximize the room’s effectiveness and to allow multiple users the ability to use the room at one time then the appliances needed to be spread out as much as possible. Smart space planning allowed this kitchen to do just that despite the overall lack of space.

The refrigerator anchors the perimeter cabinets on one side of the kitchen. The natural bulkiness of the appliance is partially mitigated by placing it on the fringe of the room. A smaller undercounter beverage refrigerator is located on the other end of the perimeter cabinets and can be easily accessed by anyone using the new family room addition, a main gathering area for the family. Moving the range top to the island provided separation between it and the oven. Instead of installing a venthood above the range top that would have impeded on the line of site an electronic downdraft hood was installed. The hood rises out of the island with the push of a button when the range is in use. The sink’s location did not change in the remodel. Keeping it near the center of the kitchen allows it to be easily accessed from any direction of the room.

Another key factor to consider when trying to maximize space in a small kitchen is storage space. When there isn’t a lot of space to work with storage can often be sorely lacking. In this kitchen custom cabinets were designed to provide as much storage space as possible. One key decision was to make all of the lower cabinets drawers. The homeowners wanted to make sure that they could easily access the items stored within their cabinets. So instead of risking things getting shoved behind other items and lost, using drawers makes it easier to access everything that has been stored. Using glass fronts for the upper row cabinets could be considered a surprising choice when trying to maximize storage space. Glass fronts leave no room for forgiveness when it comes to organized storage. But requiring such a high level of organization can also be a blessing in that it not only makes it easier to find things but it can also cut down on all the extra stuff that ends up stored somewhere in the kitchen and promptly forgotten about.

The remodeled kitchen has a unique design aesthetic: contemporary with a hint of rustic charm. The contemporary elements are the most prevalent in the room, from the single panel recessed cabinet design to the stainless-steel appliances and to the clean and simple lines that dominate throughout. But the pendant lights over the island and the apron sink bring in elements of country charm and a touch of the more traditional home-y feel. The homeowners used this eclectic mix of the two styles while decorating the rest of the home. Prior to the remodel, the kitchen had featured a very traditional design that did not mesh well with the rest of the home. Carrying the homeowner’s unique design aesthetic over into the remodeled kitchen helped tie the room in better.


The mix of whites and blues in the cabinets and countertops also contribute to the mix of styles in the kitchen. Using white cabinets with glass fronts for the upper row cabinets helps to create a more open feel in the room and gives it a more traditional vibe. Their color helps them to blend more with the ceiling and adjacent walls while the glass fronts give them a less clutter-y feel. The lower colors feature a sharp, saturated blue color that is popular in more modern kitchens and complements the design aesthetic of the kitchen and adjacent living areas while providing contrast with the white upper cabinets. The blue and white color scheme is also carried over into the countertops with blue quartz countertops for the perimeter while white quartz is used for the island. The island countertop was also extended along two sides to provide as much bar seating space as possible for the small room.


So what do you think? Does size really have to be such a limiting factor in a kitchen or, like in this kitchen, can smart design be used to create a hardworking and stylish kitchen?

Eight Standout Uses of Tile in the Bathroom

Last month we featured a few standout tile backsplashes from past projects on our blog. This month we decided to keep the focus on tile but this time in the bathroom, another common place to find the material. Its ability to stand up to wet environments, versatility in usage, and plethora of design and style options easily make tile one of the most popular materials to use in a bathroom. Here are a few past bathroom projects that feature some memorable uses of tile.

With fully tiled floors and walls, this spacious master bathroom features a plethora of tile. The style of the tile was consistent throughout the room, but the walls feature a larger size of the square tile while the floors feature a much smaller version. This variance helps provide visual differentiation and helps the material to not feel too overwhelming. One of the best advantages to having so much of the room covered in tile is the ease with which the room can be cleaned. The homeowner wanted the room built in such a way that it would be possible to hose down the room to clean it. By using tile throughout so much of the room the homeowner can achieve their goal.

This pool house bathroom uses tile to add some whimsical drama to the room by using a fun geometric green patterned tile on the walls. The geometric shape of the tile is a good complement for the contemporary style of the home. It is also loosely reminiscent of palm tree leaves which works well for a pool bath and gives it a beachy and tropical vibe. Juxtaposing the darker colored tile with the white grout adds distinction to the shape of the tile and helps to make it even more of a statement piece.






There is quite a bit of tile used throughout this bathroom, but the real standout piece is easily the green accent tile used in the shower. It is a glass tile with a 3D element that mimics the look of a basket weave. A metal accent liner was used above and below the tile to help create a clean transition between the green tile and the other tile used in the shower. Surrounded by the muted neutral colors featured elsewhere in the bathroom, the unique accent becomes a truly unique feature in the room.






The black based marble designed tile used in the tub/shower combo in this bathroom makes a dramatic statement in the small room. The design of the room is centered around the black and white color scheme which makes it the perfect place to use the dark tile. The prevalence of white fixtures throughout the room helps the darker colored tile not feel too oppressing. Furthermore, the white veining in the tile also lends itself towards softening the tile’s appearance and really stands out because of all the other uses of white in the room.

Without a doubt that star piece of this master bathroom is the shower. And it wouldn’t be half as amazing without the mosaic tile that was installed along the curved back wall. The small size of the square tiles allows it to be more easily used along the curved wall. The shower is freestanding and located in the center of the room, therefore the tile was installed around all sides of the wall to create the truly statement piece.







The homeowners wanted their master bathroom to feel like an at home spa retreat. As such, they chose a light-colored tile to help create a relaxing atmosphere. Tile is used throughout the room on the floors, in the shower, and around the bathtub. But the real standout use of tile is the Grecian patterned tile that was used to create the floor design. The special floor design adds some unique personality to the room and gives it a custom feel. The patterned tile was also used in the walk-in shower and helps add visual continuity to the room.






The bright red tile on the shower walls is what makes this bathroom so spectacular. Surrounded by black floor tiles and black fixtures, the vibrant red shower tile can really pop. Using such a bold color can easily go awry if not done correctly. But by limiting the red tile to just the shower walls and using neutral colors throughout the rest of the room the red tile can be unique without overpowering. Further, the slight color variance within the mosaic pattern of the tile helps tone down any risk of the tile being too overwhelming.






This bathroom might be small on size but it in no way lacks on stylish design and we like to think the way that the luxe marble tile it features played a part in that. The same tile series was used throughout the room but in varying sizes and shapes. The floor and shower soap niche use a hexagonal shaped tile, subway tile was used for the wainscoting with a matching cornice border, and the shower walls feature the square shaped version. Using the assorted sizes and shapes provides some distinction to each area without sacrificing the cohesiveness that using a consistent tile series brings. Also, using a lighter shade for the tile helps the small room feel more open. A darker colored tile would likely have been too oppressive when used in such a small space.

2018 Fall Home Maintenance Guide

Whether you are ready to believe it or not, fall officially began this past weekend. The long, sunny days of summer are over and now it’s time to begin preparing for the colder temperatures and shorter days that accompany winter. And with the changing of the season it is time once again to tackle some tasks around the house. Here are a few items that we think should be added to your to do list for the next few months.

 Stock Up on Winter Supplies

It may just be the beginning of the Fall but winter if just around the corner and chances are you’re going to start getting winter, or at least colder, weather before this season has officially ended. As such you may not want to delay much longer in stocking up on the supplies you will need to get you through the colder months to come. Things like firewood, ice melting supplies, and germ fighting supplies for flu season will be a lot easier to get now than when you get into winter and stocks will be more depleted.


Complete Exterior Painting

Is the outside of your home in need of a fresh coat of paint? Fall provides some of the most ideal weather for getting this task done. If the weather gets too hot or too cold then the paint will not dry correctly, leaving you with a messy finish that will not hold up well. A fresh paint job, even on something as simple as the front door, can add new life to your home. This is also a good time to restain and seal exterior woodwork. We recommend doing a thorough inspection to ensure it is in good condition beforehand so that you’re not wasting your time restaining something that will have to be replaced sooner rather than later.


Deep Clean the Kitchen

Fall may have just begun a few days ago, but the winter holidays will before here before you know it. More than likely that means you’ll be cooking up at least one, if not several, holiday feasts in your kitchen. Begin preparing now deep cleaning your kitchen so that it is ready to go when those holidays arrive. Focus on things that may not get done all that often, like the interior of your oven and refrigerator, grout and backsplashes, light fixtures, and garbage disposal. Give some attention to your pantry as well. Too often things get lost and forgotten about when they are stored away.

Winterize Outdoor Plumbing

Depending on where you live you might be able to delay on this task for a bit. Here in Texas we know that warm temperatures can last well into Fall and the first below freezing temperatures may not happen for weeks if not months. Keep an eye on the weather report in your area and once you see temperatures start to dip close to freezing make sure this task gets put up high on your to do list so that you don’t end up with any damaged pipes.

General Home Maintenance

Every time the season changes we recommend taking the time to clean out your gutters. In the fall you want to focus on making sure that they are ready to handle the influx of leaves that are about to descend and then, once those leaves have fallen, you want to make sure your gutters are cleared out to prevent ice dams from forming when the colder weather hits. Inspect your exterior doors and windows for drafts and apply new caulking and weatherstripping to any that need it so that you can keep the cold air out and the warm air in. Pick a good day to test run your heater before it’s truly needed to make sure it is working properly and clear out dust that has settled in the system since it was last used. The last thing you want is to find out your heater doesn’t work at a time when you really need it to.


Rake Leaves

One of the best parts about Fall is watching the color of the leaves change and then fall to the ground. But once they’ve finished their colorful transformation they can leave behind quite a mess with all the leaves that fall off. Once fallen leaves start to accumulate don’t put off raking and cleaning them up. If left to linger large piles of leaves can quickly become home to unwanted pests who may turn their sites on your home once the weather turns cold. They can also cause mold growth when the leaves get wet and are much harder to clean up than when they are dry. Plus come spring those leaves could hinder grass growth. So get out your rakes or leaf blowers and nip this issue in the bud before it can become a big problem.


Lawn Maintenance

Fall may seem like a weird time to be focusing on your landscaping, but proper care this time of year is key to healthy and flourishing plant life. One area that you will want to give some extra TLC is your lawn. Most grasses will slow down their growth or go completely dormant during the winter. But there is a lot happening beneath the soil to help the grass survive the winter and be ready to grow again come spring. One key thing you can do to help is to fertilize your lawn. How often you need to fertilize per year will depend on your region and the type of grass you have, but you should at least fertilize once a year in the fall.  

Plan Outdoor Living Remodels

With this past summer still fresh in your mind, this is the perfect time to sit down and think about any changes you may want to make so that the next summer even more enjoyable. Perhaps you found yourself thinking at one point how nice it would be if you had a larger outdoor grilling space, or your own firepit, or maybe even a pool. Next summer will be here before you know it. And if there is any outdoor living remodeling that you want to get done you’ll need to get started on it sooner rather than later so that it will be ready in time. Make designs for what you want to have done and start talking to general contractors or the specific professionals that you will need to make those dreams a reality.

Eight Tile Backsplashes in the Kitchen that Shine

When it comes to kitchen backsplashes, tile is easily one of the most popular options out there. It is a tried and tested material that lends itself well to the purpose of the backsplash. We’ve seen our fair share of tile backsplashes across the many kitchen projects we’ve done here at Key Residential, ranging from the classic types that feature subway or large set tile, to the more unique ones that include a mosaic pattern or are made from metal. Take a look at a few of our favorite kitchen tile backsplashes from projects past and perhaps get inspired for your own backsplash remodel.


The new mosaic backsplash was one of the few changes made during this kitchen remodel, but it made a world of difference in the room, proving that a successful remodel does not always need to involve substantial changes. The small mosaic pattern adds some drama and a small amount of color to the kitchen. Installing the tile in a diagonal pattern gives it an elevated and high-end feel. Using both light and dark tones complements the two different countertop materials that were used in the room and ties the design of the room together well.

The focus of this kitchen remodel was in honoring the home’s historical legacy and as such has a strong influence of traditional design. But the arabesque tile used for the backsplash gives the room a unique design feature that breaks slightly with the traditional feel without feeling too out of place. The tile has a 3-D element to it that is heightened by the undercabinet lighting reflecting off its glossy finished surface. Choosing white as the color of the tile helps to tie it in to the predominantly white kitchen and not allow its uniqueness to feel out of place among all the traditional styled features of the room.

Mosaic tile makes for a great backsplash choice when looking for a way to add some drama and uniqueness to the kitchen, especially when it is a smaller sized room. This outdoor kitchen is the perfect place to use a vivid and fun tile and pattern. The primarily green tile with hints of blues and browns provides a nice break from the heaviness of the brown tones in the wood cabinets and brick. The green tile also plays nicely with the nearby Big Green Egg. And since there isn’t a lot of space for the backsplash, the busy and colorful pattern does not overwhelm the space.

Looking to add some boldness and drama to your kitchen? Why not go with a metallic backsplash tile like the one used in this North Dallas kitchen. Without the backsplash the kitchen has a rather standard appearance with quartz countertops and light wood finished cabinets. But the small square shaped mosaic metal tiles elevate the kitchen to a new level, giving it a special touch that is anything but ordinary. It also blends well with the stainless steel finished appliances and the knife and utensil holder magnetic strips that are mounted on the backsplash.

There is a plethora of options when it comes to mosaic patterned tile. This kitchen features yet another version of the mosaic pattern with long, skinny strips of tile that alternate between a few coordinating colors. Contemporary styled kitchens, such as this one, are focused around clean simple lines that can sometimes come across as sterile and lacking in design. Choosing a busy, colorful tile backsplash helps this kitchen be anything but boring. It adds visual interest without becoming too overpowering within the simpler design elements of the room.

A more classical version of the tile backsplash was used in this traditional styled kitchen. The larger, neutral colored tiles give it a timeless appearance and is an ideal choice when creating a backsplash that will stay in style for as long as possible. But the backsplash avoids being boring or simple due to the inclusion of a strip of decorative tile just above the countertops. This tile adds some drama and interest to the backsplash so that it does not become an overlooked part of the room.


This kitchen features a luxurious marble subway tile that fits in marvelously with the high end look and feel of the room. The lighter color of the tile allows it to blend well with the white cabinetry and marble countertops but also stand out against the darker blue of the walls. The tile is also used as a backsplash for buffet cabinets in the adjacent morning room and breakfast room and helps to visually tie the two spaces together. By using the standard subway pattern to install the tile the marble nature of the tile can shine. From a distance it almost looks like it could be one solid piece of stone.

Metallic tile was also used in this kitchen, but this time instead of a mosaic pattern subway tile was used, proving the versatility of the uncommon material across all shapes and sizes. The tile is a goof complement for the kitchen’s modern design style which often favors clean, simple lines and the use of more unique materials like metal. The tile’s reflective and shiny nature fits in well with the glazed finish of the kitchen’s cabinetry and helps reflect the task lighting, especially when the purple accent lights are on.