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Give School a Home in Your House

Are you ready for the back-to-school frenzy, DFW? Here it comes! But before school starts, take a breath, and organize your house. Need tips to take on the impending chaos in order to minimize it? You have three goals during back-to-school organization: less work for you, less mess in your house and building your kids' independence and self-sufficiency.


3 Top Tips to Tame School Sprawl

  1. Create an area where school stuff will live this year. Whether it's near the front door, back door, or garage door, designate a space as the school zone. Add hooks for jackets, and bins or cubbies for backpacks and books.


  1. Create a special place where homework is always done: the dining room table, the kitchen island, or a bedroom desk. Supplies stay there. Cords for computers are at-the-ready. And kids know to report to this spot and get that homework done immediately after dropping their stuff in the school zone area above.


  1. Create a parent-inbox in a prominent area and instruct kids to put all progress reports, papers, and permission slips from teachers that parents need to read, sign, and return in this box every day after school.


3 Self-Sufficiency Hacks to Lighten Your Load

  1. Create a help-yourself-snack area in your refrigerator, pantry, or drawer. If kids can self-serve snacks after school, there's one less thing for you to do.


  1. Once they get the hang of making their own snacks, add lunch-making to their routine every morning (or night before) using items from a lunch area in the pantry and/or refrigerator. Give them plenty of choices to make their own healthy, well-balanced lunches, and check another item off your to-do list.


  1. Reduce your stress and theirs by organizing a school section of their closet with the five outfits they'll wear each week on the Sunday before. No more scrambling for a clean pair of uniform pants or a missing sock.


3 Plus-Up Organization Tips

  1. Keep your car carpool ready with a stash of snacks in a backseat organizer. Add a backseat trash bag to collect the snack packaging. And attach a hand vac to your garage wall, assigning a kid to hand vac the backseat and dump the trash bag every Friday.


  1. Add an over-the-door hanging shoe organizer to a closet door but fill the pockets with extras of school supplies. With this self-service organizer, kids can grab their own-colored pencils, erasers, notecards (and whatever else they are using regularly) from this area, instead of asking you for more every time.


  1. Make weekly shopping for snacks, lunches and even breakfast and dinners easier by creating a visible, accessible shopping list on the kitchen counter that everyone can contribute to during the week. If someone finishes something, they write it on the list. If a kid has a lunch item request or a dinner request, they write it on the list. This on-going inventory system takes all the burden off parents, and teaches kids about meal planning, shopping, and contributing to a household.


Try adding a few of these tips to your school routine and see if the chaos in your house calms down a bit. When you give school — and everything that comes with it — a home in your house, the school year will be easier on everyone.


Go Fun, Not Far

One of the bonuses to living in a really big state, and a really big metroplex, is that you have the advantage of enjoying a variety of summer fun without traveling very far. Big cities mean big fun, and whether you like water, sports, or adventure, Texas — and specifically DFW — has you covered if you're looking for attractions for a Texas Staycation!


5 Places to Splash Down in DFW

  1. If you've never been to Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, you won't believe everything you can do at this combination hotel and play zone. With a full-blown indoor waterpark, mini golf, restaurants galore, and thematic hotel rooms, your family will have a blast!
  2. Along the same lines, visit The Gaylord Texan Resort — also in Grapevine — with its Paradise Sprints Water Park, resort pools, lazy river, giant lagoon and more. And right now there are pirate-themed activities happening during the Summerfest of More.
  3. Hawaiian Falls has five locations in Texas: Roanoke, Mansfield, Waco, Garland and The Colony with acres and acres of water slides, pools, lazy rivers and fun in the sun. Featuring island-themed live music and activities for the whole family all summer long.
  4. From thrill rides to family rides, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Arlington is hard to beat for spending the day in a water park full of the rides you've come to expect from something named "Six Flags". And with over a dozen thematic in-house eateries, you'll never want to leave.
  5. And speaking of Six Flags, the legendary theme-park itself is just right across the highway in Arlington. Thrill rides, shows, experiences, tons of food and all-day fun await your family at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington. And yes, there are a few rides where you can definitely get wet!


Sports Fam? Catch This!

Take 'em out to the ballgame! The Texas Rangers baseball game that is, in Arlington. With theme nights, a kids zone, hotdogs and entertainment before and after the game at Texas Live! Right next door, a visit to the new climate-controlled Globe Life Park is sure to be a highlight of your summer.


Adventures with Animals

  1. With safaris, a robust kid's area and creatures from around the world, The Dallas Zoo is an all-day getaway in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, near downtown. The Dallas Zoo even has a couple of Dollar Days coming up, which makes this experience even easier for your family — and you can bring your own picnic lunch which makes this a super affordable summer adventure.
  2. On the other side of DFW, you can spend the day at The Fort Worth Zoo! And this zoo has extras like a Stingray experience, and Safari Splash — an animal themed splash park. The Fort Worth Zoo offers half-price Wednesdays, and you can also bring your picnic lunch to this zoo.
  3. If your kids are into animals that are a little more exotic, and you'd rather enjoy a natural venue, take your family to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, where they can see real dinosaur footprints in the riverbed. Camp, picnic, hike, mountain bike, swim, fish and paddle in the river. You can even ride horses or geocache!


Before school starts back up again in August, see a few sights and soak in the sun, right here in your own backyard.





Keep Calm and Cool On…

As we all know here in Texas, summers can be brutal. But there's more you can do inside your home to keep the temperature down — other than just turning up the AC. So what else can you do to stay cool and maybe save on your electric bill?


5 Easy Ways to Cool Yourself and Your Home in Summer

  1. Have blinds on your windows? Flip those blinds up to still let the light in, but reflect the heat of the sun back outside.
  2. Ceiling fan blades should be set to spin counterclockwise. This pushes the air down and creates a cool breeze.
  3. Turn down the water heater a few degrees! This will save energy to heat the water constantly.
  4. Turn off lights and shut doors to rooms you're not using, while at the same time closing the vents in those rooms. Only cool what you need to cool.
  5. Take a cool shower in the late afternoon, when you're feeling the hottest. This will decrease your core temperature, and your wet hair will keep you cooler while it dries.


5 House Cooling Tips That Require Some Effort

  1. Experiment with the settings on your thermostat. Even a degree change can save you money on your bill, without you feeling the difference.
  2. Switch the lightbulbs in your home to Fluorescent, LED and lower wattage bulbs that will use less power, emit less heat and still give you the light you need.
  3. Instead of running clothes through the dryer, consider hanging them to dry. Run your dishwasher and do your laundry at night when your home's temperature is lower.
  4. Clean the condenser coils of your AC to make sure they're running at optimum efficiency. Make sure you get an AC tune up and change the filter. You definitely don't want your AC to fail on you in the middle of a Texas August.
  5. Instead of using your oven, use microwaves, stovetop or a toaster instead to keep your kitchen cooler. Even better? Grill outdoors!


5 Serious House Cooling Tips

  1. Make sure you have shades on your windows, blocking any excessive sunlight. Inspect windows and doors to the outside for cracks and leaks.
  2. Insulate, insulate, insulate. Not only should you insulate your attic and add a radiant barrier, you should insulate your ductwork to increase the effectiveness of your air conditioner.
  3. If you are replacing your roof, consider a lighter color and make sure you choose an energy saving reflective product. Consider investing in solar panels to power your AC and appliances and keep your electricity bills lower.
  4. Landscaping can be key to keeping your house cooler. Trees on the sunniest sides of your home will block that heat from ever hitting your house. Adding a shade structure, pergola or patio cover can help cool your home as well.
  5. Paint the inside and outside of your home using light, bright colors. Light colors will reflect the heat while still providing light to be able to see. Darker colors just absorb the heat, whether that's on the outside of your home, or in a sunny room.


If all else fails, go run through the sprinkler!


home with landscaping

Boost Your Curb Appeal! 

Whether you're getting ready to sell your home or freshening it up for spring for yourself, it's important to include your outside space! Curb appeal is a top selling point, especially during open house season. If landscaping ideas escape you, here are some handy tips and tricks to get you thinking in the outdoors direction.


Landscaping Tricks for creating your personal oasis: 

  • Want to create a small retreat space? Use larger potted plants as a wall in a particular area to give your cozy nook the feeling of a room. Tall plants like bamboo are ideal for this purpose. Define your space even more with string lights, or a stone floor.
  • Need shade but have no trees? Add a large umbrella or sun shade, surrounded by large potted plants to shade your porch or patio. Or build a pergola and plant a climbing vine like wisteria next to the posts. This plant will climb up and over, providing shade.
  • Love the shore, but you're not near water? Add a bubbling water feature or creek bed through your garden. Create a sandy beach area in your yard for kids to play.
  • Want to attract birds and butterflies? Create an English-style country garden with stone paths, birdhouses and butterfly-friendly flowers. Add stepping stones where most people walk to keep thin grass from getting trampled. Start small and expand your garden yearly as you gain gardening expertise.


Plus, up your outdoor oasis with some out-there ideas: 

  • An outdoor wood-burning oven for making pizzas
  • A vegetable and herb garden
  • A camping-style firepit for roasting hotdogs and marshmallows
  • A backyard chicken coop
  • An outdoor kitchen complete with grill, fridge, sink and prep area


Landscaping Tips and Tricks for Selling: 

  • Keep up with mowing and edging the lawn every week.Water your lawn one hour before showings or open houses for a fresh look.
  • Inspect and repair irrigation system and outdoor faucets. Replace hoses.
  • Add a layer of mulch to flower beds, pull weeds and add colorful new plantings. Consider the amount of sun or shade in your yard as you choose which plants to add. Mulch too expensive? Try grass clippings from your mower as an alternative.
  • Power wash the outside of your house, and all the concrete surfaces, as well as wooden fences and decks. Repair cracks in concrete and rotted boards in fences and decks.
  • Professionally trim trees and bushes to their optimum size and shape.
  • Think about container gardens. Containers and their plants can be unique to your style, and the best part is, they're moveable landscaping! Repaint old pots with leftover house paint that matches and give them new life.

      Be creative and make your landscaping outdoors reflect your home's design, your climate and your lifestyle. As you plan your landscaping, keep these key pillars in mind to create an ideal space: privacy, lighting, cooling/heating, shade, greenery/color and gathering places or seating. Attention to detail and making spaces comfortable and inviting for yourself and your guests will give you years of enjoyment of your outdoor spaces — or make your home the most attractive listing on the market.




    Make Your Home Look Like Their Home! 

    You've decided to sell your house. One of the most important things you can do to your house to help it sell faster is to stage it. What is home staging? It's pretty much what it sounds like – you are turning your home into a home theatre – setting the stage for potential buyers to see themselves living there. When you get your house ready to sell using home staging, you're showing off its good points, and re-focusing attention away from its weaknesses. And most of all you're helping buyers walk in and never want to leave.  

    You know how fun it is to flip through a home furnishings catalog or website? That's what you're aiming for when you're home staging. Make it look like a catalog: clean, bright and spacious. Here are some tips to get your house showroom-ready: 


    Home Staging inside: 

    • Show off how much counterspace your kitchen and bathroom have by stowing away mostly everything. Make it hotel-room sparse, and add new hand soaps, and new towels and rugs to both rooms. Pare down items on coffee tables, bookshelves and walls.
    • Remove all photos of your family, kid's art and personal objects on shelves. You want people to imagine themselves in every room.
    • Less is more when it comes to furniture. Show off how much space each room has by paring down the amount of furniture in each room. You want potential buyers to be able to easily walk around. Group furniture into cozy conversation areas.
    • Add some sort of work space to one or more rooms. Home offices are a hot seller in the current market. Show off how a room or two can have dual purpose.
    • Stage a closet. Pick one bedroom closet and make it as neat as possible, using shelves, baskets and matching hangers. Scent the closet and leave it open to show off the great use of space.


    Home Staging outside: 

    • Power wash sidewalks, driveways and walkways as well as siding, bricks and stone. Make them sparkle like new.
    • Repaint your front door a bright, cheery color.
    • Replace your house numbers, mail box, welcome mat and your outdoor lighting if they are worn or outdated.
    • Add a fresh layer of mulch to your flower beds and make sure you plant new colorful flowers. Trim trees and bushes.
    • Set up a cozy outdoor sitting area on your porch, refreshing cushions and other fabrics if need be.


    More tips for making home staging really pay off at an open house: 

    • Add cut flowers to several rooms.
    • Scented candles add atmosphere. 
    • Make sure each room is light and bright – curtains open, lamps on. 
    • Erase any sign of your pet, and in fact, keep your pet out of the house during open houses or showings.
    • Add a luxury feel to bedrooms with plush rugs, fluffy comforters, extra pillows and fresh sheets. Style it like a hotel room.

    Potential buyers want to imagine themselves eating, sleeping and hanging out in your house. Make it easy for them to do just that. 



    spring cleaning

    Our Spring Cleaning Checklist

    Don't let spring cleaning intimidate you this year. Tell it who's boss. And that's you!

    First, assess what you don't need around your house anymore and get rid of it. Springtime is the perfect time to declutter. You'll feel lighter, and less clutter will make your home seem bigger. Bonus? Less to clean! Then, start with the basics like vacuuming floors, dusting wooden furniture, and wiping down high-use kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Those are the must-dos. And instead of trying to do all of this at once, just tackle one room a day to make it a manageable task. When you break cleaning into 15-minute chunks, it's never overwhelming.

    Once you've gotten the basic clean done, then move on to details like these:


    Spring cleaning extras inside:

    • Clean all your windows and window frames, blinds, curtains, and shades included.
    • Wipe down baseboards, crown molding, and vents.
    • Vacuum your upholstered furniture (find some spare change in the sofa!).
    • Switch out your closets – winter clothes for warm weather ones – and arrange neatly by type and color for easier access.
    • Give often-neglected nooks like closets, kitchen cabinet shelves, ceiling corners, attic floors, and basements a simple once-over.


    Spring cleaning extras outside:

    • Don't forget to clean all your windows on the outside of your house too.
    • Power wash sidewalks, driveway, and walkways as well as siding, bricks, and stone. This is a task we're sure your kids will have fun helping you accomplish.
    • Clean up your flower beds and add a light layer of mulch along with new plants.
    • Sweep up your porch, patio, and any outdoor living spaces. Remember, they are rooms in your house too!
    • While you're spring cleaning, don't forget your car. Wash and wax, and thoroughly clean the inside as well.


    More tips for making your home and your belongings feel new again:

    • To bring spring inside: Add cut flowers to your dining room table.
    • For less cluttered bookshelves: rearrange your books and group them by color.
    • To add a touch of the latest color trend: Simply replace your sofa pillows, or your bed throw pillow with new ones.
    • Easy room re-do: Move your pictures around, or repaint the frames.
    • Add colorful flowers in containers to your front porch area


    It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning your house top to bottom. But, freshening up for spring around your house, might only take a little effort here and there if you break everything into little tasks. Get the help of your family members, and sooner than later, you'll make your home feel new like spring — inside and out.



    The Home Improvement Projects With the Best ROI

    The nicest way to show your home that you care (not to mention practice some self-care) is to complete a few home improvement projects that will not only make you fall even more in love with your home, but in the long run will get you the biggest return on your investment. Where to start? Statistically the two most important rooms in your house that make it the most valuable are the kitchen and the bathroom.

    Can You Love Your Home Even More Than You Do Now? Absolutely!

    There are small and large things you can do to improve your quality of life in your kitchen and bathroom. From simply upgrading your shower fixture to a rain shower head (a highly coveted bathroom feature for potential home buyers) to a simple kitchen remodel that replaces the appliances and paint on cabinets, your bathroom and kitchen are the places to show your home some love right now.

    5 Sweetheart Makeover Investments That Will Payoff Later

    1. Simple Bathroom Upgrades: The return on your investment in your bathroom will be close to 100% should you decide to sell…but in the meantime you will be living the pampered life in your chic new bathroom. What's not to like about that! Update plumbing fixtures and lighting. Add a smart mirror. Switch out the vanity. Simply get new towels and rugs if nothing else – brightening and modernizing the room is the goal.
    2. Complete Bathroom Remodel: If baby steps won't cut it in your current bathroom, consider a total redo. Investing around $25,000 to redesign, modernize and turn your bathroom into the spa retreat you've always wanted won't just benefit you. In the long run, this type of remodel will get you an almost 93% return when you sell.
    3. Kitchen Deck, Porch or Patio Upgrade: Do you have a simple back door from the kitchen to the backyard? Invest $10,000 - $15,000 in a deck, outdoor kitchen patio or covered porch to make your cooking/eating space go farther. You'll never want to go out to dinner again when you've got a stylish, cozy dining area right outside your kitchen door to enjoy.
    4. Replace Your Windows: Not only can replacing windows make your kitchen and bathroom brighter, it can help you realize energy savings when you choose certified energy efficient models, up your curb appeal, and get you a 90% return on your investment later.
    5. The Grand Kitchen Redo: This is the highest ticket item on this list, but investing around $45,000 and getting a return of at least 90% on that investment if you sell, is a pretty attractive arrangement. Not to mention, you'll be enjoying the kitchen of your dreams. Make it an open concept with stainless steel appliances for highest return – and maybe you'll fall so far in love with your home at that point that you'll never leave.

    Countdown to Winterization

    With the holidays in the rearview mirror, early January means it's time to face 2022 head on. While you're figuring out your New Year's Resolutions, add a few of these to your list.


    3, 2, 1….Weatherstripping!

    The biggest thing to remember is keeping the cold out and the heat in. So if you do nothing else, do that. And after last year, if you are a pool owner (and there are about 220,000 of you in the DFW area) you'll want to prepare your pool and pool equipment especially.

    • Pools: Here in Texas, we're blessed with an extended swimming season. Whether you have an inground or above-the-ground pool, talk with your pool maintenance company now to take the best course of action. Newer pumps and filters are designed to run through the cold – just make sure if the temperature goes below freezing to keep it running continuously. If the power goes out however, there's a whole new set of rules. Drain and dry all the equipment – freezing water in the lines will possibly break everything (which is what we saw happen all over Texas in February 2021).
    • Windows: Make sure all of the weather stripping on your windows is working, and working well. If it's not, now is the time to replace it – before ice or snow hits. Most home heat is lost through the windows, so make sure they are also covered with blinds and curtains, and storm windows if you have them, for an extra layer of protection.
    • Fireplaces: After last February, if you have a fireplace in your home now is the time to prep for that life-saving fire you might need if a storm hits and knocks out the power. Call a chimney sweep company to check out your fireplace, chimney, and roof area to make sure everything is ready to go. Stock your fireplace with a dry stash of small logs, starter logs or small dry branches, and long wooden matches.


    Top 10 Hits for Making it Through a Winter Storm

    1. Roof: Check the roof inside and out for any missing roof tiles, holes or possible leaks.
    2. Attic: Add blown-in insulation if you have not already done so, for an extra layer of warmth. If your heater is in the attic, replace the filter while you're up there! A clean filter means your heater runs easier, saving you money.
    3. Doors: Add a door sweep to your doors and don't forget the door to the garage! Add your storm door now before the really bad weather gets here.
    4. Floors: They're going to take a beating between boots, dirt, rain, ice and a wet dog or two. Adding area rugs and runners throughout your house will protect your floors as well as add another layer of warmth.
    5. Plumbing and Pipes: Cover outdoor faucets with an insulated faucet cover. Wrap pipes that are exposed. When it drops below freezing run an inside faucet just a tiny bit continuously to keep the pipes from freezing.
    6. Patio and Driveway: Seal cracks with polyurethane caulk and lay down a sealer over the entire surface.
    7. Fence: Repair damage, replace boards, power wash and add a coat of paint or stain.
    8. Trees: Adding a layer of mulch around the base of your trees will protect the roots and maintain a more constant soil temperature, as well as slow moisture loss during the winter.
    9. Flower Beds: Remove leaves and weeds, prune your perennials and plant bulbs for spring. Give everything one last soak and cover with a layer of protective mulch.
    10. Lawn: Turn off your sprinkler system. Check for leaks that could freeze. Aerate and fertilize your lawn one last time to feed your lawn at the root level all winter long.


    Making a list and checking it twice now, will save you some heartache should Snowmaggedon Texas 2.0 happen this winter. You can easily winterize your home this month with our handy checklist, and follow our top tips to get your home ready for anything.


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