Author / Al Stevens

At Home Design

Creating the Perfect Guest Space in your Home

Now that you’ve found your Darling Homes dream home in Houston or Dallas, it’s time to create a space for visitors. From selecting a room to choosing decor and accessories, creating the ideal guest space takes careful selection and thoughtful touches.

Lee Crowder, Design Gallery and Model Home Branding Manager for Darling Homes, offered her advice to help create an impeccable space for visitors. In Darling Homes’ designs, certain plans include guest casitas or secondary suites, providing a set space for guests to reside.

In homes without a space created specifically for guests, Crowder recommends selecting a room for visitors away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the home. Choosing a bedroom away from children’s rooms or media and flex rooms can help to create a feeling of privacy within the home.

Crowder recommends putting in a queen size bed. “Make sure it’s soft and comfortable, with good linens and a beautiful throw available – prepare for a range of temperatures so your guests always feels at ease in the room,” Crowder said.

Key furniture pieces must include a place for storage – chairs, nightstands, dressers or benches can create space for guests to place their luggage or clothing to make themselves feel more comfortable.

“Know your guests’ needs. Do they take coffee or tea? Adding a coffee bar or an electric kettle can go a long way,” Crowder said, noting that leaving a basket of important items is a key element to crafting the perfect guest room.

A basket with snacks, small toiletries, spare toothbrushes, fresh towels and other items you think guests may need is a way to help them settle into the space and ensure they will be taken care of during their stay.

“It’s about creating a welcoming environment,” Crowder said. “Fresh flowers are a nice touch, and make sure to include the information for the WiFi, how to work the TV, and any other information your visitors may need.”

Crowder also recommends continuing the themes, color and decor that exist throughout the rest of your home. Consider the guest suite to be additional space to display your personality in your Darling home.

What makes you feel at home? When planning a space for visitors, think about what makes you feel at ease and incorporate those elements into your guest room.


Community Lifestyle

Creating a Memorable Texas Father’s Day

Father’s Day is just around the corner, and throughout Texas there are special activities to help the dad in your life have a special day. Darling Homes residents in Houston and Dallas don’t have to look far to find one-of-a-kind Father’s Day specials to make the day memorable.

Father’s Day Fun in Houston

Houston has a wide range of options to choose from for fathers and father figures. For a fun, leisurely activity, Topgolf Houston-Katy recommends making reservations in advance. Reserve a bay for you and your loved ones and spend a day practicing your golf shot and having fun while indulging in delicious food and drinks. Topgolf provides a good balance of activity and down time for those looking to relax, eat and have a fun day.

The Secret Group is putting on a special, all-ages comedy show for the occasion called “Dad Jokes” where fathers get in for free. The doors for the show open at 7 p.m. on June 17, and tickets for those who aren’t dads are just $5. While you’re laughing, enjoy a raffle, drink specials and free samples.

Hop over to Revival Market before the show, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. to indulge in a day of feasting on fried chicken. Featuring scrumptious chicken and side dishes, live music from the Will Van Horn Trio, games for the whole family and beer selections from Spindletap. This outdoor event is a great option for getting out of the house and enjoying Houston cuisine.

Father’s Day Activities in Dallas

In Dallas, the fun continues for dads with more special events to mark Father’s Day. Shannon Brewing Company, located in Keller, near several Darling Homes communities, is throwing its third annual DadFest on June 16 from noon to 5 p.m. Featuring a plethora of beer choices, live music and food from Hicks BBQ and Just Encased, this event also includes an ugly tie competition.

The Dallas Arboretum is offering up specials for Father’s Day, including a special Father’s Day menu at the Terrace Cafe with beer samples, free iced tea for dads and live music. Enjoy the gorgeous gardens with the extra additions featured on both June 16 and June 17.

At Campion Trail’s Sam Houston Park in Irving, there will be a Father’s Day kite flying event providing fun for all ages. With the help of their parents, kids are taught how to build their own kites, followed by a day of kite-flying fun in the gorgeous park.

Celebrate with your dad or father figure this Father’s Day by checking out one of the incredible events in Houston or Dallas near your Darling Homes community.





Darling Difference

Personalizing your Darling Homes kitchen

Darling Homes in Dallas and Houston are built with quality, comfort and innovative design in mind. A signature feature of Darling Homes is the incredible workspace in the gourmet kitchens, set up to be the ideal space for cooking at home.

Starting with a distinctively designed work triangle, with the fridge, sink and cooktop set up so that everything is within reach from preparation, to cooking and cleaning.

This work triangle is the basis of every Darling Homes kitchen space. Kitchen designs also include islands and an abundant amount of cabinets and counter space for storage, cooking and living. Sizeable pantries, located near the essential work triangle, offer ample storage space for food and essential kitchen supplies.

When it comes to creating the perfect kitchen, Darling Homes starts with functionality and adds incredible products and finishes, from the faucets to the backsplashes and lighting that create timeless and sophisticated spaces.

Lee Crowder, Design Gallery and Model Home Branding Manager for Darling Homes, shared some insight into how the homebuilder chooses materials that make a kitchen simultaneously timeless and trendy. When it comes to the cabinets, counters and backsplash, Crowder noted there are a few color combinations that always work well together.

“Pairing a stained cabinet with a light granite and offsetting dark cabinets with lighter countertops and backsplashes always works well,” Crowder said. Stained cabinets and painted cabinets in white or grey tones are popular and create classic kitchen designs.

Quartz countertops are beautiful and easy to clean and pair well with a lot of cabinets and backsplashes, according to Crowder. Making the island a statement piece by changing up the color can be a great way to personalize your kitchen area.

“The kitchen is a place where you can diverge in design from the rest of the house by mixing up metals in things like light fixtures and faucets,” Crowder said.

For a backsplash, which can bring out personality in design, Crowder recommends tiles in large rectangular, herringbone or even patterned designs.

The kitchen is at the heart of every Darling home, open to living areas and transitional spaces. Finding the right design elements for your Darling Homes kitchen can make a big difference when personalizing your dream home.

What features will you include in your new Darling Home?



Tasty Recipes for a Holiday Weekend

Memorial Day is an opportunity to remember the fallen and honor their sacrifice in the United States’ armed services. Many in the United States spend the day with friends and loved ones, cooking up a delicious meal to mark the unofficial start to summer.

Darling homes in Dallas and Houston are ideal for cooking and entertaining, with expansive backyard spaces, gourmet kitchens and open living areas. If you’re hosting Memorial Day events at your home this year, here are some recipes that may help make the time spent with loved ones an especially memorable occasion.

Country Living has a bountiful selection of culinary ideas for Memorial Day, including sandwiches and salads easy to share with a crowd. From a zesty peach and avocado salad to a fresh black-eyed pea salad, Country Living recipes bring an element of originality to holiday fare. Classics such as spicy grilled shrimp and hamburgers are also included in their suggestions, as well as patriotic American flag fruit desserts and unique fare including root beer ribs.

Traditional BBQ cuisine such as hamburgers, ribs, hot dogs or bratwursts are always classic favorites to mark Memorial Day. However, make your event extraordinary by trying out different varieties of main courses, side dishes and appetizers. Choose from a list of over 100 unique summer salads or a wide range of next-level BBQ side dishes from Delish.

Indulge in pasta salads such as the bacon ranch pasta salad, or perhaps try a new twist on an old favorite with potato salad. From main dishes to dessert, your friends and loved ones will delight in trying out your culinary creations.

If you’re looking for a new dessert recipe to try out this Memorial Day, Bon Appetit has a list of tasty confections. The recipes include delicious classic desserts and fresh new recipes such as blueberry pie, peach parfait with salted graham cracker crumble, a raspberry ricotta cake and chocolate ice cream cookie sandwiches.


Exploring Culinary Favorites in Houston and Dallas

After settling into your Darling Homes dream house in Dallas or Houston, it’s time to explore the neighborhood and learn the best spots to find your favorite foods.

An ideal way to get out and taste the local cuisine is through a local food tour, offering up tastings of Texas culture from tacos to pizza and wine. With National Wine Day coming up on May 25, now is the perfect time to indulge in local food and wine.

Downtown McKinney, northeast of Dallas, offers a tour that will delight local foodies. Starting at the Patina Green Home and Market, a guide will take your group through downtown, stopping at various locations to sample goods including sandwiches, pizza and chocolates. This tour also includes a stop at a winery to try a trio of samples.

Dallas Bites! provides a plethora of opportunities for hungry Texans to explore local food and drink, with upcoming events including Dallas’ Best Tacos and Margarita Tour, Dallas by Chocolate Tour and more. On the Winery, Bites, Desserts & Live Music Tour, the day kicks off with a winery stop, where guests will enjoy wine paired with a cheeseboard and pizza. After the winery, the tour continues on to take participants to a dessert stop and a live music location.

Visit Houston offers suggestions for walking food tours with the Downtown Food Tour, Montrose Food Tour and The Heights Food Tour. Each of these offer a unique look at Houston with different menu options for foodies. While stops on these tours change, the website offers suggestions of what guests may expect – such as Tex-Mex, fresh market fare, drinks at a gastropub and reinvented desserts on The Heights Food Tour.

With Taste of Houston, a variety of tours offer 3-4 stops in Downtown, The Heights, Montrose and Rice Village, giving participants a taste of local culture and architecture along with food and drinks. The organization also offers custom tours, including beer and wine cocktail tours, offering food or wine enthusiasts the perfect way to personalize an upcoming event.

Food and wine lovers will be thrilled to indulge in the wide array of culinary tours Dallas and Houston have to offer, giving participants the chance to try out restaurants and find new local favorites.


Unique Ideas for Nights on the Town

Darling Homes communities in Dallas and Houston are built with location, design and homebuyer needs in mind. While homebuyers look for a home they can entertain and relax in, businesses throughout Houston and Dallas are offering up unique ideas for nights on the town.

Looking to create a DIY masterpiece for your Dallas home? Head over to McKinney’s Crafty Night Out, which specializes in helping creatives create their own wooden crafts, including door hangers, wood signs, wreaths and string art that can add a personalized pop to your home.

If you’re looking for a night out on the town, check out the Toyota Music Factory in Irving. Known for its concert plaza, the location also hosts a dining and entertainment pavilion full of fun, unique options to explore throughout your evening out.

The Twilite Lounge, with locations in Deep Ellum and Fort Worth, offers its guests an old-fashioned cocktail lounge with a New Orleans feel. Serving up a full menu every day until 2 a.m., the Twilite Lounge offers transportation to an older time with a modern twist, featuring karaoke on Wednesdays and live music or a featured DJ on the weekends.

Down in the Houston area, at the Sugar Land Town Square, Sugar Land residents can indulge in an evening of shopping, dining or catching an event. Yoga, fitness courses, choir performances, movie nights on the lawn and more provide a variety of opportunities to gather your loved ones for a fun evening. Other events here throughout the summer include Lyrics & Lawn Games, Jazz Jams, Dancing Under The Stars and Opry on the Square.

For a night spent listening to music and relaxing with friends or loved ones, head to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. With concerts ranging from country to rock, Houston Symphony performances and more, the venue offers residents of The Woodlands a fun night full of entertainment close to home.

Houston also has some options for those looking for something spontaneous, fun and a little bit on the daring side. If this appeals to you, you may want to check out Houston Axe Throwing, which touts itself as the first axe throwing club in Texas. After instruction from an Axepert, groups can learn and practice the art of axe throwing, followed by a friendly competition to see who will win the title of Axe Throwing Champion.

Darling Homes pays careful attention to details that help make a house a home, including choosing prime locations near recreational activities that appeal to homebuyers. After you’ve found your dream home with Darling Homes, enjoy getting out into the community and exploring what Dallas and Houston have to offer for an exciting night out, from unique activities to neighborhood restaurants.


Explore Farmers Markets in Dallas and Houston

Gourmet kitchens are a well-loved Darling Homes feature and are built to help home owners experiment with culinary creativity and perfect favorite foods. With an abundance of options for shopping at farmers markets near Houston and Dallas Darling Homes communities, bringing fresh fare into the kitchen is easier and more delicious than ever before.

Houston Farmers Markets

Situated throughout the Houston area are enticing Darling Homes communities and farmers markets, bringing residents the best in housing and locally grown food. At Urban Harvest, a farmers market hosted at both City Hall on Wednesdays and at the Eastside Farmers Market on Saturdays, bring in vendors from all over the Houston area. With fish, bread, fruits, vegetables, honey, lavender products and a plethora of other choices, Urban Harvest provides local food and other wares to suit every need.

At The Woodlands Farmers Market at Grogan Mill on Saturday mornings, agricultural and artisan vendors bring goods they produced to locals. The market offers a weekly newsletter letting shoppers know exactly which vendors will be present on Saturday, and is easily accessible by bicycle from nearby communities.

The Tomball Farmers Market, also open on Saturdays, was created by and is operated by local farmers. Local vegetables, eggs, meats, honey, salsa and more allow area residents to indulge in delicious, local goods close to home.

Dallas Farmers Markets

As farm-to-table goods keep up their popularity, farmers markets throughout the Dallas region are connecting residents with fresh food and local products. The Dallas Farmers Market, hosted in the heart of downtown, connects locals to vegetables, dairy products, and more, along with special events such as goat yoga.

The Four Seasons Markets hosts a series of markets throughout the region, including Dal-Rich Towne Square in Richardson, Parker Square in Flower Mound and the Irving Arts Center. The group works to partner with local business people offering their goods to create markets in convenient locations for Dallas residents.

At the Coppell Farmers Market, farmers and artisans come out on Saturdays to sell their fare, ranging from candles and coffee to plants and baked goods. With a list of vendors on the website, this charming location in downtown Coppell is sure to become a weekend favorite for farmers market fans.

Dallas and Houston residents can indulge in a variety of local farmers markets throughout the year, finding fresh ingredients perfect for cooking up new dishes and old favorites in your Darling Homes gourmet kitchen.


Celebrate Mother’s Day in Texas

Mother’s Day in Texas is just around the corner, and there’s no better to celebrate mom near your Dallas or Houston Darling Homes community than treating her to a unique and savory brunch. Restaurants around both Dallas and Houston are offering special, delicious meals for Mother’s Day to help create the ideal outing for mom.

Restaurants near Darling Homes at The Woodlands are dishing up appetizing dishes with a wide variety of options for mom to indulge in. At Fielding’s Wood Grill, start with a classic brunch item such as a ham and cheese omelet or french toast, or try the chicken and french toast or the harissa shrimp hash for a culinary adventure.

Stop by Del Frisco’s Grill, classic brunch dishes get a creative twist, from scrambled egg tacos to Crab Cake Benedict and a red velvet Belgian waffle. Truluck’s, with locations in The Woodlands and Uptown, is presenting its diners with a menu crafted just for Mother’s Day, with short rib hash browns, knife and fork crab cake melt and more.

Frisco restaurants are getting ready to impress mom, with brunch options at local favorites such as Cantina Laredo offering chorizo con huevos, chicken fajita omelettes, huevos rancheros and more. The 5th Street Cafe is offering up casual classics ranging from buttermilk pancakes and biscuits and gravy to a cajun crawfish scramble and bananas foster french toast.

The Second Floor Regionally Inspired Kitchen is dishing up a special menu for mom, with a scrumptious buffet including personalized omelets, silver dollar pancakes with lemon curd, strawberry preserves and apple cinnamon jam. With assorted danishes, Eggs Benedict, chicken and apple sausage and sweet potato breakfast hash, the menu has an item to fit every craving.

Get ready for Mother’s Day by finding the perfect venue to treat mom to a brunch she will never forget near a Dallas or Houston Darling Homes community, and don’t forget to swing by for a tour if the mom in your life is looking for her own, distinctive dream home.




Discover the Tax Benefits to Homeownership

Finding the right home for you and your loved ones is a dream come true, and Darling Homes provides stunning home options for shoppers in Dallas and Houston.

After you’ve found your dream house, a lot of time, care and love goes into making that house a home. Owning a home comes with a unique set of challenges and advantages, including tax benefits.

According to the Tax Policy Center, homeowners can deduct both mortgage interest and property taxes, as well as other expenses, from their federal tax income. These deductions are added benefits for homeowners.

Tax relief starts with itemizing all possible deductions. H&R Block recommends looking at your charitable contributions, as well as state and local income taxes along with other possible deductions listed on their website.

Buying a home is a financial investment that helps homeowners grow equity over time, and homeownership is an investment in your future. When it comes time to face tax season, keep in mind all the possible deductions that could apply to you and your loved ones.  A home office deduction may be a possibility for you.

Itemizing deductions does have its benefits, according to H&R Block. For homeowners, up to two homes with mortgages taken on or before Dec. 15, 2017, interest  up to $1 million in acquisition debt is applicable for deduction. For mortgages taken after that date, the price limit is $750,000 for the mortgage interest tax deduction.

Taxes can be a daunting task, but after you’ve found your Darling Homes dream home, you will hopefully find tax deductions that work to your advantage.

Darling Difference

Take a Tour of Your Dream Home

There’s something special about stepping inside a Darling home and discovering all that it has to offer – from striking curb appeal, grand entrances, enchanting kitchens, living areas and private master suites.

When you’re on the lookout for your Dallas or Houston dream home, taking a tour and meeting with a salesperson is an important part of the process. Schedules get busy and Darling Homes offers a broad range of home designs and community choices, so you may want to narrow your search by virtually touring Darling Homes. Starting online can help select a few communities or home designs that best suit your needs before heading out to a community to get the complete Darling Homes experience.

Darling Homes has a variety of home designs crafted into stunning model homes and decorated to help show discerning homebuyers the full potential of a home design. By making an appointment in Dallas or Houston, shoppers can let the Darling Homes salesperson know about any special requirements, questions or interests before visiting the model homes.

Touring a model home in person is the best way to experience the full range and quality of a Darling home. From striking exteriors to gorgeous grand entrances, the homes unfold in front of you – providing privacy in areas such as bedrooms and studies while keeping the heart of the home open.

At the center of each Darling Homes design is an expansive, sophisticated and welcoming kitchen, connected to a living area and also featuring additional comfortable seating space or a breakfast area.

When you embark on a tour, you’ll be able to not only see the main living areas but every element of the home from the baseboards to gorgeous ceiling details, fireplaces, laundry areas, mudrooms and more. Walking through a model home allows shoppers to experience the Darling Homes difference firsthand and envision their future.

Darling Homes models are always welcome for walk-ins eager to see high-quality new homes in communities throughout the Dallas and Houston metro areas. The model homes’ are open for tours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Finding your dream home is a journey, and it’s a trip that Darling Homes will take with you. Along every step of the way, employees provide support to ensure that every step of the homebuying process is a comfortable and exciting experience.