How to Install Landscape Lighting in Seven Simple Steps

You’ve likely seen homes in the DFW area with landscape lighting. This type of lighting has a transformative effect on the home and its surroundings, beautifully highlighting trees, shrubs, pathways, statues, and water features.

There are many reasons Metroplex homeowners opt for exterior lighting: aesthetics, safety, and security — just to name a few.

Whether you’re putting your home on the market and you want to enhance your nighttime curb appeal, or you just want to add some illuminative charm, read on for a simple step-by-step guide to installing landscape lights.

1. Select the type of outdoor lighting you want.

There are three main types of landscape lighting: solar-powered (requires no wiring), low-voltage (operates at 12 volts and is easy to install), and line voltage (must be hardwired to your electrical system). If you opt for the third type — line voltage — you may want to consult with an electrician.

2. Determine the location of your fixture.

Do you want landscape lights around your pool? Garden? Walkway? For an idea as to how your DFW home would look, check out this landscape lighting software. It’s also helpful to learn how to strike a balance between lighting your home and lighting the landscape.

3. Install the light switch box.

Carefully cut a hole in the drywall for your light switch. Ideally, you’ll place it between two studs about 60 inches above the floor.

4. Grab a shovel.

The next step is to dig a trench about 18 inches deep for the cable that will carry power to your exterior lighting.

5. Run the cable.

Be careful when running the cable — you don’t want to tear the sheathing or get it tangled. Leave about six inches of cable hanging from the box.

6. Wire the light fixture and switch.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to wire and mount your new lighting fixtures.

7. Get it inspected.

After you’ve turned on the power and tested your landscape lighting, it’s time to schedule a wiring inspection with an electrical inspector. Click here to search for an inspector in the Dallas area.

Landscape lighting is both practical and appealing, and it can immediately enhance the nighttime look of your home. You can get an idea of the dramatic difference in this day-to-night transformation video from Dallas Landscape Lighting. When you want to transform an ordinary yard into a work of art, sometimes all you need are a few well-thought-out and smartly placed landscape lights.

Image Source: Flickr/Josué Goge

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Dirty Secrets to Cleaning up Pet Messes in your Home

We love our pets and we could even say that our house doesn’t feel like a home without them. In fact, as part of our “Home’s Best Friend” campaign Coldwell Banker has partnered with to help 20,000 dogs find loving homes in 2015. But, sometimes dogs can make home, well…a mess. Here are methods for cleaning the 3 most common pet messes in your home.


pet messes_welcome mat

Dogs have a natural tendency to chew, particularly when they’re younger and teething. To protect your furniture and clothing, try using this dog-safe product to deter Fido from turning your Jimmy Choos into Jimmy Chews.

It’s also important to keep in mind that there are several items that can be unsafe for your pup to get into. Reference this list from of 15 ways to keep your dog safe at home, including keeping cleaning products and electrical cords tucked out of reach.

Carpet Stains

pet messes_carpet stains
It is no secret that with dogs, come some inevitable carpet stains. From house-breaking mishaps to tummy-ache uh-ohs, our pets can have us considering replacing the area rug with astro-turf. A little knowledge from the experts at and the passionate pet lovers at Purina explains that dogs tend to choose their spot based on scent. If Spot can smell where he’s gone before, odds are he’ll choose it again.

Start by tackling old stains and then work on changing your pup’s behavior. Reward good behavior with positive reinforcement like healthy treats and lots of love. And because accidents happen, it can’t hurt to have some Purina® Pet Gear Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator on hand.



Does it sometimes feel like your dog leaves more hair behind than he has on his back? If your pup prefers your bed to his, here’s a way to make washing your bedspread easier. Because those cuddles are so worth it!
To learn more about how you can bring a dog into your home, visit the Coldwell Banker Homes for Dogs Project.

Images via

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The Key to Luxury Real Estate in New York? Connections!

If you’re searching for luxury real estate in New York, you may feel as if you’re getting ready to step into a minefield — and to some extent, you are. The NYC real estate market is notoriously tricky, and the luxury home segment takes the process to another level entirely. In order to navigate this minefield with as little bloodletting as possible, you should work with experienced and knowledgeable professionals. Before you jump into the deep end, read our guide to luxury real estate in New York.

Courtyard at 15 Central Park West

Image Source: Flickr/Gareth Stevens

Seek Out A-List Talent

When you’re in the market for a luxury car, you wouldn’t seek advice from your friend Joe who read an article about Beamers last year; there’s too much of your money at stake. Instead, you’d go to a reputable auto dealer who had plenty of knowledge about buying luxury vehicles. Likewise, if you’re in the market for a luxury home in NYC, you shouldn’t solicit advice from someone who’s never set foot outside of Pittsburgh or who doesn’t have experience with high-net-worth buyers. You’d go to someone with plenty of luxury real estate experience who knows the Big Apple housing market inside and out. The NYC luxury real estate market is unlike any other, with plenty of potential pitfalls and obstacles that could put an otherwise respectable offer out of the running. An experienced local specialist can help you navigate the terrain and find the gems while avoiding (or at least limiting) the pitfalls.


Image Source: Flickr/David McSpadden

Mine Your Connections’ Connections.

That old adage “It’s who you know” fits the NYC real estate market perfectly. NYC real estate brokers and agents are connected to tons of people, including everyone from co-op board presidents to building superintendents. This means that they’re often the first to find out about a adorable classic six that’s about to hit the market in the impossible-to-get-into building on the Upper West Side, or they’re the first to know when someone’s simply thinking about moving. If you were working on your own, you’d probably hear about these places once they were long gone. With a top agent or broker by your side, you can rest assured that you’re getting as much insider knowledge as possible.


Image Source: Flickr/Henry Hemming

Use Your Financial Specialist’s In-Depth Know-How

Many people buying into the luxury real estate segment are able to make all-cash offers for property, including overseas investors, hedge fund managers, and start-up founders who’ve sold big. Will you be able to compete for a top property if you’re unable to do the same? How can you make yourself look attractive to sellers? You may be able to comfortably afford paying a $4 million mortgage, but would you be able to put down 50 percent cash if it was required? What are the tax implications of your purchase? Real estate brokers, agents, and financial advisors can help answer these questions and more. They’ll help you figure out how to present yourself to co-op boards and banks in the best way possible.

Work With a Bank You Have a Long-Term Relationship With.

If you’re buying luxury real estate in NYC, you most likely have a well-established relationship with a bank or other financial institution. Working with that bank to finance/fund your home purchase could make the process a whole lot easier than engaging in money talk with a bank with which you have no history. Working with a bank you’ve been with for a while looks good to co-op boards as well.

Main Image Source: Flickr/John Weiss

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Fire Safety in Your Home. How Safe is Your Home From a Fire?

Fire safety is critical for every homeowner because in a matter of minutes, your home could be destroyed by a fire and, even worse, the loss of life could occur. How safe is your home from a fire and what measures have you taken to be alerted in the event of a fire? How quickly will you know if a fire occurs, no matter your location in the home?

As a real estate professional, I feel that my job is to inform all homeowners of the importance of fire safety. I am fortunate to personally know Ed Pfeiffer, the Fire Marshal in Warwick Township located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He is an advocate of fire safety and has educated me on fire safety. I have compiled a list of suggestions and checklist with Ed’s input.

New Technology for Older Homes WHY?

Residential fire safety has been reduced to these two questions. If you can honestly answer them, you have a fire safe home. If you can’t, your family is at some risk for an undetected fire.
1. Can you hear all of your smoke detectors from anywhere in your home — especially from your bedroom when you are asleep?

2. Do you have enough detectors to sense the earliest presence of smoke everywhere in your home?

Everyone who has been injured, burned, or died in a residential fire was home at the time the fire began. Had they known of the early presence of smoke, they could have escaped. They may have had time to take action to prevent the smoke from developing into a fire.

“Coverage” is a term most associated with sprinkler systems. Applying “coverage” to smoke detectors will require a smoke detector in every room in the house with a door. No matter where you are in your home day or night you need to know if there is smoke in another area of the house. Today’s International Building Code requires a detector in each bedroom, outside the bedrooms, and on each level. A house with “coverage” would have a detector in every room with a door, except closets and bathrooms.

Open areas may only require one detector. Example: The first floor of a typical home includes a kitchen, dining room, and living room — all with a common ceiling with no doors between rooms. If a detector is present on the second floor at the top of the stairs, it will cover the three first floor rooms. A single detector at the top of the basement stairs (assuming there are no separate basement rooms) will cover the entire basement. A detector in each bedroom and the garage will require seven interconnected detectors in an average three-bedroom home.


  • Remove all the detectors from their boxes and separate all the individual components (all batteries together, all anchors and screws together, etc.).
  • Set the eight position “DIP” switch to any combination (of up or down), as long as that combination is the same for all of your detectors.
  • Install batteries in all detectors. Note proper positions.
  • Place all the detectors on a table and push and hold the test button until all the red lights are flashing.
  • Mount the detectors on the ceiling at least 12 inches from any wall. Place the basement detector at the top of the stairs. The garage detector should be mounted several feet from the wall, near the door to the home.

Main Image Source: Flickr/James Case

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Home of the Week: Linda Hogan’s Tuscan Inspired Compound

In a special edition of our ‘Home of the Week‘ series – Christophe Choo interviews Linda Hogan who gives us a tour of her stunning 23+ acre compound in Simi Valley, California.

Simi Valley is about 40 miles from Los Angeles, but this unique estate looks and feels like it was taken from Tuscany and transplanted to Southern California. Boasting incredible 360 degree valley, mountain and Wood Ranch Country Club and Golf Course views – Villa Di Montagna offers an exceptional celebrity-like lifestyle.

The home itself is reminiscent of authentic farm houses you would find in the Italian or French countryside. The 6,300 square foot main residence has that warmth you expect from a countryside home, but it was also re-done to perfection with every possible luxury detail thought through. Simply put, it is the best of all worlds.

The sustainable 23+ acres features a working avocado orchard (yum) and even a vineyard for you to create your very own private label wine. Entertaining is also par for the course at this unique $5.5 million dollar estate. The grounds boast a stunning detached guest house and an award-winning pool with water slide and waterfalls for the inner 12 year old in all of us to enjoy.

Click here to learn more about this home listed by Christophe Choo, Bob Pearson and Erin Pohl with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

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6 Spring Style Tips for Your Home

The following is a guest blog post from Patti Stern of PJ & Company

The start of spring means its time to celebrate the season with some fresh style for your home, both inside and out! Not sure where to begin? We hope the following tips will inspire your imagination when deciding the best ways to brighten, renew and add curb appeal.

Bring The Outdoors Inside. Place a variety of natural garden-like elements such as potted plants, topiaries and moss-covered balls on mantels, floors and shelves. Accessorize with beautiful botanical prints, fresh cut fern or boxwood clippings in glass vases, dried flower or pussy willow twig wreaths, ceramic bird figurines and plates which will make you feel closer to nature.


Master Bedroom Staged By PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Add a Fresh Coat of Paint. Go brighter, crisper and cleaner for spring. Start by choosing one new color such as yellow or green for an accent wall and combine with complimentary accessories which will make the room feel cohesively inviting. For your front door or shutters, try a fresh coat of a trending spring color such as Benjamin Moore’s Champion Cobalt to add instant curb appeal.

Update Bedding. Now is the time to consider some new bedding for your master bedroom, guest room, or kids room. Layer your bed starting with white and add some of the freshest colors for spring — coral, turquoise, or butter yellow. And, if your bedding is in great shape, just add accent pillows, new shams, and large European size pillows to transform the look of your room.

Get Bold With Fresh Colored Accents. Add color and texture to your entertaining areas (living rooms and patios) by switching out winter pillows with new spring colors and organic designs. Navy and white, orange and yellow, and linen pillows are great accessories to liven up any space. Don’t forget about your lamps which are also available in many different colors this season from green to orange. Add special string lighting and colorful hanging lanterns for garden ambiance in the evenings.


Source: HGTV

Refresh Kitchen and Patio Dining Accessories.Switch out dinnerware for ones with bright, garden-inspired patterns which pair well with lighter weight tablecloths and place mats in natural woven textures. Replace umbrellas that are stained and damaged with the latest trending patterns and colors. Add complimentary accent pillows along with a cozy rug for under the table. Finish off with some beachy scented candles and you’ll be reminded that summer is just around the corner!

Spruce Up Your Curb Appeal. Repair cracks in driveway, walkway, front porch steps and patios. Add personal touches to entryway with a beautiful floral swag or wreath, a new welcome mat, clusters of potted spring flowers on the porch and a hanging swing if space allows. Refresh with new accessories such as house numbers, lighting fixtures, door handles and knocker to create added appeal. Remove dead shrubs, prune bushes, and add pops of color with new annuals. Assess the condition of your lawn and decide whether to reseed or add sod if uneven and patchy. Add a generous layer of natural mulch to beds to complete the whole look.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit


patti-sternPatti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home-staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. She also developed an award winning staging program for luxury home builder, Toll Brothers.

Patti has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV.  She is a regular contributor tothe National Association of Realtor’s Blog, “Style, Staged and Sold.

 Header image courtesy of Ballard Designs

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Condo or Townhouse: Top 4 Reasons to Buy

If you’re shopping for homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you certainly have your share of choices — from chic condo or townhouse living to sprawling single-family homes.

The Metroplex boasts some breathtaking communities with gorgeous homes, but for many house hunters, a condo or townhouse is the way to go. You might be wondering: What’s the difference? Check out this article to learn what sets these two home styles apart.

If you’re undecided about which is right for you, it pays to consider the many perks that come along with buying one of these types of homes. Here’s a look at four of the top reasons to opt for condo or townhouse living in North Texas.

1. It’s a low-maintenance lifestyle.

When you buy a condo or townhouse in the Dallas area, you get all the benefits of owning a home — but without the hassle of maintaining it. You don’t have to spend your weekends mowing a huge yard or repainting your shutters. You can be out enjoying all the many activities and events that draw people to the Metroplex. Which leads to the next point …

2. You’ll be right in the mix of things.

You get urban living at its best when you purchase a condo or townhouse. You’ll be right next to all kinds of shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. Depending on where in the Metroplex you’re searching, you can enjoy the Dallas nightlife and be steps away from home.

3. You’re part of a community.

With condos and townhomes, you can’t help but get to know your neighbors — you likely see them in the clubhouse, at the pool, or maybe the rooftop terrace overlooking the Dallas skyline. If a sense of community is what you crave, you’ll get it when you purchase a condo or townhouse in the Dallas area.

4. You get exciting amenities.

The amenities that come along with many condos and townhomes are some of the biggest perks. It’s almost like living in a boutique hotel when you get to enjoy lavishly landscaped pools, state-of-the-art fitness centers, fireside lounges, and even dog parks with pet-washing stations. Check out the perks that one condominium community in uptown Dallas is offering.

Both forms of ownership — a condo or townhome — are great investments. It’s simply a matter of finding the best fit for you and your lifestyle. Whether you lead a busy life and you want simple living arrangements, or you want to downsize from a large home, condos and townhomes offer some big benefits to Dallas-Fort Worth residents.

Image Source: Flickr/skys the limit2

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Add Natural Wood Furniture to Your Philly Home

Natural wood is beautiful, distinctive, durable and a constant reminder of the beauty of the great outdoors. It adds personality to modern home decor, which is most commonly designed using man-made materials. If you’re looking for a fresh and visually pleasing idea for your Philly home, try adding natural wood furniture to your rooms. Here are some ideas for incorporating the look of natural wood into your den, dining room, or bedroom.

Wood Bookcase

If you feel that something is missing from your den, it might be a really nice wooden bookcase. Add a large, light-colored, natural wood bookcase to the room that reaches from the floor nearly to the ceiling. Decorate it with your favorite classic novels, dictionaries, and colorful hardcover books. You might also want to look for a small matching natural wood bench to place in front of it as an added visual treat (and to use to reach books on high shelves).

Classically Beautiful Dining Room Table

One of the most beautiful pieces you can invest in for your dining room is a large, natural wood table. Look for a hand-carved table that was clearly made by an artist who works in wood. Instead of going for a standard rectangular table, explore unusual shapes and cuts. Hunt for rustic tables with concave curves, notches, and lovely imperfections. The goal is to find a table that you might find in an old country cabin — it will contrast beautifully with modern decor, just try to keep the color theme consistent in your dining room.

Wooden Headboard


Image Source: Flickr/IndoGemstone

You don’t have to purchase an entirely new bed in order to add the look of natural wood to your bedroom — just get a new headboard. One option is to purchase a pre-made wooden headboard or uniquely shaped large piece of wood that’s attached to legs for hook-up to your be. The other option is to nail freshly cut natural wood planks from a local hardware store to the wall behind your bed for a more “primitive” and simple look. If you choose option two, consider using two different colors of wood for a unique banded pattern.

“Natural” Addition to Your Modern Home

There are so many unique ways to beautify your Philly home with natural wood furniture. If you’re unsure, start off with these simple ideas — when you start to get positive comments from your visitors, you’ll probably want to incorporate even more natural wood elements into your home’s decor.

Main Image Source: Flickr/IndoGemstone

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Finding a Great Post-Holiday Host and Hostess Gift: 3 Foolproof Ideas

Trying to find a great host or hostess gift for a post-holiday party? After all, there are plenty of parties that take place long after the tree’s come down and the last of the New Year’s confetti’s been dug out of the sofa. Winter is a popular party season because, thanks to the snow and cold, it just seems easier to head over to Whole Foods, pick up some porterhouse and quinoa, order in a few bottles of wine, and gather friends together for an evening of fun in your NYC apartment.

If you’ve been invited to a few dinner parties this winter and you’d like to show up with something a little more special than the usual bottle of vino, consider bringing gifts that celebrate or define the winter season. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when coming up with a host or hostess gift.

1. Deliver Candleholders and Vases

A candleholder would be an awesome gift for a host or hostess who uses a lot of candles during the winter. Stay simple: You want to choose a design that doesn’t clash with your hosts’ existing decor. A vase would be just as beautiful. Exotic colorful flowers in a simple vase speak to the hosts’ elegance and hospitality. Shops like Jamali Floral & Garden Supplies in the Flower District are great places to pick up unique vases and candleholders.

2. Bring Homemade Treats

There’s something about receving a fresh plate of chocolate chip cookies or a luscious cake that just makes a host or hostess feel appreciated. If you have the type of friend who likes to control every aspect of a dinner and would be offended if you show up with something you’ve, then forget it. But if you have a friend who’d appreciate a homemade touch, bring some incredible edibles.

3. Give the Gift of Herbs

In this Instagram culture, people are obsessed with food — be it the new avocado/egg/ramen thingie from the most recent of-the-moment brunch place or the latest Yummly recipes they’ve cooked themselves. If your hosts are similarly culinary-minded, consider giving them an herb garden. Herb gardens can be gifted in the form of kits, planters, or baskets. Awesome companies like The Tasteful Garden offer gifts like herb-growing kits that come with seeds, soil, and the pots to grow the plants in. The company also offers planters filled with herbs that are already growing and simply have to be maintained. This is the perfect gift for the foodie chef looking for the freshest cilantro or for the entertainer who simply likes to clip fresh mint for mojitos.

Image Source: Flickr

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8 DIY Projects To Beautify Your Backyard

As the weather warms up, you can’t help but daydream about spring evenings relaxing outdoors and summer nights filled with star gazing and bon fires. Since we couldn’t help it either, we rounded up some of the most exquisite outdoor living features to inspire your warm-weather upgrades. The best part? All of these are completely DIY!

How to build your own firepit (A fan favorite for homeowners who love to entertain!)

Image: Kathleen/Charm Bracelet Diva {at Home}

Believe it or not, this DIY is not as tough as it sounds. As long as you’ve got the flat, dry outdoor space, concrete blocks or pavers, and about 3 hours to spend, you can add an outdoor feature that will ensure warm happy nights and lovely afternoon BBQ’s this season. (Directions here)

How to create a vertical porch planter

Image: Jill/Sew a Fine Seam

Whether you’re looking to add some additional privacy, or just to upgrade your pretty factor, this vertical planter turns fresh greenery into a faux wall for your porch. Upcycle an old fence, or buy some inexpensive sturdy wire, to easily hang tiny buckets of flowers, succulents, herbs, or whatever your green-thumb desires. (Here’s how to do it)

How to screen in your outdoor space

Image: Lani/Simply Fresh Vintage

Lounge in the fresh air or dine al fresco, without the worry of creepy crawly critters. Though this outdoor upgrade could cost a fortune if you hired a professional, doing it yourself with this 3-step tutorial will save you money, and greatly increase your outdoor enjoyment this season. (Find the How-to Here)

How to upcycle a garden walkway

Image: Donna/Funky Junk Interiors

Turn a stack of shipping pallets into a beautiful and simple garden walkway, perfect for taking a stroll through your vibrant flower beds. No matter the path’s length, a garden walkway will add instant charm to your yard. (Get directions here)

How to make a teapot fountain

Image: Julee

Bubbling fountains and streaming water features are an excellent way to give your outdoor areas some rich ambiance and a pleasant soundtrack. You can turn vintage containers and pots into adorable water features with a fountain pump and some tubes, like this sweet pouring tea pot. (Here’s how to make it)

How to update a boring link fence

Image: Barb/Our Fairfield Home and Garden

If you’ve already got a property fence in place, but you’re not such a huge fan of how it looks, try this easy DIY to upgrade your exterior style. With this genius fix, you can go from boring chain link to beautiful and soothing bamboo in just one afternoon! (Directions here)

How to make and hang mason jar solar lights

Image: Dee/ThirftDee

Here’s one to put at the top of your “What to Do with Mason Jars” list — homemade solar lights to turn any outdoor space into a nighttime-friendly retreat. Simply attach the solar lamp mechanism to the jar lids and voila! Easy and energy-efficient garden lighting. (Tutorial here)

How to build your own wood sandbox 

Image: Carrie/Kenarry: Ideas for the Home

Everything else will help to turn your backyard or other outdoor spaces into a grown-up’s paradise, but what about your youngsters? When it comes to childhood play, nothing is quite as fun as digging, piling, and building in the sandbox. Follow this clever how-to to DIY your own perfect children’s play place. (Here’s how it’s done)

For more amazing outdoor ideas, inspirations, and how-to’s, take a look at our Outdoor Living page on Hometalk!


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