One of my favorite Christmas past times is driving around looking at all the Christmas lights this time of year.  When I was little, my parents would take my brothers and I out for a drive to look at all the holiday decorations and lights in neighbors’ front yards.  I’ve managed to keep the tradition each year, even if it’s just me driving around by myself, or with my partner Tim, or with a car load of family and friends!  I always bring along hot chocolate, and tune in to the best Christmas radio station I can find!  Here’s a few houses in my neighborhood of the Kessler Park area in Dallas this year that went all out for Christmas!

 Holy mistletoe Santa! What have you been feeding those reindeer this year?!  Prancer is as big as a house!

I love how this homeowner mixed blue and white LED lights to create a frosty look!  Well done!

Nice pose Frosty!

This is one of my favorite homes during the holidays.  I’m a sucker for traditional Christmas decor.  I just love the green lights with a few sprinkles of red, and that big gorgeous tree in the bay window is dynamite!  I’m in love with the use of their garlands and wreaths!

If you’re unable to string lights around your house and roof line, do what this person did!  They created a great little Christmas scene right on their fence!

There’s no need to explain this one… it’s already spelled out for me!

This house I found to be a little original.  Instead of stringing lights along their steep pitched roof with the complicated numerous lines of their eaves, they hung lit ornaments in their trees instead! Genius!

You just can’t help but love the simple elegance of the homes that are trimmed in clean white lights.  If you’re concerned about taking away from any architectural embellishments or features of your house, this is a great solution to accentuate them!

Check out these cozy little cottages!  Don’t they just look warm and inviting?! It’s like a ginger bread house come to life!

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! The piece de resistance, the cherry on the cake, the STAR atop the tree! In Emily’s neighborhood each year, a true lover of all holidays, Liz Simmons, decorates her home to the max! Just take a look at this beauty!

Now when I say Liz is a true lover of the holidays, you can see what I mean!  This awesome display is made up of over 100,000 lights!  Liz powers so many lights, that she had to hire an electrician to install a separate 200-amp electrical panel just to handle the load from all those lights!  If it weren’t for the additional electrical panel, her lights would cause an electrical surge and it would black out Emily’s whole neighborhood! All that extra power comes with a price tag too.  Liz reports that her monthly electrical bill is three times larger than her normal billing.  Sporting an entire brigade of Santas, snowmen, penguins, and other holiday creatures, Liz’s house just can’t be missed!

Here’s a picture of Liz herself dressed as an elf at the annual Christmas block party! To read more about Liz and her awesomely extreme holiday exterior decor, click here!


Recently, Beverly Hills House Wife Lisa Vanderpump, her husband Ken Todd, and their dog Jiggy, moved into their newly remodeled Beverly Hills home…. well, mansion.  At 8,000 square feet, it’s a downsize from their 15,500 square footer they just moved out of.  Lisa’s reported net worth is valued at $65 million.  So, with that being said, it’s no wonder she lives a life of lavishness!  With pink as her trademark hue, she’s tricked out her new princess digs in the pretty color.  Take a look at some of these “Before & After” shots of this glammed out Real House Wife of Beverly Hills super sumptuous pad.

Here’s the entry before:

And after:




Definitely a massive change!  The mirrored walls, and lighter wall colors with Lisa’s touches of pink, totally brighten this baby up!

The formal living room also “had a little work done”!

Lisa’s new Formal Living Room:

Darker hardwood flooring, lighter upholstered furniture, painted trim work, chandelier and mirrored furniture transformed this once dark living area into a room fit for even Marie Antoinette to receive callers.


Next on the list is the dining room.  Here’s what it looked like before:

And after:


The next area that got a major face lift was the outdoor living areas.  Check out the before and after’s of this part of the estate:





Talk about a night and day difference! Love how you can lounge outside, yet still be under a fabulous chandelier at the same time! And, I’m totally obsessing over that infinity pool with it’s view of the famous ‘Hills’!

Check out the master bedroom. Major pink transformation!

Even Ken’s closet got a make over!  I love how all the white and mirrors can still be made to feel masculine.

And here’s his closet after shot.  I guess the love of pink is a mutual thing! Looks like he has more pink shirts than I do!

And now, without further ado, I give you the piece de resistance….. Lisa’s closet! (although, I feel like “closet” isn’t the correct terminology for this palatial dressing room).  I don’t know whether I should stand and stare, or go shopping!  This thing is so big, it needs not one, but TWO chandeliers!

OMG, am I in Hermes? Oh, no, wait, it’s  just Lisa Vanderpump’s private closet! Check out all those Birkins! My mouth is watering!

And here’s just a little sampling of some of her bling:

Clutches, purses and bags, Oh My!

Well folks, there you have it.  The life of the the rich and famous!

The old mantra “out with the old, in with the new” may have met its match.  Nestled in East Dallas, the Hollywood Heights neighborhood makes me wish all zip codes were this well preserved.

With most of its houses dating back to the 1930s, it is one of the oldest conservation districts in the whole US-of-A, and homeowners in the area today are not permitted to tear down any part of their house or even renovate their exteriors, which allows for a true and rare glimpse into the history of American architecture!

Now, doesn’t that just make you feel downright patriotic?


Each year, the HSMNA (Hollywood Santa Monica Neighborhood Association) puts on a home tour.  This year marks its 21st  and I’ll be there with bells on, supporting my new hood.

There is an entire weekend full of events– starting with the Candelight Tour and Auction Party on Friday night at the Arboretum and ending with the Art in the Park event at Lindsley Park on Sunday (which will feature local art and gift vendors, including art from Christian at Think Twice!)  Five houses will be open to visitors on the tour.  I can’t wait to see which homes are on the tour and how they are decorated on the inside!

This event is extra special to me, as it takes place right around the same time we move into the neighborhood.  (HSMNA, please consider this house below for one of your upcoming home tours- I’ll be ready in five years! wink wink 😉

Purchase Home Tour tickets HERE for $12! See you there!

April 28-April 29

Saturday and Sunday

Noon to 6 pm

I just got back from Baton Rouge where I met the winner of the Wisk Detergent laundry room makeover contest, Kristen Maurel!  I will be giving Kristen’s laundry room a makeover in June and the transformation will be featured on Designing Spaces in August.

I really enjoyed getting to know Kristen and her husband Matt, as well as touring their charming city.  I had some time to kill before our meeting, so I went and visited the Old Governor’s Mansion and the Old State Capitol building.  I had never been to Baton Rouge before so this surely was a treat to go around and get to know a new city.

The Governor’s Mansion was absolutely gorgeous.  It was a Georgian- style building that was constructed for Governor Huey Long in 1930 at a cost of $150k.  The mansion was built to resemble The White House (Huey was apparently very convinced that he would one day become the President of the United States).  So convinced, that he even wrote a book about it!  I had a great tour guide who was nice enough to give me the “sped up version” of the tour, since I was running low on time.

Wedding receptions are often held at the Old Governor’s Mansion as well as other corporate events.  I have to say that I definitely wouldn’t mind getting married at a historic place like this- talk about a dream come true!

I loved seeing all of the antique furniture, original frieze work and flooring, moldings, and crystal chandeliers.  I was so upset that I didn’t have enough time to visit the other old Plantation homes that came recommended- Nottoway and Houmas House.  These tours would have been right up my alley!

Above is the grand ballroom where wedding receptions are often held.  All of the light fixtures in the mansion were originals.

The dining area above is also part of the “wedding reception package” and its hand painted wallpaper is original to the house.  The docent told me how much it was per roll…I can’t remember exactly, but let’s just say that it was a ridiculous amount! Apparently they still sell it today overseas.

The private offices…

Apparently Huey loved green so much that he had multiple rooms throughout the house painted/wallpapered in some version of green!

I was surprised at how many elements throughout the house would have still been considered somewhat “stylish” today.  Above, the turquoise and brown color scheme in Huey’s office resembles the color trend of the present and you’ll notice below that they had a pedestal sink in the bathroom, which is quite common now (just not in turquoise!)

Another green room…

The private bedrooms were so quaint

Next, I went to the Old State Capitol around the corner.  This building consisted of both Gothic and Victorian Architecture.  Cast iron staircases, stained glass windows, a cathedral dome, faux bois, gold leafing, marble floors, and brass hardware adorned the interior.

All in all, it was a great trip and I can’t wait to go explore more of Baton Rouge’s architecture in June!

Garden Party!

Posted By Emily-Dallas | Apr 18, 2010 | 17 Comments | Category: Dining Rooms, Home Exteriors

This entire weekend has been so dreary here in the big D <sigh>.  I am so looking forward to the weather becoming consistent and it actually looking like Spring around here!

One of my favorite pastimes when the weather is sunny and bright, is to have brunch outside.  The best day for this?  Sunday of course!

A girl can dream of brighter days ahead..but for now, I guess I will have to live vicariously through the magazines that showcase pretty garden parties with bright colors and sun-drenched terraces.

Traditional Home featured one this month in particular that really caught my eye.  Heather Christothoulou hosted a garden party outside her Seattle home complete with silver Chiavari chairs, white ginger jars, pink chandeliers and bright green accents.  What’s not to love?

I immediately recognized the Suzani dessert plates from Anthropologie on her table (I have the same set!)  Her color scheme is very close to my own dining room’s.  I am incredibly girly at heart so her garden party certainly struck a chord with me!

And all that fresh food looks so delish…

These photos are so uplifting that I almost forgot that I am still stuck in rainy and bleak Dallas weather.  How ironic is it that I am jealous of Heather’s Seattle weather right now?

Oh the Tanners!  How could we ever forget you?  Jesse’s mullet, Michelle’s baby voice, Danny’s obsessive cleaning disorder?  I’m still wondering why and how this show ever left the TGIF lineup!


But what was even more memorable was their San Francisco based home.  In the opening credits, a row of Victorian houses are shown to the memorable tune “Everywhere You Look”.  Remember these?  They are located in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Fran and some even date back to the 1800’s.

full house1

Most people think that one of these houses must be the Tanner’s.  But in actuality, the red doored home that they claim to be the Tanner residence, is really located on another street named Broderick.

Some unforgettable interior shots of the Full House house.

Notice the plaid sofa-


And that overdone window treatment!


Can we say 80’s wallpaper? (and I spy…a mullet!)


This kitchen needs a renovation!


Luckily Full House was just a make believe set and we can now fast forward to the decor of 2009.

Ahh much better!


I know you won’t believe me just by looking at it, but this home (owned by Courtnay Daniels Hayden) actually has a lot in common with the Full House set…and that is, they were both featured on the show!  Well, to get more specific, the exterior of the Hayden residence was.

Courtnay’s San Francisco home is often surrounded by bunches of tourists taking photos of the home’s exterior.  Such a unique conversation starter when guests come over- “I live in one of the Full House houses!”  But this house is certainly a far cry from the outdated set of the 80’s sitcom.

So you want to see photos? You got it dude!






{Elle Decor- January Issue}

That’s the end of the tour. Chity chi bob botta!

An Afternoon with Dennis

Posted By Emily-Dallas | Apr 12, 2009 | 4 Comments | Category: Fashion, Home Exteriors

Fashion designer, Dennis Basso has outfitted all different kinds of people in his well known luxury fur: NY socialites, celebs, movie characters, and hip hop artists, (just to name a few). His luxurious mink/ sable coats and chic alligator handbags are just a few of the fashion pieces he is known for. (I’m sure PETA just loves him)

{Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada- wearing a Dennis Basso fur coat}

Luxury is what he’s known for best- so I wouldn’t really expect anything less from his own getaway home, which was featured in Elle Decor this month.

Him and his partner, Michael Cominotto have about 4,000 square feet of outdoor living space on the Long Island village of Water Mill. They love to retreat here from the chaos of the city. Being big fans of the outdoors, they will have friends (like Tori Burch) over for lunch, drinks and swimming on the weekend.

His one story poolhouse is a 50 ft long x 20 ft wide space. All I can say is that I’m so completely envious!

His navy and white color scheme was conceived by interior designer, Kenneth Alpert. Blue and white ceramics, high backed wicker chairs, ginger jar lamps, leather ottomans, and Sunbrella fabrics, are just some of the features that draw me to this space. Oh and did we mention the fully stocked bar, delicious entrees and desserts to boot?

Dennis, we’ll join you for a cocktail any day!

Stalking George Dubya

Posted By Emily-Dallas | Jan 17, 2009 | 2 Comments | Category: Celebs, Home Exteriors

As the Obamas start getting settled into the White House, former President Bush moves out and makes his way down to Dallas, where he and Laura will live.

Once they move into their new home in the Preston Hollow area, their street will be gated and closed off to the public. So of course, this being the last weekend their street was available for stalking, I drove by to get a good look at their new place.

Signs on neighbors’ lawns welcome George and Laura home.

I found all the juicy details about their house from an article on Newsweek- “The 8,501-square-foot home, on a previously quiet cul-de-sac, backs up to a creek and sits on a 1.1-acre lot. The home has four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, an 896-square-foot servants’ quarters and a 450-square-foot cabana. It was previously owned by Republican donor and Dallas investor Daniel Boeckman and his wife, Laura.”

It was hard to stop and take a good photo of their home as there were about 10 cars behind me waiting to get a peek themselves!

I was actually surprised that the Bush family didn’t move to some huge fancy mansion in Highland Park. But I guess they really just wanted to be taken back to their Texas roots with this traditional style ranch house in a quiet cul-de-sac.

The $1.6 million five-bedroom home next door, will be the new residence of his Secret Service agents.

Both of the homes back up to the 25 acre, $50 million estate of billionaire Tom Hicks, a good friend of former President Bush. Tom bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in ’98 for $250 million.

My parents dog, Sammy, seemed to have had a good time stalking the Bush’s new house too…

A better photo of the house via Newsweek

Backyard Bliss

Posted By Emily-Dallas | Oct 04, 2008 | 2 Comments | Category: Home Exteriors

Interior Designer Windsor Smith’s backyard retreat in LA…

With the weather PERFECT here in Dallas at 73 degrees, I really wish that right about now I had Windsor’s backyard set up…her exterior haven is cuter than my living room! Blue trellises, sunburst mirror, comfy upholstered furniture, floor pillows, antique rugs, garden stools- what more could a girl ask for? Maybe some lemonade and the newest Us weekly would complete this scenario! I could lounge here for hours…

A few of my favorite pieces from Windsor Smith Home

Street of the week

Posted By Emily-Dallas | Aug 10, 2008 | 5 Comments | Category: Home Exteriors

It was just another Texas summer’s day with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees. It was almost unbearable to leave the house; but in the end, I was glad I endured the heat because I ended up finding myself on another East Dallas/Lakewood adventure.

Driving around “running errands”/spying on houses with my mom is one of our absolute favorite things to do. We love winding our way in and out of neighborhoods (oftentimes getting lost) exploring the most beautiful houses in Dallas and wishing we were its residents.

Today we decided to visit her “all time favorite street in Dallas”- Tokalon. Back when we were growing up, my sister’s best friend lived on Tokalon and that is how she became familiar with the area. I faintly remember visiting that house a few times growing up with my sister but wouldn’t have been able to point it out on a map if I tried. Whenever streets come up, my mom often references Tokalon as her absolute favorite. Today I finally agreed to go explore this street and see if it really deserves all of the accolades that my mom gives it.

Once we finally found it with the help of our trusty Garmin, I was absolutely certain within a minute of arriving that Tokalon was my new favorite street as well.

The magnificent houses in this neighborhood sit perched high upon green grassy hills and surrounded by large mature trees. The street is often called “the most beautiful street in Dallas” and now I know why! Tokalon did not disappoint at all…the photos just don’t do this neighborhood justice. Driving down the street, I got the feeling that I was somewhere else- far away from the hustle and bustle of busy Dallas.

If these houses ever go down two or three million in price, I just might be able to afford one!

This house is actually for sale currently…and why might I ask, would someone ever want to leave this beauty? In case you are interested in purchasing (I would be very jealous if you were) here is the information:

Status- Active Listing

Type-Resale -Single Family Detached


Location -6858 Tokalon,Dallas , TX 75214



Half Baths-2

Sq.Ft- 6,876

Here are the interior photos of this Tokalon house:

Breakfast area overlooks the heated pool and spacious backyard

Kitchen has Corian countertops and Sub Zero appliances

Rich hardwood flooring and elaborate mouldings makes this house look elegant and tasteful.

A coffered ceiling defines this ballroom and makes it look even more exquisite. The house’s listing says that its beauty is unmatched and it has to be seen in person to really be appreciated!

Another view of this house…now you can see why Tokalon is such a valued street- the position of the houses are very uncharacteristic of those in Dallas.

More Tokalon charmers…

This was my favorite…from far away the entry door looked teeny tiny…I kept wondering if a normal sized person could enter through it!

As you can tell, I am a sucker for cute, cottage style homes.

I loved this one also- the owners put two large pots elevated on either side of the house…the balcony above with the little bistro table and chairs is so adorable!

Nearby, another great street is Lakewood boulevard…

Look at all that gorgeous greenery

Mom, you can take me by Tokalon any day!