Backs to Lakewood Park & 2 Doors from Pool

This extremely well-cared for Hazelwood home backs to the soon-to-open Lakewood Park and is just 2 doors down from the community pool, splash pad, playground, and pavilion with BBQ grill! Featuring granite counters, stainless appliances, and vinyl plank floors, there are 4 bedrooms and a game room upstairs, plus a spacious office downstairs. Situated in the rapidly developing Ronald Reagan corridor with easy access to everything. Call for a showing 512-771-9129.

> Take the Virtual Tour <<

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Pool + Cul de Sac + Main Level Suite

This 5 bedroom Round Rock home has it all!  A private pool and spa with a large grassy backyard and covered porch on a cul-de-sac!  The interior is spacious and architecturally interesting with one bedroom and full bath on the main level, while the other four bedrooms plus loft and 2 full baths are on the second level.  Silestone counters, breakfast and wet bars, plantation shutters, arched windows, storage shed, mature trees, etc.  Attends Fern Bluff Elementary and Round Rock High School.

>> Take the Virtual Tour <<

For further details call Jared at 512-771-9129.

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Our Story

Hey there!  My name is Jill.  My husband, Jared, and I own this ma-and-pa real estate company.  We are a wonderful team, and I can honestly say I LOVE working with my husband.

For years we spent countless overtime hours building Solis Realty together.  But when our son was born, we decided I would take a break from the day-to-day running of our company to spend time with him.  It was six amazing years making memories with that kid but now he is in kindergarten, and I’m ready to get back to work.

My job is marketing.  I bring in the clients; Jared takes care good of them.  The thing is, I don’t just want to “have a career” again.  I want to do something special, something MONUMENTAL.  That may mean we start flipping and designing houses that people love.  That may mean I take our local brand and make it the talk of the town.  I’m just going to feel my way through this.

I’m giving myself 365 days to do this amazing thing.  Periodically I’ll be posting updates, videos diaries and photos to share my progress.  I hope you can follow along and tell me what you think.  Really and truly, I want your thoughts.  Let’s face it, if you’re planning to do something that could accurately be described as “monumental”, you’re going to need all the help you can get!

Day 1 – My 365 Day Challenge

The video diary that started it all.  Here were my initial thoughts as I was getting back into my career …

Day 27 – Logo, Education & Flip Opportunity

Video Diary #2 is all about starting strategically, studying what the experts say and making sure our branding is the best it can be!

Day 48 – Logo First Draft

Here is our first pass at rethinking our branding.  There’s more discussion on our instagram account but after much consideration I think this is pretty close to the final product.  I plan to change it up with holidays and events such as sock hats at Christmas time and music notes during SXSW.

The bigger idea here is that we are a ma-and-pa shop and our logo is literally a ma and a pa.  So I’m thinking of using our logo to promote the general idea of supporting all Austin area ma-and-pa shops.

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Day 73 – Purging Everything

^^currently featured above^^

more to come …

Take Family Photos You’ll Love, the Easy Way

It’s that time of year when everyone is scrambling to take family photos for holiday cards.  Lots of my friends are calling their photographers to schedule a “mini”.  All this is fine and good, and the following tips will work for these people too.  However you can still have amazing photos even if you only have 15 minutes and recruited a friend to take photos of your family with an iPhone!

Let’s get started …

Photograph Outside, An Hour and Half Before Sunset

Lighting is 80% of a good photo.

Natural light is best, so get outside.  Diffused natural light is where it really is at.  Diffused light is the kind you see on an overcast day.  It illuminates without creating harsh shadows.  You can take photos anytime on an overcast day.  Otherwise it is best to wait until about an hour and a half to an hour before sunset.  Not only is the light diffused at this point of the day, it also often takes on a golden hue which is very flattering.

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Illuminate Your Faces

Even with diffused light, you should be able to see and feel the light illuminating your face.  If not, keep turning around until you can feel the light is in front of you, not behind you.  Did I mention lighting is 80% of a good photo?  This is especially true when using your phone camera.

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Smile

A real smile.

Some people prefer having a posed photo smile they use.  If that’s you, skip this tip.

Most people, however, look best with a genuine smile.  The kind that accompanies happiness and laughter.  So for this 15 minute photo session, it is important everyone have a good time and laugh as much as possible.

Get rid of the pressure and stop shooting for perfection.  Those exact sentiments may be the very reason you don’t get photos you love.  Instead, take a sip of wine, put on some rockin’ music, and get ready to have fun!

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Smile More

When I was fashion blogging, I was constantly photographing and then assessing the quality and usefulness of the images.  Time and time again, I would mutter to myself “I need to smile more!”  On the next go around, I’d smile my butt off and still I would look at the photos and conclude “I need to smile more!”  I don’t think it is possible to smile too much.  So smile, smile and smile some more.

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Photograph The In-Between Moments

Instruct your recruited friend-photographer to keep photographing in between the posed shots.  Those moments are the most real and may end up being your favorites.  And, of course, make sure you smile through it all.

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Mix It Up

Take photos in various spots (all of ours were taken on our property).  Take some standing, sitting, kneeling, and walking.  Even within one spot, make slight adjustments… kid on the shoulders, hands in your pockets, arms around each other, lean in, turn towards the center, bend your knee, straighten it again etc.  If you stick to one position and that position turns out not to be flattering, then you are stuck.  All the adjustments give you options.

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Color Palette

In regards to what to wear, I prefer sticking to a color palette instead of matching each other.  If we were all to wear the same color shirts and the same color pants then it might be difficult to see where one person starts and the other ends.  While a color palette avoids this problem and still looks coordinated.

I like to be a bit selfish on this topic and pick out my most flattering outfit first.  Then see if that color palette will work for my boys.

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Make Room for Text

If you are planning to make this photo into a holiday card, consider taking some photos off-center and perhaps with some sky or fields around.  The “white space” will give you room for the words of your message.

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No Expensive Equipment Needed

If you have a fancy camera, by all means, use it.  I did.  However, I have taken just as crisp and clear photos with my iPhone.  As long as the lighting is right, your phone’s camera should do the trick.

All the photos shown in this post where taken by a friend with zero photography experience.  We photographed for 15-20 minutes during that golden hour before sunset.  It was so nice not to make a big ordeal out of it and not to spend any money.  I hope this helps you to have fun while getting photos you love too.

If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear them!

One $0 Reason Rooms Look So Amazing in Magazines

We all want our homes to look as fabulous as those we see in design magazines.  Often they have stunning architecture and views that cost a fortune.  However there is one prominent feature many of them have that costs virtually nothing.  Look through the following examples and see if you can figure out what it is.

Did you notice the flora?  They are statements in each of these rooms and if you imagine removing them, most of the spaces don’t look half as good.

Did you also notice that none of them are flowers?  Fresh flowers can cost lots of money.  But these look like tree, hedge or wild grass clippings.  That’s right people, it’s time to get out the gardening shears.  You are just one pruned bush away from transforming your home!

As someone who has done this in my own house, let me share a few things I learned along the way:

  • First, some tree and hedge branches last for weeks, others wilt within a day.  There is definitely some trial and error involved with choosing what to use.
  • Second, really pay attention to the structure and shape of the branches before you cut, and compare that with the space you are decorating.  There were a couple times we were ducking to enter our living room because the beautiful cutting I brought in was too wide and short.  (This may cause your husband to then roll his eyes and have heavy doses of skepticism the next time you have a “decorating breakthrough”.)
  • Third, don’t bring in anything anyone in your family might be allergic too.   And definitely don’t place that allergen 3 feet from where allergic son sleeps.  Big time #momfail on that one!

Happy clipping!

Make College Condos Pay for Themselves

image source: Shoko Design

Okay, so maybe not pay for themselves entirely, but significantly.  And we aren’t talking about doing anything unconventional in the structuring of these mortgages.  Just a few small steps that can save lots of money.

So your kid is going to college or graduate school, and you are thinking about investing in a condominium for that duration.  Here’s what you do . . .

Step 1:  Student opens a credit card.

This is for the purposes of establishing a credit rating which is necessary for your son or daughter to be included on the mortgage.  Charge items to this card and pay the bill on time.

Step 2:  Co-purchase condo w/ student as owner occupant.

Your son or daughter then gets an owner-occupant mortgage on the condo with you as a co-borrower.  This is where much of the savings comes from since an owner-occupant mortgage has many advantages over an investment/second home mortgage including a lower downpayment and better rates.

Step 3: File for homestead exemption on property taxes.

Since your kid has purchased the condo as an owner-occupant and is living there, he/she may file for homestead exemption and save significantly in property taxes.

Step 4: Reduce mortgage payments by renting additional rooms to friends.

If the condo is a 2 or 3-bedroom, rent on the additional rooms can help greatly offset the mortgage (which, you’ll remember, you got at owner-occupant interest rates).

Step 5:  Sell condo at a profit.

Hopefully you used a competent real estate agent (hint, hint), and you bought at a fair price and location.  Four years later and barring any market crashes, you should be able to sell at a profit to the next set of parents looking to do the same.  There is always a demand for college condos since there is always an influx of inhabitants.

Afterwards, your son or daughter will have a stellar credit rating, and you will have spent a fraction of the cost of four years of rent.  If you are considering investing in a college condo for your kid, I can’t imagine why you would do it any other way.

P.S. Did you notice the kitchen in the featured photo uses the “warmth + contrast” idea discussed Thinking Outside the Kitchen Reno Box post?

78704, Walk to Alamo Drafthouse

Rare opportunity to own one of these – there are only 6 in the community, and just a couple that have 3 bedrooms. Lives like a stand-alone home with a fenced yard & 2-car garage, yet affords the convenience of a lock-and-leave lifestyle. HOA covers all yard maintenance. Conveniently situated to downtown with a highly walkable yet peaceful setting insulated from the urban bustle – the best of both worlds – come get it before it’s gone!! Bosch Refrigerator and Miele Washer & Dryer convey! Google Fiber!

Take the >>Virtual Tour<<

Austin Floods: the Numbers

Here in Austin, Texas, when it rains, it pours.

For real.

In the last 30 days, Lake Travis has risen 41.45 feet.  In fact, on October 20th we reached our 5th highest water level ever at 704.39 feet.  That is just 8 feet below Mansfield Dam’s spillway.  And which is especially interesting given we were in our 3rd worst drought ever just 5 years ago when the lake reached at 618.64 feet.

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graph source:  lcra.org

More discussion and graphs available on the LCRA website as well as golaketravis.com

 

Thinking Outside the Kitchen Reno Box

Here are 5 budget ideas you may not have considered for transforming your kitchen:

Reinstall Cabinets Higher & Add Open Shelving

I love to study Joanna Gaines’ flips, and this is one of her most ingenious ideas.  By re-installing cabinets higher, she maintains closed storage while also making the kitchen feel taller. The open shelf beneath adds character to the kitchen and is a useful spot for that stack of everyday white plates.

images source:  magnolia.com

Warmth + High Contrast

Another Joanna idea here!  Her color recipe for kitchens seems to be a warm element (usually wood), mixed with a high contrast element (something black or dark gray), in a sea of calming neutrals.  It is such a winning combo!

images source:  magnolia.com

The majority of the kitchen being an airy neutral feels soothing and clean.  Touches of a dark color sprinkled about makes your eye bounce around as you take the space in.  But the real key is finishing it with the warmth of wood, which adds richness and depth.

If you are looking to add a warm element to your kitchen, there are many creative ways to do so, including accessories such as cutting boards, wooden bowls, and textural baskets.  For a bit more money, you can add wood trim and shelves or install cork-type wallpaper.  Or go all the way with butcher block countertops and a wood backsplash or ceiling.

images source:  magnolia.com

Furniture Instead of Cabinets

Want to tear out your cabinets but don’t have the money to replace them?  Perhaps some store bought shelves can help.  Architecturally interesting shelves can be secured in place for a fraction of the cost of installing new cabinets.

images source:  styleathome.com

Architectural Pantry Doors

They add lots of character and with inset mirrors will appear to lead to another wing of your home (not a closet for your cereal boxes).

images source:  magnolia.com

Two-Tone Your Cabinets

Though this is not a new idea, it is vastly under-utilized.

image sources: beckiowens.com, thesweetestdigs.com, theeverygirl.com, bhg.com, apartmenttherapy.com

Any of these ideas inspire you?  Know of other ways to elevate the look of your kitchen on a budget?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!