Articles by

Leah Shafer

Leah Shafer is a freelance writer and Dallas native who lives in Richardson with her fiancé, their baby, his teenage daughter, and a neurotic-but-sweet dog. In her sixth-grade yearbook, she listed "interior designer" as her future profession. Now she writes about them, as well as all things real estate, for CandysDirt.com and SecondShelters.com.

10/16/17 10:43am

Don't Miss these Hill Country Destinations Near Boot Ranch | SecondShelters.com

Buying and building in Boot Ranch is a no-brainer if you’re looking for luxury Hill Country living with resort-like amenities and an award-winning Hal Sutton-designed golf course.

Boot Ranch provides fabulous service amid the rustic beauty of ranch life and there’s something for everyone, from the 55,000-square-foot members-only clubhouse and village complex and 4.5-acre pool and sports campus, to a 34-acre golf practice park for pre-course warmup.

They recently hosted the CandysDirt.com staff for a three-day retreat and part of the appeal of this incredible destination is its Hill Country location. Boot Ranch is close to so many recreation options, from fine dining and wineries, to state parks and historic sites and museums. Here’s a roundup of some nearby options for Boot Ranch residents looking to take a drive and have some fun.

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06/28/17 11:24am

Splurge vs. Steal: Two Gorgeous Cape Cod Houses in Chatham, Massachusetts

All of Cape Cod is beautiful, but the seaside town of Chatham, Massachusetts, is particularly charmed. With storybook houses and the landmark 19th-century Chatham Lighthouse, it’s a destination for many vacationers looking for peaceful relaxation and gorgeous surroundings.

Located on the southeastern tip of Cape Cod, Chatham was first settled in 1664 by the English. Its population of 6,125 swells in the summer months with tourists, many of whom have bought a home in this picturesque, tony town. It’s rumored Harry Connick, Jr., has been one of them.

We’ve found two homes in Chatham, one a splurge and one a steal. See how you can get a taste of Cape Cod living with these beauties.

Splurge vs. Steal: Two Gorgeous Cape Cod Houses in Chatham, Massachusetts

Downtown Chatham

 

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08/18/16 10:41pm
Waco fixer upper

The Shotgun House was renovated on HGTV’s Fixer Upper, and is for rent on AirBnB for $325 a night. It was featured in season 3, episode 12 of the show. Photo: AirBnb

If you’re a fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines on HGTV’s Fixer Upper, then you know their renovated homes are all near Waco, Texas. It turns out several of the owners of these monuments to shiplap and style showing up on popular rental services AirBnb and VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) as celebrity-designed spaces available by the night.

The cable television stars have made their name creating rustic chic homes in this town about 95 miles south of Dallas. And people from Dallas and around the country are flocking to these homes, according to The Waco Tribune. People come to Waco in part to see the Gaines’ Magnolia Market and take part in the celebrity culture.

As the Tribune notes, “the Gaineses themselves tapped into the potent combination of Fixer Upper popularity and the convenience of online booking when they renovated a McGregor house into a bed and breakfast named the Magnolia House. Mere hours after online reservations were made available to fans in February, the Magnolia House had booked customers throughout 2016.”

At least six of the Fixer Upper houses were for rent in the Waco area, according to the Tribune, with a seventh joining that number next month. Most were listed as renting from between $200 to $350 a night.

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08/10/16 2:16pm
celina texas

Chris Hornbaker’s sustainable vineyard in Collin County, where the ranch home’s design is by Texas architect Steve Chambers, AIA. Photo: Stephanie Chambers, Chambers Architects

Celina, Texas, is an area of bucolic fields and green spaces that go on for as far as the eye can see. Back in 2003, Linda and Clark Hornbaker purchased 10 acres of open pasture in this area about 45 miles north of Dallas.

With the rolling hills and peaceful countryside, Linda saw it as the family’s “garden of Eden,” and named the land Eden Hill.

The soil was good, a limestone base with trees bordering the property, making it perfect for a vineyard. Their son, Chris Hornbaker, was an amateur vintner, making pear wine in his kitchen. The family had the bright idea to join forces and create a commercial vineyard and winery. So Linda and Clark studied viticulture and learned how to grow grapes. Chris is completing his viticulture and oenology degree. Jump to see their house and more properties in Celina!

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07/04/16 9:38am
cape cod

In Provincetown, Cape Cod.

Every June, my family and I rent a cottage in Orleans, Mass., for a week, which is in the heart of Cape Cod. Our place is right on the bay, and we watch the tide ebb and flow from our large front porch. We just returned last week and the temperature was never above 80°. Last summer, it was so chilly, we rarely swam. The air smells clean and briny, and the architecture everywhere is like a storybook. If this sounds like paradise, you’re not far off.

cape codLife is pretty sweet in Cape Cod—I’ve had the opportunity to spend many hours driving and exploring the 15 towns that make up its 339 square miles. Cape Cod stretches from Woods Hole in the southwest (where you catch ferries to Martha’s Vineyard) to Provincetown in the northeast (where we go whale watching and fishing).

The year-round population of 220,000 swells during summer months, when many thousands like us flock to Cape Cod for a holiday. I can’t help but wonder what it would cost us to buy a place up there—it’s easy to afford something if your budget is massive, but what about more reasonably priced Cape Cod real estate?

I found three places that I think just might fit the bill.

 

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06/13/16 2:56pm
HomeAway Eiffel Tower

HomeAway’s Eiffel Tower apartment. All photos: HomeAway

If Paris is the city of love, then the Eiffel Tower is one of the most romantic landmarks in the world. Lots of people get engaged there, but what if you could do that, or renew your vows, in an Eiffel Tower apartment?

Vacation rental website HomeAway has partnered with architect Benoit Leleu to design a temporary and totally fabulous apartment inside the Eiffel Tower. They’re running a contest, called the HomeAway LoveAway sweepstakes, which ends tonight at midnight.

The winning couple will receive an all-expense paid trip to Paris, including four nights, June 30 through July 4, in a romantic HomeAway apartment in the heart of the city. On July 2, they’ll join other romantics at a party in HomeAway’s Eiffel Tower Apartment, which was built inside the tower as a temporary space for only one month. Kaitlyn Bristowe and fiancé Shawn Booth from ABC’s The Bachelorette are co-hosts with HomeAway and will celebrate their engagement at the LoveAway event.

This is the first time in history the tower has had an apartment built inside and it’s marvelous!

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04/25/16 3:11pm
Michael Gooden

Rendering of the MC13 House by M Gooden Design

The craze for shipping container homes shows no signs of slowing down, as consumers seek out the eco-friendly, unusual abodes.

One Texas design firm is following up their acclaimed shipping container home in East Dallas with another industrial chic home near Waco, Texas.

M Gooden Design, a residential design studio based in Dallas, is in the design and documentation phase of the MC13 house near Waco. The home will be constructed from 13 locally sourced shipping containers, with around 3,500 square feet on two stories, says founder Michael Gooden.

“It will sit on the top of a hill in the middle of 300 acres, and the aesthetic is a blend of industrial feel with some Midcentury modern undertones in there,” he said. “The clients currently live in a 1950s Midcentury Modern house and we wanted as a design team to remember to that era.”

Gooden and associate Kevan Russell are creating an open concept house. This is possible when using shipping containers because of a secondary steel superstructure within the house that carries the weight and the distributed loads of the containers as they are stacked on top of each other.

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01/29/16 5:43pm

austin street center

If you’ve dreamed of vacationing in Taos, New Mexico, Crested Butte, Colo., or Destin, Flor., mark your calendars for a fabulous silent auction offering stays at three luxury vacation homes in those locations.

The No Place Like Home vacation home silent auction event will benefit Austin Street Center, a nonprofit that has provided emergency shelter, food, and clothing to the most vulnerable homeless men and women in Dallas for 30 years.

“By leveraging vacation properties owned by Austin Street Center supporters and friends, we will be able to provide a unique opportunity to both our donors and auction winners,” said Becca Leonard, development director at Austin Street Center. “Donors will generate much-needed funds for Austin Street at little to no cost to themselves, and attendees will have the chance to win a stay at one of many fabulous spots around the country—only their vacation will benefit the homeless here in Dallas.”

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