Real Estate / Home + Design

How a Top Dallas Realtor Transformed His University Park Dream House

In-the-Know Home Improvement

BY // 06.03.22

Aaron Carroll gets asked the same questions almost every single day. Where do you live? What style of house do you have? Are you remodeling — what rooms are you doing? It’s understandable though; if there’s anyone you want to model your own home improvement decisions after, it’s a top real estate agent.

Carroll also happens to be a great person to ask. The realtor, who comprises one-half of the Carroll Eltis Group for Douglas Elliman, recently moved into a traditional 1940s home in University Park with his family after an extensive remodel, following the same advice he often gives clients.

“Not everyone can afford to buy a brand new $5 million Park Cities house,” Carroll says. “So if you can find a home with great bones and put your personal touch on it, you’re maintaining the aesthetic and history of the neighborhood. But you’re also increasing the value of your home so much just by doing your own updates instead of buying something new.”

The University Park home and the updates Carroll made (more on those in a moment) were a savvy investment, but the home is far more personal than meets the eye.

When Carroll and his wife Whitney were just dating 10 years ago, the couple would often drive around Dallas neighborhoods they loved. “I would always try to drive down Windsor Parkway and I told her, ‘One of these days we’re going to live on this street. This is my favorite street in all of the Park Cities.’”

When Carroll heard of a home off market, he penned a love letter to the sellers, and the special stretch of Dallas finally became home. “This is a house we plan on staying in for a long time,” he adds.

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So what improvements does a top Dallas real estate agent make to his family’s dream home? Carroll walks us through the notable updates.

A Surface Area Home Transformation

Fortunately, the Carrolls loved the layout of the University Park home, so no major renovations were necessary. They did, however, end up tackling nearly all the surface areas, including fresh countertops and finishes in the kitchen.

“We painted every square inch, top to bottom, inside and out,” Carroll adds.

best home improvement renovations dallas
The majority of the hardware was ordered through Nob Hill in Inwood Village.

First up, the hardwoods. 

The Windsor Parkway home came with original 1940s oak floors, but thanks to an early-aughts fad, they were in desperate need of a makeover.

“I am not a fan of the hand-scraped hardwood trend, so I came in and sanded and restained them all,” Carroll says. “Then I added hardwood floors in two of the rooms that had carpet.”

 

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The furniture in the home is a mix of unique finds by Whitney and the occasional Serena & Lily piece.

Next, paint.

“Paint goes such a long way,” Carroll shares. “It can truly transform a house.” The Carrolls brightened the interior and exterior of the home with white paint (mainly Sherwin Williams’ Alabaster White and White Dove). For the library, they went bold: a high gloss French blue from Benjamin Moore.

“Clients will put up five different whites on the outside of their house and they’ll all look so different,” Carroll notes. “You can analyze it and analyze it a thousand different ways, but in the grand scheme of things, just go with your gut and know that whatever you pick is going to look great.”

 

best home improvement renovations dallas
One of the Carrolls’ favorite elements of the powder bathroom: a wall mounted faucet from Kohler.

Paper play. 

For wallpaper, Aaron’s wife Whitney picked prints she loved. “She’s not a designer, but she has great taste,” Carroll adds.

The duo papered the dining room (Brunschwig & Fils “Bird and Thistle” in blue), the downstairs powder bath (Lulie Wallace “Clara Wallpaper” in soft green), and the laundry room (Cole & Son “Bluebell” wallpaper), with help from Phelan’s on Preston Road.

“Wallpaper always brings a little life into smaller rooms,” Carroll says.

 

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The Carrolls opted for AstroTurf for a perennial green that’s easy to clean.

A backyard makeover. 

Originally, the backyard pool was surrounded by concrete. Given the Carrolls’ two young kids and the compact nature of Park Cities lots, they wanted to utilize every square inch.

“I jackhammered all the concrete and started all over,” Carroll explains. “I did AstroTurf all the way up to the pool so there could be green space. It really made a huge difference. The turf keeps things so clean and stays green all year long.”

 

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A high gloss French blue pairs beautifully with the Veuve Clicquot orange of a Donald Robertson commissioned portrait.

Artful touches.

When Carroll walks into a home with great art, he knows it will sell for top dollar. “People remember those homes,” he adds.

For the library, Carroll commissioned a Donald Robertson portrait for his wife’s birthday featuring two of her favorite things: Veuve Clicquot and queso.

 

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The Carrolls’ dining room is wallpapered in Brunschwig & Fils’ “Bird and Thistle.”

A Top Dallas Realtor’s Home Improvement Advice to Sellers

Update the Kitchen and Bathroom. “I always tell clients to go ahead and splurge on updating the kitchen and master bathroom if you can, just with countertops, paint, and new hardware,” Carroll shares. “The kitchen and master bathroom are the wow moments that buyers look for. So if those are updated, the house will sell for a higher value.”

Fresh Fixtures. “Another tip we often give is to buy new chandeliers,” Carroll says. “If your fixtures are looking a little dated — there are some bronze ones that were popular in the early 2000s that I call the ‘Home Depot Special’ — update it to a cool white or gold chandelier that you don’t have to spend a fortune on. It just makes the house show better.”

Touch Up Paint. “This is a great way to brighten up rooms,” Carroll shares. “Outside, a lot of people are doing white on white. A lot of people with white houses are also painting their windowpanes black.”

Outdoor Space. “This became especially important during the pandemic,” Carroll notes. “You don’t have to spend a fortune, but doing a bit of landscaping to clean things up helps with the resell.”

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