Black Door Home Co.
Est. January 2016
“Lone Star Flip” pilot on HGTV tomorrow
The next Chip & Joanna Gaines could hail from Southlake if August 26 and Friday at noon are any indicators.
The pilot of John and Elizabeth Huffman’s show, called Lone Star Flip, aired on HGTV on August 26.
The show captures how John and Elizabeth selected this home for a comprehensive renovation and the steps they took along the way. The program, which was shot from February through May, also reveals the clever and fun…
Watch HGTV on Sept. 29 at 12 noon for the repeat of Lone Star Flip with this local Southlake couple
It all started with a dishwasher leak and a contractor error that led to a flood in their Southlake home and eventually sent Elizabeth and John Huffman to a garage sale, where they ended up buying the house. Now these ex-Capitol Hill staffers own their own renovation and construction business.
The Huffmans’ dishwasher leak prompted a full downstairs renovation. About two months later, they noticed that the contractor had put a finishing nail through their water main, and once the nail had rusted out, water began to flow everywhere. The second flood prompted the family to find a new home.
Elizabeth and John Huffman met while attending Texas A&M University, and after graduation both headed to Washington D.C.’s Capitol Hill for three years. They had their first child, Caroline, while John attended D.C.’s Georgetown Law, and then moved back to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to be close to family as they raised a family of their own.
In 2008, the couple moved to Southlake, where – though they didn’t know it yet – their renovation journey was soon to begin. They were searching for a new home after their flooding fiasco.
“We saw a house that was having a garage sale and the house was also for sale,” Elizabeth said. “We went up to the garage sale, fell in love with the back yard, and the very next day we put an offer on the house. We say that we went to the garage sale and bought the whole house!”
After they bought the place, the couple gutted it, learning the ins and outs of renovation projects on the job. Elizabeth says that’s what gave them the renovation “bug.”
“As we were moving toward owning our own business, that’s really where we thought, ‘What are we good at? What are we passionate about? What can be successful?” Elizabeth said.
“We got together and thought a lot about it and prayed a lot about it and thought this would be a fun time to do it,” John added, “kind of one of those things where if we didn’t do it now, we were never going to do it.”
BLACK DOOR HOME CO.
Elizabeth left work as a Senate staffer to raise and homeschool their now-three children – Caroline, 10; Andrew, 9; and Anna, 6. Once back in Texas, Elizabeth was going to start the business and get everything off the ground and to a point that John could leave his work as a lawyer in Dallas to “come and catapult it.”
But with Elizabeth working as a fulltime homeschool mom, plans needed to be revised. She told John it was time to go in full force, no turning back and make their business, Black Door Home Co., their livelihood.
“Once we looked at it that way – we’re in both feet, both of us, can’t go back – then it became really successful,” Elizabeth said.
With John’s experience in construction operations and law, and Elizabeth’s eye for design, they started Black Door Home Co. in Southlake in January 2016 with a $100,000 seed fund from their family. John says he and Elizabeth knew they wanted to start something that could grow and establish a well-known brand.
The couple chose Southlake not only because it’s their home and their network, but for Northeast Tarrant County’s vibrant economy, strong real estate values, increasing development, and demand for both renovation and good service.
“We also wanted to do something we cared about. Anybody can go start any kind of business just for the spirit of being entrepreneurial, but I am a homemaker at heart so homes matter to me,” Elizabeth said. “How people live in their homes matters to me.”
Elizabeth, 35, loves being able to see through the disarray and the walls to a house’s true potential. “You can’t be afraid to knock down walls, and you can’t be afraid to pull up the floor and see what’s underneath,” she said.
John, 34, says something that makes Black Door different from other renovation companies is that it is full service and that the community means a lot to both him and Elizabeth.
“We will take a customer from the design phase all the way through construction,” John said. “We care deeply about the community out here and we like that we are able to provide a service, whether it’s flipping a house that’s old and broken, dilapidated, or coming to renovate someone’s space.”
The average cost of a Black Door renovation is between $50,000 and $150,000, because the company specializes in large construction jobs – second story additions, whole house renovations, master suite additions and more.
On July 1, Black Door Home Co.’s construction side officially merged with remodeler Rick Baker’s Stately Design to form Black Door Renovations. Baker, 50, comes to Black Door Renovations as a partner with over a decade of construction experience.
Black Door Renovations will cover the construction side of what Black Door does, with Black Door Home Co. covering its flips, rentals, real estate investment and brand. John says most people know the company simply by Black Door.
Black Door focuses on Northeast Tarrant County and the surrounding communities, including Southlake, Westlake, Colleyville and Grapevine.
“I think when starting a business, you never fully appreciate how many different hats you’re going to wear,” John said. “We’re not just selling, we’re also building and designing and advertising and running the books.”
Where design, social media, marketing and advertising are Elizabeth’s strengths, John handles the back office, accounting, sales and “making sure the business side of it is all buttoned up.”
FAITH AND FAMILY
When asked whether faith is important in their business, the immediate response was “completely.”
“We are Christians and we are active in our church and our faith is what holds us together and drives and leads our family,” Elizabeth said. “We want to be good stewards of our time while we’re here, and good stewards of their home.”
John always thought he wanted to own his own business one way or another, but Elizabeth never would have guessed she’d be doing this.
“I always wanted to be a mom and a teacher, which I find hilarious that I get to do both,” she said. “But I also would always decorate and I loved to draw pictures of my future house and I enjoyed that. I never thought I would do it as a business, but it’s funny where God takes you. I get to do all three.”
The couple even has a special offer on their website for a $50 gift card to the clients’ favorite restaurant at the end of the project if they can identify this Bible verse: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain to build it.”
“We build trust with our clients and we take that very seriously, and that really comes from our faith, too,” John said. “We want people to understand that we’re accountable for how we treat them and how we treat their project, to God.”
Elizabeth says that living and working in Southlake has allowed them to put down roots not only as a business, but as a family as well. She says that when John worked in Dallas as a lawyer he often began his commute before the sun came up and wasn’t home until the sun came down.
“Him being closer has blessed our lives as a family tremendously because we can actually see him for breakfast, often times for lunch, and he’s home for dinner,” Elizabeth said.
MERGER AND EXPANSION
“Our goal is to really build the brand and build the company to the point where we’re able to provide a service for the clients in the most efficient way, and to do that it’s good to get bigger,” John said. “The merger has allowed us to more than double our revenue and our throughput.”
He and Baker have split duties to help each understand and perform his role. Baker runs the construction and production side of things, taking over once John has sold and designed the project.
John estimates that Black Door alone has completed between 50 and 100 projects since January 2016, but collectively between Black Door and Stately Design, John estimates they’re in the hundreds of projects.
“Rick really was [a mentor]. [He and John] would meet for lunch about once a week for a few months. I would always tell John, ‘You know, we really should figure out a way to merge with Rick,’” Elizabeth said. “[Rick] as well was talking with his wife about who to take on as a partner.”
Acquiring Stately Design is only the beginning of Black Door’s expansion plans.
“We would love to [expand]. We’d love to be in a position where we had satellite offices throughout the Metroplex, throughout Texas,” John said. “We want to grow in a careful way, in a measured way. But we definitely want to be able to provide the services we’re offering here in other places.”
Besides John, Black Door employs eight people full time and hires subcontractors to do the construction work. Elizabeth offers design services on a freelance, project-by-project basis.
John says that while expansion isn’t coming right around the corner, they have their eye on various opportunities.
“It’s all about finding the right people, just like any other business,” he said. “You can have a great brand and a recognizable product, but unless you have the people to pull it off, it’s not going to happen.”
Black Door’s client base comes from a mixture of word-of-mouth recommendations and someone stumbling on the company through social media.
“Those are the two ways that we build our business, but it’s also how we connect with people, because this is a connection business we’re in,” Elizabeth said. “It’s construction, but it’s customer service.”
Back Door Home’s top 5 ways to improve a home before selling
* Update with neutral paint in a warm white – make it feel fresh, clean and move-in ready.
* Give an outdated kitchen a facelift – new counters if necessary, fresh paint, hardware and lighting.
* Allow natural light in – take down heavy drapes, clean the windows and update the lighting.
* Declutter inside and out – it might look plain to you, but it will help the house look clean and allow potential buyers to envision it as their new home.
* Hire a stager to arrange the furniture – remove heavy pieces, pull chairs and sofas away from walls, strive for symmetry and balance.
Source: Back Door Home