Category: Tips & Tricks

Making Irresistible Meals in an Outdoor Kitchen

When it comes to outdoor living, a kitchen is so often the epicenter for connection and wellbeing. With good food and close community on the menu, life is pretty delicious. 

Having an outdoor kitchen the whole family can enjoy is a philosophy that’s alive and well at Lilyana by Hillwood in Celina, TX. Located in our pavilion adjacent to the swimming pool, our outdoor kitchen is open for residents who want to connect and make memories in an open-air environment.

These are folks who have mastered the grill, as well as the art of cooking for a crowd. We asked some of our residents to share their best advice and recommendations for backyard cooking ideas to feed a group. Here’s what they told us: 

When in doubt, start with chicken.

Few foods are as versatile and crowd-pleasing as chicken. It readily adopts almost any flavor profile, is less expensive than red meat, and satisfies picky eaters and kids, too. You can make it the main course or use it to enhance one. 

Some favorite chicken recipes include: 


Kabobs Go with Everything

Because crowd cooking can mean navigating lots of different dietary restrictions, some simple veggie skewers are a great way to cover all your bases and make sure no one leaves your outdoor kitchen hungry! 

You’re free to string up any seasonal veggies you find at the farmer’s market or local grocer. However, you’ll want to avoid those that don’t stand up well to heat like greens. Otherwise, we like to alternate different combinations of:

  • Zucchini.
  • Onions.
  • Bell peppers.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Corn.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Broccoli.
  • Tomatoes.


Have a Plan for Keeping Everyone Cool and Bug-free 

In Texas, we’re fortunate that dining outdoors is a nearly year-round experience. Even still, it’s important to have a plan for keeping everyone hydrated. When the mercury rises, come prepared with a large water dispenser. 

Consider infusing the water with some cucumber slices for 2-4 hours before your gathering. According to dietitians, “These cooling foods clear out the toxin and heat from the body and protect you from many heat-related diseases.”

If you’re looking for a way to keep flies and other bugs away from the meal you have lovingly prepared, try investing in some inexpensive mesh food covers

You can make (almost) anything into a taco.

But really. Be it beans, veggies, or more traditional proteins, if you’re trying to make a meal stretch, portion it out into tacos, load it up with lettuce and salsa, then serve. 

People also love the camaraderie and creativity that comes from a build your own taco bar! 

For more ideas, check out this 27 taco Tuesday recipe roundup from The Spruce.

Use Compostable Dish Ware for Easy Cleanup

Especially if you’re feeding a big crowd, you can end up with a lot of waste. But if your cups, plates, napkins, and cutlery are all compostable, you can have one single trash receptacle to collect everything at once. 

You can dispose of it in a number of ways: by offering to give it to a community garden, contacting your city to see if they have composting services, or starting your own compost in the backyard! 

Keep Side Dishes Simple 

Again, the trick here is to see what’s in season and let that guide your meal planning.

Review this interactive seasonal food guide of fruits and veggies to see the time of year they’re typically most ripe and available. From there, grab some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and fire up the grill for a no-fuss family dinner al fresco.

There’s Always Room for Dessert 

Ending the evening on a sweet note is a great way to bring the meal to a close. Try grilling some summer peaches or autumn apples and using them as an ice cream topping, or making a cobbler on the grill


Backyard Cooking at Lilyana by Hillwood

Is your mouth watering just thinking about all these tasty summer meals? Us, too. It’s one reason we’re so proud of the community outdoor kitchen at Lilyana by Hillwood. And it’s just one of the many perks we offer homeowners. 

Want to see where you fit? Explore our new homes then reach out to a builder to learn more about our new home community in Celina. 

Fun Things to Do and See in Frisco

If you live in one of the suburbs to the North of Dallas, you know that Frisco, Texas is experiencing unprecedented growth.  In fact, population of the city has just about doubled in the last decade.  So what do residents in and around Frisco do for fun?

What Is There to Do In Frisco, Texas?

In 2015 several high profile companies, including the Dallas Cowboys, invested billions of dollars in building The Star in Frisco, which houses the NFL team’s practice facility plus a huge surrounding development.  Let’s explore some of the fun places to go in Frisco.

The Star

The Star should be high on your list of fun places in Frisco.  This amazing entertainment complex offers fans many ways to learn about the Dallas Cowboys. The surrounding areas are fun for the whole family, even those who do not love sports.

  • The Ford Center – A 12,000-seat indoor practice facility and also gives local high school teams the chance to experience the amazing facility the professionals use.
  • The Omni Frisco Hotel
  • Tostitos Championship Plaza – An interactive outdoor area with a replica 50-yard turf football field that gives fans a chance to put themselves in the action
  • Nike @ The Star – A unique retail collaboration with the Dallas Cowboys and the famous sports apparel brand
  • Ring of Honor Walk – Inspired by the Ring of Honor at AT&T Stadium, this area honors the most outstanding former Dallas Cowboys players
  • The Star District – World class shopping, specialty services, and dining to suit all tastes

Numerous restaurants in the Star District are a paradise for those who love to sample flavors of all kinds. From Tupelo Honey’s Southern Kitchen and Bar to Dee Lincoln Prime (a high-end steakhouse), every palate will be satisfied.

Dr. Pepper Ballpark – Frisco Rough Riders

Frisco isn’t known as Sports City USA for nothin’. This thriving city is the home of the Frisco Rough Riders who play at Dr. Pepper Ballpark.  Check out their website in the spring and summer for game tickets and fun promotions. Their season runs from April to September.

Toyota Stadium – FC Dallas

There’s something for soccer lovers in Frisco, too. FC Dallas is part of the legacy of Lamar Hunt, a sports visionary better known as the founder of the Kansas City Chiefs and the American Football League.

Hunt went to the World Cup in England in 1966 and brought soccer to the US the next year. He formed Dallas Tornado in 1967. For the rest of his life, he made history with achievement for soccer in the US, but especially for Dallas and the surrounding areas.

Comerica Center

Home of the Texas Legends basketball team and Frisco Fighters indoor football, the Comerica Center is not only a sports stadium, but also a high-profile event venue. On October 29th they hosted an episode of MasterChef and MasterChef Jr. – one of the world’s most renowned cooking competitions.  This venue is also the practice facility for the NHL’s Dallas Stars.  In addition to all this, it’s the home of numerous seasonal performances such as Cirque Musical Holiday Spectacular.

National Video Game Museum

Do you have a gamer looking for fun things to do in Frisco?  For the video game fanatic in the family, the National Video Game Museum is a hotspot, complete with life-sized statues of Mario and Pacman that will make your toddler (or the toddler in your heart) squeal with joy!

Your older video game lovers can learn about the history of video games and how they work, and there are gaming stations are available for play. As the museum’s website says, this is the place to go in Frisco to experience “the games of yesterday, today AND tomorrow.”

Hope Park

A must visit for grown-ups and their littles near Frisco is Hope Park. Constructed for the purpose of entertaining kids of all ages and all abilities, Hope Park is a wonderland for all of the young members of your family.

From the wheelchair accessible ramps to the cushioned surface for safety, grown-ups can rest easy knowing that their little ones are safe. But don’t worry, this sense of security does not come at the expense to a good time.  A train, a merry-go-round, and a sensory area are just the beginning of what all ages can enjoy at Hope Park.

Texas Sculpture Garden

Art lovers wondering what to do in Frisco will be transfixed by the works on display at the Texas Sculpture Garden.  Indoor and outdoor pieces will challenge you to enter into the sculptor’s journey and see a part of the world through the eyes of a creator.

A free attraction full of modern art experience, the Texas Sculpture Garden will mesmerize young artists and engage older ones. Whether they are transfixed by Sherry Owens’ Coming out of the Circle, or want to linger at Poetry Series II by Roger Colombik, there is something for everyone at this artist’s hamlet.

Sci-Tech Discovery Center

Do you have a young science enthusiast looking for places to go in Frisco? Great news!  For the STEM obsessed, Frisco does not disappoint. Sci-tech Discovery Center is a place for mind-stretching fun with educational exhibits, a packed event calendar, and a venue for private events.  Best of all, the Center has a Makerspace, presented by Raytheon and Siemens, where kids can design, build, test and iterate projects using a range of tools, materials and technologies.

Sci-tech has tools for everything from metalworks to electric, wood fabrication and film editing, even 3D printing. With programs for developing these skills in the works and numerous classes already available, every age will find something that will help them learn and grow.

Museum of the American Railroad

Historians, or curious littles, will be excited to visit the beginnings of a Frisco-based Museum of the American Railroad.

Currently hosting walking tours of their outdoor train collection and an indoor small size TrainTopia, the foundation is raising funds to build a full-on museum to celebrate both the history and the future of the railroad.  We can’t wait to see the finished product!

Frisco Events and Festivals

Here’s one of the best benefits about being close to a city but not living there – you’re far enough away that traffic and chaos doesn’t affect you, but you can drop everything and get there when the mood strikes you.

Frisco has events and festivals all throughout the year, but here are just a few to get you started.

Frisco Fair – This midsummer celebration of life, complete with art and music, carnival style food, rides for the whole family and a fresh market, extended their time this year because the Fair was just too much fun to end it.

Freedom Festival – With a countdown already running on their website, Frisco will not disappoint on the Fourth of July. Races, fireworks, games and food fill the city with lights and celebration.

Festival of Colors – Last but definitely not least, don’t forget to come to the Frisco’s color and water party, hosted by the city in partnership with Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple. Enjoy the festivities with food and music then play in the citywide colorful water fight just like when you were a kid. You can purchase bags of color and water shooters there.

Come Visit Lilyana by Hillwood

Do you wish for the simplicity of small-town life, but worry about leaving behind the fun and excitement of the big city? As we grow families or look for our permanent home, many of us want to achieve that balance, but it can be hard to find.  If you’re looking for that special place and you haven’t yet checked out Lilyana by Hillwood in Celina, TX within Prosper ISD, you might discover it’s just what you’re looking for! Take a virtual tour of Lilyana or contact us for more information.

Choosing a Mortgage Lender

House for sale in Prosper, TX

Buying a new home is a massive investment, and most of us need a mortgage to make it happen. But not all mortgages are created equal; different mortgage lenders offer different things.

Choosing a mortgage lender that you’re comfortable with is just as crucial as finding one that offers a competitive interest rate. If you’re not sure how to find the best mortgage lender for you, the information below will help guide you through the process.

Types of Mortgage Lenders

There are several different types of companies that offer home loans. So, finding a mortgage lender that works for you and your financial situation starts with choosing the right kind.

Retail/Conventional Banks

Retail or conventional banks, like Wells Fargo or Chase Bank, offer mortgages directly to consumers. They also provide other products like savings accounts, personal loans, and auto loans.

They tend to have the most stringent underwriting terms, but many choose them because they already have a relationship with the bank through a savings or checking account. Retail banks also tend to offer a loan process handled in-person rather than online, which makes many mortgage seekers more comfortable.

Credit Unions

Credit unions are like retail banks in that they offer a variety of products and services. However, you must be a member of the credit union to use them.

Joining a credit union usually requires you to share a “common bond” with its other members. This bond could be as simple as living in the same geographical area, or it could be more specific, such as being a military veteran.

Many choose credit unions because they offer member-only deals and provide the same hands-on, personalized service you’d receive at a traditional bank.

Mortgage Brokers

A mortgage broker doesn’t underwrite your mortgage, but they can help you find a lender that will at the best available rate. These 3rd-party intermediaries collect your mortgage application and any other supporting documents; then, they shop mortgage lenders on your behalf.

If you use a mortgage broker, you should ask how many lenders they shop before presenting you with quotes; be sure to get a list of their fees and when they collect them, as well.

Non-Bank Mortgage Lenders (AKA Online Lenders)

Thanks to the internet, non-bank mortgage lenders like Quicken Loans and Loan Depot are growing in popularity. They’re fast and easy to use. Plus, they’re more likely to work with you if you have credit issues.

However, they intimidate many customers who want more personalized service. When the process is entirely online, you may have to dig to find answers to your questions.

What to Look for in a Mortgage Lender

Whether you want to use a broker, a traditional bank, or an online lender, there are several factors to consider when choosing a home loan lender. Remember, if the loan originator is also your loan servicer, you could be in a relationship with them for several decades.

Even if the originator and servicer aren’t the same, it’s vital to consider more than the interest rate, though that’s important too. Below, we outline a few simple steps for choosing a mortgage lender.

How to Choose a Mortgage Lender

When choosing a mortgage lender, be prepared to do some research. Compare interest rates for common loan types, including fixed-rate loans, adjustable loans, and hybrid-adjustable options.

Your interest rate will be determined by several factors, including your credit score and the terms of the loan. You can use an online mortgage calculator to get an idea of what your payment might be. You can change factors such as the loan amount, interest rate, down payment, and term and see how the various combinations affect your monthly obligation.

Be sure you ask each home loan lender about down payment requirements. Many institutions require 20% down, and if you can’t afford that, you will be required to purchase mortgage insurance. If that’s you, it’s essential to factor this cost into your monthly payment budget or look for a more flexible lending option.

Finally, consider the loan terms you’re looking for. Short-term loans have high payments but lower interest rates. Long-term loans allow for more affordable payments but have somewhat higher interest rates.

Questions to Ask Potential Lenders

Once you narrow down your home loan lender search to a few top candidates, ask them the following questions.

  • Who is my main contact person, and how do I reach them?

Your contact person may change once your loan reaches the underwriting process, so knowing the answer to this will be helpful after you submit your application.

  • How much of the process is online vs. in-person?

If a lot of the process is online, there may be fewer fees, but it’s also harder to ask questions or negotiate terms.

  • What fees am I responsible for?

Ask about origination fees, commission, appraisal fees, and credit report fees. Also, ask about discount points, which are up-front fees that can lower the interest rate of your loan.

  • What’s the length of the closing process, and is it possible to expedite it?

Asking about the closing process and whether you can use pre-approval to expedite it will help you know what to expect after finding the house you love.

  • How long of an interest rate lock do you recommend? If closing doesn’t take place in that time frame, what’s the cost of an extension?

Interest rate locks are usually put into place by the lender to hold the interest rate while you’re in the closing process. That way, your interest rate doesn’t increase between accepting the loan and closing on a home.

Many mortgage lenders add extension fees if the closing process isn’t complete in a specified time. Sometimes these fees are high, so ensuring you have a cushion on your interest rate lock time is crucial.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a mortgage lender is a significant decision on your homebuying journey. Everyone wants a competitive interest rate and low closing costs, but other criteria such as time to close and comfort with your lender are also important. Finding a home lender is really about balancing all of these factors until you reach the sweet spot that is just right for your needs.

If you’re ready to buy a home in North Texas, take a look at Lilyana by Hillwood. Our beautiful, master-planned community in Celina, TX has new construction homes and is located within the acclaimed Prosper ISD. Lilyana has an array of fabulous amenities for homeowners to enjoy including a resort-style pool with an outdoor pavilion and kitchen, a catch-and-release fishing pond, and miles of walking trails. See our community for yourself, either in person or with a virtual tour. We’re happy to walk you through the homebuying process, so you can find the home you’ve been dreaming of.

10 Benefits of an Outdoor Kitchen the Whole Family Will Enjoy

Outdoor kitchen Lilyana

If you’re wondering, “What is an outdoor kitchen and why would I use one?” you’ve come to the right place. An outdoor kitchen offers a fun new way of cooking and enjoying nature at the same time by placing the conveniences of an indoor kitchen in a beautiful outdoor setting.

The concept of a kitchen outside the house has become increasingly popular since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which encouraged social distancing and made outdoors the only option for people to meet friends and family. However, outdoor living spaces were already in demand before the pandemic, especially in warmer climates, like Texas and other southern states. People love the option to connect with the natural world and spend time socializing outdoors.

An outdoor kitchen area can be customized in almost any way you desire. Whether you want a sink outdoors for easy cleanup or are interested in ramping up your barbecue capabilities with a smoker, you can decide precisely what your exterior kitchen will have.

Read on to discover the key benefits of outdoor cooking spaces.

1. Simplify Meal Preparation

A kitchen outside the house offers more room. This makes it easier to collaborate and have multiple cooks at work at once without people getting in one another’s way. Plus, guests can help themselves—for example, to grab a drink from the fridge—without interrupting the chef.

2. Enjoy Healthier Meal Options

Having a kitchen outdoors expands your meal options. For example, you can incorporate a barbecue—something you can’t do indoors since you should never grill in enclosed spaces.

This paves the way for a more diverse and healthier selection of food options since grilled foods tend to be lower in fat. Grilled meat, in particular, is lower in calories.

3. Keep Food Smells Outdoors

The smell of a fresh-cooked meal can be tempting—before you eat it. Once you’re finished with your food, you probably don’t want lingering odors around you. With outdoor kitchen cooking, you leave the savory scents outside. This is especially useful for more pungent dishes like fish and garlic.

4. Cut Energy Costs & Keep the Cool Air Inside

Whether you’re using an oven, a stove, or a toaster, cooking generates heat. This can force your air conditioning system to work harder when it’s already warm out, pushing up your utility bills. When you prepare your food outside, this is not a concern.

Plus, if you bring your entire eating and dining area outside, you don’t have to keep opening and closing your door. In contrast, if you’re barbecuing outside, you’ll likely have to go in and out repeatedly, letting cooled air escape each time. With a kitchen outdoors, this isn’t an issue.

5. Spend More Time Outdoors

When you move your meal preparation outside, the entire family will spend more time in nature. This is excellent news for your health, as research shows that spending time in green spaces can improve mental health, alleviate stress, and improve blood pressure. Adults and children alike will benefit.

6. Encourage Physical Activity

Spending time outside also opens up the opportunity for other health-enhancing activities. Residents of Lilyana by Hillwood can prepare a meal at the community’s outdoor pavilion and kitchen while their kids enjoy the adjacent green spaces for a game of pickup soccer, frisbee, or tag.  And the gorgeous, resort-style pool is just steps away.

7. Expand Usable Living Space

A well-designed outdoor kitchen cooking space that also includes a dining spot significantly expands the usable space on your property. It’s like adding another room to the house—the room just happens to be outside.

You can enhance your exterior kitchen’s usability by housing it under a gazebo or pavilion. That way, even if it rains, you can use it.

8. Ramp Up Home Value

Boosting the amount of usable space on a property is a surefire way to increase its value. This is especially true for an outdoor kitchen, given how in-demand they have become. You can expect a return in investment of anywhere from 55% to 200%. If you ever sell your home, this will be a big boon.

9. It’s Fantastic for Entertaining

One of life’s greatest joys is enjoying a good meal with friends and family. A kitchen outside the house with an adjacent dining area gives you another venue to do this. Plus, the chef won’t feel excluded with everyone sitting nearby. It’s an innovative and fun way to entertain.

10. Save Money on Dining Out

What is an outdoor kitchen? It’s more than an outdoor cooking space. Add some twinkly lights or candles, and you can create your very own restaurant just steps from the house. Having this lovely space for dining can make going out to eat less appealing and save you money on restaurant expenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hopefully, you’ve now got a clear answer to your initial query, “What is an outdoor kitchen?” If you still have questions about this topic, our FAQ section has you covered.

Can You Use a Regular Grill in an Outdoor Kitchen?
An outdoor cooking space can be tailored to your requirements. It’s possible to incorporate an outdoor grill into your exterior kitchen, if desired.

How Do I Protect My Outdoor Kitchen from the Weather?
Outdoor kitchens are generally designed with coverings to protect them from the weather. For example, the kitchen may be housed in a gazebo or under a pavilion.

Can You Put a Grill Next to the House?
If you incorporate a grill into your outdoor kitchen area, make sure it isn’t too close to the house which is a fire hazard.

How Far from the House Should the Grill Be?
Make sure to leave at least three feet of space between your grill and the sides of your house for fire safety.

Experience a Kitchen Outdoors at Lilyana

Want to experience the benefits of outdoor kitchen cooking for yourself? Take a virtual tour of Lilyana by Hillwood and see all our beautiful amenities including our outdoor pavilion and kitchen which residents can use year-round. Contact us for more information about our master-planned community in Celina, TX, within Prosper ISD.

4 Reasons to Love Living in Prosper ISD

School girls studying

Whether you’re looking to buy a starter home or need to move to a larger home for your growing family, location is a huge consideration. While you may be thinking about proximity to work, entertainment, and shopping, don’t forget to investigate the area’s schools. Fantastic public schools are one reason parents in Prosper, TX and the surrounding areas love living in the Prosper Independent School District.

Prosper ISD Ratings and Rankings

Out of 1,019 school districts evaluated, Prosper sits high on the charts as the 14th best district in Texas. As such, Prosper ISD school ratings consistently go above and beyond the average. Across Prosper ISD’s 12 elementary schools, four middle schools, and two high schools, the district received an A rating by the Texas Education Agency’s accountability system in 2019. This means that Prosper schools met the top performance targets for student achievement, school progress and “closing the gaps” for Texas schools, based upon testing results from every student enrolled.

Prosper Test Scores Rank in Top 5% for Texas

Prosper ISD’s mission is to prepare students so they can graduate excited, inspired, and prepared to succeed in the rapidly changing environment of higher education and the working world. This mission helps teachers motivate students to achieve 10/10 rankings on tests, placing Prosper schools’ ratings and test scores in the top 5% in the state.

Prosper ISD Rating: Top in Reading and Math Proficiency

Two specific areas in which students in Prosper, TX schools excel are reading and math proficiency—with average scores in the top 5% and 1%, respectively. When it comes to college preparedness, math and reading skills are important building blocks to understanding a large majority of university curricula. If a student has a firm grasp on math and reading, they will have much more flexibility in their future educational and career paths.

Prosper Schools Are More Diverse Than Similar Rural School Districts

Diversity is an important consideration for many young families as they search for a home in a new community. Prosper Independent School District is located in a community with a more diverse population than many other areas of north Texas. Minority enrollment in the Prosper Independent School District accounts for over 43% of the student population.

Students at Prosper schools are taught diversity and inclusion from an early age. Starting in pre-K, students begin learning competencies in interpersonal effectiveness, including:

  • Positive student self-concept
  • Effective interactions with diverse populations
  • Effective and appropriate communication
  • Recognition of personal boundaries, individual rights, and privacy needs of others
  • Effective conflict resolution

Those who choose a home in the Prosper Independent School District can be assured that their children’s schools will reflect our diverse world.

Prosper School District Rating: Top 1% in Graduation Rate

Across the state, the average graduation rate of Texas high schools is 90%. The Prosper school district, however, ranks in the top 1% of the state, with a graduation rate of 99.1%. Studies have shown that more rigorous academic programs tend to have higher graduation rates and lower dropout rates.

Earning a high school diploma has shown to have positive effects that last throughout life. Students who graduate from high school have higher self-esteem, earn a better living, and tend to have a greater quality of life overall.

Master-Planned Community in Prosper ISD

Now, if you’re looking for the best community for relocation within the north Texas and DFW area, look no further than Lilyana by Hillwood. Situated in Celina, TX, just outside Frisco and Plano, homes in Lilyana provide the best of both worlds—proximity to shopping, entertainment, work, and top-tier schools in Prosper ISD. Texas students living in Lilyana attend Johnson Elementary School, Rogers Middle School, and Prosper High School, giving them the opportunity to attend the acclaimed Prosper Independent School District.

In the near future, a Prosper ISD elementary school will be built within the Lilyana community, allowing the neighborhood’s youngest students to walk or bike to school.

Learn more about making your relocation dreams a reality with Lilyana by Hillwood virtual tours, or get in touch with us to discuss your options.

Moving to Celina-Celina City Guide

town square in Illinois

Thinking of moving to Celina, TX? Congratulations! This thriving little town near Dallas-Fort Worth is a great place to live. Learn the answers to your most pressing questions: Is Celina, TX a good place to live? What is Celina, TX’s crime rate? What are some fun things to do in Celina, TX? Small town charm with the big city a short drive away is just one of the many reasons you’ll love this town. Our Celina city guide includes information on what you can do for fun in Celina, and other important details that you will want to know.

One of the Fastest Growing Cities in DFW

It’s no surprise that Celina, TX is one of the fastest-growing cities in DFW. Celina’s growth can be attributed to its convenient location to top employers, thriving business park, top schools, and low crime rate. The Celina, TX crime rate is well below the national average and rated an “A+” by Both violent crimes and property crimes are approximately 70% below the national average, which makes Celina a very safe place to live. These are just a couple of reasons that make Celina appealing to people looking to invest in meaningful place to call home.

Where is Celina, TX

Where is Celina, Texas located? This growing city of just over 23,000 is located up the road from Prosper, about 13 miles north of Frisco and 17 miles northwest of McKinney. Celina, Texas is 33 miles, or 40 minutes north of Plano and 42 miles, or about 50 minutes north of Dallas. Celina is located in both Denton and Collin counties.

Cost of Living in Celina

According to, the cost of living in Celina, TX is 19% lower than the national average. When it comes to housing, utilities, and transportation, Celina just about matches the national average with the exception of housing costs, which are about 18% lower than the average. Food and grocery prices are 11% lower than the national average, whereas healthcare costs are 2% higher than the national average.

What to Do in Celina

You will not run out of fun things to do in and around Celina, TX. Celina’s historic town square offers a variety of wonderful restaurants and unique shops. Nearby cities also have historic downtown areas with shopping markets, seasonal festivals, restaurants, music venues and incredible outdoor space to roam. Places like Hope Park and Arcade 92 are perfect for all ages, young and old! You won’t believe how much fun Celina offers until you see it for yourself.

Four Fun Activities in Celina, TX

  1. Hope Park
    This park is amazing for all children, no matter what their abilities are. It’s an all-inclusive fun land that has playground equipment, splashpads, climbing walls, and a host of developmental play themed areas for all ages to enjoy.
  2. Arcade 92
    Arcade 92 is a place to eat and let your hair down, so to speak. It’s family-friendly but also a popular place to enjoy happy hour or plan a party to celebrate a special occasion. There are games galore, including pinball, retro video games, and the ever-popular gaming lounge.
  3. Historic Downtown McKinney
    Shop, dine, and enjoy is the motto of Historic McKinney, and there are a million reasons why. From fine dining restaurants, chic pubs to local coffee shops and bakeries, McKinney has it all! Cities near McKinney, TX are host to popular events and festivals that are unique to the area and will quickly become a favored tradition.
  4. Frisco Fresh Market
    This popular hot spot offers a year-round farmer’s market that is open, rain or shine. Locally harvested and carefully prepared foods are sold here amongst live music, in-person demonstrations, and special events. This family (and pet) friendly destination offers up to 100 vendors and is home to a wide variety of goods for sale. Typically, cities near Frisco, TX, like Celina, are considered neighbors and are welcomed as part of their community as well.

Celina, TX is a Great Place to Call Home

These are just a few of the attractions Celina, TX offers its residents. The friendly town also eagerly welcomes newcomers, so it’s just the kind of place you can call home. Still not sure if living in Celina, TX is right for you? If you need more encouragement, contact us today. Or better yet, drive on over for a visit, take a look at our homes, and see for yourself all the reasons this up and coming city is so appealing!

Things To Do and See In McKinney, TX

Local Businesses

Whether you’re new to the area or are a native Texan, if you’ve never explored the many fun things to do in McKinney, you are in for a treat. There’s a lot going on in this Collin County town that is home to more than two hundred thousand people. Take a look at all this historic town has to offer. Our collection of fun stuff to do in McKinney includes something for everyone!

Things to Do in McKinney

Wondering what to do near McKinney, TX? You’ll find a variety of activities for all ages. McKinney is a historic town that offers art galleries, live performances, outdoor recreation, shopping, great dining, and nightlife.

Explore McKinney’s History

McKinney was founded in 1848 as the county seat for the newly created Collin County. Visitors can learn more about the area’s history at the Collin County History Museum which is located in the historic 1911 post office building.

Just a five minute walk away is the Chestnut Square Historic Village which houses many historic buildings and is home to the 1854 Faires House, known as the oldest house in McKinney. The 501(c) (3) non-profit Heritage Guild of Collin County operates the village and offers tours of the village, larger city tours, and community farm tours. The guild also hosts a Saturday Farmer’s Market at the village and puts on various fun events such as family workshops, holiday tours, murder mystery dinners, ghost walks, and much more!

Visit Downtown McKinney

McKinney’s historic downtown square is a lovely marriage of historic architecture and modern commerce. The centerpiece of the square is the majestic old Collin County courthouse which was thought to be the tallest building north of San Antonio when it was completed in 1875. Visitors can take a self-guided walking tour of McKinney’s downtown historic district. Guided and trolley tours are also available.

Downtown McKinney is home to more than 100 businesses. Browse for antiques, books, clothing, jewelry, and art. Stop in for a relaxing spa treatment, a fresh baked treat, a coffee or a gourmet meal. Even geocaching enthusiasts will find treasure hunts to enjoy.

Enjoy Outdoor Recreation in McKinney

Some of the best things to do in McKinney, TX involve outdoor activities. Here are a few examples of great places to visit in McKinney, TX when you are feeling active and ready to burn off some energy.

Towne Lake Recreational Area is maintained by McKinney Parks & Recreation and offers activities for all ages including paddle boating on the lake, a fishing pier, a disc golf course, volleyball and horseshoe courts, and baseball fields. There is also a recreation center with a gym, a weight room, an outdoor play structure, a nature trail, and a multi-purpose rec room where programs and classes are held. Contact the rec center for more information on programs and hours of operation and any restrictions due to COVID-19.
Another outdoor option is Erwin Park, a beautiful 110-acre suburban park in North McKinney. There are swings, picnic areas with grills, overnight camping, 3 pavilions, and a 9.5-mile natural-surface trail for hiking and mountain biking.

Visit a Brewery or Vintner

If you are a fan of adult beverages, you’re in luck. You may find the local breweries and wineries to be among your favorite places to visit in McKinney, TX. Franconia Brewing Company produces Bavarian-style beers using traditional German methods. This environmentally-friendly brewer offers weekend tours with tastings. Tupps Brewery is located on the premises of an old cotton mill. Though they are not currently offering brewery tours, the taproom is open.

Wine lovers wishing to try a new varietal have two places to go in McKinney, both located in the historic downtown area. Lone Star Wine Cellars offers food and wine pairings, flight tastings and live music. Landon Winery offers their award-winning wines along with appetizers. You can enjoy them on site at their location or take anything with you to enjoy at home.

Places to Go in McKinney

If you’re looking for more exotic things to do around McKinney, read on. How about a thrilling high-altitude adventure or an all-natural experience? Here are a few more exciting places to visit in McKinney, TX.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

One of the coolest places to go in McKinney, TX is up! Yes, you read that right! Rohr balloons offers hot air balloon rides year-round on weekdays and weekends. Rides can accommodate large groups, you can arrange a private ride for two, three or four passengers, or you can book a shared ride. Free digital photos and video are included with each flight. Special options such as tethered flights, proposal packages, and wedding packages are also available.

Heard Wildlife Museum

One of the best things to do with kids in McKinney is to visit the Heard Wildlife Museum. This 289-acre nature preserve and museum has been connecting people and nature for more than fifty years. Heard is a wildlife sanctuary with an amazing assortment of wildlife, natural science exhibits, animatronic dinosaurs, miles of nature trails, a native Texas plant and butterfly garden, a ropes course with a zip line and much more. The museum hosts events and programs for kids and adults throughout the year such as night time hikes, summer and break camps, and Halloween and holiday themed events.

Events Near McKinney, TX

The greater North Texas area is home to so many great things to see and do, there’s no wonder it’s growing by leaps and bounds. That’s one reason so many families are buying new homes in Celina, just minutes away from all fun things to do in McKinney. In addition to all the attractions we’ve reviewed above, our area hosts some wonderful seasonal festivals that offer additional excitement for residents and visitors alike.

Some examples of the wonderful events near McKinney, TX include the following:

Arts in Bloom in Historic Downtown McKinney. For this April festival, more than 100 artists set up on the streets surrounding the performing arts center in downtown. The festival includes fine arts, dance, performance art, music, food vendors, Texas wineries, and more!

Red, White and BOOM! This July 4th celebration offers free fireworks, entertainment, and family activities.

McKinney Oktoberfest. Held in late September/early October, this festival features local breweries, food trucks, and live entertainment.

Home for the Holidays, a McKinney Christmas. Celebrate the season in historic downtown McKinney with Santa Claus, a Christmas carousel, family activities, an art market, and much more.

We hope you find a few things to try amongst all these McKinney, TX things to do! When you are ready to explore master-planned residential communities in North Texas, get in touch with us at Lilyana by Hillwood.

Considerations When Relocating for Work in Texas

Lilyana Amenity Center

The job market is always shifting and changing. Some career opportunities may require remote work, while other jobs call for a long commute. Occasionally, a new job opportunity can also require relocating to another city or even another part of the country.

One area of the country that has always had a booming and diverse job market is Texas. With prominent companies in the oil and gas industry, and opportunities in healthcare, technology, and renewable energy, relocating to Texas presents a lot of possibilities for professional growth.

Whether you’re a Texas native moving within the state, or you’re relocating to Texas from another part of the county, finding your footing in a new community can be tricky. That’s why the real estate experts at Lilyana have compiled some helpful steps for moving to a new city so you can feel confident and relaxed throughout the moving process.

Consider Texas’s Family-Friendly Reputation

In addition to the booming job market, Texas also has some of the most family-friendly communities in the country. For those looking for nature and community, families relocating to Texas can get the best of both worlds in a community like Lilyana.

Only 10 minutes away from Frisco with 50 acres of open space and nature walks, Lilyana strikes the right balance between the convenience of city living with the restorative benefits of nature. Children can enjoy outdoor activities with a number of bike trails and community parks, while busy parents can maintain a better work-life balance when relocating for work to the serene Lilyana community. In addition to recreational amenities, Lilyana also has access to Prosper ISD Schools for elementary, middle school, and high school-aged kids.

When moving your family for a job, looking for kid-friendly communities is key, and Lilyana has always offered residents a happy and relaxed place to live, grow, and explore.

Consider Listing Prices of Available Homes

It’s important to understand the real estate market of your prospective new neighborhood when relocating for a job. According to Zillow, Texas’s median home value is $211,199 which is a bit below the national average. While this average is for the entire state, familiarizing oneself with listing prices around major cities is a helpful step for moving to a new city.

As a newly developed community north of Frisco in the City of Celina, Lilyana’s beautiful, family-sized homes are competitively priced and move-in ready. The expert home builders at Lilyana make it possible to relocate quickly while also building the home of your dreams.

From spacious 4-bedroom homes built by Perry Homes or Highland Homes to charming residences built by American Legend Homes, Lilyana has home styles and competitive pricing to suit every homebuyer. Get to know the real estate market of your prospective community by contacting the real estate experts at Lilyana and check out the most popular builds and current listing prices.

Consider the New Cost of Living

In addition to a new community to explore and new neighbors to meet, there are also financial considerations to take into account as a step for moving to a new city. Understanding cost of living is particularly helpful when relocating for work because it can help you approach the subject of a raise or a cost of living adjustment with an employer.

The average cost of living is lower in Texas than the national average. This lower cost of living can help you and your family save money and potentially afford a larger home. You’ll also want to keep in mind Texas is one of the only states without a state income tax, so there’s added potential to save money when relocating to the Lone Star state.

Aside from taxes and cost of living considerations, Texas has many communities, like Lilyana, that use semi-annual HOA payments for maintenance on common areas, amenities, and parks. Additionally, Lilyana is located in a PID (Public Improvement District) that allows cities to fund public infrastructure. This helps the neighborhood run efficiently without much additional cost to the residents. To learn more about tax rates and neighborhood services, read Lilyana’s FAQs.

Consider the Weather and Climate

Preparing for a different climate when moving family for a job is another great way to get settled in a new community. For Texans moving to areas of the country where it tends to be cooler, preparing for seasons can help you and your family adjust to snowy winters and April showers.

For those relocating to Texas, it will be necessary to prepare for warmer weather and less seasonal change. In cities like Dallas, Frisco, and Celina in north Texas, the average annual high temperature is 77°F while the average annual low is 52°F. For cities in the south like Austin, annual highs tend to reach the 80s with lows in the 60s.

The amount of annual rainfall is another thing to consider with moving family for a job. Homebuyers looking at homes in the Dallas area can expect more rainfall than those seeking to purchase a home near Austin. Understanding these temperature averages as well as weather trends can help you make the right weather-proofing decisions for your new home long before you move in.

Visit The Area Before the Move

Another helpful step for moving to a new city is to plan a visit. Photos, images, and maps online can be a great help in the early stages of research, but physically visiting the community or seeing available homes in person can bring all of those details fully into focus.

In a community like Lilyana, sales counselors and the friendly HOA are always ready to welcome guests and provide tours of the communal spaces at the heart of the community. From the refreshing community pool to the outdoor pavilion and open green spaces, Lilyana provides access to relaxation and activity. Get in touch today and experience the convenience and community that makes Lilyana a truly special place to live.

When to Remodel vs Build New: A Homebuyer’s Guide

Lilyana home Living Room

In the United States, it seems every home comes with its own little personality and unique characteristics. From ornate town houses on the East Coast to quaint Spanish style homes in the West, every corner of the country has put its own personal spin on home and community.

This abundance of choice makes the home buying process particularly exciting and gives families options for remodeling their current home in a neighborhood they’re familiar with, or starting fresh with a new construction home and the new possibilities it provides. Both options present opportunities for building the home of your dreams while connecting you with the community.

The Lilyana community has experience with the costs, time commitments, and resources associated with new construction and remodeled homes, and they’re here to help you decide which route is right for you and your family.

Consider Available Space

When choosing between remodeling or building a new home, it’s important to find out whether or not your current lot holds enough space to accommodate the type of remodel or renovation you and your family would like to make. Measure the dimensions of your home’s lot and compare the amount of available space with the addition or renovation your family would like to build.

If there is plenty of space on your existing lot and your home’s infrastructure is able to support the addition, you can start budgeting and making a financial plan to remodel your home. If space is limited, it may be a good idea to start considering the benefits of buying a new build instead of remodeling.

Consider Going Green

Another important consideration when deciding between new construction or remodeled homes is whether you and your family would like to “go green.” Every home in the Lilyana community is built with a deep respect for nature and the Texas landscape, and one of the benefits of buying a new build — particularly homes in the Lilyana community — is the ability to add environmentally friendly upgrades.

Older homes are beautiful, imbued with character from previous owners and architecture from the past. But many older homes may have a harder time supporting the latest energy efficient technology. This ability to add energy efficient upgrades is a benefit of buying a new construction home. With options for  water saving fixtures, energy efficient HVAC systems, lighting solutions, better insulation, and new smart home technology, a new build home can help reduce your carbon footprint and save money on energy each year.

Break Houses

Consider Your Time Frame

There are two important time frames to take into consideration when deciding between a new construction or remodel. First, how soon would you like the project completed? A new construction takes approximately six months while a remodel can take a matter of weeks, depending on the extent of the work.

The second timeline to consider is how long you plan on staying in the home. Experts suggest you will need to stay in your home for at least 5-7 years to get the full return on your remodeling investment. If you and your family foresee a long future in your current home, it may make more sense to choose that route.

For families that are moving for work or intend to move within the next two or three years, anyway, it may be more beneficial to buy a new construction home that doesn’t need remodeling and focus on building relationships in the community and spending time with family.

Consider The Cost of Remodeling vs Buying New

There are quite a few benefits of buying a new build over renovating your current home. With a new construction home, you can choose customization and design specifications for every room in the house! With a remodel, you may have to introduce changes one room at a time.

Additionally, renovating and remodeling can quickly get expensive. Whether you are hiring professionals or doing it yourself, things add up fast, and unforeseen issues or costs can push back the project. This is especially true of older homes. You have to consider not only the cost of labor and materials, but also elements like electrical and plumbing that may need to be brought up to code when considering to remodel vs build new.

Consider The Convenience of New Construction or Remodel

Another benefit of buying a new construction home vs renovating is not having to live in the house while it’s under construction. Between dust, fumes, and just general inconveniences, it can be hard to coexist when a remodel is going on, especially with curious little ones running around the house.

Particularly for families with small children or those expecting a new baby, a benefit of buying a new build is that you and your family can focus on what’s really important while skilled builders and craftsmen construct your home while you live somewhere else. Having this distance from the noise and drone of construction can allow you and your family to relax and carry on with life as usual.

If you are interested in a new construction home, the residences in the Lilyana community are built new with upgraded appliances, large open floor plans, and yard space perfect for raising families in a calm environment. With a new build home from Lilyana, families can take advantage of hikes, biking trails, and community amenities while adding upgrades and customization to make their home special. Find out more about the benefit of buying a new construction home from Lilyana today.

5 Tips for Creating Curb Appeal on a Budget

Lilyana Man running

We’ve all felt that calmness that settles in the house when the kids’ toys are put away, the dishes are done, the bed is made, and the laundry’s folded. The kind of harmony that occurs when everything is in its place.

Rarely do people create that same harmony with their home’s curb appeal. Great curb appeal ideas don’t need to break the bank, in fact, there are many ways to spruce up the outside of your house without making any major buys or taking on a redesign project.

Bring a sense of tidiness and character to your front door with these simple curb appeal ideas, DIYs, and yard projects that are budget-friendly and fun for the whole family.

Accent Your Entryway

If taking on a design rehaul of your front yard is not in the budget, there are simple ways to introduce landscaping elements to your home without pulling up grass and planting bushes. You can easily create front curb appeal with perfectly placed planters and your favorite houseplants.

There are so many plants at your disposal to use, take a look at your parks for inspiration, or pull ideas from around your neighborhood to find plants that you love. Create immediate curb appeal with matching, tall planters on either side of your front door to create a focal point and introduce some style to porches with limited space.

Using hanging pots for spider plants, lace ivy, and trailing succulents to create front curb appeal from any angle, and to keep plants out of reach of inquisitive little ones.

Play With Color

Once you’ve brightened up your entryway with some friendly, green plants, you can mix in even more color to the front of your house by repainting your front door. Take a walk around the community to get inspired, and look for recurring colors in your neighbor’s gardens and front yards.

Once you’ve gotten a sense of your community’s curb appeal aesthetic, it’ll be easier for you to settle on a shade that you and your neighbors will love. Place tape around handles, windows, and wood details to paint your door in sections, and sand down any rough spots to create an even coat.

With a small, angled brush, paint recessed or elevated details of the door first, following up with larger, flat surfaces. Apply a second or third coat and a touch up uneven sections.

Remove the tape once the paint is dry, step back, and marvel at how much curb appeal you can achieve with just a few coats of paint.

Clear a Path

Whether playing games, sharing stories, or enjoying a home cooked meal, few occasions are lovelier than evenings spent with family and friends. But what does game night have to do with front curb appeal, you might ask? One of the easiest and most budget-friendly front curb appeal ideas homeowners can make a reality is to simply create a clear path to the front door.

Illuminate a footway for guests with strategically placed lights, or lay stones and flowers to create a path from the driveway. Once you’ve defined a walkway, keep this area clear by periodically removing toys, sports equipment, or random gardening supplies that might accumulate over time.

Just as you would straighten pillows and dust shelves when guests come over, it’s important to consider tidying up any walkways or footpaths leading up to your front door. Once you create a habit of straightening up the front yard, whenever you do a weekly sweep of the house, your home’s curb appeal will noticeably increase without a serious blow to your budget.

Create Symmetry

While clearing a path is a great curb appeal idea for any budget, creating symmetry at your front door is a tried-and-true method for introducing elements of style without a remodel.

You can work with existing decor and simply rearrange these items until they create balance on your front porch. Or, if you’re ready for an upgrade, you can replace old porch lights with new, matching fixtures to bookend the front door, or install planters and DIY flower boxes to accentuate sunny windows.

Accentuate your front yard with your favorite plants evenly distributed on either side of your home’s front steps, or trim existing bushes to create uniformity and a focal point to your front door. Remember, creating symmetry does not mean throwing out the old and replacing it with two of something new, it just means striking a balance.

Care for Your Lawn

One of the best ways to improve and maintain your home’s front curb appeal is to invest time in lawn care. Research your area’s weather trends, understand the nutrition requirements of your lawn’s specific species of grass and designate time to aerating, trimming, watering, and weather prepping your lawn to improve its longevity.

Design projects and DIY curb appeal ideas are great for building your home’s personality, but even the nicest planters and updated lighting won’t hold a candle to a yard in obvious need of some TLC.

Creating curb appeal on a budget is a great way to elevate your home’s appearance and get your family involved in home improvement. You’ll achieve the design refresh of your dreams without touching a dime and develop some healthy habits along the way.

5 Creative Tips on How to Increase Home Value

House on Sunflower showing kitchen

Moving into the home of your dreams is an exciting moment for any new homeowner. Between raising a family, parties in the backyard, lazy Sundays on the couch, and adventurous outings, your first home will experience many of life’s events right along with you, transforming gradually over time as you and your family continue to grow.

Adding value to your home can include any of your particular preferences. You can hang family photos, decorate with houseplants, or replace the medicine cabinet with a stylish mirror for instant upgrades around the house. But, for homeowners hoping to increase their home’s value in a way that is more impactful in the long run, there are much bigger projects that will provide more value for you when the time comes to sell.

Here’s how to increase your home’s value with five, unique tips that will make your house standout in your market and community.

Add Smart Technology

We know that swapping out an old dishwasher for an energy-efficient alternative instantly adds value to a home. But these days, homeowners seem to be going the extra mile, outfitting their houses with smart technology that controls everything from light switches to window blinds.

According to a 2019 design forecast published by Zillow, smart home technology was a top search among homebuyers online—and for good reason. Smart technology has gradually evolved to more than just voice-activated hubs in the kitchen and cameras at the front door. Now, there are more ways than ever to integrate smart devices into a home that are incredibly useful without being invasive.

You can control the look and feel of your home with smart light bulbs from Philips Hue and smart switches like the Ecobee Switch+. Swap out old power strips with smart plugs that connect to wifi, for remote control of lights and monthly reports on energy usage. Integrate smart technology into your home’s climate control with brands like Nest for an easy way to increase home value.

Subtle upgrades to things like light switches, window blinds, and climate control will give you an advantage in the real estate market, can help ease the daily grind, and add value to your home in a big way.

Go Green With Your Yard

Like smart technology, going green is a big trend with homeowners and homebuyers. While it’s great to make environmentally-friendly improvements to the areas of our homes that use the most energy, we often overlook the place where going green is the most obvious, if not ironic – the front yard.

Replace high-maintenance plants with plants that are native to your area. Not only will native plants require less watering and be less prone to disease and pests, this is a cheap way to increase home value and introduce long-term, environmentally-friendly improvements into your community. You can also install a rain barrel to irrigate your flowers and plants naturally without drawing from groundwater sources.

Eco-friendly improvements are a great way to increase home value and equip future owners with the means to continue environmentally-productive practices long after your home goes on the market.

Reface and Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Real estate trends have shown that the most impactful investment a homeowner can make is a kitchen remodel. And while most remodels will cost you a pretty penny, there are relatively cheap ways to increase home value and give your kitchen a refresh.

Instead of replacing cabinets entirely, simply refacing them is enough to transform outdated looking cabinetry. If you’re a gifted DIY’er, you may even be able to do the work yourself, replacing cabinet doors, hinges, and hardware over the course of a weekend and cut costs there as well.

If the thought of refacing cabinets gets you stressed, keep in mind that homeowners that took on moderate kitchen upgrades saw, on average, an 80% return on their investment, according to Nerdwallet. You don’t have to replace countertops or install expensive stone floors to achieve a new look and increase home value. In many cases, simply varying cabinet shades, upgrading lights and appliances, and swapping outdated hardware is enough to add value to a home without breaking the bank.

Paint the Living Room Taupe and the Front Door Black

A splash of paint goes a long way in the kitchen, as well as in the living room, bathroom, bedroom, even the front door. Paint is a cheap way to increase home value. But that’s not to say that you should go ahead and paint every room in your house just any old color.

According to a study conducted by Zillow in 2018, homeowners could increase home value simply by painting different rooms of their house with specific shades. Taupe walls in the living room, for example, increased home value by $2,793, while homes with black or charcoal front doors sold for nearly $6,000 more than homes with a front door in a light color.

Strategic home improvements are not only what adds value to a home in an immediate sense, they also make it possible to receive a greater return in the future and financially prepare for the next set of life’s events.

Create a Reading Nook or a Quiet Space

An unexpected, yet cost-effective way to gain the interest of buyers and increase home value is instead to designate a reading nook, or create a quiet space for things like yoga and meditation. Creating a reading nook is a great way to fill those areas of a house that may otherwise remain empty.

Install a bench below a window, or on a staircase landing for impromptu reading sessions. You can even go a step further and use composite doors, instead of hollow, to introduce immediate soundproofing and transform an unused room into a full-fledged at-home yoga studio. You’ll increase home value in a unique way and reap the benefits of quiet reflection in the meantime.

What adds value to your home can be subjective and definitely personal, but there are some tried-and-true improvements you can do to benefit your home today and set it up for success in the future.