Photo via Har.com

When it comes to home improvement projects, residents of the Houston metro area lean more toward do-it-yourself than call-a-pro, a new study from personal finance website NerdWallet shows.

The study looks at home improvement statistics for the country’s 15 largest metro areas that came from the U.S. Census Bureau. It finds that 35 percent of people in the Houston area tackle home improvement projects on their own, compared with the median of 30 percent for the top 15 metro areas.

Translation: Houstonians are a bit more familiar with hammers and nails than their big-city counterparts, and a bit more likely to be shopping for faucets at Home Depot and Lowe’s.

However, Houston falls short of the DIY rate for the U.S. as a whole — 38 percent.

Nonetheless, Houston’s DIYers are saving money. The study shows the cost of a typical DIY project in the region adds up to $1,900 — $600 less than if you hire a professional to do the job.

Houstonians do spend slightly more on home improvements than other Americans, according to the study. In the Houston area, the median project represents 1.7 percent of household income. By comparison, the median project in the U.S. accounts for 1.5 percent of household income.

Yet residents of the Houston area undertake fewer home improvement projects than other Americans. From 2015 to 2017, the Houston area nailed down 1.39 projects per household, compared with 1.47 projects per household around the U.S., according to the study.

Holden Lewis, NerdWallet’s home expert, points out that the home improvement figures for the Houston area were collected before Hurricane Harvey struck. In the aftermath of Harvey, it’s likely that Houston’s home improvement picture changed.

“Each city has its own vibe and way of doing things, including home improvements,” Lewis says. “I mean, Detroit has Greek food and snow, and Dallas has Mexican food and hail. And they’re different in how much homeowners spend on home improvements, what kinds they do, and how often they tackle do-it-yourself projects. Like food, culture, and weather, all cities have their differences when it comes to home improvements.”

Courtesy photo

Some of the country’s savviest online shoppers are right here in Texas

We Know Our Deals

Texas has done it again, scoring high on another best-of list. NerdWallet just released its list of savviest online shoppers, and Fort Worth comes in at No. 18 overall and No. 1 in the state. Not too far behind is San Antonio at No. 25, where shoppers save 18.26 percent online and Houston suburb Spring at No. 29 (18.2 percent savings).

To gather the data, NerdWallet teamed up with Honey, a browser extension that finds and selects the best promo codes for online shoppers. They wanted to know how much, on average, shoppers save online, state by state. The team analyzed data collected between March 1 and August 30, from more than 2 million shoppers nationwide.

Online shoppers in Fort Worth save an average of 18.49 percent on their purchases, which is a bit higher than the state’s average savings of 18 percent. In all, seven Texas cities made the list. Dallas cam in at No. 36 (18.14 percent savings), Austin No. 39 (18.1 percent savings), Houston No. 62 (17.79 percent savings), and finally Plano at No. 82 (17.42 percent savings).

So what do Texans love to buy? According to NerdWallet, we’re the best at shopping for eyewear, from sites like Warby Parker. It’s worth noting that Austinites are the best overall when it comes to saving a few bucks on their pets.


Smartphone love: Houston named one of the most mobile-friendly cities in U.S.

Houston Goes Mobile

Watch out, San Francisco and San Jose. Houston is one of the most mobile-friendly cities in the U.S., according to a new survey, beating out the popular California tech hubs.

Consumer finance website NerdWallet conducted a study to find the top mobile-friendly cities in America, and Houston came in at No. 6. The list identifies the cities where customers receive the best connection, in-person customer service and are accommodated with specially designed mobile websites.

The rankings are also based on carrier network performance, network coverage, taxes and fees, and crime risk methodology.

So how did Houston beat out other major tech cities? Nerdwallet says:

The largest city in Texas ranks 16th on our list for network coverage, but it makes up for that in customer service, with 4.71 mobile phone stores per 10,000 residents, which is above the average of 3.83 stores per 10,000 residents in all 50 cities. The city website offers a range of services that can be accessed by smartphone — such as reporting a pothole, paying for a parking ticket or applying for city jobs.

Atlanta leads the list, followed by San Diego, Sacramento, Seattle and Chicago.

Austin came in at No. 10. The Texas capital city ranks faster in upload speeds than many of the other 50 cities, aided by Google Fiber Community Connections. It's home to an average wireless tax rate, but it’s No. 8 for all cities in the number mobile phone stores (4.6 per 10,000 residents).

Of the 50 top cities, Fort Worth ranks No. 21, Dallas No. 26, San Antonio No. 30, and El Paso No. 32.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Landmark Rice Village art gallery hosts first-ever sale event ahead of transformation into multipurpose space

thanks for the memories

For some 40 years, much-heralded Houston art maven Ron Gremillion has been a fixture of the local scene as a buyer, gallerist, and collector. Indeed, his Gremillion and Co. Fine Art complex has become a Rice University landmark.

Seemingly, the Gremillion and Co. Fine Art compound at 2501 Sunset Blvd. would endure in its current iteration for another decade. But like much of Houston these days, an enduring local space is being reimagined.

A group of Houston investors have purchased Gremillion’s property, which was designed by acclaimed architect Jim Lass and are refreshing the gallery and annex — both totaling more than 21,000 square feet. The group has also purchased an adjacent home at 2508 Nottingham St. that dates back to around 1940, which has been gutted to make way for a catering kitchen and new guest apartments upstairs for visiting artists, chefs, and other creatives tied to support inhouse programming and private events.

The result is a new multipurpose space replete with a shaded garden and tree-shaded terrace, which will be renamed Horizon on Sunset. Plans call for debuts by February 2023.

Fans can catch a sneak peek of the new Horizon Sunset during a special Gremillion and Co. Fine Art even and sale — a first in the company’s four-decade history — beginning Saturday, December 3. The specialty sale will last one month, with some 500 of Gremillion’s mostly modern assembled works on sale from $200 t0 $200,000.

Gremillion will personally oversee the sale and consult with potential buyers, along with guest curator Elise Arnoult Miller of Houston-based Arnoult Fine Art Consulting. “Gremillion is a gallery that has supported artists and put them first, and to some degree, that’s how this vast collection was amassed – pieces never stopped coming,” Gremillion noted in a statement. “This last hurrah is an opportunity to pair beautiful works of art with buyers that will be moved by them, compensate their talented creators and make way for the next chapter in a space that has made so many memories.”

Consider this a chance to score some valuable art at bargain prices, and pay tribute to a Houston institution.


Gremillion and Co. Fine Art (2501 Sunset Blvd.) will host its first and only sale beginning Saturday, December 3. For hours and more information, visit www.gremillion.com.

Briargrove piano bar changes tune to new steak-driven supper club concept

No cap

A Houston psychiatrist will revive a beloved piano bar that closed during the middle of the pandemic. Caps Supper Club & Bar will open early next year in the former Caps Piano Bar space in Briargrove (2610 Briar Ridge Dr.).

Dr. Venkata Diddi tells CultureMap that he became interested in the restaurant business at the encouragement of his wife, who had worked in the industry before the couple had children and wanted to resume working now that they’re older. He found Caps at the suggestion of a friend who had been a regular at the intimate space, which had a following for its live music, strong drinks, and complimentary popcorn until it closed in 2021. Instead of simply reopening the bar, Diddi decided to add a restaurant aspect and turn the concept into a supper club.

Caps supper club Venkata Diddi Dr. Venkata Diddi will open Caps Supper Club next year.Photo by Fulton Davenport

Diddi literally plans to get the band back together. The same performers who graced the Caps stage for 17 years will return when the restaurant reopens. During happy hour and the early evening, a piano player will provide a more subdued form of entertainment.

Previously, Caps regulars would order food from nearby steakhouses, but Diddi has brought the food program in house. The proprietor turned to consulting chef Omar Pereney to create a menu of steakhouse fare and other comforting dishes.

A meal at Caps could start with raw dishes like oysters or steak tartare before moving on to shareables such as deviled eggs, fried calamari, or a charcuterie board. Entree choices include seafood, two pastas, a burger, and three steaks — all of which can be paired with sides such as creamed spinach mac and cheese, parmesan truffle fries, or crispy Brussels sprouts.

End the meal with one of three desserts. Beverage options include a range of cocktails as well as wines by-the-glass or bottle.

“People shouldn’t have to think hard when ordering from the menu. The dishes we will serve will only hold three or four components, but they make each other stronger,” Pereney said in a statement. “Our menu will be constantly evolving, and though there isn’t one flavor or ingredient that inspires it, seafood will be a main theme carried throughout.”

Scheduled to open in January, Caps will be open Monday - Saturday beginning at 4 pm with live music nightly. The space will seat just under 100 people and will include a private dining room.

Check off everyone on your holiday list at Houston's Rice Village

Wrap It Up

Make this holiday season a little more merry and bright when you shop for everyone on your list at Rice Village. The walkable shopping destination has everything from sparkly jewelry to yummy desserts to indulgent beauty treatments — take a look at some gift inspo below.

Sweet treats
Give the gift sure to please everyone: Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. Or if a frozen gift isn’t your thing, pick up a gift card for ice cream and get a scoop (or two or three) for yourself while you're there. Made from simple and choice ingredients, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream has 20-plus classic and vegan ice cream flavors to choose from.

Treat yourself and others with Sprinkles cupcakes this holiday season, with flavors like Christmas cookie, gingerbread, chocolate peppermint, and much more.

Show your host or colleague how much you care with a holiday treat from Badolina Bakery & Cafe. Their picturesque cakes — which are available in sizes of six, eight, or nine inches — are offered in a variety of shapes and flavors including raspberry rose, chocolate mousse, and cheesecake. While some are available daily on a first-come, first-served basis, it's recommended you place an order at least 24 hours in advance.

Break bread with friends by gifting one of Badolina's signature loaves. For something all wrapped up, a cylinder of triple-chocolate chip cookies or a box of florentines is the perfect present.

Festive fashion
Your search for the perfect present stops here. With crowd-favorite styles in signature soft fabrics, Tasc Performance has something for everyone on your list — all you need is the wrapping paper.

Make your holiday haul walk taller this year with a gift from Tecovas. Their handmade Western boots, bags, and apparel have a quality, fit, and feel you’ll notice from the first time you hold them and try them on.

Hospitality is a big part of the Tecovas experience, and walking into a Tecovas store is a sensory one. The smell of fine leather and the feel of quality Western goods will make you want to explore their selection of boots in calfskin and exotic styles, and maybe even grab a complimentary beverage and kick your feet up.

Vuori draws inspiration from the active California lifestyle: an integration of fitness, yoga, surf, and life. Looking for the perfect holiday gift? Lean into comfort with Vuori’s best-selling DreamKnit fabric — find it for him in the Ponto Collection or for her in the Halo Collection.

However you celebrate, Warby Parker has merriment-inspiring frames, gift cards, and accessories to make your season a success. All winter long, every pair of glasses or sunglasses comes in eye-popping, ready-to-unwrap packaging designed by artist Amrita Moreno. Purchase any two or more prescription pairs, and receive 15 percent off — like magic. (Restrictions apply.)

Good to give but better to get, Krewe is an independent eyewear company that draws creative inspiration from the vibrant culture and spirit of New Orleans and infuses it into every pair of its exceptional, hand-crafted frames.

Nanos, the Spanish fashion house dedicated to children since 1963, offers baby boy, baby girl, little boy, and little girl clothing made in Spain, where every thread is treated with love. This holiday, give the littles in your life the gift of high-quality clothing.

Merry makeup and skincare
The Haus Holiday Haul from Face Haus includes a Haus Facial ($110 value), The Rescue Worker Super Nutrient Face Oil ($39 value), The Schmoozer Hydrating Lip Care ($10 value), and a video tutorial from on of their superstar Esthies, who will help you choose a facial and share tips and tricks on how to use the products at home. Get all this for only $145.

Find fragrance gifts for $75 and under at Sephora's, and scoop up sets for everyone on your list (including you!).

Give the gift of a holiday glow-up with a SkinSpirit gift certificate that's valid on any treatment from SkinSpirit's extensive menu of medical-grade facials and aesthetic medical services.

Bluemercury is making gifting this holiday season easier than ever. Visit the link to explore their gift guide and plan your trip to your neighborhood location in Rice Village. Visit the Beauty Experts in-store for advice on all the latest limited edition gift sets. Plus, they'll even wrap your gifts for you, too.

Glittering baubles
Featuring beloved precious and semi-precious stones, like their signature turquoise sourced from Arizona and set in 14K gold, local jewelry brand Christina Greene is a go-to for gifting.

Some seasonal favorites include the Simplicity or Southwestern collections for her, cufflinks sets for him, gold beaded bracelets for the trendsetter in your life, or the Letter Necklace collection for those celebrating major milestones in their lives (like "mama," "Mrs.," and "love").

Looking for gifts that are uniquely Texas? Christina Greene also features a wide range of hat bands and badge holders that are perfect for rodeo season. True to its local roots, you can also find a unique turquoise belt buckle, statement-making squash blossom necklaces, and the popular Texas Strong necklace.

Home for the holidays
Shop for the master chef, self-care guru, WFH wiz, budding sommelier, and beyond at CB2. For the entertainer(s) in your life, think modern cheese knives and serving trays, soft throws, candles, beverage dispensers, ice buckets, and gold or marble cake stands.

For the game lover in your life, board games like chess and Scrabble never go out of fashion. Try versions made with marble or wood breathe new life into the classics.

Stop by and get some supremely soft statement gifts with an undeniable wow factor at Parachute Home. Truly thoughtful essentials to elevate the every day, these crowd-pleasers are perfect for cozy season. Choose from soft sheets, cozy quilts, joyful jammies, and more essentials to promote great sleep.

Forget the elf, we'd rather have those adorable holiday wine glasses from Cru Home on the shelf. These stemless wine glasses feature a festive and fun Christmas drinking phrase, and make the perfect gifts and stocking stuffers. Stop in to the convenient Rice Village location to stock up on these and other great last-minute gems for your friends and loved ones


Visit these retailers and more at Rice Village, located at Kirby and University.

Photo courtesy of Sprinkles