Camp Gladiator photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Best of Big D: Services 2012

Need help with your pet, your home, your car, or yourself? Check out our picks.

Best Hair Salon
Salon Lucien

When we finally make time for a salon visit, we want luxury, not another bothersome obligation. This salon is a mini vacation, complete with free wine and snacks. Continuing education for stylists and colorists is a top priority, and the staff is knowledgeable on everything from color and extensions to the best take-home products. With service like this, we don’t even mind the price. (Cuts begin at $65.)

Readers’ Pick: Johnny Rodriguez, The Salon

Best Place To Get Eyebrows Done
Laura the Brow Queen

Egyptian-born supercilium specialist Laura Khalil makes it her mission to create the most beautiful arches in the city. She carefully studies each client’s facial structure to ascertain exactly how brows will look best, and then she goes to work. She lives by the credo that brows should look natural and frame the eyes so as to enhance them, not overshadow them. With a combination of waxing and tweezing, Khalil can tame even the most unruly eyebrows.

Readers’ Pick: Cindy DiMaggio at Salon Boutique

Best Wax
Spa Habitat

We’ve been around enough to tell you a painless wax doesn’t exist—sorry. But the level of torture can vary, and Spa Habitat is relatively easy. The procedure is like a spa treatment (warm neck pillows and hot tea while you wait), and natural wax exfoliates skin while removing hair. Soothing postwax skin creams are available in the apothecary, but we never experience bumps or irritation.

Readers’ Pick: Shellie Liptak at Salon Boutique

Best Facial
Renee Rouleau

A relaxing facial is great. By all means, bring on the aromatherapy. But when it’s results we want, we book with Renee Rouleau. Her knowledge of skin and its behavior, her ongoing research and study, and, of course, her comprehensive line of products that treats all skin types make her the best one-stop shop for a pretty punim.

Readers’ Pick: Renee Rouleau

Best Spa

The Ritz has spoiled us rotten. Every visit is pure perfection. Voices are soothing, the staff indulges our every need and whim, and the treatments are superb. But delight is also in the details, like the hot neck pillow while you wait and salt scrub in the showers. And then there’s the quiet room. How we love the quiet room.

Readers’ Pick: The Spa at the Crescent

Best Yoga Studio
Karmany Yoga

If cost is what’s been keeping you from exercising, you no longer have an excuse. Dust off that yoga mat and head to Karmany, where the instructors work for donations. Just pay what you can for professional yoga classes, from beginner to advanced, that rival any in town. The large studio is clean and inviting, and you’ll be able to practice without the added stress of wondering how long you can afford to continue your down dog.

Readers’ Pick: Sunstone Yoga

Best Pet Boarder
Paradise 4 Paws

You know when someone has a really great idea and you ask yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” That’s how we feel about Paradise 4 Paws, the pet boarding compound that opened in DFW Airport in November. It has parking for $10 a day, 24/7/365 shuttle service from its front door to your gate and back, and even massages and treadmill training for Fido. Seriously, why didn’t we think of that?

Readers’ Pick: Paradise 4 Paws

Best Sunless Tanning
Custom Bronze at Phillip K. Thomas Salon

All spray tans are not equal. (Trust us.) The perfect airbrush tan requires expert application, natural-looking color, and even fading. McKenzie Merrill, the salon’s resident bronzer, offers all three: a smooth spray, a golden glow, and a formula that fades without splotching. It doesn’t hurt that Merrill makes hanging out in our skivvies (or less) fairly comfortable.

Readers’ Pick: Palm Beach Tan

clockwise from top teft: The Petropolitan, Karmany Yoga, Oil and Cotton, Drybar photography: Petropolitan by Elizabeth Lavin; Karmany by Joshua Martin; Oil and Cotton by Trevor Paulhus; Drybar courtesy of Drybar

Best Tailor

The Fitting Room

If you need a basic hem stitched or waist taken in, Bea Harper’s Highland Park shop might be overkill. Not that the former manager of Ralph Lauren’s boutique custom department can’t handle such simple assignments. It’s just that we save Harper for special requests, such as restoring a vintage gown or repairing holes in cherished garments. The Fitting Room is especially adept at fulfilling a bride’s needs, whether they be making a veil to match a gown or beading shoes.

Readers’ Pick: Unique Tailor

Best Framer
Debra Stevens Custom Framing

We love Debra Stevens and her museum-quality framing because she lets the art be the focus, not the frame. And she’s not afraid to take a stand. “In my opinion,” she says, “all photography should have a white mat or float on a white mat with a very simple frame.”

Readers’ pick: Art Frame Expo

Best Place for a Massage
Grand Spa

Grand Spa is indeed grand—13,000 square feet, in fact. But that doesn’t mean it’s not cozy, comfortable, or peaceful. Grand Spa offers a true day spa experience, and the professional staff treats guests like royalty and happily accommodates groups, even if it means rearranging furniture and setting up catering services.

Readers’ Pick: Hiatus Spa + Retreat

Best Mover
Curtis Specialized Moving & Storage

Once upon a time, the D Home team inherited some very cool—and very expensive—items. The good news? We loved those things. The bad news? The cool stuff had been damaged during transit to photo shoots. Enter Curtis, a specialized mover that services local showrooms and residences alike. We haven’t had a problem since. These folks are punctual, professional, and, most important, have an appreciation for your stuff.

Readers’ Pick: Two Men and a Truck

Best Auto Mechanic

For some of us, taking cars for repairs is like going to the dentist. We’re told that we need certain very painful procedures, but we have no idea what any of it means. That’s why we love Dunlap-Swain: mechanics here patiently answer questions, and they’re honest about procedure and price. Also, you always see fancy cars here—a very good sign. The family-owned business has four locations, so you can manage breakdowns all over town.

Readers’ Pick: Lovers Lane European Automotive

Best Pet Groomer
The Petropolitan

A groomer is a lot like a hairdresser. He gets to know his clients and what works for them. On a recent visit to The Petropolitan, our Samoyed exited looking good, but not as good as usual. We called to see if something happened. A different groomer had worked on him. They offered to have his regular groomer give him a touch-up for free. The next day, our pup came prancing out of The Petropolitan. It’s amazing what a fabulous haircut can do for you.

Readers’ Pick: Billi Bonze Bathhouse and Bone Boutique

Best Home Painter
Southern Painting

Let’s say, hypothetically, of course, that your 3-year-old rides her tricycle down your neighbor’s stairs, smashing a gaping hole in the wall. Further, let’s say this happens the day before they put their house on the market for sale. You could do worse than call Southern Painting. They take the drama out of the aforementioned scene by fixing the banged-up wall, from drywall to pristine topcoat. And they do it faster (and possibly cheaper) than you can buy a case of wine as a peace offering.

Readers’ Pick: Southern Painting

Best Family Photographer
Haynsworth Photography

Sure, a hard drive filled with digital snaps of your kids is just fine. But sometimes you need something a little weightier to capture the moment. Stanley Marcus and Princess Grace called on this family studio to document their broods in the ’60s. Now, second-generation Holt Haynsworth is behind the camera, and the Bush family is in front of the lens. You can be, too.

Readers’ Pick:
Sugar Photography

Best Children’s Art Class
Oil and Cotton

Oil and Cotton isn’t your average glue-and-Popsicle-sticks arts-and-crafts establishment. This laid-back, Oak Cliff studio/shop is serious about turning kids on to art. Painting and drawing classes are heavy on technique, while workshops in everything from screen printing to Shibori dyeing and songwriting let the little ones flex every single one of their creative muscles.

Readers’ Pick: Quiggly’s Clayhouse

Best Blowouts

Step into Drybar and you’ll feel like a star. First, they’ll offer you a glass of champagne. Then, you’ll enjoy a relaxing shampoo. After that, you can take in a chick flick as a stylist transforms locks into your chosen look. The contemporary atmosphere and top-notch service feel like that of a high-end salon, but the price, just $35, doesn’t.

Readers’ Pick: Drybar

Best Fitness Program

Camp Gladiator

We like doing one exercise class a day that hits all our muscle groups, increases our flexibility, and has intense cardio. Camp Gladiator does it all (or, technically, makes us do it all). But, somehow, we don’t mind the intense hour of exercise. The instructors are encouraging when we need encouragement, and they’re motivating when we need motivation. Even though they have hundreds of campers in their trademarked program, they always remember our name. And that personal attention is enough to get us through those last 10 burpees.

Readers’ Pick: Camp Gladiator

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