Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

Plants also have a story to tell.  ~*C

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Rene Lynch
Published: 14 October 2016, Los Angeles Times

All the glass cases and explanatory texts in museums can impart only so much. There is nothing more satisfying than to actually see, smell and feel the plants that have shaped the story of California, and the state’s Native Americans in particular.

The Autry Museum of the American West has opened “California Continued,” an ambitious effort that includes two exhibitions, a multimedia experience and oral history interviews taken by KCETLink. Taken together, these illuminate the state’s unfolding history and the role native plants play in it.

With the museum’s recent renovations comes the opening of a 7,000-square-foot ethnobotanical teaching garden that highlights some 60 California plant species and the uses Native American communities discovered for them. [read more]


Homebuying is a fraught experience, but some say technology can help even this old school field. I checked out a few companies trying to change the game. ~*C

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Andrea Chang
Published: 30 September 2016, Los Angeles Times

Real estate agents used to be privy to a lot of information that home buyers couldn’t obtain on their own.

But now property listings, photo galleries, historic sales prices, school ratings and neighborhood crime rates are freely accessible to anyone with just a few clicks. For some assertive buyers, that’s an invitation to bypass an agent and, in the process, cut out the pesky 5% to 6% commission that is traditionally split between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent.

To help buyers go it alone, or close to it, several real estate start-ups have emerged that promise an easier solution to a notoriously stressful and expensive purchase. By eliminating or limiting an agent’s role, customers save money and streamline the process.

It’s also leading to tensions with the hundreds of thousands of real estate agents around the country, who say the companies are shortsighted and overlook the skills that a professional agent can offer. [read more]

10/06/2016

Updating a grand Spanish home

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Mt. Washington is quickly becoming one of my regular haunts. I guess it just goes to show how many have moved further east from Silver Lake. I can't blame them. This bucolic neighborhood high above Los Angeles almost doesn't feel like the city. 

~*C
Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Rene Lynch
Published: 30 Sept 2016, Los Angeles Times

The designer of the Mt. Washington home updated the kitchen space by adding stainless steel appliances and other touches. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

When husband and wife Peter Luttrell and Stephanie White moved into their home atop Mt. Washington, they had a challenge Angelenos often face: How do you marry old Spanish-style architecture with a modern lifestyle and furnishings?

To help them find a solution, they turned to interior designer Deirdre Doherty. Luttrell, the founder of an Internet marketing start-up, and White, a family physician, had already seen her effortlessly meld old and new in a friend’s home in Los Feliz.

“She just has this impeccable ability to balance old California Spanish with modern without making it feel old,” Luttrell said. [read more]


It was my first time in residential Manhattan Beach and it was a pleasure to walk around a little neighborhood that still had a beach vibe. It probably needed a few more sidewalks, but seeing the laid back cottages was a nice change from the speed of the city. Plus, this little discovery was worth it. ~*C


Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Rene Lynch
Published: 10 September 2016, Los Angeles Times

A kitchen makeover ushers in a new chapter of life for this homeowner. (Christina House / For The Times)

Sometimes, it’s just unthinkable to move.

With the last of his children off to college, Christopher Bowen was left with a Manhattan Beach home geared toward family living when what he needed was something that would be more reflective of his empty-nest life. [read more]

When discussing any kind of revitalization, it's always critical to think about what's already there, depending on the current environment for their survival. Even concrete, with its negative connotations, has something to contribute. 

~*C
Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Kathryn Noonan
Published: 29 August 2016, KCET


No discussion of the future of the Los Angeles River is ever complete without picturesque renderings of the river resplendent in greenery. Chances are, there will probably be a few birds flying overhead thrown in for optimal “ooh” factor. But despite the idyllic vision presented by these renderings, it is one that is incomplete.

As it is now, the Los Angeles River is mostly encased in concrete. It’s a waterway that is more a built, engineered object than it is an uncharted refuge for the wild. Though it is concrete, however, it doesn’t cease to be a home for some of the city’s passing residents. [read more]

8/25/2016

The homey, comfy kitchen

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

The kitchen is a natural gathering place and I loved working on how this story on how to make it even more so. 

~*C
Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Rene Lynch
Published: 18 August 2016, Los Angeles Times

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Every day, family members gravitate to this space, scrounging for a bite to eat while catching up on one other’s lives. At parties, friends inevitably congregate here as hosts fuss around the stove top. While food and drink flow, so does the conversation.

No wonder more homeowners are looking to add comfort to this space with a few simple ideas, inspired by their living rooms.

“People spend so much time in their kitchen,” said Los Angeles-based interior designer Frances Merrill of Reath Design. “We’re renovating a kitchen right now and we’re making room for a sofa.” [read more]

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Andrea Chang
Published: 16 July 2016, Los Angeles Times


Phil Deng, left, and Ocean Zhao are co-founders of the House Club, an online platform that integrates with WeChat, China's most popular messaging app. (Harrison Hill / Los Angeles Times)

For months, Shu Li acted as the de facto go-between for her friends in China interested in purchasing Southern California real estate.

“I used to have to call the agent, get the information, forward that information to my friends in Mandarin,” the educational trainer said. “Now I don’t have to do that much to help them out.”

Instead, Li has started referring her Chinese friends to the House Club, an online platform that integrates with WeChat, China’s most popular messaging app. Through the House Club, Chinese buyers can easily find information such as square footage, layout and neighborhood information — all in Mandarin. [read more]

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