Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

There are rare opportunities to include a little pop culture in a home and garden story and this is one of them. The Force was with me on this one. 

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Rene Lynch
Published: 01 July 2017, Los Angeles Times

When architect Christopher Coe first spied Frank Suryan Jr.’s newly purchased home on Naples Island in Long Beach, it reminded him of Darth Vader’s helmet.

Despite its sensational waterfront setting on Alamitos Bay, the home was a throwback from the ’90s. Outside, dark and forbidding seemed to be its theme. Inside, there was glass block everywhere.

Now the home has been saved from the dark side. [read more]


Remodeled to welcome a stunning ocean view

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I would love to live in a house like this, but as it is, I'll just have to settle for writing about it. :) You have to click on the "Read More" link. The layout online is gorgeous.

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Rene Lynch
Published: 26 May 2017, Los Angeles Times

A home on the mountains with a commanding view of the Pacific Ocean is a shame to waste, which is why architect Takashi Yanai took on the remaking of Susan Harbert’s Pacific Palisades home.

Yanai, a partner of Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects, said his firm doesn’t normally accept renovation projects, but “they don’t make any more Pacific Ocean view properties.” [read more]

Homeowner Susan Harbert takes in the view from the newly remodeled backyard of her home. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

One of my last stories as a full-time freelancer. It was a lot of work getting these people to recall decades of history, but the end product was worth it. 

Text: Carren Jao
Edited by: Chris Clarke
Published: 14 April 2017, KCET

It was Wednesday, August 2, 1769. Father Juan Crespi, a Franciscan priest, set out westward alongside a European expedition through California. On that day he spied “very large, very green bottomlands, seeming from afar to be Cornfield...”

Father Crespi’s description may just be a quirk of translation from Spanish to English, but water quality advocate, architect and former University of Southern California professor Arthur Golding likes to think that the explorer-missionary was marveling at a lush piece of land Angelenos now actually do call the Cornfield.

“This site is historic, beyond what is generally mentioned,” says Golding.

He would know. Almost twenty years ago, he was among the leading figures in a struggle to reclaim one of the last pieces of open land for the people of Los Angeles — what Angelenos would someday call Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP), a 34-acre park that opens this April 22, 2017 at 10 a.m. [read more]

"Cornfields" Near Downtown L.A. | Gary Leonard

Cinema is by nature a canned experience, so seeing this new version of theater was a thrill, especially when talking about a great architect like Fuller.

The film features narration by director Sam Green and a live score by Yo La Tengo.
Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Anna Fixsen
Published: 17 Nov 2016, Architectural Record

Movies are a classic escape, which is why last week, in the aftermath of the contentious presidential election, it was no surprise that more than 350 people crowded into a darkened auditorium at Los Angeles’ Skirball Cultural Center for some respite, and perhaps a little inspiration. [read more]

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]


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. 

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]

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