Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

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. 

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]


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. 

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]

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Jenna Schnuer 
Published: April 2016, Entrepreneur

Image credit: Emazing lights

Brian Lim preferred dancing in the dark. That’s how he is -- modest, soft-spoken, definitely not showy. But at an electronic dance music (EDM) club six years ago, his girlfriend nudged him to don a pair of gloves with fingertips covered in blinking LED lights. It’s the sole tool required for “gloving,” a dance in which lit-up hands create light-streaked spectacles for (possibly but not exclusively intoxicated) onlookers. “I was able to captivate a small crowd around me,” Lim says. “It was a feeling I’d never had before.”

It was also the inspiration for what would become Emazing Group, Lim’s fast-growing empire of rave accessories. It did $7 million in sales in 2014 and $12 million last year, and is on track for $18 million this year. But his company started much more modestly, with a hunch: This subculture had a popular product but no go-to brand. [read more]

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Andrea Chang
Published: 04 June 2016, Los Angeles Times

Todd Kurpil is trying to neutralize the energy in a home that's for sale in Brentwood. (Ivan Kashinsky/For The Times)

Moving homes for most people entails a bunch of boxes, bubble wrap and a truck. For the rich and famous, it takes a village.

And it’s more than an army of movers. A cottage industry of specialists for high-net-worth clients includes feng shui experts, energy clearers, closet and wine bottle organizers. [read more]


Frogtown: Should It Be Called Toadtown Instead?

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Text by: Carren Jao
Edited by: Carribean Fragoza
Published: 16 May 2016, KCET

To the untrained eye these little guys can easily pass for frogs, as they did for decades, earning Elysian Valley's Frogtown moniker. Photo by Ryan Winkleman

The Los Angeles River and its environs is home to a wealth of flora and fauna. This series of posts on Confluence attempts to unveil the hidden wildlife that thrives along the river banks.

Elysian Valley got its moniker, Frogtown, from the many four-legged amphibians that used the crawl into the neighborhood up until the 1970s. Seeing these slimy creatures, residents casually identified them as frogs. “At the time, they were not very many environmentalists or scientists living in the neighborhood,” said Raul Rodriguez, whose family in the neighborhood since 1942.

At the time, Elysian Valley was just getting used to being called Frogtown. Modern day cartographer Eric Brightwell, writes the area was first called Gopher Flats around 1900, when it was established for railroad workers. It was later called Little River Valley and by the 30s, it finally got the name Frogtown.

But Lila Higgins, manager of citizen science at the L.A. County Natural History Museum (NHM) and program coordinator for Play the LA River, says these “frogs” were more likely to be Western Toads. More specifically, baby Western Toads, which were tiny. [read more]

It's sometimes difficult to capture space in a shot, which is why real estate photographers have a hard task ahead of them. Here's a lowdown. 

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

Real estate photographer Michael McNamara shoots a celebrity home along the Miracle Mile in Los Angeles. (Michael McNamara / Shooting LA)
Listing your home? It pays to hire a pro photographer.

Everyone seems to be a shutterbug these days, but grainy smartphone pics just don't cut it when it comes to producing eye-catching images that attract prospective buyers.

"I've had clients tell me, 'I've got an iPhone 6,' and I have to stop myself from cringing," said luxury real estate broker Kofi Nartey of the Agency.

Professionally photographed homes sell faster and for more money than homes listed with point-and-shoot photos, according to a 2013 Redfin study. The report found that for homes priced between $400,000 and $499,999, those with professional pictures sold for an average of $11,200 more than homes with amateur photos. [read more]

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