Prepping For Spring // Backyard Edition

No matter where you live (but especially here in SoCal!) outdoor entertaining at your home becomes more appealing as the weather warms and the days get longer.

With the start of Spring and the much-rejoiced arrival of day light savings, now may be the ideal time to prep (or update) your outdoor living spaces! Thanks to Pinterest & HGTV, the design and decor ideas are endless… which may have you feeling a bit overwhelmed.

The key is not to take on too much – just remind yourself that your main goal is to create a outdoor space that you can enjoy being in. We have gathered the following guidelines to get the gears turning and the inspiration flowing..

  • Be sure to create traffic patterns or designated ways to walk/move around. Due to the restricted lot sizes throughout most of the South Bay, this rule is especially critical if you want to make the most of a small or cramped space. This can be done in a variety of ways.. whether that be laying formal stone walkways or planting shrubs to help establish corners and borders.


  • Add an outdoor fire source. Indoor fireplaces are great and all.. but when the mid-summer heat rolls around, you definitely do not want to be stuck indoors! Keep it low key with a portable firepit or firebowl (how cool are these!) or take things to the next level with a full fireplace. Just be sure to check your local building codes / fire safety rules… and to stock up on the s’mores supplies!


  • Outdoor kitchens are an ideal way to extend your home’s living space into the outdoors. While detailed outdoor kitchens can easily become expensive, they don’t have to be! Remember, it is about creating an environment and the ability to eat outside, not necessarily buying all the frills and accessories. A charcoal grill and small outdoor dining table can be the start of your backyard dining experience.

Check out a few of the outdoor kitchens we are drooling over:



  • Keep things practical and organized. Do not go over the top with accessories or details and have a designated area to put things (seat cushions, pillows, etc) when rain is in the forecast! Also, if you choose to incorporate an outdoor kitchen/dining area, be sure to have create a storage area for equipment to help keep the space cleared and available for enjoying.
  • Try out vertical gardening! Blank walls, covered patios and fencing can all benefit from the addition of vertical gardens. Succulents work best, and when coupled with found wood are a easy, affordable DIY project. We love  this charming vertical garden our Neighborhood Spotlight Anaïs and her husband build!


  • Lastly, remember that a roof extends usability.  Overhead structures like a gazebo or screened porch provide comfort and protection from the elements, ultimately giving you more opportunities to spend time outdoors. However, the roofing does not have to be a permanent structure – pop-up tent over your deck or out in the yard can be just as effective in blocking the sun or rain!

Bringing The Sunshine Inside

With one of the grayest, rainiest winters the South Bay has seen in years behind us (hopefully!) the forecast shows blue skies ahead! This weather has us feeling inspired to bring the sunshine inside and give our own living spaces a spring makeover.

We are also pulling inspiration from this Avenue C listing (3 Bed, 3 Bath, 6,084) which perfectly exemplifies a light and bright style, while still remaining the ideal blend of comfortable and stylish.




While it may be hard to completely capture a newly constructed house’s fresh feel in your home, we have gathered a few tips to help brighten things up this spring! Some are simple and some are more detailed, but even just one or two subtle changes can spring-ify your home!

  • Mirrors aren’t just for checking your hair! Place a large mirror directly across from a window to reflect light all around the room.  Or hang a few small ones on a wall perpendicular to the window to subtly bounce light around a room.
  • Just add white..or off white.. or eggshell. A fresh coat of paint around door frames, stair case banisters and window paneling will do wonders! HackIf you aren’t up for painting, just give frames, banisters and paneling a good scrub down to get rid of finger prints and accumulated dust. 
  • Change out those curtains. Get rid of any heavy or insulated curtains that you were using during the winter and replace them with light-colored airy ones. This can be applied all around your home – from the kitchen to the living room and even your bedroom (lighten up your bedding colors and fabric for a full transformation!)
  • Raise the roof (not literally). Many homes (especially those in the Golden Hills) have vaulted painted ceilings or even wood paneled ceiling applications. While these higher ceilings do create a larger feel in the room, without the correct lighting and appropriately located windows they can leave a room feeling dim. Recessed lighting fixtures or commonly referred to as “can lights” help to brighten up the ceiling without being obtrusive to the eye. Some options even include a dimmer switch to allow for flexible lighting control.
  • Keep it low. According to Designer Blair Gordon “Streamlined furnishings with low-slung profiles help rooms feel more spacious.” While you are at it, opt for white furniture, rather than dark colors. Think white bookcases, cream couches, and white tables… especially if you have dark wood floors!
  • While it would be nice to put in a few windows or a sky light, it is much easier to add some artificial lighting! Try Bright White LED bulbs to maximize the brightness coming from your lamps. Or add a table lamp to your current decor to help add a bit more brightness.
  • Bring in the Green! Indoor plants (whether flowers or green leafy plants) bring a breathe of fresh air into your home. Just be sure to water them regularly so you don’t end up with brown, wilting plants 🙂

Have any other simple “home-brightening” tips? Please share them with us!

We are excited to Spring Forward in a few weeks and wish you all a very happy March!


Creating An Eco-Friendly Home

From solar panels to green-lifestyle dating sites (yes, those are a thing!), it is hard to miss the emergence of new products/lifestyle options that take eco-friendly living to a whole new level!


While it is inspiring to see more Californians opting for a less harmful existence, many still view taking on a greener lifestyle as a daunting and expensive endeavor! We have devoted this week’s blog post to putting together a list of simple, cost-effective, and in a few cases, fun tips to help make your home more eco-friendly. You do not have to implement all the suggestions below, but try to pick one that seems feasible and go for it!

Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. – Carl Sagan

Upgrade Your Insulation & Windows

Adding insulation to prevent leaky  walls, windows, doors and duct can reduce your home’s energy usage up to 20 or 30 percent. If totally updating your insulation is too expensive for your fall budget, consider trying out thermal shades. These shades are made not only to block the sun in the summer, but also to retain heat in the winter! Energy-efficient windows also help to better insulate your home. Check out this article by House Logic to learn more about the importance of efficient windows and to find the best models for the most reasonable prices.

Opt for Fragrance-Free Products

Conventional fragrances often contain chemicals that may be harmful to the ecosystem when washed down the drain. If you like your soaps, cleaning products, or cosmetics to smell good (we certainly do!) read the labels to find ones that are made with essential oils. Real Simple offers a huge selection of all-natural cleaning solutions! This helpful blog post also provides a list (and reviews!) of the best eco-friendly cleaning products for your home.


Low-Flow Your Bathroom

Flushing toilets accounts for 30%  of indoor water use! An average family can reduce water used for toilets by 20 to 60 percent and save $$ in water costs by replacing old toilets with newer WaterSense labeled models.  While you are in the bathroom, go ahead and install a low-flow shower head as well. Also, regularly check your toilets and faucets for leaks.

Replace Your Lightbulbs

Save up to 66% of energy by replacing all of your incandescent lightbulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs! Beyond saving energy, CFLs also last up to 6 times as long as incandescent bulbs. (Saving money and time!) Also, turn off the lights when you leave a room.. or consider installing automatic timers in your forgetful teen’s room!


Cool Down Your Clothes.

According to Huffington Post a huge amount of energy goes into heating water to wash your clothes. Try selecting the “cold water cycle” on your washing machine next time you throw in a load! Also, always make sure you are washing a full load every time. Running a full cycle for just a few towels or a pair of pants uses a substantial amount of water!

Grow An Indoor Garden

Living plants such as the Gerbera Daisy can act as natural air filters and help to improve indoor air quality. Check out this full list of 15 houseplants that not only brighten up a room, but help to absorb harmful pollutants throughout your home!



Create a Recycling or Compost Station

Nearly half of the trash that a home produces is made up of food scraps. Rather than sending these scraps to the dumb, why not get a compost bin at your house and use those scraps to make fertilizer for your garden?! Get creative and build your own…(or check out these top-selling Amazon options!)


We are working to implement these changes in our own homes, so we are open to any tips or suggestions  our readers have!


Neighborhood Spotight: Anaïs de la Morandais

By: Cathy Strini

Every Neighborhood Spotlight participant has been unique.. but so incredibly inspiring! This month’s feature, Anaïs de la Morandais, kept up that trend! Originally hailing from France, Anaïs has studied and taught music in several European countries, but (lucky for us South Bay-ers) has chosen to settle right here in Golden Hills.

Anaïs was gracious enough to welcome us into her newly renovated home, give us a tour, tell us about her life and even play for us on the piano (Check out the video below!).  On first impression, Anaïs is poised and charming, but as we chatted we were soon able to catch a glimpse of her fun sense of humor and passion for music!


Lauren, Anais and Michelle



Growing up a harpist and a pianist, Anaïs eventually realized and decided to pursue her love for choral conducting. With a Master of Arts in choral conducting from the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria and a Maîtrise of Musicology from the Université de Haute-Bretagne in Rennes, France, Anaïs has the education to match her passion. While she works primarily with children, Anaïs has taught men and women of all ages throughout her career. From leading workshops on physical body training in support of the voice, to teaching youth choirs the basics of rhythm, Anaïs has experience in all realms of the musical world.

Since her arrival to California (barely a year ago!) Anaïs has wasted no time in establishing herself and finding ways to share her passion for music with the local communities. As stated on her website, Anaïs first created the Santa Monica Youth Choir, then served as the Choir Program Director where she taught “voice, music theory, and ear training while combining various methods in vocal technique, percussion, art, and memorization”. An ode to her French background, Anaïs has founded several Francophile groups, for both children and adults (details below for anyone interested in attending!) This past December, Anaïs founded Atelier Musical in an effort provide music education services to Santa Monica, Redondo Beach and all areas in between. She offers piano lessons and vocal technique lessons, as well as French language support for students.

Check out the Atelier Musical website to learn more about the individually tailored lessons available! Read on to discover more about Anaïs …


1. How did you get involved in music and what instruments do you play / have played?

I’ve always wanted to play music since I was 2 years old. I started with piano and the celtic harp when i was 6. And I sang quite a bit in choir and at school. Then I chose to play trombone in middle school and discovered choir conducting in college. That is when I decided to become a choir conductor.

2. What brought you to California and what have you been up to since you moved here?

I met my husband in India when I was travelling. At the time, I was studying music in Austria, and I moved to be with him in Santa Monica after I received my master degree. I created a choir program for Santa Monica Youth Orchestra in 2014 that I led for one and half year before we moved to the Golden Hills of Redondo Beach. I wanted to serve more the local community so I created my own enterprise called Atelier Musical Inc., where I teach voice and piano lessons in the area. But I still do many projects in Venice Beach, Mar Vista, Beverly Hills and at the Chadwick School in Palos Verdes

Another project of mine is called Enchantés – the only French Vocal Ensemble in L.A. I created it a year ago and our second performance is already coming up! Rehearsals are 7:30 to 9pm on Tuesdays. (*More info below!*)

Mélodies and Do Ré Mi are two french children choirs and the music is in French as if you were in Paris. Both are held at the French Conservatory of Music and at the French Exchange After School program.

I also have several private students from ages 4 to 15 enrolled in piano and voice lessons.

3. Tell us a little about your experience with children and how you started working with them:

I love music and can’t help sharing this passion with others. With very little money to support myself through college, I worked hard and paid for my studies teaching music to kids. I was just 17 and have been teaching since then!

4. How is the South Bay (Redondo in particular) unique from everywhere else you have lived?

Since it is a safe area, I find the South Bay to be the perfect family-oriented community. It is both quiet and friendly. We know many of our neighbors, and it makes me feel special to be in such a close-knit neighborhood.

5. How do you plan on incorporating the local community as your business expands? 

Since I’ve created Atelier Musical, my goal is to be able to work in the area that I reside. I mostly bike to my clients and that is such a pleasure! I hope in the next months, I will be able to create a vocal group for the South Bay and maybe incorporate French and German into the music! Since I speak both languages fluently, this would be a great opportunity for singers to practice a language they learned at school.
6. What is your favorite song to perform on the piano and why?

I love to play classical music. At the moment, I am having tremendous fun working on a Gigue of Scarlatti. This music is so joyful and exciting to play!

7. What lessons/programs do you offer for children?

I offer 30 min, 45 min, or one hour private or semi-private classes in Piano and Vocal Technique. All the lessons are available in English, French or German.

The group lessons are part of my choir programs like Enchantés (for Adults and teenagers), and Mélodies and Do Ré Mi (for kids).


*For clients that mention “What’s up Redondo” and who live in the Golden Hills area, Anais will waive her transportation fee and charge only $35 instead of $45 for a 30 min. lesson. Or $50 instead of $60 for 45 min. lesson. And of course, the first lesson is always free.*


“Enchantés is an exciting francophile group meeting once a week to speak french and sing beautiful masterpieces from renaissance to contemporary repertoire, including French “chansons” and traditional folk music. Every season, we have a specific theme and one or two performances for the public. Located in Los Angeles/Santa Monica Area, this choir is for 16+ years of age. $10 suggested donation/class. Enchantés. Students and adults. Tuesdays 7:30-9 PM.”

“In September 2015, Anaïs launched a children French choir at the French conservatory of Music of Los Angeles. Specifically designed for bi-lingual children, Mélodies is a perfect weekly meeting for music initiation in French. Students explore the vast repertoire of french melodies composed for children as they would at the Conservatory in Paris! Mélodies. French Conservatory of Music. Tuesdays 3:30-4:30 PM.”

Congratulations to KC!

By: Lauren Weber and Michelle Accetta


What a pleasure and honor to have met KC and to have represented her in selling her home. From the moment we met KC we could tell she was a successful business woman. Working with her we witnessed first hand how she became this way. She always had a positive attitude, and business minded mentality. It was easy to see how this mindset brought her such success.

Upon closing, we took KC out to dinner to spend some time celebrating the closing escrow. Little did we know WE were the ones actually in for a treat. KC openly shared about her travels and her appreciation for immersing herself in different cultures with us. We got to learn the story of how she acquired her success and her advise for us as younger entrepreneurs. We left inspired!

What moved us most about KC is the freedom she has to create her life. She worked hard straight out of college to grow her business and wealth. She shared with us how owning income property has played a large role in her success and the story of how she starting acquiring property. Her persistence and grit paid off, and she now spends periods of time each year traveling the world and enjoying different cultures (something both of us are passionate about doing). KC is a real example of what hard work and making smart moves can get you and truly is an inspiration to us. We take her words of worldly wisdom wholeheartedly. 

Working with KC she also reminded us of the importance of appreciation. Throughout the process, she always showed her gratitude and thanked us for our hard work. This made us grateful to her and to have the opportunity to work with her as our client, to go above and beyond and make sure she was taken care of. The small words “thank you” can go a far way and we will always take that with us with every person we encounter. She shared that is was her travels that made her so appreciative for everything that we have here in America, day in and day out. We are so grateful and thankful to have met KC and are forever thankful for her kindness and wisdom.