(Not So) Extreme Fireplace Makeover

Nothing beats a warm, roaring fire on a snowy winter’s night!


But with winter weather in Redondo Beach hovering around a sunny 60 degrees, that cozy fire may not have the same appeal. For some SoCal families fires are a novelty saved for Christmas day and the fireplace goes unused the other 355 days of the year.

Luckily, there are many creative ways to transform that otherwise unused space and turn it into a focal point for your home. Here’s a look at some “fireplace makeover” ideas we are dying to test out.

1. Use your fireplace to freshen up the room! Artfully arranging flowers and other potted plants inside your fireplace can add color, dimensions and scents to your living space. A fireplace garden can satisfy your green thumb..without having to go outside. Succulents or ferns are hearty, low-maintenance options that will make your room come alive!We also love the idea of adding seasonal plants during the holidays, such as holly branches or poinsettias.



2. If you love the flickering effect of a fire, as well as that alluring wood scent, an arrangement of candles inside your fireplace can help you achieve a similar feel. Home goods stores offer a wide range of candle scents, from Campfire Smoke WoodWick Candles  to Tory Burch’s Cedarwood Candles. The beauty of this option is that you swap out scents and holders to keep the arrangement appealing and smelling heavenly! It also mimics the romantic fire vibe without generating the smoke, mess or hassle of tending a fire.


3. Create more storage by adding shelving into your fireplace. Beyond giving your another place to store books or trinkets, this option adds a focal point to the room. This is an easy way to add a mini library to your home or to display those family photos that never quite got hung up. To jazz things up, consider painting the backdrop of the fireplace a bright color or line it with patterned tiles!



4. Showcase an art piece or family heirloom. When properly cleaned, the inlay of a fireplace creates a perfect place to  display a singular item. This tactic works best with a sculpture, but could also be used to feature a framed piece of art. The simplicity of this setup will add a sophisticated, museum-like feel to an otherwise unused space!



5. If you are one of those “we use our fireplace once a year” families, then completely transforming your fireplace may not be the best ideas. (We don’t want to see those books caught on fire!) However, one easy way to transform your fireplace and achieve a rustic, homey ambiance is to stack it neatly with firewood. Use logs that are the same length but have varying diameters, and be sure to pack them tightly to fill the whole space. And hey, when that “one day a year” rolls around you will already have firewood on hand!


The beauty of owning your own home is that you can transform it into whatever you want it to be! You can take each space and make it into something functional that works for your family and individual style. With a little creativity (and the help of the internet), your  fireplace transformation could be the start of a complete home-make-over!


STOP in the name of Low Mortgage Rates

Seriously, stop what you are doing.


BECAUSE, low mortgage rates = amazing opportunities for buyers, sellers, or homeowners looking to refinance!

While rates on mortgages change daily, they are currently holding steady at near record lows. In fact, according to the Bankrate.com rates have not been this low since December 2012!  The graphic below demonstrates the drop in rates from just last week.

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Both 15-year and 30-year mortgage rates are down more than 0.5% since the start of the year.

What does this mean for buyers?

This drop in rates means that those looking to buy have experienced a purchase power increase of 7%…meaning that buyers who could afford an $800,000 home in December can now afford an $852,000 home!  For many on the house-hunt, this increase in purchase power could put their dream home just in reach!

What does this mean for sellers?

Lower mortgage rates translate to a surplus of buyers looking to take advantage of their higher purchasing power; which means you, as a seller, have the ability to get top dollar for your home! More active buyers are out looking increases the desirability of your home.. making it a hot commodity.

What does this mean for refinancers?

Refinancing gives a homeowner access to a new mortgage loan which replaces the existing one. The details of the new loan’s mortgage rate, loan length in years, and amount borrowed can customized by the homeowner. Thus, refinancing during a period of lower mortgage rates could benefit borrowers by lowering their monthly housing payments and/or shortening the term of their mortgage.

For a personalized rate, check out this helpful site: http://themortgagereports.com/ratequote/

Remember: Mortgage rates change quickly and there is no guarantee that these rates will last. Whether you are a seller or a buyer, it is time to take advantage of the current market!

To Pool or Not to Pool?

Tis the glorious season that some people, like myself wait all year for… pool season! With a large water shortage and water bills skyrocketing after a certain usage point there is much debate as to if there is an added value to having a home with a pool. With about 10%-30% of homes in the South Bay being sold with pools, we thought it was time to look at the numbers!

What were are looking at here is the Median sales price per year of single family homes between 2,000- 2,999 SqFt over within each zip code with and with out pools.

90275 – Rancho Palos Verdes 


Has Pool &: $1,339,000

No Pool: $1,240,000

90274- Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates

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Has Pool: $1,584,500

No Pool: $1,480,000

90277- South Redondo Beach

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Has Pool &: $1,505,000

No Pool: $1,400,000

90266- Manhattan Beach

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Has Pool: $2,050,000

No Pool: $2,075,000

90254 – Hermosa Beach

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Has Pool: $3,000,000

No Pool: $1,990,000

We we see looking at the data, a pool can increase property value from a couple hundred thousand to a million. Granted these numbers are not accounting for lot size, which having a larger lot (increases sales price) is necessary to have a pool in the first place. We attribute the large difference in prices in Hermosa Beach where lot size is between 2,000 – 6,000 SqFt to this factor.

Interesting fact we found while doing our research posted by the Bay Area News Group shows that a 20,000 gallon pool covering 500 Square-feet uses less water than a lawn, pool without a cover and drought tolerant landscaping.


Having a home with a pool helps sell them faster in some cities. Homes with a pools sell faster than homes without a pool in South Redondo, Rancho Palos Verdes, and Hermosa Beach.