guide to la

guide to la

One of the best things about living in LA is all of the amazing places to discover.  No matter which corner of LA’s sprawling landscape that you find yourself on, there’s always something fun to do or a great cafe to grab a bite to eat.  Having lived in Los Angeles for over six years now, when our friends are visiting from overseas (G’day, mates!) or from the midwest, heck even our hometown of The OC, they always want to know where they should stay, eat, and go and we have plenty of fun suggestions to go around.  Here are some of our favorite places to check out while exploring the City of Angels.

eat_lunch

  1. Lemonade: This is quickly becoming our favorite lunch spot with all of the amazing options to choose from.  With 12 locations throughout LA from Venice to Brentwood to West Hollywood, this cafeteria-style lunch spot serves up some seriously delish fare, amazing lemonade combinations (we’re talking about you, watermelon rosemary), and some sweet desserts (that pistachio macaron – swoon!). Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, a foodie, or a hungry guy in search of a hearty meal, Lemonade has got you covered with marketplace selections like cauliflower with golden raisins, almonds, and curry to white truffle mac and cheese to sandwiches and braised beef brisket.
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  2. Mendocino Farms: This sandwich market is an easy place to grab a quick bite. Must trys include their Steak BLT with carved steak, applewood bacon, romaine lettuce, roasted tomatoes, herb aioli, and red wine onions on toasted rustic white bread. Add blue cheese crumbles to make this perfect sandwich even more perfect.
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  3. Alcove: Tucked away in Los Feliz in two historic bungalows surrounded by a beautiful garden patio, this cute little cafe serves tasty american classics like sandwiches, grilled paninis, burgers, salads, soups, and wraps.  If you go for drinks, ask for our old friend Eugene behind the bar and say hello.  Grab a spot outside in the garden and keep your eyes open for celebrities.  Adam Levine was even cuter in person!  (True story.)
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  4. ink.sack: Located next door to Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio’s famed restaurant ink. on Melrose, ink.sack is the lunch-sized portion for foodies in the know.  Their menu is simple, offering just creative sandwiches and homemade snacks.  Try the “Jose Andres” with ham, tomato, chorizo, and manchego cheese with a side of pineapple marinated in chili and lemon.
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  5. In-N-Out: You can’t go wrong with a California classic.  Burgers, fries, and shakes. That’s it. Their menu’s pretty simple, unless of course, you know about their “secret menu”.  Go on, act like a local and get your double double protein style wrapped in lettuce with a side of smothered animal style fries.

do

  1. The Getty: This hilltop museum offers some amazing views of the city and free admission – just pay for parking.  Wander throughout the different wings taking in the Monets and the sculptures and then soak up the sun outside on the lawn with a bite to eat.  Walk off lunch in the garden and take a pic with the amazing skyline behind you.
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  2. La Brea Tar Pits: It’s crazy to think that millions of years ago, woolly mammoths and saber tooth tigers were wandering around what is now Wilshire Boulevard. Scientists are still excavating the tar pits and the specimens they have on display are staggering.  Check out the wall of wolf skulls – you won’t believe how many there are!
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  3. Griffith Observatory: High up in the Hollywood hills, you’ll find the famed observatory and one of the best views of LA.  This is a fun spot for dates or tourists alike since admission is free.  Opened in 1935, check out the sweeping views from downtown to the Pacific while you take in the Old Hollywood architecture and star gazing.
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  4. Cinespia: What could be cooler than watching a movie outdoors in the middle of a cemetery where the stars of Old Hollywood are buried?  In the summer months this becomes one of LA’s hottest spots.  Bring a blanket to enjoy a picnic with the sounds of a DJ spinning today’s top tunes and when the sun sets, the movie begins. Even though you’re in a cemetery, not all movies screened are scary, this month includes There’s Something About Mary, Pretty in Pink, and The Matrix.
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  5. The Farmers Market: LA has some of the freshest produce around and the best way to taste it is to visit one of the many farmers markets around the city.  From the original one on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax next to The Grove to Santa Monica, explore all of the wonderful treats California has to offer.

see

  1. Santa Monica Pier: There is so much to do and see down at the pier from the restaurants to the performers.  Take in the salty sea air and grab a cocktail at Bubba Gump’s before taking a ride on the Ferris wheel.  Once you’ve walked to the end of the pier, you can explore some more at Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade or by taking a walk on the beach.  Don’t forget to catch the free summer concert series too!
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  2. The Ellen Degeneres Show: What better way to see celebs than by grabbing tickets to a taping of Ellen?  Filmed in Burbank on the Warner Bros. lot, this will no doubt be a fun way to spend some time in LA or get to know your way around a bit.  Be sure to bring your dancing shoes.
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  3. Rodeo Drive: Even if your wallet can’t afford that new Gucci bag, you can still have a great time window shopping up and down this famed street in Beverly Hills.  Packed with tons of shops and cute cafes, you can also branch out to the neighboring streets for more affordable fare.
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  4. Sprinkles Cupcake ATM: Yes, you read that right.  Sprinkles Cupcakes has a 24-hour ATM machine to make sure your sweet tooth is always satisfied.  If the line is out the door at the actual bakery next door or it’s after hours, sneak in a cupcake at the ATM.  If there’s no wait, go inside and use the secret “whisper word” found on Sprinkles’ social media pages for a free cupcake.  Shh…
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  5. Hollywood Sign: Quintessentially LA, this is probably the most famous landmark and something to see close-up.  While you can’t actually drive by or walk up to the sign, there are a few places where you can get a good view and a great photo. Check out Canyon Lake Drive, the Griffith Observatory, or Mulholland Drive.

be seen

  1. Laurel Hardware: This hip hot spot is great for brunch, dinner, cocktails, or to bump into someone attractive.  Catering to one of LA’s cutest crowds, Laurel Hardware kept the original name of the home improvement store that once occupied this space.  There’s a front area with open kitchen or head on back to the bar area with communal tables.  For beautiful scenery with dinner, opt to dine in their outdoor patio garden underneath olive trees.  The menu changes almost daily, but if they’re on the menu, trust us, order the brussel sprouts.
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  2. The Abbey: Looking for a fun scene to mingle with martinis?  The Abbey on Robertson is your go-to place for great people watching whilst cocktail in hand. This super high-energy bar has been dubbed “The Best Gay Bar in The World” and with the lively atmosphere and packed patio, it’s easy to see why.
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  3. The Hudson: Go for the jalapeño mac and cheese, stay for the happy hour prices. A must order is their brioche grilled cheese with short rib and tomato soup and “The Huddy” cocktail made with gin, lime, cucumber, and basil.  This place can get lively on game nights, so definitely bring some friends with you and keep your eyes open for good looking people all around.
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  4. Eveleigh: Hidden away in plain sight on The Sunset Strip, this Australian-inspired farm-to-table spot has amazing food, awesome service, incredible drinks, and fabulous views.  Check out our write-up here.  Grab a seat at the bar in the center of the restaurant underneath hanging cow skulls or strike up a conversation with that mysteriously hot guy lingering at the second bar way in the back.
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  5. Sur: Even before The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules hit the air, Sur was serving up a cute crowd alongside creative cocktails.  Hit this place before or after dinner and you might just catch a glimpse of one of the cast serving dinner or drinks behind the bar.  Just don’t go home with Jax, we beg you.

spot

  1. Chateau Marmont: If you want to rub shoulders with Hollywood’s elite, grab a table outside in the garden and enjoy planning your next day of exploration with a drink in hand.  This is the place where many a celeb has lived (we’re looking at you, Lohan) and even more have visited.  We ran into Ellen Pompeo while we were there and Katy Perry was spotted the next day.
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  2. The Ivy: After a long day of shopping, curl up at this quaint little haunt on Robertson and just wait.  If a celeb isn’t sitting right next to you, they may just be walking in or carrying a Kitson bag across the street.  Paparazzi are lurking behind every tree and if a celeb wants to get photographed, this is the place they’re sure to show up.
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  3. Runyon Canyon: Sweat out all those libations with a short and easy hike up the hill at Runyon Canyon.  A haven for celebrities and their pooches, this hike will take about 40 minutes round trip and is a great way to get outdoors and take in the amazing view of LA at the top.
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  4. Sunset Marquis: Hidden unassumingly at the end of a one-way street off The Sunset Strip, this hotel has a beautiful garden and bar to people and celeb watch. We sat next to Simon Fuller during a meeting and the hotel has a long history of rock ‘n’ roll royalty getting rowdy.
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  5. Sunset Tower: This is one of Jennifer Aniston’s favorite spots and one of ours as well.  Take in the amazing view of the LA skyline at Tower Bar while sipping drinks and nibbling on appetizers.  The hotel evokes a feeling of Old Hollywood glamour and it’s fun to check out where Hollywood’s elite rub elbows after The Oscars.  Just don’t go home with John Mayer, we beg you.

primp

  1. Drybar: With 11 locations throughout LA and at only $40 a pop, there’s no reason for your hair to look anything but fabulous.  This blow dry bar serves up snazzy ‘dos with sassy names like “The Manhattan” which will make your hair smooth and sleek, “The Cosmo” for a head of cascading curls, and “The Straight Up” for their signature blow out with lots of body and just a little bit of curl.  They do one thing and they do it well.  As their tagline says, “No cuts. No color. Just blowouts.” Blow on in and get your hair done before hitting the town.
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  2. Blushington: With your hair looking sweet, hit up Blushington for a double scoop of make-up perfection with their professional make-up application at affordable prices.  For only $45, you can walk out looking like a starlet with red lips and a fierce cat eye.
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  3. Olive & June: The cherry on top of this already rockin’ beauty sundae is Olive & June in Beverly Hills for a fab mani/pedi.  Created out of necessity for a great manicure without being sketchy or pricey, you won’t find a wall of massage chairs here.  Instead, you’ll be pampered in a pretty setting with soaking bowls and personalized service.  Now, that’s just wonderful.
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  4. Meridian Day Spa: Where can you go for a really good massage or facial without having to go to a pricey spa?  We couldn’t believe our wallets when we stumbled across this place tucked away around the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard.  At $56 for an hour massage, we could definitely see ourselves making this a monthly habit.
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  5. The Art of Shaving: To pamper your guy, you must check out this place located in Century City’s Westfield shopping center.  Guys can get a close shave by their expert barbers that wield a straight razor like a ninja sword across an inflated balloon filled with baby kittens.  Our maintenance manager felt like a king after cashing in his gift card for a 45-minute “Royal Shave” that included a hot towel and after shave mask.  Perhaps a perfect treat for say, the end of Movember?

shop

  1. Third Street Promenade: One of the best places to go in LA, you can easily spend the majority of your day here perusing the shops, exploring the cafes, watching the people, and playing in the sand.  This outdoor destination has a ton of well-known stores like CB2, Sephora, and Abercrombie & Fitch.
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  2. The Grove: This outdoor mall is home to great shops and restaurants.  Stop by The Whisper Lounge to rest your feet after a day of shopping at places like Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel, Barneys’ New York, Michael Kors, & Banana Republic.  Be sure to wander through the Original Farmers Market while you’re there too.
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  3. Abbot Kinney: Venture out to artsy Venice for great shopping and people watching on this cute boulevard by the sea.  Stumble into any of the shops offering clothing and accessories, books and gifts, beauty products, or art.
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  4. Melrose: Gritty and trendy.  Fashionable and hip.  This very famous street offers very unique shops and very unique people.  Here you’ll find one-of-a-kind vintage stores alongside boutique retailers.
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  5. Robertson: Peruse this high-end mecca for luxury retailers like Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, Tory Burch, and Nanette Lepore. Keep your eyes peeled for celebs and paparazzi and be sure to check out Alice + Olivia and Kitson while you’re there.

view

  1. Perch: Perched high above the downtown skyline, this indoor/outdoor rooftop restaurant and bar is the perfect place to take in the city lights up close.  Cozy up to the outdoor fire pits and drink in the amazing view.  There’s even a roof above the roof – look out for the balcony up above.
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  2. Gladstones: For the best view of Malibu during the day or just as the sun is setting, check out this casual eatery where PCH and Sunset Boulevard meet.  With some of the freshest seafood around, be sure to try their mango fish tacos or their clambake with lobster, crab, clams, shrimp, andouille sausage, corn, and potatoes.  And be sure to take the leftovers with you – they’ll wrap them in foil in the shape of a mermaid or pelican.
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  3. Sunset Ranch Horseback Riding: Make reservations to explore the hills above the Hollywood sign by horseback.  Offering day, lunch and sunset rides, this is a surefire way to see Los Angeles in all her glory with a breathtaking backdrop and view.  There’s even a BBQ tour option that ends back at the ranch for some good grub and festive music after a 2-hour trail ride.  Yee-haw!
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  4. Petit Ermitage:  We had driven by this unassuming boutique hotel countless times, dismissing it as just another apartment building tucked away on a corner of a tiny intersection of side streets.  So when we were asked to meet on the rooftop for a business meeting, you can imagine our surprise.  This magical little gem felt like we had stumbled upon a secret door in the middle of the city that led to a rooftop terrace, pool, and sweeping views.
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  5. Sixty Beverly Hills:  Formerly known as The Thompson Beverly Hills, this rooftop bar, pool, and terrace offer incredible 360 degree views of swanky Bev Hills.  Grab a drink and a small bite and relax as you watch the sun set before heading out to dinner.

eat_dinner

  1. The Bazaar by Jose Andres: Listen, Imma let you finish, but this is one of our favorite restaurants of all time.  You see, we like the production and creativity that comes with dining at places that serve up molecular gastronomy artwork and pass it off as food.  Order the spicy “Jalé Berry” martini that mixes muddled black berries with jalapeños or the “Magic Mojito” that is presented to you table side as it’s poured from a chilled mini cocktail shaker over a glass filled with cotton candy that disappears as it melts into the drink.  When we say that everything on the menu is good, believe it!  Order the stuffed piquillo peppers filled with goat cheese, the sweet potato chips with yogurt dipping sauce flavored with tamarind and star anise, and the “Not Your Everyday Caprese” which comes with a fun surprise as you bite into the little skewers.  Ok, maybe we won’t let you finish… pass that jicama wrapped guacamole!
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  2. Red Medicine:  Speaking of eating art, run to Red Medicine for an adventure in culinary brush strokes of genius.  We wisely opted to go with the tasting menu and were served course after course of edible poetry.  The first course came presented in a fish bowl and you had to break through a frozen layer of pea puree with your spoon to get into the briny tang of orange fish row nestled at the bottom.  We’re not even sure what else was in there, all we know is that we were fighting for the last bite.
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  3. Hinoki & the Bird: When you’re bumping into Bobby Flay the first week this restaurant opens, you know you’re in for an amazing meal.  And when the owner and chef stop by your table to say hello (umm, swoon, David Myers) and then sends over every dessert on the menu, you will happily oblige trying every dish and not taking home any leftovers. The kitchen is helmed by Top Chef alum Kuniko Yagi who offers up sharable dishes like their signature lobster roll with green curry and thai basil, namesake hinoki scented black cod with maitake and shishito, and their stunning summer pepper toast with coconut miso jam and goat cheese.  Go. Now.
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  4. Osteria Mozza: Chef Mario Batali serves up some seriously delish Italian dishes at this eatery on the corner of Melrose and Highland.  Christina Aguilera likes to eat here and we recommend ordering the burrata with bacon, marinated escarolee, and carmelized shallots alongside the tagliatelle with oxtail ragu or the grilled quail wrapped in pancetta.  Bellissimo!
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  5. Jinpachi:  We are slightly obsessed with sushi.  Ok, majorly.  So when we tried this tiny little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hidden gem, it has quickly risen to the top spot on our favorite sushi restaurants.  Everyone you know says that they know about “the best sushi place ever” and that “you have to try it”.  We are totally ok if you don’t take our word for it though.  We actually don’t want you try this place.  Stay away, far away.  Because if you go, then you’ll be taking up one of the handful of coveted seats in this already small space.  Don’t order the salmon sashimi with jalapeño and cilantro or the halibut carpaccio with yuzu. Don’t even think about the black cod with miso or the green tea creme brulee.  Ok, but do try the spicy tuna on crispy rice if all else fails as this is the BEST one we have EVER ordered. Watch the door as we’ve run into many many a celeb here: Anne Hathaway orders avocado on crispy rice, Bette Midler sits in the corner, and Kristen Bell, Jonah Hill, Shiri Appleby, Lauren Bush Lauren, and Ronan Farrow all like to sit upstairs. If you do decide to try this place, ask the owner behind the bar, Taka, for his recommendations and definitely take his word for it.

stay

  1. The Viceroy: Located in Santa Monica, this hip and stylish hotel will blow your mind with their decor, their bar, their pool, their location, and their views.
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  2. The Roosevelt:  Stay in the heart of Hollywood off the famous Walk of Fame at this Old Hollywood haunt.  Opened in 1927 and home to the first Academy Awards in 1929, The Roosevelt offers an air of elegance and glamour of a bygone era mixed with the lively and rowdy good looking crowd at the pool and Beacher’s Madhouse nightclub downstairs.  If you feel a hand tap you on the shoulder one night while walking back to your room, don’t worry, that’s just the ghost of Marilyn Monroe that’s said to haunt these halls.
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  3. Palihouse:  Offering locations in West Hollywood and Santa Monica, Palihouse is a unique boutique-style hotel/residence.  It feels like a hotel and it looks like a hotel, but people actually live there?  Lucky.  With a great bar and restaurant downstairs, they’re pulling a Lindsay Lohan a la her Chateau Marmont era.  There’s also Palihotel on Melrose if that’s more your style.
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  4. The London: Swanky and hip, this luxurious hotel offers suites off The Sunset Strip where celebs love to celebrate their baby showers on the rooftop garden. Stay here to be close to everything, but far from ordinary.
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  5. Shutters on The Beach:  Stay on the sand in Santa Monica in this iconic hotel boasting amazing views of the Pacific.  Think of this place as if you were in the movie Dirty Dancing staying in a luxurious resort, only you were on the beach building sand castles instead of dancing with Johnny Castle.  And go on, grab a seat at their restaurant in the corner.  You’ll have the time of your life.

live

  1. West Hollywood:  A lot of the places we mentioned above are in or near WeHo and this vibrant city is home to famous icons and streets like Melrose, Robertson, Sunset Blvd, The Grove, The Beverly Center, and The Sunset Strip.  This small and friendly city has some of the most gorgeous Old Hollywood-era apartment buildings, rent control (hello!), and a welcoming community vibe.  Hey, any place that has a tram that runs along the main drag of Santa Monica Boulevard on the weekends to make sure you make it to the bars and back alive sounds like a good time to us.
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  2. Los Feliz: This affluent neighborhood sits hillside between Hollywood and Silverlake and is home to Griffth Park and Observatory.  Offering a very laid back vibe with its hipster residents and cool cafes, Los Feliz is a haven for expensive historic homes and celebrity inhabitants like Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Demi Lovato.  Rents here are more affordable than most of the neighborhoods further west, so look for those great deals.
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  3. Santa Monica: Nothing really beats living next to the ocean.  Considered part of “The Westside”, SaMo sits west of the 405 freeway and is home to upscale beachy residents, beautiful large homes, great hiking trails, and rent control.  While rents here are still pricey, think of all the money you’ll save by walking everywhere and not having to run your A/C in the summer and instead just letting the sea breeze cool off your apartment.  Sweet!
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  4. Silver Lake: Named “LA’s Best Neighborhood” by CNN Money in 2012, Silver Lake is a hipster haven for LA’s cool crowd that likes to talk about the script their writing and the latest art gallery opening over a cup of Intelligentsia coffee. Packed with shops and cafes, walking in this “eastside” neighborhood is as easy as finding an affordable abode with chill neighbors.
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  5. Brentwood: This upscale enclave is home to UCLA’s beautiful campus and a super cute downtown area full of fun restaurants and shopping.  Rents here may be pricey, but that’s because this is such a beautiful and quiet place to call home.

If you liked this, share it.  If you’ve got a favorite place you’d like us to check out for a future installment of our Guide to LA, let us know in the comments below.

photos: frugal travel guynewport beach independent, chasing aphrodite, alik griffineater la, models & moguls, drybar, downtown santa monica, the food stalker, boy meets girl meets food, bag trends, koning eizenberg


LA inspired decor

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Whether you’re already an official Angeleno or on your way to moving to the West Best Coast, we all have something special in common: We love LA!  And what better way to show off your love for the city of angels than by paying homage to the beaches, the palm trees, and the bright Hollywood lights with a little LA-inspired decor?

Our search for the best accessories started when photographer Catherine McDonald followed us on Twitter and we clicked through to her website.  A few clicks later and we were madly in love with her pics and her pillows!  So much so that we were inspired to find some fun decor to help bring a little bit of LA home to your apartment.

Welcome to the land of fame, excess.  Are you gonna fit in?  Of course you are!  And now so will your apartment with these fun and fabulous LA-inspired decor items.

1: “The View: Los Angeles” canvas print by Catherine McDonald $75.00-$175.00
The city of Los Angeles as seen from Griffith Park Observatory.

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2. “Strength” pillow by Catherine McDonald $30.00-$40.00
Palm Tree in Los Angeles, California.  Pillow is professionally printed with original artwork. One-sided or double-sided printing.

3. “Hollywood” pillow by Catherine McDonald $30.00-$40.00
Hollywood sign in color.  Pillow is professionally printed with original artwork.  One-sided or double-sided printing.

4. Beach rocks glasses by Sisters of Los Angeles (Set of 4) $45.00
Surf’s up at Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, and Zuma with this set of four beach glasses. The perfect way to celebrate the end of a day, the ultimate wave, or that one-way ticket you just booked to LAX (whoop! whoop!).  Each 11 oz. glass is printed with organic inks right here in Los Angeles.  Because organic and local is so LA.

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5.  DTLA printed shower curtain by Janet Antepara Designs $65.00
Black and white photo of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA).  While you’re sittin’ pretty in el baño, you can close your eyes and imagine lip syncing to Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” while making your way through LA traffic.

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6. Hollywood sign drink coaster by Zazzle $12.95/each

7. Los Angeles modern wall clock by iluxo $39.99
This modern clock features the iconic Randy’s Donuts, Beverly Hills palm trees, a view of downtown, and LA’s initials.  You can set it to your local time or mount it next to another wall clock with the time in Los Angeles.  You know, so you can get acclimated to your future time zone, dahling.

8. Oscar statue cookie cutter as seen on YumSugar (with recipe) $12.90
Nicole Perry of YumSugar cleverly used a mummy cookie cutter and magically transformed the shape into an Oscar!  You can sit with us, Nicole Perry.

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9. Silver lake candle by Stark Waxing Studio $32.00
Fresh, spicy green, crisp scent with hints of caramel and fruity apple.  Yep, that smells like Silverlake to us.  Notes of cape chamomile, cucumber, tuberose and sandalwood.  Oh yeah, we can smell the hipsters now.  (Is that a hint of kale we detect?) All Stark candles are 100% soy wax with a cotton wick and hand poured in Los Angeles. How very LA of them.

10. Chateau Marmont & Hollywood Roosevelt locket by Myan Soffia $24.00
Using Myan Soffia’s images as three interchangeable lids, Cat from Polarity has created this gorgeous magnetic locket.  Flaunt your LA style with pictures of the Chateau Marmont, LA skyline, & Hollywood Roosevelt hotel (Marilyn Monroe’s ghost not pictured).

11. Vintage black and white street sign of Los Angeles by Z Gallerie $249.95-$399.95
This street sign of Los Angeles lists the locations that every traveler should visit on a trip to The City of Angels. This giclee by Zoey Riley lists all of the destinations that should never be missed in the amazing city in which they are located.  Wait, we have a Main Street?

12. LAX perfume by The Scent of Departure – for women and men
Jet-set to LAX without leaving home.  Just a spritz of this Los Angeles perfume will spark scent-sational memories of sauntering down Robertson.  Conjuring the subtle aromas of life in your favorite urban oasis, this fragrance sparkles with notes of jasmine and gardenia. Each packaged perfume comes travel ready: the bottle is designed to look like a baggage claim ticket.

13. Beverly Hills notebook $8.00
Jot down all of your memories and star sightings in Beverly Hills.  And be sure to get Lisa Vanderpump’s autograph (and Giggy’s paw-tograph) when dining at Villa Blanca.

What’s your favorite item from our LA inspired decor picks above?  Let us know in the comments below.

Head on over to our Pinterest page for even more LA Decor selections including a candle by Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles’ Madison Hildebrand that smells like the beaches of Malibu.  Happy decorating!


10 ways to keep cool when your apartment doesn’t have a/c

Nothing beats the sunny weather here in Los Angeles.  That’s one of the top reasons you moved to LA, am I right?  But when the temp goes up, nothing beats having an apartment with A/C.  If you happen to live in an older building that was built prior to the 1970’s invention of central air & heat and your apartment didn’t come with a window air-conditioning unit, we’ve rounded up 10 easy ways to help you beat the heat when your apartment doesn’t have A/C.

close your windowswoman closing window

It may seem counter-intuitive, but opening the windows during the day will often make your apartment warmer by letting the hot outside air in.  Keeping your windows closed can actually help to keep your place cooler. When it starts to cool down at night, that’s when you open the windows to let the cooler air circulate inside throughout the evening and while you’re sleeping.  Just make sure you close them in the morning when it starts to heat back up and you’ll help to prevent the sun’s heat from coming indoors.

keep your blinds closedliving room blinds closed

This is one of the best ways to help keep your apartment cool by preventing the sun from heating up your apartment.  Keep the blinds closed and angle them downward so that the sun’s rays are blocked from shining through the windows.

turn off the lights turn off light blub

If your lamps and lighting fixtures still have the older incandescent light bulbs instead of the newer compact fluorescents or LED ones, these incandescent bulbs can surprisingly produce as much heat as they do light.  Energy Star-rated light bulbs use up to 90% less energy and produce 75% less heat, which will help your place stay cool while also cutting down on your electric bill.  While you’re at it, be sure to power down and unplug any electrical devices not in use, like your computer.

use fans strategically vintage fan

Make sure that your ceiling fan is running in the right direction – you should feel the breeze blowing down. And keep in mind that ceiling fans cool people and not rooms, so be sure to turn it off when you leave the room.  You can also keep a spray bottle on hand to help keep cool when sitting under the ceiling fan or in front of a floor fan.  As the water evaporates off your skin, it creates a cooling affect.

One of our favorite tricks is to use two floor fans strategically to blow the cool evening air in through one window or door and out on the other side of your apartment to help create a breeze throughout and keep the cool air circulating.

enjoy a cool meal apricot basil chicken salad

Don’t heat up your apartment by cooking dinner in the oven or on the stove.  Instead, opt for a no-cook meal like this tomato & watermelon salad with feta or any of these delicious no-cook summer meals from Martha Stewart.  Just like staying hydrated with cold water (or an icy cocktail) helps to keep your body temperature lower, so does noshing on cold foods.

take a cold shower or bath cold shower

While this may sound obvious, it is a very effective method for cooling down when you don’t have air-conditioning.  Hop in a cold shower or run a cool bath and relax while you soak for 20 minutes to cool down your core temperature.  Also try using a eucalyptus body wash or soap like this one from Bath & Body Works that has natural cooling and stress-relieving properties.

chill out barr co lotion

One of our favorite summer tips is to store your favorite lotion in the fridge and slather it on whenever you feel hot for instant relief.  You can also use it to cool down even further after your cold bath.  Or stick a bottle of water in the freezer and place in front of a fan to help cool down the air.

switch to a buckwheat pillow Buckwheat pillow

Turns out, buckwheat hull pillows are an ancient secret for helping to keep the body cool at night.  The hulls allow for fresh air to circulate and don’t hold on to your body heat like conventional pillows do.  So if the heat is preventing you from sleeping, try switching to a buckwheat pillow.  Another trick is to place your normal pillow in the fridge for a bit so you’ve got a nice cool place to rest your head when you crawl into bed.

request the addition of a screen door screen door

To help cool your apartment in the evening, inquire with your landlord about the possibility of adding a screen door to allow for the cool evening air to filter in.  If they won’t cover the cost, but will allow you to install one, it is a great value considering how much money you’ll save not having to run an electric air-conditioner.

add a portable a/c unit portable a/c unit

If you’re still sweltering after trying all of the tips above, see if your landlord will install an a/c unit.  If they won’t, consider purchasing a portable one that you can move from room to room (and apartment to apartment).

How do you stay cool in your apartment without A/C?  Let us know in the comments below.  And be sure to check out our Apartment Spring Cleaning Basics and 10 Things You Should Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal.

photos: lovelyetc.comsavvy sugar, pocket full of pretty, low energy living, houzz, energy.gov, the chic fish, martha stewart, the stir, white nest market


apartment spring cleaning basics

Whenever one of our tenants moves out or we go into a resident’s apartment for a maintenance request, we often see a few common threads in places needing a good clean.

With spring in full bloom and the beautiful weather outside, now is a great time to freshen up the inside of your apartment.  Taking the time to do a deep-clean of your home space will help to keep things looking and functioning their best.  Simple things like steam cleaning the carpet once a year helps to extend the life of it and of course, it helps it look it’s best for guests too.  We’ve rounded up some simple and seasonal chores to tackle over a weekend to ensure your apartment is sparkling.

clean out the fridge & freezer

organized-fridgeWe’re gonna start our list with a big one: tackling the fridge.  It’s easy to handle if you just break it down into some easy steps and the reward is definitely worth the extra elbow grease.  We like to start by taking everything out, cleaning top-to-bottom, then putting things back in an organized way.

  • Take everything out and toss anything that’s old or expired.  Make it a habit to toss out old food each time you go to the store to help keep your fridge clean throughout the year.
  • Wipe down any jars that have spills on the outside or on the bottom and set aside.
  • Wipe down the inside of the fridge walls and shelves with a solution of mild dish soap and warm water.
  • If any shelves or parts are removable, we like to give these a nice soapy wash in the sink.  (You’d be surprised what spills you find hidden under shelves and behind removable drawers.)  Be careful not to use hot water on cold glass shelves as this can cause them to crack.  Instead, let the glass shelves come to room temperature before washing.
  • Pull out the fridge and wipe down the sides, top and floor underneath.
  • Clean the sides and tops of the doors and in the rubber door seal nooks.  Clean and sanitize the door handles.
  • Look underneath each shelf and scrub any spills that ran over.
  • Group jars together as you put them back in the fridge.

Also be sure to check out these 10 Easy Steps to Organize Your Fridge from Lauren Conrad.

deep clean stove

stove topOne of the dirtiest places we find in tenant’s apartments are the sides and underneath the stove.  When you’re busy whipping up one of your culinary masterpieces, you might not notice a few splashes, but they can accumulate in these places over time.  Give your stove a good deep-clean inside and out by:

  • Scour inside oven.  Remove racks and clean.
  • Remove broiler pans from drawer underneath oven and clean thoroughly.
  • Pull out oven and wipe down the front and sides.  Scrub floor underneath stove.
  • Lift lid under burners and clean.
  • Wipe down top of oven and wash burners.

replace smoke detector batteries & wipe down remotes

ladder and smoke detectorYou should replace the batteries and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every six months to make sure they’re in good working order.  We like to do this when we “spring forward” and “fall back” as an easy way to remember.

Take a damp rag or one of those make-up remover cloths and wipe down all of your remotes.  You can also wipe down your computer keyboard while you’re at it too.

clean windows

apartment living room windowWhen was the last time you cleaned your windows?  Ever?  Probably not, right?  We know it’s a big task and that’s why spring is the perfect time to tackle it.  Remember that first day when you moved in and they were shiny and sparkling?  Let all of that beautiful light in by cleaning the inside and outside of your windows.

Your windows can become a bit cloudy and dirty over time, so we recommend you give ’em a good wipe-down at least once a year.  To start, dip a sponge into a bucket of warm water with a few drops of mild dish soap.  We love to use a sweet smelling one like Mrs. Meyer’s basil-scented dish soap that will subtly scent each room and make it smell as fresh as a Spring daisy.  Simply wet the window and rub dirt away. To get the perfect streak-free window, you can use a squeegee to help dry or try our secret weapon: Sprayway Glass Cleaner and a rag.  This stuff is seriously amazing and will clean your windows without any streaks and is available at places like Target and Home Depot.

It’s important to clean your windows first with soap and water to take off the larger pieces of dirt and grime and then use the glass cleaner for perfect windows every time.  If you try to cut corners by just using the spray, you’ll end up cleaning each pane twice and probably end up with streaks.

TIP: Before using the soap and water solution, have a razor blade handy to help remove any dried-on gunk like paint drips, tree sap, or bird droppings.

wash screens & blinds

clean blindsWhile you’re washing the windows, take down the screens and give them a good scrub in the bathtub or shower using the same type of soap you’ll use on the windows.  Allow them to air dry fully before putting back up.

Wipe down blinds with a few drops of gentle cleaner on a nearly dry sponge.  Aluminum blinds can be washed outdoors: Place them on an old sheet or on the grass and scrub with water and a noncorrosive cleaner.  Use a hose to rinse well and then let the blinds air dry thoroughly or wipe with a towel to prevent rust.

protect wooden floors

bedroom wooden floorsGuard against scratches on wooden floors by making sure there are surface protectors on the undersides of all furniture legs and heavy items placed on the floor like chests, footstools, and side tables.  Replace any that are dirty or worn.

Clean your wooden floor by dry dust-mopping it first to pick up any loose dirt, dust or pet hair that could scratch the floor’s finish.  Then use a damp solution specifically made for wood floors to give it a deeper clean. Make sure not to get the floors too wet or let water pool as this can damage the wood.

deep-clean carpets, rugs & sofas

living room rugsTo extend the life of your carpet, most professionals recommend having it steam-cleaned once a year.  We love to use Beverly Hills Carpet Cleaners since they use organic and non-toxic solutions – which are great for babies and pets.  They do a great job and have even gotten out red wine stains from carpet we thought was going to need to be replaced. Another good thing about them? You know how stains will often come back after having your carpet shampooed?  Not with these guys.  They do such a good job that the stains are completely removed from the carpet.

Before they come over, vacuum your carpet really well and stack any smaller furniture on top of larger furniture to make the most of your cleaning area.  If you’re having them clean your rugs too, make sure to place these in the kitchen so that they can clean the carpet underneath the rug and be sure to note this on the phone when making your appointment.  If you’re having them clean your sofa, obviously don’t stack furniture on top and see if you can place on your patio, bed, or inside closets.

You can also rent or buy a home shampooer, although we recommend letting the professionals handle this one.  After your carpets, rugs, and sofas have been cleaned, open your windows for air flow to help them dry more quickly.

clean your curtains

curtainsCheck the tag on your curtains to see if they can be machine or hand-washed, follow the instructions, and iron them once dry before hanging back up.  You can also have them dry-cleaned.  Just be careful with linen curtains as these can tend to shrink and instead look to see if you can vacuum and steam clean these in place.

wipe down baseboards, doors, & door handles

bathroom door chairThese areas are big dust collectors and deserve a little TLC every now and then.  I prefer to dry dust the baseboards and nooks on the doors or you can use the brush attachment on your vacuum.  Then wipe down the front and back of doors with an all-purpose cleaner to clean off any hand prints or dirt.  Disinfect door handles throughout the apartment.  You can take this one step further and disinfect all of the cabinet hardware as well as these are all high-traffic areas that can get sticky and dirty.

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve got any great spring cleaning tips. Then be sure to check out our tips for Easy Ways for Renters to Go Green too.  


perks of living in a large building: resident events

Adrienne LaRocque

If you live at The Palazzo Communities in LA, “Party at my place!” just took on a whole new meaning.  That’s because one of the perks of living at this large apartment building includes free resident events put together by the talented Adrienne LaRocque.  As a resident, on any given day you could be invited to a weekend donut and bagel breakfast or a BBQ-themed cocktail hour or poolside movie night featuring Jaws.  You only have to walk a few steps from your front door to enjoy an amazing party and mingle with your neighbors.  Sounds fun! Can we come?

Last week, we were invited to join the residents of The Palazzo for a Valentine’s Day “Enchanted Garden” fondue party.  Adrienne specializes in “parties with personality” and this one couldn’t be described as anything less.  There was a huge chocolate fountain with an abundant spread of delicious goodies for dipping that included fresh strawberries and pineapple, creme-filled eclairs, marshmallows, pretzel sticks, Oreos, rice krispy squares, brownies, and more.  In addition to the sweet treats, residents and their guests enjoyed a selection of cheese and wine while being serenaded by a harp player strumming tunes like Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight”.  There was even a special place just for kids where they could read Valentine’s Day-themed books and grab a cute little goody bag. Needless to say, we totally wanted to move-in to The Palazzo after this soiree.

FUN FACT: This is the building where Lauren & Heidi from The Hills lived when they were roomies.

Are perks like these resident events something you look for when apartment hunting?  Let us know in the comments below.

P.S. Adrienne is also available as an independent event planner available to plan your next event.  Check out her work at Eventful Adrienne.

All Valentine’s event photos: The Suite Life
Others: The Penthouses at Palazzo, Nick Mongoni, William Larsen


homemade spicy jalapeno margaritas

Spicy jalapeno margaritas

A fun thing that my friends and I love to do when we get together is each bring a part of the dinner.  Not only does that make the clean up easier when entertaining in a small apartment, but it also helps spread the costs out a bit and gives us a fun way to try new recipes and each other’s cooking.

When my girlfriends came over last week, we went with a Mexican theme and Nicole brought taquitos and guacamole as an appetizer, Adrienne made some seriously delish crock pot chicken tacos, and I was in charge of drinks and dessert.  Check out my recipe below for spicy homemade jalapeño margaritas – these were a total hit!

jalapeño margaritasLimes and jalapenos

Ingredients: Serves 3-5 people

  • 1 750ml bottle tequila (I used Cazadores blanco)
  • 3 jalapeños 
  • 1 375ml bottle Cointreau
  • 2 cups fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup simple syrup (Bring 1 cup water to a boil with 1 cup sugar.  Then let cool.)
  • Salt and sugar to rim glasses, optional
  • Ice
  • Lime & jalapeño slices for garnish, optional
Instructions Juice the limes
  1. Infuse the tequila with jalapeños. Slice two jalapeños, remove and toss the seeds, then add to the tequila and let sit at room temp for a few hours or up to a day.
    (If you don’t like it super spicy and just want a hint of jalapeño, use just one instead of two jalapeños.)
  2. Mix together the Cointreau, lime juice and simple syrup as the margarita mix.
  3. On a plate, mix together the salt and sugar at a ratio of 50/50, or to taste.
  4. Run a sliced lime along the rim of each glass and press into the salt/sugar mixture.
  5. Add ice to glass and add a shot (about 1.5 ounces) of the jalapeno tequila.  Fill remainder of glass with margarita mix.
  6. Float two slices of jalapeño in the margarita and add a small slice of lime to the side of the glass to garnish.

Let us know how you enjoyed this cocktail in the comments below.


10 things you should never put down your garbage disposal

 

kitchen

Shot glasses, plastic bottle caps, silverware, jewelry.  My maintenance manager and I have seen some weird things pulled out of a clogged up garbage disposal, that’s for sure.  But there are common things that tenants often put down the drain without a second thought. Things like egg shells, coffee grounds, lemon peels, carrots, chicken bones, etc.  So we decided to look into what the professionals had to say about what is ok to put down the sink.

For starters, your garbage disposal shouldn’t be treated like a food processor to grind up your leftovers – that’s what the trashcan is for.  And if you live in an older building, keep in mind that your pipes may be original.  Ever wondered what your leftovers look like trying to get through a 70 year old drain?  Yikes!

Also keep in mind that if you live in a multilevel apartment building, more than likely your pipes are connected to the other apartments above or below you at some point along the drainage highway to the main sewer system.  This means that whatever you and your upstairs (or downstairs) neighbor put down the garbage disposal, it all meets up and mingles and can create a back-up for you and/or them.

disposal don’ts

  1. Potato Peels

    If it’s Sunday night and you’re making your famous mashed potatoes, don’t even think about putting the peels down the garbage disposal.  The starches in the cut potatoes turn into a thick gluey paste and can cause the disposal’s blades to stick or create a major traffic jam in the pipes.

  2. Banana Peels

    Fibrous materials like banana peels, onion skins, corn husks, and artichokes are extremely rough on your garbage disposal.  These vegetable jackets are designed by nature to protect the food inside so they can handle a bit of beating from your garbage disposal.  Your disposal motor and drain on the other hand, can’t handle these tough skins and can get jammed or blocked.

  3. Bacon Fat, Grease or Oil

    You might think that running hot water to liquefy the fats and oils will help to lubricate the blades and pipes, but that’s not the case.  It’s actually bad news and causes the grease to slowly build up and coat the blades which impedes their grinding ability and can clog drains.

  4. Pasta & Rice

    Just as these foods expand when you put them in boiling water, they do the same thing in your disposal and pipes.  “Al dente” pasta and rice is cooked until they are still firm which means that there’s still room to absorb water and expand when flushed down the drain.  Quinoa, cous cous and bread are also no-nos.

  5. Bones

    Contrary to what you may have been taught by mom, bones don’t sharpen the disposal’s blades – it dulls them just as they would do to your cutlery if you tried to cut them up with your kitchen knives.  Always toss all animal bones (beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and fish) in the trash.

  6. Coffee Grounds

    The thought here is that flushing coffee grounds down the disposal will help to eliminate odors.  While this can be true, those little crusty coffee particles actually accumulate in the pipes and cause blockages.  It’s best to toss the coffee filter and grounds in the garbage.

  7. Egg Shells

    Ditto for egg shells.  Best to toss.

  8. Asparagus & Celery

    These long vegetables fall into the fibrous category like banana peels because they’re so stringy.  These ‘strings’ can actually wrap around the disposal blades and cause the motor to seize.

  9. Peach, Cherry, Avocado, & Olive Pits

    These hard cores are way too much work for your garbage disposal to break down.

  10. Bleach & Drano

    Harsh chemicals and cleaners can ruin your disposal’s seals and actually eat through pipes (70 years old or new).

disposal dos

  1. Use Cold Water

    Running water obviously helps to flush out the debris in the disposal and get it through the pipes, but cold water is better than hot.  Why?  Cold water actually helps to solidify any grease or oil that makes its way in there which allows the blades to chop it up.  Who knew?

  2. Use It Regularly

    Your garbage disposal can actually rust or seize altogether without periodic use. So give it a whirl every time you’re cleaning the sink or doing dishes.

  3. Disinfect & Clean

    You can use a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to keep your garbage disposal clean and smelling fresh without the need for harsh chemicals.  And if you’re not putting a ton of food in there like we mentioned above, the occasional lemon, lime or orange should be just fine.  Just make sure you cut it up into quarters first for easier grinding.

With these tips your garbage disposal should always be in good working order and ready to tackle any small food scraps that find their way in there.

Have another fix-it question for our Maintenance Manager, Brian?  Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, & Pinterest.

photos: in stylelaurenconrad.com


how to negotiate when you receive a rent increase

Your rent doesn’t have to go up every year.  Even though your Landlord or management company may have given you a notice that your rent will be increasing, we can help you negotiate getting a better deal.  Here’s five tips to navigating the rent increase waters.

know it’s not personal Apples

One of my friends just got a notice that their rent will be increasing now that their lease is up.  His girlfriend got angry and instantly went to the place of, “That’s it! We’re moving out!”.  Take a deep breath and know that the rent increase is not personal.  Sure it can be upsetting whenever your Landlord tells you that you have to pay a bit more, but even though the letter is addressed to you as a tenant, it has nothing to do with you personally. Business is business and you can bet everyone else in your building whose lease is expiring is getting the same letter you are.  Read the letter in full and then sleep on it a night or two (or three) to cool off.

do your research woman on computer

Find out if there are any comparable vacancies in the building and what they’re being advertised for.  If they’re being advertised for more than your increase amount, then you’ve got a great deal and should consider renewing your lease at the rate offered.  If the available unit is being advertised for less and is comparable to your own unit, schedule an appointment to talk to your manager about the discrepancy.  Keep in mind that often times vacant units are advertised with concessions to entice tenants to rent (first month free, $50 off for a longer lease term, etc).   Did you receive any concessions or discounts when you first moved in?

Also, take a look around to see what neighboring buildings and other vacant units in the same area are renting for to get a feel for the market.  If there are a ton of “For Rent” signs up around the neighborhood, this could give you some leeway when negotiating with your Landlord since they probably don’t want to take on another vacancy.  If there aren’t a lot of apartments available, that indicates a strong rental market and higher rental rates which could give your Landlord the upper hand.

If you live in a rent-control unit in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, or Santa Monica, know what amount your Landlord is allowed to increase your rent.  This can usually be found on the City’s website or in a letter that the City sends to you.  The increase amount for a unit under rent control in West Hollywood is only 0.75% for Sept 1, 2013 – August 31, 2014.  For a unit renting at $1,800, this is only a $13.50 monthly increase.

UPDATE: The increase amount for West Hollywood is 1.25% for Sept 1, 2014 – August 31, 2015. For a unit renting at $1,800, this is only a $22.50 monthly increase.

make an appointment to talk couple meeting manager in person

If you want to negotiate, I recommend a face-to-face meeting versus a phone conversation or email because it is so much more personal (and it’s harder for your Landlord to say no to someone who made an effort to meet with them).  It’s ok to call or email to make the appointment, but try to make sure the conversation about the rent increase takes place in person if you can.  If your manager is receptive to talking about it over the phone when you call to make an appointment, by all means go with the flow.

Tell them when you’re requesting an appointment to meet that you’d like to discuss the rent increase letter you received so that they have time to review your file before the meeting.  I’ve had tenants do this and when they come in to talk, I already know that I can lower their rate or remove the increase completely.

be nice be-nice-linda-woods

This is always my number one piece of advice when dealing with the people who are in charge of where you live and how much rent you pay.  Start the conversation nicely and be honest – don’t go in thinking they’re the enemy.  Tell them how much you like living at the community and how you’d really like to stay.  If you’ve referred a friend to live at the same complex or others that they manage, let them know that too.  This shows them that you’re invested in your apartment and really view it as “home” versus a temporary location.

Tell them that you’d be willing to write a recommendation for use on their website (if you are) or sign a longer renewal term.  And definitely steer clear of the typical things Landlords and managers always hear from tenants.  Things like, “I’m a great tenant,” “I always pay my rent on time,” “I never put in maintenance requests”.  We expect you to be good tenants and pay your rent on time and we want you to tell us if something needs to be fixed.  These are not bargaining tools.  This is why we leased to you in the first place.

If the negotiation chat went well and you’re happy with the outcome, send your manager or Landlord a handwritten note to say thank you for taking the time to meet with you.  Or drop by on your day off to say thank you in person with a muffin or latte.  Being nice goes a long way and they’ll remember your kind gesture the next time your lease is up for a rent increase.

it never hurts to ask Woman-Asking-Questions

This is always my number two piece of advice when dealing with the people who are in charge of where you live.  If you don’t ask, we never have the opportunity to say yes!  Even if in your research you find that you’re paying a lower rate than what other apartments are going for, it still never hurts to ask if they can lower the increase amount. They might say yes (I have!). If you find that you’re paying more rent than new vacancies, ask to have the increase amount reduced, eliminated, or ask to have your rent lowered to the going rate of other apartments.  The worst your manager could do is say no.  If they’re not willing to negotiate, ask their reasoning behind it to better understand their position.

This is also a good time to negotiate an upgrade to your apartment if you choose to stay at the increased amount.  Would your Landlord be willing to install an A/C unit if you signed a new lease or a longer one like 18 months?  A screen door or ceiling fan?  Would they pay to have an accent wall painted or to have the carpets cleaned?  You may be able to find a compromise that would make you happy to stay at the increased rate even if they aren’t able to come down on the amount.

Have you ever negotiated when you received a rent increase letter?  Let us know in the comments below.

photos: dome creative, how to negotiate, fine art america, daily plate of crazy


5 ways to warm up your suite for fall

Fall is one of our favorite times of the year.  The leaves turn colors, the weather gets crisp, and all the yummy pumpkin and butternut squash recipes come out at our favorite restaurants.  We love to bring this feeling indoors and make our apartment feel just as cozy. Here are five easy and inexpensive ways to make your home feel warm and comfortable for Fall.

start at the front door Fall entry

Create an instant feeling of warmth before your guests even step inside.  Hang a seasonal wreath on your door (we love this over-the-door wreath hook so you don’t damage the apartment door with nails). Then change out your door mat to a warm color or fun pattern that immediately says “Autumn”.  If space permits, you can also add a large uncarved pumpkin or a cluster of smaller ones by the side of your door or a pot with Fall colored blooms.

suite scents DIY-Votive-Candles-with-Leaves

There’s nothing better than walking into a room that smells of the holidays or mom and dad’s house at Thanksgiving.  We love to choose one seasonal scent and then use that throughout our entire apartment so your nose gets the same fragrance from room to room. Add a few candles, scented bead jars or potpourri to each room, a spray and reed diffuser in the bathroom, and a few scented sachets in closets.  In the bathroom, you can also try this fun product, Poopourri, that even offers holiday scents.  Try not to go too candle crazy – the goal is to have a subtle seasonal scent that makes your apartment feel warm and inviting.

For Fall, try scents like pumpkinspiced cake, or cranberry sauce.  Then switch to pinepeppermintcinnamon, or gingerbread in December.

add a warm throw blanket zambia-throw-chocolate-043284624a

Cuddle under a furry blanket in the living room or bedroom when the temp dips lower.  It will instantly warm up any space.  A favorite of ours is from Z Gallerie because it is just so soft and has a warm lining.  Drape the throw over your couch or chair or fold and place at the end of your bed. And remember that faux is always the way to go when purchasing “fur” items.

change up your pillows fall-leaf-pillow-21

Give your daily throw pillows a break and bring out some harvest inspired or Autumn colored ones to spice up your apartment’s decor.   Add one or two to the couch, a side chair, and a few on the bed to make any space more festive. We found these cute DIY pillows on fab blog Positively Splendid.

treat yourself to fresh flowers pumpkin-vase-fall-flowers-sunflower-bouquet-decoration

Fragrant blossoms instantly make any room feel brighter and Autumn offers some beautiful blooms.  In season for Fall are the rich hues of chrysanthemums, calla lilies, roses, dahlias, and gerbera daisies.  Add a small bouquet to your kitchen table, your nightstand, bathroom counter, or coffee table for a fresh and fragrant statement.

How do you cozy up your apartment for Fall?  Let us know in the comments below.

photos: ciao domenica, b lovely events, z gallerie, positively splendidlush home


easy ways for renters to go green

Is green the new black?  Reducing, reusing and recycling the items we use every day can have a big impact on the environment.  We only have one planet and we all could be making some simple and easy lifestyle changes that will help to conserve our limited resources.   We’ve compiled a few easy ways for renters to go green.  Check them out below:

don’t forget your reusable bagsbaggu_fuschia

My boyfriend took me to the dump once (no, it wasn’t a date – he’s in construction) and it was staggering to see all of the plastic bags blowing around and covering the fence.  Ever since then, I always keep my Envirosax reusable bag handy in my purse.   It’s great because it folds up really small, holds a lot of stuff and is always with me.  I never realized how many plastic and paper bags I was consuming myself until I decided to try to never use one again.

I also keep all of the free reusable bags that I’ve collected (from trade shows, gift bags, retail store giveaways) grouped together in my kitchen so they’re easy to grab when I go to the store.  You can also keep a few in your car so they’re easy to grab when you’re at the market or out shopping.  I’ve also recently purchased reusable produce bags from The Container Store to save even more plastic bags.  So instead of wrapping your vegetables in plastic, wrap them in sleek white washable bags.

Try swapping out a paper or plastic bag for a reusable one next time you’re going grocery shopping, grabbing take out, or purchasing items like clothing or housewares.

save electricity woman-on-computer-378x300

According to the Department of Energy, if you’re walking away from your computer for more than two hours, you should turn it off.  Over the course of a year, you can save nearly $100 by some estimates. Whenever I go out of town, I also unplug electrical appliances I obviously won’t be using like my coffee maker, under cabinet lighting, printer, and lamps.  Even though they’re off, they still pull power from the outlets.  And in winter, I keep my window A/C unit unplugged until those hot summer days when I need it.

reduce energy by requesting a screen door screen door

You can reduce your energy usage and electricity bill by requesting the installation of a screen door to your apartment. Ask your Landlord before installing one to see if this is allowed and if there are any restrictions.  If they’re allowed, ask your Landlord if they’ll cover the cost or negotiate to sign a longer renewal if they’ll add one.   Opening all of the windows and having a screen door allows for the air flow to cool your suite naturally – without the need to run an electric A/C unit. 

keep a set of cutlery and cups at your desk Close-up of a woman eating healthy food.

You can save 275 million pounds of plastic from being produced and thrown away every year by keeping a set of cutlery at your desk.  I like to keep my reusable flatware in a pretty mug in my desk drawer that I use for my morning coffee instead of those throw away paper or Styrofoam cups. And coffee tastes better out of a fancy mug anyway.  You can wash them in the bathroom or office kitchen after use or store them in a reusable lunch bag that you can take home with you every night along with a reusable water bottle.

We even take this idea a step further when we get takeout – we take the plastic utensils and paper napkins out of the bag and give them back to the restaurant before we leave.  If we’re going to eat at home, we have our own cutlery there.  And we’ll almost always give them back the plastic bag too and use our Envirosax.

pay your bills online pay bills online

Think of all the bills and statements you get each month: cable, credit card, car insurance, banking, cellphone, electricity, gas.  If everyone went paperless for all of their bills, it could add up to a lot of trees.  I love paperless billing because I don’t have to file all of my statements and with recurring auto-pay, I never have to worry about a late fee or if my paper check got lost in the mail.  If you’re interested in paying your rent online too, let your Landlord know.  Some larger buildings may already offer this service, but if you’re in a smaller building, your management team or Landlord may not have thought of this as an option yet.  Good news for you and them, you can set it up to be recurring so your rent is always on time.

opt out of receiving junk mail & catalogs Junk mail

You can opt-out of receiving annoying junk mail and too many catalogs to help save paper, trees, and recycling energy by requesting that your address be removed from their list.

Now, we LOVE looking through home decor catalogs, but sometimes we don’t have the time to do so before the next one comes.  And when we looked at how many we were receiving, we looked for the opt-out button and opted-in to perusing online.  I was happy to see many places offered an online catalog that looks just as pretty as the printed ones.

You can opt out here:

reduce waste reusbale water bottle

Many apartment communities have a recycling program for residents that can help get you started on reducing waste in your apartment.  If your building has a recycling bin, it’s easy to separate your trash and recyclables.  The Container Store has a fab garbage/recycle bin combo that you can easily hide in a cabinet, or under the sink which makes it easy to keep things separate.  If you’re not sure what can be recycled, just look on the packaging for the triangle of arrows that denotes that it is recyclable.

You can also reduce waste by making a pledge to stop using plastic water bottles in your home.  Buy a water filter and/or a reusable water bottle and you’ll save a ton of cash and plastic from going into the landfill.  Perk up that filtered water by adding lemon slices or cucumber and mint for a refreshing and pretty treat for guests.

How do you go green as a renter?  Let us know in the comments below.