Sometimes we remodel because we want to create a more pleasant home environment to live in. Other times, it’s all about the bottom line and getting the most bang for the buck when the house goes on the market.
If you find yourself in the latter situation where you are remodeling with the goal of reselling, there are a few things you can do to maximize your return on investment and make your home as appealing as possible to future buyers.
Keep it Neutral
Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom for resale is not the time to go crazy with paint colors, fixtures, or other design elements. You want to present the image that the house is a blank canvas that the new owners can make their own.
Even though things like paint and fixtures are easy to change, you do not want to put the new owners through the hassle of having to do that right after moving in. You want to create a space they can live in for a while as they are determining what their design plan will be.
Choose Looks Over Function
This is one of the only times that you can prioritize the way something looks over the way it functions. If you have a limited budget, spend it on things that will make your home look as good as possible.
For example, a shiny new oven or refrigerator will impress potential buyers much more so than a new water heater or dehumidifier. As long as those more mundane items are in good working order, leave them alone and focus your time and money on items that you know potential buyers will want to see.
When it comes to a kitchen or bathroom, bigger is almost always better. If you have the opportunity to increase the size of these rooms without a major restructuring of your house, take it!
What separates a major change from a minor one? Think knocking out walls vs. rearranging furniture or buying new pieces that serve a functional purpose and double as storage. Before you go embarking on a big change, consider if there are any smaller (and cheaper) steps you can take first.
Los Angeles weather means that there’s no excuse for not getting outside to enjoy a hike. Going on a hike is a great way for your family to disconnect from technology and connect with each other.
There are plenty of family-friendly hiking options throughout the South Bay area that can help your family get its nature fix any time of year.
Alta Vicente Reserve
Location: Upper Point Vicente Park, 30940 Hawthorne Blvd, Rancho Palos Verdes
This 1.8-mile hike covers 55 acres of land on the slopes below and around the Rancho Palos Verdes City Hall with impressive coastal views north over Oceanfront Estates. Other scenic views include Catalina Island and the Santa Monica mountains.
This trail includes plenty of shade, so it’s possible to hike it year-round. It joins up with the Nike Trail (more on that in a minute) about a half mile in if you want to go in a different direction.
Location: Ganado Drive and Crest Road, Rancho Palos Verdes
This 1.6-mile trail is surrounded by luxury homes, but retains the quiet, calm feeling of being in nature. You can start in Vicente Park to tack on a little more distance, or start at Crest Road and Gando Drive at the edge of the Marymount California University campus.
The trail takes its name from Ground Equipment Facility J-31, which was home to Project Nike in the 1940s. The only shade available is at the end of the trail, which provides an opportunity to rest before turning around to head back home.
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Location: 4100 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles
This park, managed by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, includes several hiking trails and playgrounds — making it a great destination for families who are looking for a variety of outdoor recreation options.
Trails range from 0.8 miles to 2.6 miles. If the visibility is good, you might even see the Hollywood sign. Because this is a county-owned park, there are plenty of restrooms and stopping places along the way.
Why is it that bad habits always seem so much easier to keep? If only it were as easy to run a mile as it was to eat an extra cookie or splurge on an expensive purchase.
Healthy habits are more difficult to create and sustain, but not impossible. With a little bit of focus and dedication, you can be well on your way to achieving your goals and setting yourself up for a healthier lifestyle.
What is a Healthy Habit?
The first step toward developing a healthy habit is understanding what separates healthy behavior from its unhealthy counterpart. Things like smoking and drinking too much naturally rise to the top of the list, but behaviors like sitting for too long, or spending too much time staring at a computer screen are less obvious.
Spend an entire day or week writing down everything you do, then reflect on what needs to be improved. Once you’ve separated the good from the bad, you can start coming up with a plan of attack to create new, healthy habits.
Make a Game Plan
The most sure-fire way to make sure you stay on track is to do things early. That could mean working out first thing in the morning (when there’s less likely to be other demands on your time) or preparing dinner for the week on Sunday so you are not tempted to hit the drive-thru on your way home from work.
Use a journal or planner to keep track of your progress and your goals. Take some time each weekend to plan out the week ahead and write reminders to reinforce your healthy habits that you’ll see every time you look at your planner.
Practice Makes Perfect
Once you have identified your changes, planned for them in your life, and turned your triggers around, the only thing left to do is practice, practice, practice. The more you do something, the more it will sink in.
Rewarding yourself for a job well done is important, too — just make sure your reward doesn’t set you back from the progress you’ve made. You might think you’re doing a good thing by depriving yourself for long periods of time, but going too long without a reward can lead to backsliding down the road.
Dog-Friendly Hikes Around Los Angeles
For dog lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, there’s nothing better than grabbing your four-legged best friend and hitting the trails for a hike. Los Angeles offers some great hiking options that you and your dog can appreciate!
Runyon Canyon Park
Runyon Canyon Park is one of the most popular hiking spots in LA — with good reason. It has options for all ability levels and offers some of the best views in the area.
The 160-acre park includes 90 acres of leash-free space where dogs can run free. Expect to see a mix of hikers with and without dogs in a generally laid back atmosphere. There are no water fountains along the trails, so make sure to bring plenty of water for you and your dog.
The park is located in Hollywood on the east end of the Santa Monica Mountains, providing hikers with a fe w overlapping loops and great views over Hollywood. Parking can be tough to find; your best bet is probably the parking lot off of Mulholland Drive.
One of the largest parks in the U.S., Griffith Park has more than 50 miles of dog-friendly trails. You and your dog can spot the Hollywood sign, the Batman’s bat cave, and more. Hiking trails typically range from 1-3 miles and are a mix of hilly and flat terrain.
Before you head home, visit The Trails Cafe, which sells treats for both pets and their owners! Amir’s Garden, located on the east end of the park, provides a welcome spot to relax at the end of a long hike.
If you are looking for something a little more of the beaten path (or hiking trail), check out this little-known park nestled in a mostly residential area.
Elysian Park has a roughly two-mile trail that’s dog friendly and has much less foot traffic than the busy trails in Runyon Canyon and Griffith Park. Because of the neighborhood vibe, this hike might not be a good fit if your dogs like to bark or would easily disturb others.
A staycation is sometimes just what the doctor ordered when it comes to finding some time for rest and relaxation for the family. After all, you can often find all of the benefits of a true vacation, minus the travel and some of the expenses.
In Southern California, one of the ultimate family staycations is a trip to Catalina Island.
Catalina Island brings a few inherent advantages when it comes to a family staycation. One, and perhaps most important, is that it is very close—just 22 miles offshore. A trip from one of the five ferry ports in Southern California is just more than an hour, making it easy for a day trip or an entire weekend. Another advantage is that once your family arrives on Catalina Island and sees its natural, scenic views, it feels as though you are worlds away from everyday life.
So what activities should your family take part in during a staycation on Catalina Island? Here are a handful of ideas.
Golf Cart Cruise – There are several places where you can rent golf carts, a popular means of travel for many visitors. The golf cart will take you all around Avalon to the many sights to see, such as the Nature Center or the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden.
Glass Bottom Boat Tour – Among the most popular activities on Catalina Island are the Glass Bottom Boat Tours, which give you a whole new view of unique sea life below the surface. It’s a great way for kids to do a little learning while you take in the views.
Whale Watching – Catalina Island is a great place for Whale Watching, which is possible here year-round. Many suggest it’s among the premier whale watching locations, which makes it a unique experience for the family.
Hiking and Camping – If you want to mix in a bit of exercise, hiking and camping are very popular and very accessible on the island. There are guided day hikes available, or you can download a trail app to go it on your own. If you are limited on time, the Garden to Sky Hike is highly recommended.
Underwater Views – Catalina Island offers amazing opportunities to get in the water, including snorkeling and scuba diving. There are several places to try a guided snorkeling tour. Or if your family is more adventurous, you can try scuba diving with certified instructors, even if you don’t have any experience.
A Ride on the Zip Line – What’s a staycation without zipping down 1,100 feet of cable at high speeds? If your family includes thrill-seekers, check out Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour, which offers a tour of five separate zip lines.
What is your favorite family activity? Find out more about Catalina Island for your next outing.
What do you think is the best choice for a SoCal family staycation? Check out Catalina Island.
What locations are on your short list for your next staycation? Find out more about Catalina Island.
You’ve probably seen marble in fancy hotels, or maybe even in your own home. But what makes it so special? How does it get so smooth? Read on to find out.
How it’s formed
Marble occurs in large deposits that form at plate boundaries in the Earth’s crust. These deposits can be hundreds of feet thick and geographically very large. The size of deposits allows marble to be mined economically on a large scale, with some mines and quarries producing millions of tons per year.
Italy is the world’s leader in marble exports, accounting for about 20 percent of all marble sold worldwide. China, India, and Spain are also top marble-producing countries. In the U.S., marble quarries can be found in Georgia, Colorado, and Tennessee.
How it’s used
As the favorite medium for Greek and Roman sculptors and architects, marble has become a cultural symbol of tradition and refined taste. That love of marble in sculpture carried over into some of the most well-known structures in the world today, including the Taj Mahal and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Not all marble is a high-end product, however. In crushed stone form, it is a low-cost solution for a variety of construction projects.
Outside of building, very few rocks have as many uses as marble. Ever wonder how paint and makeup get that shimmer you can’t quite put your finger on? It’s likely marble in a process known as “whiting.” Its soft quality also makes it an ingredient in non-abrasive cleaning products like Soft Scrub.
One of the reasons so many historic structures are made of marble is that it requires little to maintenance over hundreds of years.
For use at home, make sure that the marble is sealed after installation. This will repel water and other stain-causing substances, but won’t make the marble completely stain resistant. Wipe up spills as soon as possible after they occur to prevent them from seeping into the stone. Clean marble surfaces regularly with a cleaner specifically formulated for stone and tile.
Below are a few tips for keeping your business-associated New Year’s resolutions:
Locate a nice, peaceful place to sit, shut your eyes, and picture the objectives you wish to achieve. Mentally walk through them, imagining that you are going through the motions, which eventually will bring you higher levels of success. You are essentially training your brain to take the necessary steps to attain your goals.
Say resolutions each morning
To meet your resolutions and goals, you must keep them inside the forefront of your mind. By repeating them to yourself each morning, you are reminding yourself they exist. It’ll help set you up to take the necessary steps within the course of your day to turn those goals into reality.
Share goals with others
Telling other people about your resolutions helps you accomplish them at a higher rate because it’ll cement your commitment. By saying them out loud to another person, you aren’t offering yourself an out. You could also take this step up a notch and share your goals on social media, and announce to a bigger audience what you’d want to accomplish.
Create a strategy to accomplish them
Whatever business objectives you have set for 2017, make an actual strategy to attain them. It’ll require sitting down and planning specific actions you must take.
Pay close attention to any progress
When there’s a hefty business goal, it’s easy to get distracted by how much work is right in front of you. But rather than concentrating so intently on how far you need to go, pay close attention to how far you’ve come. By recognizing all of your efforts and how they have paid off thus far, you will be more than likely to want to continually move forward.
Beyond the feeling of satisfaction you receive from having your own place, there are some important tax benefits that come with owning a home.
Whether you just moved in or have been a homeowner for years, here’s how to make the most of your home on your next tax return. Keep in mind that doing one or more of these things is likely to put you in line for an itemized deduction, rather than taking the standard deduction!
Mortgage interest deduction
Perhaps the biggest tax benefit of owning a home is the fact that you can deduct most of the interest you pay on your mortgage each year from the total income on which you pay federal tax.
If you have an expensive home or a large mortgage, this can dramatically increase the size of your federal income tax refund, or mean the difference between paying taxes and receiving a refund.
However, the amount of interest you can deduct is limited to $1 million each year, and the deduction only applies to an actual mortgage, not a home equity loan or line of credit.
Selling your home
Not only can your taxes benefit from living in a home, you can receive a break from selling it, too. Expenses like advertising, title insurance, and even some types of repairs, can all be counted as deductions.
The first $250,000 (or $500,000 for married couples) profit you make on the sale of your home is not taxed, either, as long as you’ve lived in the house for at least two years before selling it.
If you are buying or selling a home as a result of a job relocation, you might be eligible to deduct many of the expenses associated with moving from one place to another. This includes everything from moving trucks to storage units.
Remember to save all of your receipts from moving-related expenses if you are interested in claiming this deduction. And, when it’s time to file your taxes, make sure you read the fine print to ensure that your moving circumstances qualify.
We’ve all been there — it’s midmorning or midafternoon and a snack craving hits. Your first instinct might be to reach for something sweet or salty, only to feel bloated or have a sugar crash a little while later.
The next time a craving hits, consider these healthy options that have the added benefit of boosting your mental function.
Nuts and Seeds
There are tons of options here from almonds to cashews to pumpkin seeds. Eat them roasted, salted, or just plain. Either way, you’ll receive a dose of zinc, which enhances mental agility and memory, and vitamin E, which helps prevent mental decline.
You can also enjoy nuts and seeds in granola bars and other snacks. Double check the label before you buy to ensure that they are not loaded up with sugar. Look for bars that are naturally sweetened with honey or agave.
Berries are rich in antioxidants, which help improve cognition and memory. Blueberries specifically are considered to be one of the best brain foods out there.
Eating fresh berries is the best way to ensure you are receiving the most nutritional value. If that is not an option, look for dried or frozen varieties. Dried berries can be eaten on their own, while frozen berries are best used in smoothies and other recipes.
Many granola bars also include berries, but check the sugar content and list of ingredients before you buy. Many bars with added dried berries may also contain artificial ingredients and additives!
Spinach and Kale
Kale and spinach have both been proven to slow mental decline and decrease risk of dementia. While it might not be practical for everyone to dig into a handful of leafy greens in the middle of the day, there are a few ways you can sneak them into your snack routine.
You can blend them into smoothies for an added health kick when combined with berries, or make a green juice (with a juicer) and combine leafy greens with other fruits and veggies. Another idea is to look for kale chips (which are made from dried kale) or spinach and kale tortilla chips at your local grocery store! They can be great substitutions for regular corn or pita chips when eating with dips, salsa, or hummus.
Add Mindfulness to Your Day
No matter how busy you are, there’s always time to add a little mindfulness to your day. This is especially important as we all spend more and more of our time looking at screens of one variety or another.
Here are a few simple ways to unplug and reclaim your thoughts throughout the day!
Be Present During Breaks
Whenever you have a minute of downtime, what do you do? Pull out your phone and check your email or scroll through social media? This passive scrolling is the opposite of mindfulness and has long-term impacts on focus and attention span.
The next time you find yourself in that situation, put down your phone and focus on being present in the moment. What are you feeling? What are you thinking about? Let your mind wander from your daily to-do list to your larger emotions — you might be surprised at what you find.
Appreciate What You Have
As we go through the hustle and bustle of daily life, we are often so focused on the next task at hand that we forget to take a moment and appreciate everything that we have around us.
Make a point to notice five things each day that you are thankful for and take a moment to reflect on what your life would be like without them. For example, your car moves you around from place to place each day. How would your life be different without it? Would it be better or worse?
Questions like this allow you to mindfully consider your place in the world in relationship to everyone and everything else that’s in it.
Listen to Others
We all talk to lots of other people throughout the day, but how often do you really listen to what they’re saying? If you are constantly distracted by other things, words might go in one ear and out the other.
Whenever you are interacting with others, do your best to eliminate all other distractions so you can fully focus on what’s being said. You might be surprised at how this simple activity can improve the quality of your relationships with those around you!