How to Paint Like a Pro

In a seller’s market, something as simple as slapping a fresh coat of paint on your house gives you better curb appeal and can increase your home’s value. But there’s a fine line between the look of a professional painter and the quick and sloppy job the neighbor kids may perform. The key to painting like a pro is simple in conception: smooth, even strokes that disappear into one seamless surface. But achieving this polished look comes from following a few simple guidelines.

The Power of Primer

While wandering the halls at the hardware store browsing for the perfect color, you might pass by the cans of primer with an uninformed shrug. The elusiveness of primer remains to most a seemingly unnecessary part of the painting process–kind of like flossing your teeth, brushing them, and using mouth wash. But primer is the key that will save you from putting on more coats than Ralphie’s kid brother in A Christmas Story. It creates a blank canvas for your paint job, sealing porous surfaces and neutralizing whatever colors you are painting over. Primer is essential for achieving that smooth, professional look–and it only costs around $10 a gallon.

Brush v. Roller v. Sprayer: What to Use and When

The paint sprayer, easily the most awesome tool that comes to mind when starting a painting job, gives you both the power of speed and a smooth finish. It diffuses the paint into small particles and showers your walls evenly like a light Seattle rain in May. It is a professional-grade piece of equipment, and requires both patience and some serious equipment. It’s best to use this puppy outside where the stakes a lower and you don’t have to worry about leaving paint stripes and light splatters on your carpet.


The most popular, and far more economically feasible, option is the roller. It allows you to cover a ton of ground and it’s simple enough to use that you can recruit the whole family to help out. The trick to achieving the even finish of a professional job is to lather the roller and paint the entire height of the wall. Don’t let your roller go dry; the extra pressure you apply to compensate for a drying roller generates ugly paint buildup and obvious stripes that scream “amateur effort.” Be sure to maintain what the professionals call a “wet edge.” This is where you overlap the edges painted just previously to create a consistent spread of the paint over the entire wall. The roller is a perfect tool for both the interior and exterior painting of your home.


Although seemingly elemental, the paint brush is an indispensable tool for every paint job. It gives the painter maximum control for the finer edges that are unreachable with both the roller and sprayer. It is perfect for trim and tight corners that require a more delicate touch. Be prepared! With a brush you run the risk of dripping worse than your nose with a nasty cold. Aside from droplets of paint peppering your carpet and flooring, a hard, dried glob of paint is the most unwanted decoration that can result from painting a room. Avoid excess paint on your brush by scraping your edges directly on the paint tray.

Color Me Perfect

Finding the right color is subjective; although some might say the color of your house is a reflection of your personality, that should not engender anyone to decorate their space in lime green and florissant orange. Traditional colors are tradition for a reason; be sure to check out this guide for choosing the perfect color for both the inside and the outside of your home.


Once you’ve found the perfect color, take in the ancient axiom: all paint cans are not created equal: the colors in each can, even if bought and mixed at the same store, can look slightly different from one another–and no one wants a mosaic when looking for uniformity. Try tossing all that paint into a sealable bucket and mixing it all together. This will give you a consistent color that you can then spread with confidence over your home.

Meet Tape and Tarps, Your New Best Friends

The importance of tarps while painting indoors should go unsaid. They are a God-send to preserve flooring and furniture and keep you from accidentally achieving that horrendous 90s paint-splatter look. Tape too gives you a buffer when the work hours run long. Use it along the trim as to not bleed paint over the work you’ve already done (a second aspect that should go unsaid: wait for your paint to dry before putting tape over it!).


Places to See Once You Move to LA

So you have moved to Los Angeles. The bags are all unpacked, everything is in the proper drawers and the boxes are ready to be recycled. Now, it’s time to explore the city and all of what the surrounding area has to offer.

Los Angeles is known for the never-ending summer and easy beach access. Santa Monica Pier is one stop to experience all of the above. The iconic pier is more than 100 years old, and it is located at the end of Route 66. It is home to Pacific Park, which has a Ferris wheel, seaside swing ride and the West roller coaster. There are several vendors and restaurants on the pier including seafood at The Albright and authentic Italian at Ristorante Al Mare. There are walking trails on the beach nearby, as well as several stations for bike rentals. People can test their strength and agility with the various gymnastics equipment on the beach. The evening is arguably the best time to visit Santa Monica, as the sun sets right over the ocean and the carnival lights just start to turn on.

There are several art and music events to check out downtown. Newcomers to L.A. should try to check out the newest art exhibit, Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors.” This exhibit is touring the U.S. with it already making stops in Washington D.C. and Seattle. The artist uses a polka dot motif, which is described as a metaphor for all things. Kusama said in 1968, “Our earth is only polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos.” Infinity Mirrors will be at The Broad until Jan. 1, 2018. Stand-by tickets are available each day on a first come, first served basis.

Located about 30 minutes from downtown, the Griffith Observatory offers great views of the city, the Pacific Ocean and the Hollywood sign. The observatory sits on 3,015 acres of land, and admission has been free since it opened in 1935. It served a valuable role in American history, as pilots used the observatory during World War II to train for celestial navigation. It was used again in the 1960s to train astronauts for NASA’s Apollo program. Now, visitors can look through the observatory’s telescopes, watch sparks fly from the Tesla Coil and generally learn more about astronomy.

Laguna Beach sits on a seven-mile stretch of sand about an hour’s drive from Santa Monica. Sunbathers head to its Main Beach, which has tide pools and paths leading to the nearby Heisler Park. Visitors can try to hang 10 at Beach Park, which is popular among surfers. It’s easy to avoid the crowds at Crystal Cove or Victoria Beach. Crystal Cove Park warrants a trip in itself. The nearly 4,000-acre area has an underwater park, three miles of beaches and 2,400 acres of canyons. The downtown area of Laguna Beach is very pedestrian-friendly, with several shops and restaurants. Gelato Paradiso is a local favorite. To find the place, all one has to do is follow the smell of sweet waffle cones.

Big Bear is the closest mountain town to Los Angeles, located about 2 hours from the city. The slopes are popular among skiers and snowboarders, but hikers also flock to the area for its scenic mountain views. The town has plenty to offer in the summer. Visitors can rent a paddleboard or kayak and explore Big Bear Lake. Mountain bikes are also available to rent, and the area has tree rope climbing for the adventurous. Start the day in Big Bear with a hearty breakfast at Grizzly Manor Cafe.

Ojai is a small city set in the valley of the Topatopa Mountains. This quaint place offers a break from the city life. It has several great restaurants to choose from, including breakfast at Knead Baking Company, lunch at Farmer & the Cook and a beer-complimented dinner at Ojai Beverage Company. Visitors can explore the hiking trails at Los Padres National Forest. The forest takes up close to 2 million acres, most of which is public land. Several animals call the forest home including red-tailed hawks, California quail and bald eagles. Head to Meditation Mount to experience true relaxation. This area has one of the prettiest sunsets in California called the “pink moment.” The scene is caused by the eastern reflection of the sun on the Topatopa Mountains, which are briefly bathed in pink.

Those interested in getting a taste of international travel should head to the Danish settlement of Solvang. Located about two hours north of L.A., this area has wooden windmills and a replica of Copenhagen’s Round Tower. Solvang has more than 150 shops, 35 restaurants and several wine tasting rooms. It also has the Elverhoj Museum, where people can learn more about the area’s Danish history. Families should make a stop at the nearby Quicksilver Ranch. The ranch is home to thoroughbred horses and adorable mini horses too.

4 Ways to Increase Your Curb Appeal

Who says it’s just the inside that counts? At least when it comes to your home, it doesn’t hurt to have a pretty face. When you’re looking to put your best foot forward in the neighborhood, there’s no better way than a little sprucing. And let’s face it, you might have a little house-envy for your neighbors’ well-manicured homes. Never fear, however. There’s plenty of ways to spruce up your house, either to increase its value–or just to give it a little extra eye-catching appeal. Here are our four tips to make neighbors, potential homebuyers, and maybe even a few passersby stop to admire your home.


Raise the Roof

Or, really, make a few repairs. If you’re a homeowner looking to sell, there’s very few things more noticeable to homebuyers than a roof that’s in need of serious maintenance. If you’re seeing more than a few black streaks on your roof’s shingles, you’ll almost certainly want to take action. Consider having your roof cleaned, or cleaning your roof yourself. If you have more than a few shingles missing, then you’ll likely want to pay to have it re-shingled or replaced. You’d be surprised at what just a few new shingles can do.


Wash, Dry and Repaint

While you’re looking up to your roof, you’ll want to move your gaze down a little lower, too. The most common advice for most homeowners looking to spruce up their house’s exterior is simply to give your house a fresh coat of paint. A well-needed wash of your home’s face and a touch-up, or even an overhaul with a brand-new color, will not only increase your home’s curb appeal, but even make a splash. If you plan on a touch-up, scrape a little of your house’s paint off to match at the hardware store. And if your house’s exterior has seen better days, you might consider re-siding it entirely.


Budget Buys

Even small changes can make a big difference to your curb appeal. Consider small additions such as a decorative bird bath, decorative lighting or wind chimes, or small changes like repainting your mailbox or replacing your house numbers. Place a decorative wreath on your door, or repaint your door an eye-popping new color to attract a little attention. You’ll find that even replacing house numbers with fresh brass numbers, or replacing your front doorknob, will help your home’s aesthetics greatly. If you’re looking for a bigger buy, and a bigger “wow,” you’d do well to think over a picket fence or gate.


Keep Up Appearances

There’s nothing better than the smell of a freshly-cut lawn. It may be small, but even keeping up with minor maintenance such as cleaning and refastening your gutters can help your house’s appearance. Keep up with mowing and maintaining your lawn, flower boxes and garden, and be sure to stay on top of regular maintenance of your front sidewalk, driveway and windows. A cracked window or driveway, or mossy (or missing) bricks in your front walk can give the impression of a cluttered or otherwise unkempt space. Stay on top of maintenance, and you’ll have a clean and inviting exterior.


Clean Out the House

One of the easiest and most commonly overlooked ways to make your home more appealing is to get rid of all the clutter! As you have spent years living in your house, a variety of things have accumulated within (and probably started spilling out of) all of your storage areas. Clean out the garage, closets, cabinets and everything else to make your house feel far more spacious. Of course, it would be easiest to let a white-glove junk removal company do it for you!

8 Tips for First Time Painters

For first-time painters, applying a fresh coat of paint onto a surface may seem like a walk in the park; however, many people don’t realize that there is a huge difference between painting a room and painting on a canvas. For starters, if you approach a project with the intentions of haphazardly slapping on layer after layer of paint like you would a middle school art project, you will get an uneven, sloppy mess to deal with and you’ll have to hire a painting company to redo the job for you. Rest assured, the art of interior painting can be easily mastered if you remember these eight simple tips.


Conduct a thorough room inspection before painting
Before you start any sort of project involving paint, you need to make sure that the surfaces you are working on are void of any blemishes and imperfections. Preparation is key to ensuring that your selected coating system will not only be applied properly, but will also stay intact on its surface for as long as possible (or until you decide that you want a recoat.) This means you should be cleaning work surfaces thoroughly, smoothing down rough patches that could prove an issue, and making sure that there is no debris on your work surface.


Be wary of humidity when you paint
Regardless of where you are painting, you should always pay attention to weather conditions. When you’re painting, you should always be aware of humidity. Humid conditions mean that a coating is prone to collecting condensation, which will inevitably lead to poor adhesion, drips, and streaks.


Cover anything and everything that you don’t want painted
Fairly self-explanatory, but it’s still important to emphasize this. Remove furniture and other fixtures that could possibly get damaged or coated, cover your floors, and remember that painter’s tape is your friend.


Remove light switch and outlet covers

It might seem like a lot of extra work; however, it really pays off in the end. Removing these obstructions will greatly enhance the quality of your final product, giving it a clean and professional appearance.


High-quality rollers, brushes, painter’s tape, and paint is absolutely necessary

If you’re working on a project that will affect how you live (i.e., growing a garden, installing new windows, painting a bedroom), acquiring high-quality materials should always be the priority. Typically, if you attempt to cut corners and purchase cheap, low-quality materials, chances are the life-cycle costs of a coating will be much more expensive than what you had initially paid.


Priming is just as important as the actual paint

Though applying primer is just as much, if not more work, than applying the actual paint, remember that it’s crucial to having a properly-coated room. Some surfaces don’t require primer, but for the ones that do, painters should be diligent and thorough during application. Decreased quality in application towards the end is often expected (especially if it’s one’s first DIY job); however, negligence will definitely show in the final product.


Open the window
Paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOC) that, when inhaled, can leave you faint and lightheaded. It’s never a bad idea to crack open a few windows when you’re painting to help alleviate this health risk and reduce the fumes you are exposing yourself to.


Take your time

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your project probably won’t be finished in a day either and that is perfectly fine. Investing more time in your project typically produces the best results, as you are able to prep, paint, and correct mistakes more thoroughly.


Of course, if this sounds like too much work you can always just hire a local painter!

Painting Your Own Home: Tips to Make the Process Painless


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Young family painting the wall

Painless Painting Tips

Painting Your Own Home: Tips to Make the Process Painless

While it’s might seem easier to hire professionals to paint the house, but with a little research you can find the job is not as intimidating as it seems. With a few free days set aside and some preparation, painting one room (or multiple) is easily doable for anyone. Here are a few things to consider before you start.

Apply a Primer Coat

Preparation entails most of the painting process. It’s easy to become frustrated during the preparation stage, because prepping to paint can take longer than the actual painting component of the project.

Interior walls aren’t always perfect, and painting the walls is a perfect opportunity to fix those imperfections. If you’re using a putty or a filler to patch holes, the paint will react differently to those substances than it will the wall itself. The solution here is to prime your walls, so the new paint color has a uniform surface to adhere to. It’s one simple step that doesn’t seem like much, but could end up saving you a whole lot of work at the end of the process.

Factor in taping time

Taping up the room is tedious work, but will be worth it when you don’t have to waste time being ultra-careful or nervous when getting close to edges. Instead of trying to take the tape off while the paint is still dry, wait at least 24 hours for the paint to dry, and use a knife to slice the tape off at the edge. If the paint is still even a little wet or gummy, don’t continue. Make sure the knife is sharp enough and pull the tape away at a 45-degree angle, making sure not to rip the paint.

Set up with clean-up in mind

To protect floors, a drop cloth is a necessity. In some cases, cotton or canvas drop clothes can work better than plastic. Plastic drop cloths can be slippery and don’t easily stay in place, especially when ladders are involved. Any splatters or drips of paint that fall onto a plastic drop cloth won’t dry or absorb right away and can be easily tracked throughout the rest of your house. A canvas or cotton drop cloth will be more stable and will protect the floors better. Tape the edges of the drop cloth to the tops of the trim to protect both the floor and the trims from any splattering or dripping paint.

Work top down

Not only does it prevent drips from ruining anything you’ve already painted, but it keeps the walls and baseboards free of any dust or debris from sticking to wet trim. Paint the ceiling first, move to the walls and possible crown moldings. Only then should you move to any trims around windows or doors and finish with the baseboards. Not only will this keep a system in place to ensure there’s no questioning what’s been painted and what hasn’t, but it’ll keep things clean.

Check thickness of previous paint layers

Cracks on an exterior paint job don’t reflect the owner’s best intentions and should be fixed before the damage is too much to fix. Too thick of a layer of paint means that the paint might just be too heavy to stay, and will start to crack and to peel off. It loses its grip and can’t attach to the other layers of paint. In older homes, it’s likely that some of those layers of paint have lead in them, in which case you’ll need to look into how to remove it safely. The EPA has guidelines here. This could be the one step that requires you to outsource, if the layer of paint is extremely thick, because removing it completely (and correctly) will ensure the next coat of paint will attach correctly. Hiring a home washing company can help you identify these cracks in exterior paint as well. If anything, have the exterior of your home professionally power washed, so the paint will have a clean surface to adhere to.

Using these tips, ideally the house-painting process will be doable for anyone. Prepare yourself to set aside time for set-up, knowing that it will help when you’re done painting and ready to clean up. Instead of hiring painting professionals, save some money for decorating and tackle the job yourself.

Curious to know how much your Southern California home is worth! Get an instant report now! 

Bio: Matt Lawler is an Internet marketing specialist from Tempe, Arizona where he attended Arizona State University. Whenever he can step away from the computer, Matt enjoys playing sports, traveling and exploring the great outdoors. Follow him on Twitter.

Laura Key, REALTOR®
Cal BRE 01908085

Types of Real Estate Sales – Coffee Time with the Realty Goddess


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When you are purchasing a home you will come across many different “types” of sales. Short-Sales, Stand, HUD, Trust, REO…it can be confusing. This broadcast will look into the terms and untangle the mystery.

If you are in the Los Angeles area, I would love the opportunity to earn your business.

Laura Key, REALTOR
Cal BRE 01908085

Follow me on:
Periscope & Twitter: @RealtyGoddess
Snapchat: @RealtyGoddess
Instagram: @realtygoddess1

How To Find A Realtor (Buyer)


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Did you know most people choose a Realtor by spinning the wheel of fortune? When you are buying a home, you really should take the time to interview agents to help your buying experience the most enjoyable as it can be.

Did you know not all agents work the same? Some don’t work weekends, some don’t want to work with buyers, some only work certain hours of the day, some are part time, etc.  But how will this benefit you when you are working hard to find the home of your dreams.

Interviewing agents is a extremely important part of successfully buying a home.

Enjoy the above Periscope broadcast to learn a few things when choosing a Realtor! (recorded March 19, 2016)

Please note I have a correction: If an agent tells you they will not let you out of a buyer’s agency, please think long and hard before signing.

Follow me…

Snapchat: @realtygoddess
Periscope & Twitter: @realtygoddess
Instagram: realtygoddess1

The “KEY” to your real estate dreams!

Lots of Los Angeles Real Estate Agents want to be stars as big as the celebrities they cater to. Me? I just want to help people find the homes that make them happy and help them to create a sanctuary for future dreams and lasting memories.

Laura Key
Cal BRE #01908085

Why It Is Important to Be Pre-Approved before Looking at Homes

One of the first things you have to do before buying a home is to find out how much you can afford! It is a critical step to home ownership.  Believe it or not, one of the I hear most is how “afraid” people are of this step.  Honestly, there is no need to fear.

Enjoy this post about the process and call me if you have questions!

Follow me on….
Perioscope & Twitter: @realtygoddess
Instagram: realtygoddess1

10 Commandments When Buying A Home

  1. Thou Shall Not Change Jobs or become Self Employed or Quit Your Job
  2. Though Shall Not Buy a Car, Truck, or Van (this also includes boats)! You may be living in it.
  3. Thou Shall Not Use Credit Cards Excessively
  4. Thou Shall Not Spend Money Set Aside For Closing
  5. Thou Shall Not Omit Debts or Liabilities in your Loan Application
  6. Thou Shall Not Buy Furniture on Credit
  7. Thou Shall Not Originate ANY Inquires on your Credit
  8. Thou Shall Not Make Large Deposits without Checking With Your Loan Officer
  9. Thou Shall Not Change Bank Accounts
  10. Thou Shall Not C0-Sign for ANYONE

Find out more great tips and tidbits by following me on…

Twitter & Periscope: @realtygoddess
Instagram: realtygoddess1

Happier Hardwood Floors


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Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors make for a beautiful, stunning addition to your home. However, they can bring new cleaning and maintenance challenges that aren’t present with carpet. Here are some tips for simple, efficient, and thorough hardwood floor cleaning.

Make the job easier
Place mats on either side of your exterior doors and always remove your shoes before entering your home—and make sure your guests do the same. Protect the floors by placing felt (or similar) protectors on the feet of your furniture, and use area rugs to designate play areas for the kids. This will reduce extra dirt, dust, and floor scratches.

Weekly cleaning
Sweeping with a standard broom will remove some dirt and dust, but not as much as a mop, wipe, or broom that’s been treated with a dusting agent such as a Swiffer. You could also invest in a vacuum that is designed for hardwood floors. Just be sure that the vacuum won’t leave scratches!

Deeper cleaning
Regular sweeping will remove most dirt and dust, but occasionally you’ll need to give the floors a deeper cleaning to remove the dirt and grime that builds up in your floors’ seams. Use a wood-cleaning soap to thoroughly mop your floors, but make sure the mop isn’t sopping wet—you don’t want to leave standing water.

Spots and scuffs
Most of the marks that occasionally show up on your floors, such as scuffs from rubber soles on boots and shoes—can be wiped away with a rag or very fine steel wool.

To find your next home:
To find the value of your current home:

The “KEY” to your real estate dreams!

Lots of Los Angeles Real Estate Agents want to be stars as big as the celebrities they cater to. Me? I just want to help people find the homes that make them happy and help them to create a sanctuary for future dreams and lasting memories.

Laura Key
Cal BRE #01908085