Long before selfies, Los Angeles was obsessed with capturing itself on camera. And no one knows how to use a camera like the people of LA. The great Los Angeles movie has been made time and time again. Sometimes, it’s practically a copy of a copy. But nearly a century after the first motion pictures were made, LA has yet to run out of new things to say about itself. That’s true love. We’re not going to set ourselves up by picking the 20 best Los Angeles movies. We’re just going to pick 20 films that do well in capturing facets of the city’s diverse spirit. Yes, we missed Beverly Hills Cop, Double Indemnity, Clueless, Point Break, Die Hard, Terminator 2, Boogie Nights, and the list goes on. We could write this blog 100 times in 100 different ways. But if you watch any of the movies on this list, it’s impossible to ignore the distinct essence of the city.
Director: Joel Coen
The characters in The Big Lebowski are so much larger than life, they almost dwarf the LA megalopolis. But in what other U.S. city could you expect to run into a trio of leather-clad nihilists outside the local bowling alley? This Los Angeles movie remains a beloved cult classic. And over 20 years later, its quotes still liberally pepper conversations. Thankfully, though, demand for White Russians has finally subsided.
Director: Ramón Menéndez
Unlike most of the strong Latino-focused movies on this list, Stand and Deliver was rightfully recognized as a classic right out the gate. The Academy of Motion Pictures even nominated Edward James Olmos for a Best Actor Oscar. The film follows a teacher’s attempts to break through to children of working class Latino families stuck in a school system that’s failed them. The fact that it’s based on a true story only lends further power to this masterpiece.
Director: Alex Cox
Los Angeles punk rock was a different animal than what was happening in New York and the UK in the late ‘70s. It was leaner, weirder, and more colorful in its nihilism. Though Repo Man was released several years after LA’s first big punk wave, Alex Cox captured that whimsically aimless aggression with his debut. Job dissatisfaction, UFO cults, neutron bombs, and a disturbing lack of honor make slumming through its 92 minutes a real adventure. And one with plenty of rewatch potential. There’s even an LA River chase sequence… the gold standard of the Los Angeles movie experience.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
The problem with the Hollywood dream machine is that it’s a real place. And that means bad things can happen. Quentin Tarantino’s latest offering of revisionist history attempts to right one of Hollywood’s most notorious wrongs. And for at least a few shocking minutes, we get the most violent “happily ever after” committed to celluloid. The fantasy of what could have been juxtaposed with the reality of what happened creates a tear-inducing cap to a love letter in motion.
Director: Howard Hawks
Los Angeles is the birthplace of film noir, often fueled by the literary works of hard-boiled detective novelists like Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, and Dashiell Hammett. As one of the first examples of film noir, The Big Sleep examined LA’s seedy underbelly instead of its glittering promises and fantasies. While the movie initially confused audiences, it introduced enduring tropes like the femme fatale, the cynical lead, and a seething den of vice and duplicity. These themes may have appeared in film before. But The Big Sleep presented them with such impact that contemporary Hollywood is still coasting on the inertia.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Even considering this city rightfully loves itself, you’ll struggle to find a Los Angeles movie as hyper-romanticized as 2016’s La La Land. Two cute-as-a-button Angelenos sing, dance, make love, and break hearts through picturesque backdrop after picturesque backdrop. And even when things aren’t going so swell, they never pause to wipe the stardust from their eyes. Is it an accurate portrayal of life in LA? Not really. But for those who love the city (and can tolerate a musical), it scratched an itch that few other films could reach.
Director: David Lynch
Chances are good that you’ll have no idea what’s happening in Mulholland Drive. Chances are also good that this Los Angeles movie will leave you feeling profound dread and sadness regardless. The film loosely presents a story about the dangerous forces waiting in the wings when we keep our eyes so focused on our guiding star that we fail to realize we’ve completely wandered carelessly off our life’s path.
Director: John Singleton
While gangsta rap made Compton a household name, it was Boyz n the Hood that gave us the tale in full cinematic color. John Singleton’s unflinching look at gang life in South Central LA showed the beating heart buried in the warzone. While walkmen from the inner city to the suburbs were blasting West Coast beats and bars, Singleton showed us this wasn’t an act. For many residents of South Central, this was a day in the life.
Director: Nicholas Winding Refn
If there’s one thing virtually every Angeleno understands, it’s sitting behind the wheel of a car. Too bad we all can’t look like Ryan Gosling while doing it. This sleek-and-sexy action movie captures the nocturnal cityscape of downtown LA with a glossiness that contrasts stunningly against its white knuckle (and brutal) moments. For at least 3 months after this film’s release, the entire city bumped Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” as their driving soundtracks. They also drove like maniacs, but that can’t really be blamed on the movie.
Director: Taylor Hackford
So many Los Angeles movie lists are remiss in neglecting to include the strong cinematic offerings capturing life in East LA. One of the strongest examples of this is Blood In Blood Out; a gritty depiction of eastside gang life that earns its cult status. For a lot of kids growing up in East LA neighborhoods, the prison scenes alone created stronger cautionary vibes than any Victory Outreach guest skit at their local Sunday school. Hackford’s warnings resonated with underprivileged Chicanos struggling against a system stacked against them. But today, its messages and cinematic power are recognized far outside the community.
Director: Michael Mann
Collateral’s story of an assassin (Tom Cruise) hijacking a cabby (Jamie Foxx) for some late night work would be fascinating in any city. But the film takes on a new depth when spread across the sprawling City of Angels. The film boasts perhaps one of the most understated yet relatable moments in Los Angeles movie history. Amidst the tension of the evening, both the captive cab driver and the hitman pause to watch in wonder as a coyote prowls through the urban night. What Los Angeles resident hasn’t done the same?
Director: Marek Kanievska
A frankly substandard adaptation of a classic Bret Easton Ellis novel, Less Than Zero is still an integral Los Angeles movie in that it boldly displays the excess and plasticity of the ‘80s. We’re introduced to teen characters with few redeeming qualities and even fewer boundaries. While the novel’s cold detachment is replaced with Hollywood melodrama, Less Than Zero still paints a bleak picture of “the good life”. And all against a backdrop of illuminated Beverly Hills mansions.
Director: Curtis Hanson
Curtis Hanson’s cinematic take on James Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential proved the world would still embrace noir in the ‘90s. Instead of simply rehashing a tried-and-true formula, L.A. Confidential examined the psychology of its characters. The sultry seduction, obscured criminal elements, and callous setting were all still there. But with the curtain pulled back on character motivation, audiences were invited to probe the deeper mysteries of the human psyche.
Director: Amy Heckerling
Written by Cameron Crowe, Fast Times at Ridgemont High looks like a comedy on the surface. This makes it all the more surprising when it takes a deep dive into dramatic topics that leave you thinking long after the credits roll. The film follows a group of teens attending high school in the San Fernando Valley in the early ‘80s. It’s basically that era of the ‘80s that’s so early, it kind of feels like the ‘70s. We join them as they spar with strict teachers, fall victim to vaguely charismatic sleazebags, and scour a plastic wonderland of labyrinthine shopping malls. Director Amy Heckerling would later bring us Clueless. You could consider Fast Times… its older, more messed up sibling. Yet, this is a Los Angeles movie so redolent with nostalgia, that its rewatch value is through the roof. And, yes, much to Sean Penn’s chagrin, it also gave the world Jeff Spicoli.
Director: Doug Liman
A lot has changed in Hollywood since the ‘90s. But as quintessential Los Angeles movie Swingers illustrates, some things are shockingly similar. The struggles to make it big in the entertainment industry. The post-club diner crawls. The feeling of being surrounded by familiar faces yet completely alone. Yet the script, written by a young Jon Favreau, presents all of this without pulling us down with predictable heaviness. Rather, we’re just seeing a fragment of an ongoing story, pregnant with hope, uncertainty, and poor decisions that are occasionally rewarded. And in LA, all you need is a little luck to get you to your next big dream.
Director: Allison Anders
1993 was a big year for classic Chicano cinema. Mi Vida Loca not only captured a pre-gentrified Echo Park, but also presented it through the feminine perspective. The definitive chola film follows Mousie and Sad Girl as they struggle to keep their head up amidst unplanned pregnancies, poverty, and the seemingly all-consuming gang life. Keep it in mind the next time you line up for the Echo Park Lake swan boats.
Director: Billy Wilder
It’s not the only film noir on our list. Nor is it the only tale of insatiable Hollywood starlust. But amazingly, Sunset Boulevard depicts the essence of old Hollywood best when shut away in a shadowy mansion much like the film’s lead (Gloria Swanson). Most of the films on our list make use of breathtaking cinematic establishing shots. But there’s no question where Sunset Boulevard takes place, regardless of the title or city shots. You feel the city’s dark side in every stifling shadow of the dusty mansion.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Yes, Paul Thomas Anderson has made a better movie that was probably even more focused on Los Angeles. That would be Boogie Nights. But since this list has few contemporary offerings, we decided to include last year’s Licorice Pizza instead. It’s a largely aimless nostalgia romp aiming to capture valley life in the late ‘70s. And it does this swimmingly. Are there problematic moments? Sure. Does it have a clear plotline? Not really. Does it seem to last forever? You bet. But it also has its fair share of fun moments, laughs, and sincere charm. And since we can never go back to the valley of 1976 (and maybe wouldn’t want to), Licorice Pizza at least lets us visit. .
Director: Ridley Scott
Remember Los Angeles in 2019? The constant acid rain, skyscrapers belching fire into the night, and murderous androids hiding among the population? You don’t remember that? Well, you would if you watched Blade Runner. Ridley Scott’s vision-by-way-of-Philip-K.-Dick of a futuristic LA cityscape stands as one of the most stunning sci-fi films committed to celluloid. It’s also the most enduring Los Angeles movie in the sci-fi genre. While this neo-noir vision of the future didn’t come to pass, Blade Runner is still distinctly flavored by the LA experience. And even with so much of it obscured by rain and shadow, you always know exactly where it’s set.
Director: Roman Polanski
A masterpiece film about odious subject matter from an equally odious director, Chinatown left audiences disturbed. And probably still continues to do so. This Los Angeles movie uses lots of footage from the titular neighborhood. Then there’s also the memorable image of Jack Nicholson rowing a boat across Echo Park Lake. With LA in the midst of a historic drought, the water wars depicted in Chinatown are more relatable than ever. It’s also frequently regarded as one of the best scripts written in the history of cinema.
Ideally, we’d like to work in a real estate industry in which everybody wins. Easier said than done. But contingencies, when used in good faith, help us get closer to that goal. What are contingencies? Basically, they’re conditions that can be placed on a transaction that, if not met, invalidate the transaction. This definition probably paints more of an “everybody loses” scenario than one in which everyone wins. But contingencies are commonplace in the real estate industry because they actually work. And one reason they work is because they have a definitive endpoint. A contingency period provides a finite amount of time for the parties to complete their contingencies. Contingencies can work in everyone’s favor. Parties can also abuse them to the detriment of a transaction. The more you know about them, the better your chances of using them for the good of all involved.
Some agents see contingencies as panic buttons that can nuke an entire transaction. But they’re actually a safeguard that keeps all sides working together ethically. Any negative reputation is likely due to a contingency’s tendency to dilute an offer. But most buyers are hesitant to enter a transaction without an eject button in the case of an emergency. It’s important to remember that contingencies are negotiable, so no one is signing up for something with which they don’t agree. Deals can be finetuned to compensate for contingencies. And when we’re dealing with transactions as colossal as property sales, it would be crazy to not have contingencies as an option.
Contingencies come in all shapes and sizes, though there are a few that pop up more frequently than others. Agents are more likely to come across the following common contingencies in a standard transaction:
Would you buy a home without an independent appraiser’s inspection? If you answered “no”, you’re one of many prospective buyers who would employ an appraisal contingency. A buyer can continue through a transaction confidently with this kind of contingency in place. It can also ease lender concerns if they feel a buyer is at risk of overpaying for a property.
Though an appraisal contingency hinges on a professional opinion, it is an opinion nonetheless. This means different appraisers can calculate different figures. If an appraisal determines a home’s value is below the stated purchasing price, the buyer typically holds the right to terminate the transaction. Of course, the appraiser must conduct their review within the contingency period.
In many cases, a buyer will still want to purchase a property, even if the listing price is above the appraised value. Lenders won’t loan more funding than a property is worth, so it’s up to the buyer to come up with the extra cash or work out a reduced price with the seller. In any case, a contingency does not automatically terminate a transaction. It does however provide an escape option for both parties if they fail to complete the contingencies.
A mortgage contingency (also referred to as a loan contingency) takes into account the need for adequate funding when purchasing a home. There’s always the chance that a lender could deny a loan rendering a transaction difficult to complete. Rather than continue to be legally responsible for the purchase, the buyer can use this contingency to safely back out of the transaction. This type of contingency typically requires the longest contingency period.
This contingency may seem similar to an appraisal contingency, but their objectives are different. Sure, a home inspection contingency triggers said inspection. But there’s no valuation tool used in this inspection. In this case, the third party inspector is looking for unreported defects. If the inspector finds significant defects within the contingency period, the buyer can legally back out of the transaction.
Buyers can even safeguard themselves by adding the sale of their home as a condition required to complete the transaction. Referred to as a home sale contingency, it reinforces the buyer’s financial capabilities of affording their desired home. If their home fails to sell, they can exit the transaction without legal repercussions. This type of contingency benefits the seller too. Since it is reliant on the constraints of a contingency period, the seller is free to move on to the next offer if the buyer cannot meet their own terms in the allotted time.
Obviously, contingencies can’t go on indefinitely. Therefore, the parties agree upon a contingency period to ensure all inspections and the like complete in a timely manner. The duration of a contingency period can vary per contingency. Parties can also negotiate a longer or shorter duration. In California, if a party doesn’t clearly state a contingency period’s duration, it typically defaults to 17 days. Upon the seller’s acceptance of the buyer’s offer, the contingency period for any proposed contingencies begins.
A contingency is completed either by satisfying the condition or at the conclusion of the contingency period assuming there is no dispute. Here in California, a contingency is not officially completed until the buyer submits a contingency removal form. If a buyer fails to submit a contingency removal form by the close of the contingency period, the seller reserves the right to terminate the transaction. However, the seller is also required to submit a notice to perform to the buyer prior to seeking termination. A notice to perform gives the buyer an official notice to complete any contingencies or officially proclaim their intent to terminate the contract. The buyer can also opt to remove their requested contingencies and move forward with the transaction.
It’s important to note that serving a notice to perform can be regarded as a hostile action. If a seller still wishes to proceed with the transaction, they may wish to diplomatically reach out to the buyer. This way, they can potentially renegotiate the terms of the contract. But when a notice to perform is issued, the buyer must act and do so quickly. This can prompt a termination of a transaction.
A terminated transaction is obviously not the outcome either side wants when entering a contract. In most cases, contingencies are designed to make sure both sides are getting the most from their shared transaction. And with an agreed upon contingency period in place, contingencies shouldn’t delay a transaction long. But it is often up to a skilled agent to keep things running smoothly through clear communication. A little finesse can ensure that all parties walk away smiling.
When it comes to shopping for a new home in Southern California, we’ve noticed everybody tends to want one thing: a refreshing swimming pool. But a well-designed ADU is right behind it. So, what is this ADU California residents love so much? It’s an acronym for “accessory dwelling unit” and it’s an independent living space that shares a lot with a main residence. In California, ADU housing comes with its own set of rules and restrictions. But the 2020 California ADU law clarifications have made it easier than ever to add an ADU to your home.
The popularity of the ADU should come as no surprise. But it’s especially loved in California where ADU housing never lasts for long on the hungry market. Here are just a few benefits owners and renters can enjoy thanks to ADU homes:
ADU housing can employ a wide variety of designs. Most of these are summarized in the following:
With detached ADU housing, a unit stands independent of the main residence but remains on the same lot. These ADU types have earned a variety of nicknames including backyard cottages, granny units, in-law suite, and casita. In most cases, a detached ADU will offer comprehensive facilities including a dedicated kitchen and bathroom. If privacy is a concern for you, your guests, or your potential tenants, a detached ADU can make all the difference.
Unlike the freestanding detached ADU, an attached ADU is directly connected to the main structure on the property. Sometimes, attached ADU housing is built onto a home as an extension with its own dedicated entrance. While many ADUs take advantage of pre-existing spaces, this type of ADU is often created with the intent of being used as an ADU.
Since garages often offer a wealth of extra space above them, these are often popular choices for ADU conversion. However, ADUs above a garage can also be built as an expansion as opposed to a conversion.
A popular (and often economical) way of adding an ADU to a home is by converting existing space. A converted ADU typically employs the use of a garage or basement. Of course, in an ADU California residents convert, basement renovations are few and far between. But garage conversions are very popular!
Finally, there are the rare occasions in which a homeowner renovates a space within the pre-existing home for ADU use. These rooms are typically spare bedrooms or offices. A junior ADU will often be outfitted with its own kitchen and bathroom as well as a private entrance.
Each state has its own set of rules and regulations regarding ADU housing. California ADU law was fairly strict at one time. But in 2020, a series of laws took effect that changed the legal landscape for California ADU possibilities. These laws pulled back many of the restrictions that prevented California homeowners from creating their own ADUs. Now, due largely in part to a high demand for housing in the state, it’s easier than ever to build an ADU on your property.
Some of the most common ADU rules and regulations, regardless of state, include:
In most cases, ADU housing requires some kind of permit. These are regulated units after all. In recent years, demand for affordable housing has inspired several states to loosen ADU permit guidelines. Some permits require the property owner to live on the premises. Others have strict regulations regarding the number of occupants. Still, others factor lot size into the decision to grant a permit. No matter where you live, it’s imperative that you familiarize yourself with your state’s specific laws and guidelines regarding ADU permitting.
As we mentioned earlier, you can build an ADU to raise property value. But if you intend on remaining in the property, it’s important to note that most states don’t allow an ADU to be sold separate from the main property. Therefore, when planning for an ADU, be aware of the commitment involved.
You’ll also need to review your state’s ADU housing compliance regarding safety features. Since ADUs constitute living space, they normally need to meet the same safety regulations as your primary property. This includes fire detectors and carbon dioxide detectors. And that’s likely just the beginning.
Of course, you could just save yourself a headache and buy a home with an already-created ADU. We see properties with included ADU housing hitting the market all the time. But if you’re confident in your DIY skills, there are also plenty of properties with ADU potential hitting the market.
Collectors share a similar compulsion. Yet, the subjects of their obsessions can be radically diverse. Some might collect I Love Lucy memorabilia. Others might collect the dried husks of dead butterflies. Big ticket collectors might boast garages full of classic cars. Broke collectors might write down in a tattered notebook a collection of vanity plates they see in their travels. But when you meet retired brain surgeon and former Nevada Lieutenant Governor Lonnie Hammargren, don’t bother asking him what he collects. He’ll probably just answer “yes.” That’s because, as the subject of our latest Las Vegas Home Spotlight illustrates, Hammargren seems to collect everything. The one condition? It has to be weird. And for a time, one of the world’s largest collections of oddities could be found in three buildings located at 4318 Ridgecrest Drive In those days it was popularly referred to as the Lonnie Hammargren house.
It was back in 1971 that the eccentric Hammargren moved into the main home he’d later dub Castillo del Sol. Yet, despite a different name and a different owner, many Vegas natives still recognize it to this day as the Lonnie Hammargren house. As we mentioned, Hammargren was a collector of the strange and unusual. And his desire to add to this collection seemed boundless.
In its prime, one could sift through Hammargren’s assortment of oddities and find genuine human skulls and metallic animals in coital reverie. Rare military uniforms juxtaposed religious statues and antique diver’s helmets. Old medical equipment competed for attention with forgotten Vegas props. Dinosaurs co-existed with Godzilla. All of this and more saturated every nook and cranny of the Lonnie Hammargren house.
Soon the collection outgrew the space. Some may have seen this as the limit, but not Hammargren. Instead, he simply purchased two neighboring homes to the north of the property and proceeded to fill them (and their yards) with the strangest artifacts he could find. Even then, he found himself needing to build an expansion onto the original building.
Soon, the first building which had once constituted the entirety of the Lonnie Hammargren house boasted its own planetarium, rooftop solar observatory deck, and an entire space dedicated to former president Teddy Roosevelt. But perhaps the home’s crowning achievement was its “gondola room”. The authentic 36-foot Venetian gondola, rumored to be one of the world’s oldest, drifted in its own dedicated indoor pool. It was so cumbersome that its room had to be constructed around the massive boat.
In days when visitors could tour the Lonnie Hammargren house, they’d find tens of thousands of curiosities distributed across the site. Some even spilled out into the yard including several too large to be housed. Eventually, Hammargren connected two of the buildings with bridgework. The site was just as much a work in progress as the collection it accommodated.
Some collectors prefer to hoard their commodities in privacy. Others want to put their treasures on display for the like minded to appreciate. Hammargren numbered among the latter. For a time, Las Vegas citizens could count on the Lonnie Hammargren house opening its doors to the curious public every Nevada Day.
While Hammargren couldn’t handle the burden of guiding the tours himself, he was often onhand to excitedly answer questions. His neighbors were less thrilled about the public love of curiosities. And they were downright livid about the lack of street parking. So after a number of complaints, Hammargren dialed back public tours of the property. Yet, passersby could still catch glimpses of the collection pouring from the home (including the massive Godzilla statue in the front yard).
Yet, as time passed, Hammargren found more serious issues than neighborhood disapproval. His collection had broken through the constraints of physical structure. But when it outpaced Hammargren’s fortune, the seemingly limitless collection finally recognized its border.
Unfortunately, by this point, Hammargren was already in significant debt. The primary structure of the Lonnie Hammargren house had to be sold. Certain collector’s pieces had become fixtures in that building and thus had to be left behind. Chief among them was a staircase that had been excavated from Liberace’s home.
But even this wasn’t enough to pull Hammargren out of crippling debt. He spent the next period of time painfully whittling down his beloved collection piece by piece. This closed the era of the Lonnie Hammargren house. And while Hammargren was doubtlessly devastated by the slow death of his dream, he couldn’t have predicted what the future held.
Amber Softing had grown up in the Las Vegas area. Like many locals in-the-know, she used to celebrate Nevada Day by taking tours of the infamous Lonnie Hammargren house with her family. Long after the doors closed to the public, Softing was still adrift on the dreams Hammargren’s strange collection inspired. She longed to live in the bizarre home. But how much weight can a child’s dream carry?
About as much weight as a significant portion of Hammargren’s collection. That’s because in 2017, Softing (by then all grown up) purchased the Lonnie Hammargren house with her husband, Mike. Making use of his construction background, Mike began to work his magic to better fit Amber’s dream.
But Hammargren’s vision had been so influential on Amber growing up that she had trouble distinguishing where Hammargren’s dream ended and her own began. Rather than resist the strange siren song that had lured Hammargren into the jagged rocks, the Softings leaned into it. Along with their renovations, they also began to track down wayward pieces of Hammargren’s collection. Through their efforts, many of these pieces have been returned to the home if not the man himself.
Hammargren still resides in one of the neighboring homes bought during the expansion. Initially, Softing was concerned about taking up her neighbor’s crusade. She recognized perhaps better than anyone how much the collection meant to Hammargren. It wasn’t a given he’d look kindly on someone else moving into his former home and carrying on his secondhand legacy. But perhaps Hammargren recognized that the vast majority of his collection had once belonged to other people. And many of those items figured into those people’s dreams. Because Hammargren didn’t regard Softing as a rival, but instead as a kindred collector.
The former Lonnie Hammargren house is the shared dream of the Softings now. And they’ve rechristened the home and all of its curiosities Paradise Crest Manor. Hammargren and his wife regularly pop over to observe the Softings’ progress and revisit his former collection. He even contributes to the Softings’ treasure trove. Notably, he gifted the couple an intricate model of the late Desert Inn hotel and casino.
The Softings have adopted a more private approach to their collection. When Nevada Day comes along this year, their doors will remain closed. But those searching for curiosities or nostalgia can still check in with the Softings as they document their progress on their devoted YouTube channel entitled My Crazy House.
Then, of course, there’s Halloween. The Softings have started to create their own tradition of opening up Paradise Crest Manor’s backyard to celebrate the spooky night. Plenty of Hammargren’s collection pieces make a cameo in the haunted walkthrough. The Hammargrens even join in on the act with the Halloween festivities extending to their backyard as well.
The event, dubbed Monsters at the Manor, has become a success in its own rite over the years. Amber Softing estimates around 5,000 people passed through her backyard in 2019. While Covid shut down the home’s Halloween events for a couple years, the Softings are already teasing a special Halloween announcement for this year. Hammargren will likely be around, happy to answer questions about his past and present collection if you catch him at the right moment.
It’s the Softings dream now. Where once stood Castillo del Sol now stands Paradise Crest Manor. But for some Vegas residents, the memories alone will carry on the unofficial name of the Lonnie Hammargren house. When Hammargren still lived in the main building now occupied by the Softings, he had a subterranean wine cellar built. It was designed to mimic a regal Egyptian tomb, with brilliant paintings and hieroglyphics saturating the walls. This is where Lonnie Hammargren intended to be buried. Perhaps Amber Softing reminded him that we aren’t meant to be buried in our dreams. But if we’re fortunate enough, we can live in them.
We’re still waiting on flying cars, but many of the futuristic luxuries promised to us over the last few decades are now just part of our daily lives. Take the smart home for instance. It’s pretty much the “house of the future”… except we have it today. Ten years ago, you wouldn’t see anything like a smart home outside of a Jetsons episode. Today, you can place an Amazon order, turn up the volume on your TV, and close your curtains just by barking out a few commands. Smart home appliances don’t always come cheap. But the more you have, the easier and more organized your homte life tends to feel. With so many smart home products on the market, where do you begin? Today, we’re taking a look at the best smart home devices based on popularity and utility.
Using state-of-the-art technology for an interactive and immersive lifestyle experience, smart homes are easily the most valued residences on the modern market. The list of what your smart home can do is growing by the day, but some of the most popular attributes include remote control with the simple touch of your phone, computer, or accommodating wireless device. The modern conveniences of the smart home are unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before.
With smart house electronics satisfying such diverse needs, we could devote a separate blog to their various benefits. Instead, we’ll take a brief moment to break down two of the most popular benefits users seek from the best smart home devices.
The majority of smart home appliances offer users remote access to functions that formerly required their presence. As you will see in our list of the best smart home devices, this runs the gamut from disarming complex security systems to simply unlocking the front door. Tired of putting plans on hold to wait at home for an important package? Forgot to close the curtains when you left for the office on the hottest day of the year? Out of town guests having trouble figuring out your entertainment system while you’re at work? Remote access solves all of these problems in seconds.
Maybe you just want to keep an eye on energy and water consumption for a more eco-conscious, efficient living experience. A smart home can do that too. Many of the best smart home devices are designed with energy efficiency in mind. In many cases, these products incorporate features that monitor energy use. But some can even learn your routines to intuitively reduce energy consumption around your schedule.
Since smart home products are designed to make your life easier and less complicated, your must-have smart home appliances will vary depending on your needs. But most smart home owners will agree that our list of the best smart home devices includes tried-and-true favorites and absolute essentials. If you’re investing in a smart home or upgrading your home with smart features, these in-demand appliances will elevate you to new levels of convenience.
Out of all of the smart home products on our list, Alexa is probably the most widely recognized. By setting up Alexa voice ID, you can trigger a tailor-made experience just by speaking. Think of all of the smart features at your disposal. You can consider Alexa voice ID the key to unlock those features. Alexa can call you by name, make suggestions based on learned behavior, or simply fill your requests. It’s the closest you’ll get to having a genie in the house.
You’ll find a slew of security systems holding their own amongst the best smart home devices. But which features do you choose? Obviously, it’s a matter of personal preference. But all smart security systems bolster your safety by providing you with immediate alerts to unusual behavior. Some smart security systems even use facial recognition to identify those familiar to you. More importantly, these systems differentiate unfamiliar faces and alert you accordingly. Peace of mind is integral to true comfort, and smart security systems deliver the most cutting edge models.
When Google decided to develop an advanced smart thermostat, we expected something special. And the Nest Thermostat doesn’t disappoint. The Nest quickly became one of the best smart home devices due to its ability to self-regulate temperature based on your programming. Unexpectedly called away in an emergency? The Nest Thermostat recognizes when you leave the house and adjusts the temperature accordingly. You may not realize just how useful this is until the power bill arrives. But the Nest is one of those smart house electronics that prioritizes energy efficiency. Like many of the best smart home devices on the market, Nest can be fully controlled using your phone. Running late and your visiting in-laws can’t figure out how to adjust the air conditioning? You can do it for them with a touch of your phone.
Building out a smart speaker system for your entertainment center can be an enthralling experience for the technically-minded. It can also be daunting if you’re not into sculpting your ideal sonic soundscape. Yet, a smart speaker system still ranks easily amongst the best smart home devices on the market. We recommend choosing a smart speaker with high compatibility. Some don’t play well with smart devices outside of their brand. Multi-room capabilities are also crucial for that immersive smart home experience. In a smart house, sound systems aren’t just for family movie night!
The doorbell seemed like one of those inventions that had reached its zenith. But with the rise of smart home appliances, the doorbell is easily one of the most successfully upgraded products. Enter the Ring doorbell. This brand-name doorbell makes sure you know when someone’s at the door… even when you’re not home. Motion-triggered sensors deliver video and audio right through the Ring app on your phone. You can openly communicate with your visitor through the app in real time. This makes it perfect for communicating with delivery drivers, even if you’re stuck at the office. It’s definitely a one-up from the classic “bing bong” summons we’ve known over the decades.
Remember when we mentioned your visiting in-laws earlier? Imagine that their Uber gets to your house early and you can’t leave work. With a smart lock, this isn’t an issue. While there are a variety of smart locks on the market, most allow you remote access to your home’s door. So, you can easily unlock the entry from afar with just the push of a button. Many are voice-activated so you don’t have to worry about locking your keys in the house. While these may be among the simplest products on this list, their usefulness easily classes them among the best smart home devices for your money.
The smart pool and spa controller’s spot on our list would be more iron clad if every home had a swimming pool or spa. Alas, WiFi-reliant smart controllers for pools and spas will only be useful if you have one of the aforementioned features. Sure, the convenience of having control over your aquatic heating systems and pumps is fantastic. But bypassing those costly installation fees that other devices require? That’s the real bonus.
So what if your home doesn’t have Smart features? Virtually any home can be upgraded to a smart home. Different smart home appliances can be purchased piecemeal for an experience tailored to your specific situation. But in all cases, you’ll need to invest in an advanced home network. One wireless router just won’t cut it when trying to support a fully functioning smart home. This means investing in substantial networking equipment and installing carefully positioned wireless access points throughout the home.
But if you’re in the market for a new home, you can actually purchase pre-designed smart homes. We even offer smart homes through our website as part of our HartSmart Homes initiative. Prospective homeowners searching for these fully upgraded smart homes need only search listings on the JohnHart website for the label “HartSmart Homes”.
Your friend who’s been going on about this year’s mild summer in Los Angeles is likely pretty quiet this week. That’s because we’re just getting started on this year’s big Los Angeles heat wave. At least we hope this is the big one. Then again, we’re just entering September so there’s still plenty of time for more juggernauts of heat. Things are already feeling pretty oppressive outside, but are expected to heat up even more over the long holiday weekend. This shouldn’t be new ground for long time Angelenos. But it’s still a good idea to familiarize yourself with your local cooling centers, just in case we blow that power grid. And we’ve got all of the resources you’ll need below!
The National Weather Service issued a warning about high temperatures gripping Southern California starting Wednesday and running over the long Labor Day weekend. Parts of Southern California will be maintaining triple digit weather through the weekend. Unfortunately, relief won’t be fast on the heels of this year’s first major Los Angeles heat wave. Instead the weather will gently ease back into the upper 80s in the most forgiving of cases.
In LA, parts of the valley will predictably be hit worse. But possibly more staggering than the triple digit daytime highs are the nighttime lows. Many Southern Californians bank on cool desert nights to bring reprieve from summer heat waves. But most nights won’t dip below the mid-70s and some areas will even hold night temperatures well into the 80s.
The sea breezes that often blow in from the beaches will also be stifled during this first Los Angeles heat wave. Meteorologists are crediting this to a weak offshore flow. In these conditions, temperatures are expected to break annual records. And given that September is one of the hottest months in Los Angeles, that’s saying something.
The prolonged Los Angeles heat wave will tempt Angelenos to leave those air conditioners blasting. But this also raises the chances of power loss in parts of the Greater Los Angeles area. For some of us, this may mean a few sweaty hours. But it can be a life-threatening situation for our more vulnerable citizens. Fortunately, community cooling centers will be provided in the event of emergency. To find the cooling center nearest you, simply consult this convenient interactive map.
Even if your air conditioning is working fine, there are a few best practices you can follow to endure the big Los Angeles heat wave. These include:
In addition, several Angelenos are using the well-timed National Cinema Day to beat the heat. On Saturday, September 3rd, select theaters around the city will be offering $3 movie tickets to celebrate. These include major chains like AMC and Regal Cinemas.
Undoubtedly, many other Angelenos will be braving the beaches where temperatures are still expected to climb into the upper 80s. But those searching for reprieve among the waves should note that a high bacteria advisory has been issued for many popular beaches. These include the Santa Monica Pier, Mother’s Beach in Marina Del Rey, Inner Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, and Topanga Canyon Beach in Malibu. While beach access isn’t closed, beachgoers are advised to enter the water at their own risk.
While the oncoming Los Angeles heat wave may feel extreme, the city has faced this kind of heat often over the years. According to data compiled by Current Results, LA hit a high of 111 on September 6, 2020; a high of 108 on July 6, 2018; a high of 104 on October 24, 2017; and so on. Admittedly, the length of this latest blast of heat is more concerning than its highs. And while there may be some record highs for certain days, this isn’t exactly unprecedented terrain for long-time residents. But for those still nervous about a bit of heat, simply follow the best practices covered above. No sweat!