Brioche de Paris comes straight from France!

On Sept. 30th, owner Wissem Kheruji opened Brioche de Paris in downtown Walnut Creek. He is from Paris originally, and his family owns many Parisian bakeries. Wissem is the only member of his family in the U.S. He went into health and fitness, but ended up following in the family footsteps. Lucky us!

He opened this French-inspired cafe and bakery at Locust and Bonanza. They use imported flour and butter to make everything besides their baguette bread in-house. They are brand new, so the menu is still developing, but I’ve been told that a sweet and savory crepe menu should be available in a few weeks.

Brioche de Paris also offers espresso drinks, a daily soup, and salads. Their croissants are out of this world. They serve sandwiches between $6-$9 and pastries for $5 or less, and as little as $2.25. That’s right about in line with Walnut Creek prices.

The space itself is quite cozy and open, and they offer free WiFi with tons of outlets, which is usually a frustration in cafes. I’d highly recommend going to visit and getting a fresh croissant and enjoying a cup of joe at the newest bakery in town!

What constitutes a “bedroom?”

Jay Vorhees of JVM Lending raises an important question in a recent blog: what constitutes a “bedroom” in a real estate context? I’ve always told my clients that if it has a closet, it’s a bedroom – but I learned there’s actually a lot more to it! Read on, from Jay:

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My wife Heejin spoke in front of a brokerage recently and an agent approached her afterward to complain about a transaction we closed over three years ago. The agent was still upset because the appraisal came in low. We researched the transaction and found out that the county records and the MLS had the bedroom count wrong.

The agent was adamant that the home was a 3-bedroom house, as per county records, but it was actually only a 2-bedroom home, necessitating the use of more similar and lower-priced 2-bedroom comps. The ostensible “third bedroom” was only 42 square feet – far too small to constitute an actual bedroom.

Superstar appraisal-blogger Ryan Lundquist, of course, addressed this issue in one of his excellent blogs – Four Requirements for a Room to Be a Bedroom. Here are a few simplified takeaways (I recommend reading Ryan’s entire blog for more detail):

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  1. Entrance/Exit: A bedroom needs to have a door to the main house and a window to the outside.
  2. Ceiling Height: At least 50% of the ceiling needs to be 7 feet high. Hence, a sloping attic ceiling is okay in most cases.
  3. Size: A bedroom needs to be at least 70 square feet, with no side being less than 7 feet. Hence, a 6 by 12-foot room is not a bedroom.
  4. Closets Not Required (Usually): Many agents and buyers mistakenly believe that a “bedroom” must have a closet, but if often depends on local real estate norms, per Ryan. The last point is my own, and not Ryan’s.

County records and MLS info are sometimes incorrect, too. My above story involving the upset agent is a great example. County records say the house has “three bedrooms,” when it definitely only has two.

This is also another reason why we need skilled human beings to appraise homes. AI/computers will believe county records every time, but that is a topic for another blog.

(Kristin’s Thoughts) Another thing to note: if you don’t pull the permits, the tax records won’t reflect the addition of a bedroom, but an appraiser may use it if it is functional as a bedroom.

Another brewery in town!

You won’t believe this! Okay, maybe you will. There’s another brewery in Walnut Creek. We just finished recapping Rotator Brewery a couple of weeks ago, and now here I am to tell you about the San Diego-based Mike Hess Brewery that is situated in The Orchards shopping center on Ygnacio and Oak Grove!

The Mike Hess Brewery website isn’t working yet, so I can’t link you. But I stopped by to check it out and got a few pictures! The space has lots of seats inside, but the outdoor seating is the place to be. It is partially covered, and they often have live music on the weekends.

I really like the simple, sleek interior, and they had a spacious, cozy outdoor area with couches and a TV. They do host a trivia night every Wednesday, which should be fun, and they really pulled me in when I found it is a dog-friendly place! Bodie is getting old, but he would enjoy a sit on the patio. They don’t serve food, but you can order from the plethora of restaurants in the shopping center and some will bring it over to the brewery (Mod Pizza, Burger Lounge, etc. to name a few).

One cool thing that Mike Hess Brewery has done in the past is run “HessFest,” a charity fundraiser ever year. We can only hope they’ll bring the event up north with them, as Walnut Creek could use a few good brewfests! Go check out Mike Hess Brewery when you can!

Event Round-Up: Oct. 12, 2019

It’s almost spooky season, folks! As we approach a heavy holiday season, I wanted to put together a few fun events around the area that anyone can enjoy! If you go to any of these, please reach out and let me know how you liked them – you might even see me there!

Bedford Gallery: “Off Menu” (thru Dec. 15)

The newest Bedford Gallery exhibit is live, and it’s a doozy. This one is called “Off Menu,” and is all food-related contemporary art. Check out works from artists as famous as Salvador Dali. More info here.

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2019 Oktoberfest: Civic Park (Oct. 19)

Join your friends and neighbors at Civic Park for the 2019 celebration of Oktoberfest! This free, family-friendly event will feature a ton of craft brews and wines, and kicks off from 11-6 on Oct. 19. Check it out!

Fall Festival: Le Jardin Salon in Pleasant Hill (Oct. 20)

Le Jardin Salon is hosting a treasure hunt! They will be offering unusual gifts for the holiday season like decor, furniture, collectibles, and jewelry. There will be vendors and collectors aplenty! Get more here.

Moonlight Comedy: Stand Up Under the Stars in Oakland (Oct. 23)

Take in some live stand up comedy on the outdoor patio of The Uptown in Oakland. Doors open at 7 and shows begin at 7:30 – make sure to dress warm – it could get chilly! More information here.

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Trick or Treat in Downtown Walnut Creek (Oct. 25)

Kids are invited to trick-or-treat through downtown at participating businesses. Meet at City Hall Plaza in your best costumes to start the fun from 2-5 p.m., then stay for the after-party! Details here.

Best camping spots near San Francisco

It seems like I’m coming up with one of these blogs every Fall, and rightfully so – it’s a gorgeous time of year to get outside in the Bay Area and have a campfire, pitch a tent, and take in the beautiful nature that surrounds us.

Today, I’m re-visiting this TimeOut.com list and pulling out five campsites that I think are worth your time while the weather is still nice. Read below and let me know if I missed any!

Kirby Cove Camp – Golden Gate Recreation Area

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, you can settle into a very private campsite with astonishing waterfront views of the city. Bonuses: You’re walking distance to the beach and a picnic area.

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East Bay Camp – Angel Island State Park

Angel Island is a quick ferry ride from Pier 41 or from Tiburon. There are 11 sites, and they may be a bit of a hike from your landing, but nowhere else can you get 180-degree views of the East Bay hills or San Francisco.

White Gulch Beach – Tomales Bay

You can’t beat kayaking into a campsite along the shoreline of Tomales Bay. This specific site is protected from the wind as its back in a cove, and you might see a ton of wildlife!

Steep Ravine Campground – Mt. Tamalpais State Park

This is a bit less rugged, considering you can book a rustic cabin here that overlooks the Pacific. There are normal camping options, too, and you’re just steps away from the gorgeous Steep Ravine Trail.

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Sempervirens – Big Basin Redwoods State Park

There are few settings more beautiful to camp in than under the redwoods, which tower over this state park. You can pull your car right up to the highway here and enjoy modern sites with picnic tables and fire rings.

Vici expanded!!

Vici, a hip women’s clothing store is expanding. I went to shop and see what changes are on the horizon. Vici, also has a location in Newport Beach, but the one in Walnut Creek is situated at N. California Blvd. and is open from 10 am to 7 pm Monday-Friday (and shorter hours on the weekends).

They are heavily focused on Instagram and their models always look much better than me in the outfit; they have some really cute, trendy clothing at affordable prices in a stylish and contemporary space, albeit small, but that is changing.

Vici calls itself “a haven for the modern woman,” and wants to make the act of shopping in a modern, digital age as effortless as possible. They offer a range of casual pieces to beautiful statement dresses and are known for eye-catching patterns.

As you can see, Vici is expanding with lots more room to show off all their clothing. It has come a long way from a tucked-away space in an office building on Olympic. Give it a look next time you’re out shopping and wanting some of the latest styles. You can always follow them on Instagram – they are constantly showing off their new items.

Art Town: Mural by MCXT

Two renowned Bay Area artists, collectively known as “MCXT,” have been commissioned by Bedford Gallery to complete a mural on the Civic Park Assembly Hall. I got a picture of the finished product, and thought the individual parts were the most interesting. It does brighten up this spot dramatically!

Monica Canilao (MC) and Xara Thustra (XT) teamed up to create the mural, and it looks awesome! MC is an internationally-acclaimed multimedia artist from Oakland who has a BFA from California College of Arts and Crafts. And XT is an activist for art and a member of San Francisco’s “Mission School” art movement.

True to form, the two artists put together a dazzling display of geometry, wildlife, and color to add a nice splash of eye-popping creativity to downtown Walnut Creek. I love the push over the last several years by our town to embrace art and make it a focal point of the everyday experience.

I initially stopped by while MCXT were painting it. They were on their lunch break, there was rain forecasted for Friday (and it was Wednesday), and so they were hurrying to get it finished. I mentioned Monica looked liked Frieda and she acknowledged the reference and said people ask her if she is trying to copy Frieda and her response is she is just being her authentic self.

I also asked about the surface they were painting on as it looked very smooth for an old building. Xara said the city prepped it before they started so there was a clean smooth surface to work with. If you spend some time in front of it, you will realize it is quite intricate, because just in passing it looks like some simple modern art piece. Please take a browse and enjoy.

Props to MCXT and the Bedford Gallery for another work of sheer energy and beauty to add to Walnut Creek’s growing collection. Have you had a chance to stroll through Civic Park and see the mural in person? What did you think of it?

4 things not to do when putting your house on the market

RIS Media re-posted an older blog recently, and its advice still rings true. There are plenty of things you SHOULD do when putting your house on the market. But what about the things you shouldn’t do? Read on for more:

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So you’ve decided to put your home on the market. Congratulations! Hopefully, you’ve brought a rockin’ realtor on board to help list your home and together you’ve done your due diligence on what to ask for. As you start checking things off your to-do list, it’s also important to pay mind of what not to do. Below are a handful of things to get you started.

Don’t over-improve.
As you ready your home for sale, you may realize you will get a great return on your investment if you make a couple of changes. Updating the appliances or replacing that cracked cabinet in the bathroom are all great ideas. However, it’s important not to over-improve, or make improvements that are hyper-specific to your tastes. For example, not everyone wants a pimped out finished basement equipped with a wet bar and lifted stage for their rock and roll buds to jam out on. (Okay, everyone should want that.) What if your buyers are family-oriented and want a basement space for their kids to play in? That rock-and-roll room may look to them like a huge project to un-do. Make any needed fixes to your space, but don’t go above and beyond—you may lose money doing so.

Don’t over-decorate.
Over-decorating is just as bad as over-improving. You may love the look of lace and lavender, but your potential buyer may enter your home and cringe. When prepping for sale, neutralize your decorating scheme so it’s more universally palatable.

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Don’t hang around.
Your agent calls to let you know they will be bringing buyers by this afternoon. Great! You rally your whole family, Fluffy the dog included, to be waiting at the door with fresh baked cookies and big smiles. Right? Wrong. Buyers want to imagine themselves in your space, not be confronted by you in your space. Trust, it’s awkward for them to go about judging your home while you stand in the corner smiling like a maniac. Get out of the house, take the kids with you, and if you can’t leave for whatever reason, at least go sit in the backyard. (On the other hand, if you’re buying a home and not selling, then making it personal is the way to go, especially when writing your offer letter. Pull those heartstrings!)

Don’t take things personally.
Real estate is a business, but buying and selling homes is very, very emotional. However, when selling your homes, try your very best not to take things personally. When a buyer lowballs you or says they will need to replace your prized 1970s vintage shag carpet with something “more modern,” try not to raise your hackles.

And all of this is sage advice, choosing the right realtor to work with will streamline that process, talk you off the ledge and help you navigate the offer(s) and in the end if you hired right, will give you peace of mind.

Rotator Taproom rotates in

You won’t be surprised to hear this, folks! There is yet another new brewery to check out in the East Bay. The craft beer boom has really been embraced by Walnut Creek in the last half-decade, and Rotator Taproom is the latest to join the party.

I went to check it out recently and thought they did a fantastic job advertising themselves: happy hours, yoga events, and even poker nights were broadly marketed to anyone who walked in. They had a ton of beer on tap and also some bar snacks!

When I went, we tried four-beer flights for just $12 and thought the selection was pretty good. I also had a refreshing grapefruit lager. They serve beers from a ton of different breweries, and the price was definitely fair for the amount of beer you got in each pour.

Rotator Taproom is a little off the beaten path in the north part of downtown, but still very easily accessible. It’s hidden away on Pine street with lots of automotive shops, just around the corner from either Pinky’s Pizza or down from Walnut Creek BART. Parking can be limited and one of my servers was annoyed with all my questions, but I would recommend checking it out if you like to taste a wide range of beers, they had a lot of IPA’s even triple IPAs!