Design – Press Herald Mon, 11 Dec 2017 02:26:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Smarten up your holiday wish list with these gadgets Wed, 06 Dec 2017 09:00:27 +0000 With the hectic pace of today’s busy lifestyles, is it really all that surprising that people everywhere are craving new smart technologies? After all, life basically demands that you save time and money wherever you can, and smart technologies utilized in your home deliver both. It’s easy, right?

Research shows one-third of Americans plan to buy smart home devices this season, and while you may not find much value in a “smart egg tray” (yes, they are real), the following devices can help you save time and money while increasing the functionality of your home.

Smart thermostats save money.

Few pieces of smart home technology can have a bigger impact on your home all year long than a smart thermostat. Honeywell’s Lyric T5 saves you energy by managing your home’s temperature for you.

Using geofencing, the Lyric T5 saves you money by putting the thermostat into energy-saving mode when someone leaves, and detecting when the first person is nearing the home to start making the home comfortable ahead of his or her arrival.

Smart lights – a bright idea.

Forgetting to turn the lights off when you leave a room or your home is a common occurrence. Unfortunately, your power company never forgets your energy usage, and this simple mistake will show up promptly on your bill.

Installing smart lights like Philips Hue light bulbs allows you to turn the lights off and on with your smartphone, meaning no matter where you are, reducing your energy usage and expense is as easy as flicking a switch. You can also schedule them to turn on, even when you’re not home, which gives the appearance of someone being home, increasing your home’s security.

Security to feel safe about.

Whether it’s a baby crying or a smoke alarm, when something’s wrong, you want to know immediately. That’s where Honeywell’s Lyric C2 security camera delivers.

This smart security camera does more than just pick up such noises and deliver smart alerts to your phone. It is also equipped to differentiate between sounds so you know exactly what has happened at home. This allows you to stay on top of things and keep an eye on your home no matter where you are.

Clean with smart technology.

Vacuuming isn’t at the top of your list when it comes to ways to spend your free time, so automating the process may just be the best holiday present of all.

iRobot’s Wi-Fi connected robotic vacuums, such as the Roomba 900 Series, are capable of cleaning and navigating an entire level of a home, recharging and resuming as needed until the job is done – all with just the push of a button on the robot or in the iRobot HOME App.

Wi-Fi connected Roomba vacuums can also be controlled by voice-activated commands via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices, making communicating with your Roomba a breeze.

A full fleet of smart sensors guide the Roomba around your home, making 60 decisions every second, traveling under furniture and around that clutter you’ve been meaning to pick up – when you finally have a free moment.

]]> 0 Thu, 30 Nov 2017 09:34:03 +0000
Tips for setting the perfect table for your holiday celebrations Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:00:28 +0000 Every holiday season, you invest hours planning and preparing the perfect menu for each celebration you host.

While easy and fun may be the name of the game for buffet-style events, when it’s a sit-down soiree, the delightful cuisine you produce deserves a presentation worthy of your efforts. A beautifully set table can elevate your holiday dinner from just great to simply perfect.

“Table-setting is an art form anyone can learn to execute beautifully,” said Mary Bernardo, director of product development at Princess House, a leading provider of unique and exclusive cookware, food storage and home and entertainment products.

“Simple touches like elegant holiday plates, colorful linens and an eye-catching centerpiece ensure a holiday table looks as inviting as the food smells.”

Bernardo and the table decor experts at Princess House offer these tips for creating a beautiful holiday dinner table:

Layers look lovely.

Tablecloths, placemats, table runners and chargers not only help protect your table from spills and scrapes, but they also create a lovely backdrop for dishes, glasses, stemware and – of course – the food. Layering these items adds depth and interest to the tabletop.

Consider starting off with a simple white or red tablecloth, and then add either placemats in seasonal patterns or a festive runner. If chargers take up too much room on the table (or too much of your holiday budget), you can layer dinner and lunch plates to create the same effect.

For example, place a Pavillion Berry Dinner Plate from Princess House beneath a Poinsettia Lunch Plate. The solid deep red of the dinner plate is the perfect complement to the elegant creamy background and poinsettia pattern of the lunch plate.

Keep dishware seasonal and simple.

“It’s been said simplicity is the soul of elegance, and that’s certainly true when you’re setting a holiday dinner table,” Bernardo said.

Choose dishes with a basic white or cream background accented with a traditional holiday motif. Flatware should also be simple; if your everyday collection is in good condition, feel free to use it for your holiday celebrations.

If you don’t have enough pieces, supplement with basic flatware that’s free of embellishment or heavy designs.

Glassware should also be simple and, whenever possible, multi-functional. For example, stemless wine glasses can be used for soft drinks and water, as well as wine.

Add seasonal accents.

Even the simplest table setting can feel festive when you add holiday-specific touches, like napkin rings in jewel green or red, a centerpiece filled with evergreen or holly and twinkling candles.

For a centerpiece that’s festive and practical, consider using your favorite holiday serving bowl, such as a crystal bowl, for the foundation. Then add holiday decor items, like mini-Christmas packages, your favorite Christmas tree decorations or a pillar candle in a holiday hue like red, green or snow white.

Top with a few sprigs of evergreen, holly or fresh flowers and you have an easy, elegant DIY centerpiece.

Finally, don’t overlook the opportunity to extend the table’s festive atmosphere to the chairs as well. You can add to their elegance by adding simple decoration such as a mini-holiday wreath strung on a piece of ribbon and looped over the back of the chair.

“The dinner table is where holiday magic occurs,” Bernardo said. “With a few special touches, you can set a holiday table that’s perfect for the festive and welcoming spirit of the season.”

Want to find more holiday decor and inspiration for the table? Visit


]]> 0 Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:26:28 +0000
Four DIY tips to save money and get your home ready for winter Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:38 +0000 Many people look forward to cooler weather. The brisk autumn winds and colorful leaves signal that once again it’s time to take out the sweaters and scarves. There are the hot soups and pumpkin-flavored drinks to keep one warm as the weather gets cooler, but for the conscientious homeowner and dedicated DIYer, it’s time to start winterizing your home.

Sealing out pesky drafts around your home helps save energy while also making your home more comfortable. It also prevents water damage from rain, ice or snow and blocks out pests that might be trying to find a warm place to spend the winter.

As you’re deciding where to get started, here are four projects that will go a long way to save you money and make your home ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at it this winter.

Create a thermal barrier. The best way to keep your family warm and toasty while the wind, snow and sleet rage outside is to ensure your home and its building envelope – the thermal barrier between the interior of a home and the exterior environment – is properly sealed.

How well the “shell” of the building (walls, roof and foundation) is sealed against the exterior environment directly impacts the amount of energy required to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

Maintaining a well-sealed building envelope means you’ll use less energy to heat and cool your home, saving you money. Take the time to check for and seal the following common air leaks around your home, both inside and out:

• Interior windows and doors: Slowly move a lit incense stick around the edges. If the smoke drifts to the side, it indicates an air leak that needs to be sealed.

• Interior baseboards and trim: Check for cracks and gaps where walls meet floors and ceilings.

• Exterior windows and doors: Check for gaps and cracks where the frame meets the wall. Replace cracked or missing sealant around frames with an exterior grade sealant.

• Pipes and vents: If there is a gap between the pipe or vent and the surface it goes through, it needs to be sealed.

Seal air leaks. Most cracks and gaps less than a half-inch in width and depth can be filled with a sealant like DAP Extreme Stretch.

Designed to stretch more than 600 percent, Extreme Stretch can withstand the elements as your home expands and contracts, plus it is easy to apply on virtually any interior and exterior surface such as windows, trim, pipes, vents and siding. It will not crack or lose adhesion, saving you money and preventing nasty drafts.

And remember, before you apply, make sure to remove any old sealant that remains to ensure the new sealant can adhere properly.

Move beyond window wrap. We all know that a traditional way to seal in the heat and keep out the cold is to insulate your windows with plastic film. This is an unsightly solution and leaves your home looking shrink-wrapped.

A more effective and less obtrusive method is to use DAP SEAL ‘N PEEL, a temporary, removable weatherstrip caulk that’s great for sealing up windows for the season. It applies easily like a caulk around windows, doors, attic hatches, pipes and vents to keep out drafts. Once spring comes, it easily peels off to let in the fresh air.

Seal off a room. If you live in a large house and have a room or two that you don’t use, consider sealing it up for the winter. Simply turn off the heating vent or radiator in the room to avoid paying to heat a room you aren’t using.

Then use a door draft stopper or decorative long pillow along the door floor to prevent any drafts.

Whether you like cold weather or not, the coming winter is a great opportunity to check up on and prepare your home. For the novice or the die-hard DIYer, it’s an important time to assess and address your home’s defenses against winter weather.


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Decor gifts to please everyone on your list Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:26 +0000 As you strive for a happy holiday, do all your gift ideas seem ho-hum at best?

It’s a common holiday conundrum: You want to show all your friends and family that you care, but finding the right present seems impossible.

If you feel stuck, look for gifts that will enhance the home, because there is truly something for every personality. Skip the candle and coaster set and instead check out these unique, personal items that add fun and flair to any home, big or small.

Aquariums: Traditional rectangular aquariums are bulky and cumbersome, but now there are stunning new tabletop options perfect for everyone on your list.

The biOrb TUBE 15 aquarium is designed to give a 360-degree view and features multi-color LED lighting with remote control for an eye-catching way to enjoy fishkeeping. The TUBE 15 is also a low-maintenance gift given its 5-step filtration that maintains a clean, healthy aquatic environment to achieve ideal pH balance.

Enjoy the dazzling sight of bubbling water and an impressive light show all year long.

Decorative pillows and throws: Winter is the perfect time to cozy up at home, but that tattered old blanket just won’t do.

You can encourage friends and family to get some much-needed R&R by gifting them new pillows and a fluffy throw blanket. Fun pillows are available in unique designs that feature different pictures, words or phrases, so it’s easy to find something just right for that someone special.

Add a coordinating throw blanket and get ready to cuddle through all of winter’s chilliest nights.

Restored photographs: Going for tears of joy? One home decor gift that will tug at the heartstrings is framed photography.

A nice portrait is always a great gift option, but this year surprise your loved ones by finding old photography and getting it restored. That photo of Grandpa fishing or of all your aunts as children is sure to bring back memories.

Place in a nice frame and it is guaranteed to be an unforgettable gift that will be proudly displayed for years to come.

Personalized signs: One of the year’s most popular decorating trends is custom signage. Often made from wood, these signs are painted or carved with your preferred message.

That means it can be customized to suit even the most difficult people to shop for. Popular verbiage on a custom sign includes the family surname with an “established” date.

You could also include a literary phrase or personal mantra that your loved one enjoys. Because the message is personalized, you can make it perfect for everyone on your list.

Himalayan salt lamps: When the holiday festivities are over, it’s time to settle in and deal with Old Man Winter until springtime arrives. The soft glow of salt lamps brings a warmth to rooms on the dreariest days.

Made from large pieces of salt, these lamps have an almost rock-like quality with veins of white, pink and peach throughout. Some people claim they also help maintain good indoor air quality and help with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

No matter what, they are a happy addition to any room: bedroom, office or living room.

The person who has everything? Check. The hard-to-shop-for teen? Check. The newlywed couple settling into their home? Check.

Home decor gifts are great for everyone on your holiday gift list, and best yet, they won’t be like anything else your loved ones receive, making your gift memorable and truly cherished.


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These eight surprising points will make you rethink lighting Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:56 +0000  

You step into a dark room, turn on the light switch and go about your day without giving it another thought.

But here’s the thing: You should.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American home has approximately 50 light sockets, and most of those still contain inefficient light bulbs. These bulbs spend 90 percent of the energy they use creating heat around the bulb and only the remaining 10 percent providing any real, actual light.

This is just one surprising fact about your lighting you may never have considered. To get you thinking about your lights in a whole new way, here are eight more surprising lighting facts.

Small costs, big savings for you. An ENERGY STAR-certified LED light bulb will cost you about $2 in most parts of the country. In some areas it may be possible to buy such a bulb for $1, thanks to utility rebates.

Yet over the course of its lifetime, a 15,000-hour bulb will save you about $80 compared to the cost of using a 43-watt halogen-incandescent bulb over the same time.

Big savings for the country as a whole. If every American replaced their existing bulbs with energy-efficient solutions, the country would save $6 billion per year in lighting expenses.

Same options in an energy-efficient offering. LED bulbs that have earned the ENERGY STAR look and act just like the conventional bulbs you are used to. They turn on instantly and provide quality light all around. Most are also designed to dim, and some even get warmer as they do so. There are even LED solutions designed to match the look of trendy vintage-style bulbs so you can have the look you want without wasted energy expenses.

Look for the ENERGY STAR seal. The government-backed ENERGY STAR label is a “seal of approval” ensuring that the certified product saves energy, delivers on brightness and meets myriad other requirements proven by extensive testing and third-party certification.

Select products bearing this seal and you’ll attain your lighting and energy efficiency goals.

A shifting trend. Since 2016, many major light bulb manufacturers and retailers have pledged to phase out CFL bulbs and utilize only LED lighting offerings. Now is the time to be ahead of the trend.

Adoption across the map. LED adoption is happening at different rates across the U.S., but in most states, LED bulbs made up about 20 percent of sales in 2015-2016. In 2016, the following cities were leading in LED bulb sales: Minneapolis, Seattle, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, St. Louis, Richmond, Orlando, Hartford, New Haven, Milwaukee, Nashville and Phoenix.

Finding the right solution for your home. Like conventional bulbs, there are specific LED solutions for every socket in your home. To find the right bulb for your space, remember the ABCs: Application, Brightness and Color.

ENERGY STAR offers a guide that can help you choose the right bulb for your needs by analyzing each of these categories. You can find the guide at

An ever-evolving market. Today LED lighting solutions are available in many options, but the potential for the future is nearly limitless.

For example, many manufacturers are integrating microchips into LED bulbs, enabling them to be controlled remotely, to turn on and off, dim or operate based on a schedule or the occupancy of space. All of which will provide ease of use, reduced energy expense and the lighting consumers need.

Turning the lights on and off in a room is a simple decision, but one that has great implications you may not be aware of. Make the change in your home today to more energy-efficient LED bulbs and you’ll feel better about your decision with every flick of the switch.

To learn more, visit


]]> 0 Sun, 29 Oct 2017 10:20:24 +0000
America’s finest: Six luxury home goods made in the U.S. Wed, 01 Nov 2017 08:00:33 +0000 Peruse any home improvement media and you may get the impression you just can’t build, renovate or decorate a quality home without relying on foreign-made products like granite from Italy for countertops, cherry hardwood flooring from Brazil or textiles from India.

However, you don’t have to sacrifice quality and luxury in order to buy American for your home. Some of the finest home decor products originate right here in the U.S.

Here are six of America’s finest domestically made products for the home:

ANN SACKS. Every tile in the company’s 14 MADE by ANN SACKS collections is handcrafted and produced in its Portland, Oregon, headquarters.

Founded in 1981 by Ann Sacks, the company’s tile and stone products in unique patterns, shapes, sizes and glazes are favorites of homeowners and interior designers seeking top-quality luxury and beauty for their home designs.

In addition to a repertoire of standard tiles, the company also has partnered with famous designers to create innovative luxury lines. They even create custom designs to help homeowners achieve a truly one-of-kind look in their homes.

The company is also a pioneer in another aspect of American culture: the focus on sustainable business practices. The company recycles all excess raw clay, uses only lead-free glazes, filters production waste water and uses only recycled and recyclable packaging for shipping products.

Stickley. Founded in 1900 by the Stickley brothers, the luxury furniture brand continues to conduct all its manufacturing in its Manlius, N.Y., factory. Their furniture is known for its beautiful wood construction, durability and meticulous attention to details.

Robern. Rooted in the belief that “your everyday routine should never feel ordinary,” Robern has been making innovative medicine cabinets, bathroom mirrors, vanities and lighting since 1968.

From smart medicine cabinets with features like touch-dimmable task lighting, magnetic storage and integrated USB outlets to wall mirrors with lights, audio and defogging capabilities, all products are still made in Bristol, Pa.

Bloomsburg Carpet. Founded in 1976 to produce quality, luxurious carpet, Bloomsburg Carpet weaves all its carpets in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley. Third-generation weavers produce Axminster, Velvet and Wilton carpets under one roof.

The company weaves with raw, sustainable fibers that it describes as “ecologically friendly and readily renewable.”

Viking. Founded in 1987, Viking produces professional-quality ranges and refrigerators at four manufacturing facilities in Leflore County, Miss. The company’s products are favorites of both professionals and home chefs.

Thomasville Bedding Company. The company that began more than 40 years ago in a one-room building now occupies 36,000 square feet of factory and showroom space in Thomasville, Ga.

In addition to offering a wide selection of mattress styles, the company is also one of the few remaining bedding makers who will manufacture a custom set to fit any size bed.

You don’t have to sacrifice the pride of buying American to find the luxury, quality and customization you desire for your home decor. Purchasing quality American-made products is an investment that can deliver high returns in beauty, durability and satisfaction.


]]> 0 Sun, 29 Oct 2017 10:21:34 +0000
Budget-friendly home upgrades anyone can do in a day Wed, 25 Oct 2017 08:00:37 +0000 Do-it-yourself home projects are sweeping the nation, and it’s easy to see why. DIY is typically budget-friendly and fulfilling to complete; simply find the right project to match your skill set and needs.

To get started, here are five inexpensive projects that can by tackled by any DIYer, each of which will have an impact on the entire home.

Make a hardware swap. Replacing your kitchen cabinets changes the entire look of your kitchen – but it’s expensive and requires considerable skill.

For a simpler, smaller project that can still have a big impact, replace the hardware on your cabinets instead. Select the hardware type first – knobs for doors and pulls for drawers, for example – then move on to style.

Crisp, sleek hardware goes best with a modern kitchen, while more detailed offerings work well with classic, traditional kitchens.

Refresh your space with a fresh coat of paint. Repainting a wall or room is the perfect way to showcase your style, without breaking the bank.

The Unity palette from Sherwin-Williams® 2018 Colormix Forecast offers unique color choices that pair together perfectly, making it easy for homeowners to create a cohesive look in their space.

Try going bold with pops of peacock on an accent wall, such as Sherwin-Williams 2018 Color of the Year, Oceanside SW 6496, or you use the palette’s grounded browns to put a new spin on traditional hues.

It’s easy to recreate a space that reflects who you are, without making expensive renovations.

Illuminate a simple change. It doesn’t always take a huge change to reinvent a room; it can be as easy as changing the light fixture.

You could choose to repaint your existing chandelier, or you could give your ceiling fan a new look by replacing the blades. If you’re on the crafty side, try making your own shade for an existing lamp with some of your favorite fabric.

Invite people to your gallery. Can’t decide on the one perfect image for your wall? Then why not go for several?

Gallery walls are a great way to show your favorite prints and photos artistically. Pick the wall and apply a fresh coat of paint before building your gallery – after all, this wall will now be part of the exhibit.

Once the wall is ready, pick your photos or prints and set them in frames you love. Now the fun part lay your works of art on an open floor space and rearrange them until you find the perfect layout.

Once you’ve found it, grab your hammer and nails and bring your gallery wall to life.

Bring a new vibe to your existing furniture. If a chair or love seat is starting to show its age, reupholstering it is a great way to give the piece fresh life.

Remove the current fabric and replace it with new fabric of your choosing. Apply staples or stitching to hold the new fabric in place, and that old piece of furniture will have a distinctive new look.


]]> 0 Sat, 21 Oct 2017 10:20:14 +0000
Seven projects to help your home weather winter safely and efficiently Wed, 11 Oct 2017 08:00:52 +0000 If chilly temperatures make you want to snuggle under a blanket in front of a roaring fire, just think about your poor water pipes that can’t escape the cold. You can’t wrap your home in a warm, protective blanket when winter arrives, but a few winterization steps can help ensure your home weathers the winter safely and efficiently.

“Winterizing is definitely an important way to protect a home from the ravages of snow, ice and harsh temperatures, but it’s also an opportunity to boost a home’s energy efficiency,” said Chris Williams, merchandising director at Lowe’s. “Some of the easiest and most effective winterization projects can also contribute to energy savings throughout the year.”

Here are seven projects to improve energy efficiency and prepare your home for winter:


Protect pipes. Any plumbing pipes that run through uninsulated areas such as a crawl space or attic are at risk for freezing if temperatures plummet. Seal any cracks or openings where pipes exit the home, and fit unprotected pipes with pipe sleeves.

Insulating pipes can reduce heat loss that makes your water heater work harder and use more energy, and raise the water temperature 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Add weather stripping to doors and windows. If your home is drafty, adding weather stripping to seal air leaks can reduce heating bills as much as 20 percent, the DOE says. Identify places where air leaks occur in your home, and choose the right weather stripping for each area.

Caulk around windows and doors. Air can also leak through minute cracks around windows and doors. Sealing such cracks with caulk further reduces the air leaks that make your furnace work harder and your home feel drafty.

Add insulation. Insulation can make your home stay warmer in winter and cooler in summer, and help your heating and cooling systems work more efficiently. How much insulation your home needs depends on factors such as where you live, how old the home is and how well it was insulated to begin with.

If you’re unsure how much insulation your home needs, check out the Energy Star insulation guide.


Protect outdoor plumbing. Whether you have an outdoor shower or a simple hose connection, it’s important to protect outdoor plumbing from freezing. Water freezing in outdoor pipes can cause severe damage and costly water leaks.

Turn off water flow to outdoor pipes, and flush the water from the system. Remove and store garden hoses for the winter. If you spot any cracks or problems, take care of them right away.

Finally, add insulation, such as a hose bib cover, to outdoor faucets.

Prepare the lawn for winter. A healthy lawn requires less watering and work in spring than one that’s been ravaged by winter’s rigors.

Keep grass mowed until it stops growing, and rake leaves and grass clippings to maximize sun exposure for grass. Mulch around plants and trees to protect them against harsh weather and freezing temperatures.

Clean windows. Sunlight is a natural, cost-effective way to help keep your home warmer during winter. Opening drapes and blinds can maximize the amount of sun that enters a room and help warm it.

However, dirty windows can reduce the amount of sunlight that gets through the glass. Plus, clean windows will help make your home feel brighter and lighter during the darkest days of winter.

For more energy-saving winterization ideas, visit


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Three paint projects to entertain this fall Wed, 04 Oct 2017 08:00:09 +0000 “Despite the hectic chaos that comes with the back-to-school season and adapting our family schedules, I find fall to be the perfect time to tackle my home to-do list,” said Cyndy Aldred, the do-it-yourself paint blogger behind The Creativity Exchange.

“It’s perfect because fall is our favorite time of year for entertaining!”

With kids in school and summer travels winding down, fall can be the perfect time to complete quick projects to get your home ready for fall social gatherings. Whether you’re gearing up for the big game or hosting next month’s book club, Aldred offers her favorite paint projects that are sure to wow your guests.

Add instant curb appeal with painted porch furniture: Aldred loves the tried-and-true trick of painting your front door, but she recommended adding an even bigger pop of color with painted furniture.

For her front-porch makeover, Aldred painted her porch bench using PPG Timeless exterior paint and primer in a soothing, soft grey, Silver Reflection (50BG 54/017), and added decorative pillows to create a warm and welcoming entrance for a gathering of friends.

With an open front porch, Aldred made sure to use PPG Timeless paint, available at The Home Depot, because it provides good resistance to chipping or flaking and extreme weather conditions.

“I found out that this new line of paint uses UV-Protect Technology, which uses the same technology as automotive paint, so it won’t fade in sunlight or dull over time,” said Aldred.

Declutter your home with color. Busy fall schedules often mean more school bags, homework, sports equipment, crafts and holiday decorations around the house. Aldred recommended quickly tackling a cluttered area of your home with a fresh paint job.

For example, if you have bookcases in your family room or glass-faced cabinets in your kitchen, Aldred suggests painting the backs of them in a standout color, like the PPG Timeless 2018 Color of the Year, Deep Onyx (00NN 07/000). “I love this trick because of how the eye is drawn to the color and not the clutter that might be around or behind it,” says Aldred.

Transform your favorite gathering space with a fresh coat of paint. Kitchens, living rooms and dining rooms are often favorite gathering spaces for friends and family in the home, so they are ideal spaces to make a great impression with a fresh coat of paint.

“People always gravitate to our dining room when we are entertaining,” said Aldred, “so I love to freshen the space each year with a new paint color. It’s one of the least expensive and easiest ways to get a new look, and I love using a one-coat product to make it even easier.”

Aldred recently used PPG Timeless interior paint and primer in Bluegrass White (30GG 73/048) to update her dining room. For an on-trend look, she went with a flat finish.

“Contrary to popular opinion, a flat finish in a high-traffic entertaining space is durable if you select the right product,” explained Aldred.

With the paint’s outstanding washability, scrubbability and stain resistance, Aldred was sure it could withstand the wear and tear of countless social gatherings.

Perhaps it is time to embrace fall with a few fresh paint projects to impress your guests and make lasting improvements to your home. For more paint inspiration, visit or


]]> 0 Mon, 02 Oct 2017 12:50:24 +0000
Prevent falls this autumn with a home safety checklist Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:00:03 +0000 After months of sticky heat and humidity, it’s time to put away the shorts and pull out the sweaters, because the autumn season is finally here. But October brings us more than just cooler temperatures and a wardrobe change.

If you or a loved one are over the age of 65, the change in seasons is also an opportunity to think about another kind of fall – the kind that affects one in four older Americans every year – and the steps we can all take to help prevent them.

According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and account for the majority of emergency room visits for older adults. More than 75 percent of falls happen in or around the house, but fortunately there are ways to evaluate our loved ones’ homes and make them safer for everyday living.

Use the checklist below, based on suggestions from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to help guide your review of the exterior and interior of the property. Many of the safety measures listed can be made at little to no cost, but more significant modifications could require a considerable investment.

Keep in mind, there are financial options available for seniors who want to modify their homes to meet their changing needs. Area Agencies on Aging, state and local governments, and some nonprofits offer grants, loans or other assistance programs for eligible seniors in need of home repairs and modifications.

Older homeowners may also want to consider using a reverse mortgage loan to convert a portion of their home’s equity into cash proceeds that can be used for many reasons, including home modifications and maintenance. Unlike a home equity loan, a reverse mortgage requires no monthly principal or interest payments and cannot be frozen or reset.

Borrowers do not have to repay the loan balance until the last eligible spouse permanently leaves the home, or if they fail to meet their loan obligations, which include staying current on property taxes, insurance and any condominium or HOA fees.

For a comprehensive overview of reverse mortgage loans and a Borrower Roadmap to the loan process, visit, a free consumer resource created by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

Home Safety Checklist:

• Make sure the driveway and any paved walkways are smooth and stable. Seal any cracks before more damage is created. Crumbling or uneven concrete surfaces should be repaired.

• Porch and deck flooring should be flat, even and nonslip. Any loose or broken floorboards should be nailed down or replaced.

• Outdoor steps should have sturdy, easily graspable handrails.

• The porch and entryway should be well-lit and light switches should be easily accessible.

• Consider whether the doorway to the home can be converted to a no-step entrance way. There are many creative ways to achieve this.

• Floors should be flat and nonslip; floorboards should be stable and carpets should be free of holes and tears that could create a tripping hazard.

• Throw rugs should be fully fastened to the floor with tacks or double-sided tape, or taken out of the house.

• All stairs and steps should be flat and even, and clutter should be removed.

• Add nonslip treads to stairs that are not carpeted.

• Stairways should have solidly mounted handrails on both sides of the steps if possible, and should be well-lit.

• If you or your loved ones face mobility challenges and stairs are an obstacle to accessing different levels of the home, consider installing a chairlift that will enable them to enjoy all the rooms in the house again.


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Choosing a door for the garage? Consider these three points Wed, 20 Sep 2017 08:00:51 +0000 If you’re buying a garage door this fall, you’ll be faced with several decisions that you probably never had to make before. Before you call your local garage door dealer to make that purchase, here are some of the new decisions that you need to face.

The design decision:

Remember the old adage that the front door is the most important design element in the home? It’s not true any more.

In most homes today, the visual impact of the garage door is many times greater than that of the front door. Studies have even proven that your garage door design can affect the appraisal value of your home.

Today, manufacturers offer hundreds of new, unique and stunning looks. Design experts recommend that you choose a door design that blends in well with your home design, complementing its overall appearance. To do that, match the door with your home’s exterior colors, textures and patterns.

To help you with your design decision, the garage door industry has created the free consumer site, which contains dozens of photos of the latest garage doors from many manufacturers. Plus, most manufacturer websites now feature a “door designer” that lets you see how different designs will look on an uploaded photo of your own garage.

New opener decisions:

The garage door and the opener are two separate items, but they are often purchased together. And since today’s openers offer many more features and accessories than ever before, you’ll have several new decisions to make.

• AC vs. DC: Openers with DC (direct current) motors, which were rare 10 years ago, are now widely available. DC and AC motors are both durable and reliable, but DC motors are quieter, and they allow the door to soft-start and soft-stop, instead of clanging to an abrupt stop.

• Accessories: Here, the decisions are many. For example, you can now operate and monitor your garage door from your smartphone. You can also get a battery backup unit, a real lifesaver in a power outage.

When you consider motion detection, music speakers, mini transmitters, automatic deadbolt locks, LED lighting, external keypads and more, you’ll realize how far openers have come.

New thinking on insulation:

Insulation isn’t a new decision, but there is new thinking to consider. “The garage acts as a ‘buffer zone,’ much like the vestibule to a restaurant or a grocery store,” said Joe Hetzel, P.E., technical director for the garage door manufacturers’ association.

“An insulated garage door makes it easier to control the heating and cooling costs for the home.”

This new “buffer zone” thinking considers garage door insulation as a must. Fortunately, insulation typically pays for itself. Dow Chemical recently reported that, for every $100 you invest in an insulation project, you generally get a return of $117 in recouped energy costs.

“Once you get an insulated door, you never go back to uninsulated,” said Ed Hermanns, a door dealer in New Jersey and president of the International Door Association. “Most of our customers today buy an insulated door, and that number seems to increase every year.”

You might be buying a new garage door out of necessity, but as it turns out, it’s a smart purchase. An upscale garage door replacement delivers the highest return on investment for all upscale remodeling projects in the new 2017 Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling Magazine.

So, while you have a few decisions yet to make, you’ve already made the good choice to get a new garage door. After you add the latest designs and technology, you’ll have a chance to admire all your choices every time you pull in the driveway.


]]> 0 Mon, 18 Sep 2017 13:28:33 +0000
Three things you’ll need to throw the ultimate tailgate party Wed, 13 Sep 2017 08:00:32 +0000 Football season is finally upon us and fans everywhere are getting revved up to cheer on their favorite team. Whether you watch the big game from the comfort of your home or head down to the stadium, it’s the perfect time to throw the mother of all football celebrations – a really big tailgating party.

Tailgating is a chance to enjoy (or brave) the fall weather and bond with friends over the anticipation of football. At its peak, stadium tailgating can turn into a free-flowing block party that anyone can crash.

A day of tailgating starts with a good plan and the right mindset. Whatever you do, be sure to roll out the welcome mat and tackle the tailgating experience head-on, creating the ultimate football party zone.

Up your grill game. You can’t tailgate without great food and mountains of meat. That means this is a good time to evaluate your outdoor cooking gear.

Consider adding a second grill, and you’ll have plenty of extra cooking space to feed the crowd. One great addition to your lineup is the Black 3-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill by Char-Broil, available at Lowe’s. It’s easy to start, so you’ll have those extra burgers, steaks or chicken wings sizzling right away.

Explore other additions to your grilling kit to help you fix up a memorable feast. Invest in that smoker you always wanted so you can perfect your brisket recipe and make your tailgate party an instant fan favorite. Nowadays, portable grills come with larger cooking spaces, so you can keep those bellies filled while making the trip to the stadium much easier.

Make room for the crowd. Wherever you tailgate, meeting new people is part of the fun and tradition, so be prepared for extras. Take a look at your seating situation and add folding chairs so you’ll always have space for special guests.

When people are enjoying the spread of snacks, appetizers and sides, extra tables will keep the buffet well-organized with plenty of elbow room.

Finally, preparation will keep everyone comfortable through that unpredictable fall weather. A spacious pop-up canopy or two with your team’s colors and logo can keep the party going and those spirits up whether the day brings intense sun or a chilly fall drizzle.

Get everyone off their feet. Tailgating is not just hanging out for a couple hours in a parking lot; it can last an entire day.

Break up the lull and get everyone on their feet with some yard games. You could always purchase some game sets, but with a little effort and the help of some power tools, you can build your own.

Building a few sets of cornhole boards and ring toss games is easier than you think. Or you can keep it casual with homemade diced darts made with giant foam dice.

A high-stakes giant-sized balancing block tower game is a sure way to amp up the excitement. In any case, a bit of friendly competition creates the perfect ice breaker for any gathering.

Find more creative tailgating ideas at


]]> 0 Mon, 11 Sep 2017 11:27:10 +0000
Kitchen upgrades to help your inner host really flourish Wed, 06 Sep 2017 08:00:57 +0000 You love entertaining and treating guests to delectable dishes and fun times. Unfortunately, your kitchen layout, appliances and even the faucet are so downright unappealing that the thought of planning and preparing a party menu is equally unpleasant.

What do you do when you’re built to entertain, but your kitchen is not? Renovate!

The kitchen is a favorite room to remodel, and a minor kitchen refresh can return more than 80 percent of your investment at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report.

But ROI isn’t the top reason people renovate kitchens. According to the 2017 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study, most people who remodel their kitchen do so because they just can’t stand it anymore.

So, if you love playing host but don’t like the kitchen that stands in the way of your entertaining, revamping the room is the perfect way to make it more party-friendly.

Here are five upgrades that can help make your kitchen the perfect platform for entertaining:

Give yourself some space. If you’ve decided to go all in for your kitchen renovation, and have an older home with a closed-off kitchen, consider opening the space to the home’s main living area.

If your home already has an open floor plan, consider ways to tie the kitchen more intimately to the living area, such as continuing one style of flooring through both rooms, or repeating an accent color in the kitchen and adjacent common space.

Work smarter with a new faucet. The sink is a key point in the workflow triangle for any kitchen, and the faucet should take center stage in this performance. A contemporary faucet with task-driven spray patterns is a must for entertaining, but wouldn’t an extra pair of hands also be great to have with the flurry of pre-party activities?

An easy and quick solution is a hands-free faucet, such as the American Standard Beale kitchen faucet with Selectronic technology, which allows you to turn water on or off without the need to touch the faucet. This touchless technology makes food prep easier, while also helping to prevent cross-contamination of foods.

Taking hands-free technology one step further, the addition of a sleek, European-styled GROHE kitchen faucet with Foot Control allows you to control the flow of water with a tap of your toe at the base of the sink cabinet. Now it will be super simple to fill a big pot or rinse off a large skillet, using both hands to hold it securely while turning on the water at the same time.

Upgrade appliances. Depending on your budget, you can find appliances to help with virtually every aspect of entertaining, from dishwashers that entirely eliminate the need to pre-rinse, to refrigerators that help compile your grocery list.

Even on a modest budget, you can improve on your current appliances, especially if they are older and less energy efficient. Double stoves are great for cooking a lot of food for large groups of guests, warming drawers keep food warm until ready to serve, and beverage drawers ensure you’ll always have enough refreshments for everyone.

Choose cleaning-friendly surfaces. Did you ever wonder why stainless steel sinks continue to be a popular choice in kitchens, regardless of the room’s decor?

It’s because stainless steel sinks not only look good, they also retain their beauty longer by resisting stains and scratches. Plus, drop-in and undermount stainless steel sinks from American Standard offer both single and double bowl options for simplifying kitchen tasks.

Picking dirt and germ-busting surfaces like stainless steel, stone countertops, ceramic tile, etc., can help make it easier to keep your kitchen clean, leaving you more time for entertaining.

Create an island paradise. The standalone island has become a must-have for entertainment-minded homeowners. An island can serve multiple purposes when throwing a party, from providing extra workspace or hosting a second sink, to giving guests a seat closer to the action.

You can even choose a multi-level island that will allow you to interact with guests while concealing work areas and sinks from view.

If your kitchen has been holding you back from blossoming into the host of your dreams, these easy upgrades can help the room better match your personality and entertainment needs.



]]> 0 Fri, 01 Sep 2017 16:09:12 +0000
Enjoy feel of remodel but make a smaller investment Wed, 30 Aug 2017 08:00:14 +0000  

Dreaming of a renovation but lacking the time and resources for a full upgrade? You might be able to refresh your space by focusing your efforts on individual elements that have the most impact.

This growing interior design trend uses a thoughtful approach to renovation by analyzing what should be replaced to achieve the desired aesthetic. At the heart of this movement is the idea that a strong, singular update can change a room dramatically.

That means you can revamp your favorite rooms without investing in a complete remodel. For example, a new chandelier in the entryway might be the statement piece you need to welcome guests in style.

Or, rather than ripping out the dining room, explore how a new dining set with table and chairs can change the entire personality of the space.

When investing in singular pieces to enhance a room, custom features reign supreme. The Laura Kirar KALLISTA collection from Kohler is a great example.

Kirar, an internationally renowned designer, marries the beauty of natural elements with the pureness of line and symmetry in the collection’s bath vanity, mirror and sconces.

Have you grown weary of your tired bathroom design? Mixing and matching various materials lets you make a personal statement in any room. For example, nickel and antique silver blend beautifully together by evoking a stylish design element of warm and cool tones that creates personality and character within the room.

Not only do the mixed finishes add visual impact, but when you pair Paletta brassware with a marble top console table, you create a stunning effect that immediately captures attention no matter how big or small the space.

This singular update can revamp a dated master bath or enhance a bland powder room – no massive remodel is necessary.

Light is another element that can redefine a space, yet it’s often overlooked when approaching a room refresh. Remember to look at lighting from different perspectives. Analyze natural lighting against installed ambient, task and accent lighting.

Note fixtures and consider the impact of updating sconces and shades that are no longer en vogue. It might be just what’s needed in the various spaces throughout your home.

When you take a step back and take stock of your surroundings, do so with a fresh set of eyes and see the possibilities. A complete update may not be necessary.

Do your research, focus on singular elements with the most impact, and invest in luxurious features that stand the test of time. With this approach, you can change any room’s setting beautifully without committing to an entire renovation.


]]> 0 Sun, 27 Aug 2017 10:05:13 +0000
Forward-thinking yard projects to tackle as fall approaches Wed, 23 Aug 2017 08:00:12 +0000  

The temperature may not have dropped much yet, but make no mistake, fall is coming. Soon enough, baseball will give way to football, green leaves will turn yellow and red and your lawn care routine will take on a whole new set of tasks.

Fall lawn care isn’t the long marathon of the summer yard season, but it packs plenty of work into a few short months. You can make this lawn care blitz a little bit easier by applying the following tips.

Stimulate your lawn. While your grass may no longer need its weekly mowing in the fall, you can’t ignore it until spring. Look for brown, tan or white patches on your lawn, as this can be a sign of mold growth.

Apply a lawn fungicide to halt this growth and an organic fertilizer to stop its spread and support future root growth.

Blow those leaves away. Raking leaves can be a Herculean task, so simplify the process by investing in a lithium-ion blower.

The Greenworks 60-volt Backpack Blower is a heavy-duty solution perfect for homeowners with a quarter to three-quarters of an acre to cover. And for yard-lovers who prefer a handheld blower, Greenworks has you covered.

Both solutions are lightweight and reduce noise while eliminating emissions, and because they’re battery powered, you don’t have to bother with mixing gas and oil.

Seed and sod. If you do notice patches of dead grass in your yard – a common occurrence if fallen leaves have not been blown away – don’t wait until spring to address the issue.

Over-seeding the area can rectify the problem if the spaces are small. If your lawn has significant portions that have died, it may be time to look into sodding options instead for more comprehensive coverage.

A fresh spray clean. A season’s worth of wind and rain can leave the sides of your home looking pretty dingy. Fall cleanup is the perfect time to give your home a reset by spraying down your siding, decks, and patios.

Greenworks 2200 PSI Electric Pressure Washer is an environmentally friendly gas-alternative solution with five nozzles that allow you to adjust the tool’s water pressure based on the task at hand.

The pressure washer is also designed with Smart Response Technology to adjust motor RPMs as nozzles are changed, ensuring the perfect water flow for every job – and the on board LED display guides you to the best job for each nozzle, letting you clean your home in a smart, efficient way.

A hole in the ground supports future growth. Fall is arguably the best time of year to aerate your yard, allowing water, oxygen and fertilizer to more easily reach the root structure of your grass.

Self-propelled aerators are relatively inexpensive, and you can also rent one if you plan to make this a once-a-year chore. Whatever you decide, tackling this chore now will allow your lawn to grow back thicker and fuller next year when it will be time to start thinking about spring lawn care once again.


]]> 0 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 10:30:10 +0000
Must-have elements for building a sustainable new home Wed, 16 Aug 2017 08:00:04 +0000 When someone builds a home for you, you have the opportunity to make it as sustainable, eco-friendly and energy-efficient as possible. Not only are sustainable homes more cost-effective over the long term, they have a smaller environmental impact, and can be more appealing to homebuyers when you’re ready to sell and move.

In fact, more than half of realtors report consumers are interested in sustainability, according to the National Association of Realtors’ REALTORS and Sustainability report. What’s more, 70 percent say a home’s efficient use of energy is important to potential buyers.

If you’re having a home built for you, it’s the perfect time to think about sustainability and energy efficiency. The experts at Coleman(R) heating and cooling offer some points to consider as you’re planning your sustainable home:

• Choose a builder who specializes in sustainable homes. While virtually all home builders today will offer eco-friendly or energy-efficient features, sustainable home builders take a whole-house approach. Their plans should include more than just high-efficiency windows and appliances, and lots of insulation.

Sustainability planning should also incorporate elements like the position of the home on its lot, number and position of windows in the home, and shade and ventilation, among other considerations.

•Heating and cooling typically represent the largest portion of a home’s energy consumption. When choosing an HVAC system for your sustainable home, choose an option like Coleman(R) Echelon(TM) Variable Capacity Residential Systems, which use leading-edge technology to tune the system’s temperature settings and performance for optimum function give exterior conditions.

The systems also self-monitor to ensure they operate at the highest level of efficiency while providing maximum heating and cooling comfort. Visit to learn more.

• The orientation of your home can enhance heating and cooling efficiency. For example, if you live in a colder region, placing your home with the maximum number of windows facing south can allow natural light to help heat your home in the winter.

If you live in a warm climate, minimizing the number of windows on the west side of the home and planting shade trees on that side can help with cooling. Plant a tree that loses its leaves in the winter, and you can allow light to reach that side of the house when the weather is colder.

• The more compact a home is, the more energy efficient it will be. You don’t have to build a tiny home to achieve a more efficient design. A two-story home can be more compact and energy efficient than a sprawling single-story design.

• Insulation and air sealing can greatly improve a home’s energy efficiency. Talk to your builder about the best kind of insulation for your needs, and learn about R value and how it affects the efficiency of insulation. Discuss how the builder seals potential air leaks in the home, paying close attention to windows, doors and spots where pipes or wires enter the home.

• Finally, a truly sustainable home is one that makes maximum use of recycled and recyclable materials. Talk to your builder about the construction materials they will use. Are they sustainably sourced? Will they be able to be recycled someday down the road when they are no longer usable in your home?

Demand for sustainable homes is likely to continue growing, according to the NAR report. Choosing to build your new home with sustainable materials, systems and practices can ensure you reap the rewards of a more environmentally friendly home now and in the future.


]]> 0 Thu, 10 Aug 2017 10:08:33 +0000
Five steps to make your home smarter Wed, 09 Aug 2017 08:00:25 +0000 When it comes to technology, smarter is better. There are smart watches, smart televisions and just about everyone has a smartphone.

So what about a smart home?

Smart thermostats and lighting timers represent the first steps toward smart home technology for many homeowners, but in a lot of cases, they were the only steps. Since then, technology has continued to develop, and today there are scores of home goods that can talk to one another while allowing you total control of your home from your smartphone, tablet or another device.

It all sounds so simple, so perfect, yet many consumers remain confused on how to make the most of smart home technology in their house. Instead of finding the installation welcoming, they see it as daunting and expensive.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Installing – and enjoying – smart home technology in your house is easier than you think. Follow these five simple steps and your home will be a smart home in no time.

• Determine what you’d like to control remotely or automate based on time. Having total control of your home sounds great, but it also leads to total responsibility and sometimes you don’t need all that.

For example, lighting solutions are a popular automated option. The smart dimmer by Leviton allows you to dim and time lighting to meet your needs once you download the app, providing you increased functionality all from your smartphone or tablet.

• Select technology that works with your home. When you’re shopping for products – like lighting switches – you should always be mindful of functionality. For example, does your home operate on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth? Understand the base functionalities of your home and you will streamline your shopping process.

• Seek professional help. If you’re concerned about your ability to set up your smart home technology successfully, don’t be afraid to seek out some guidance. Call on your contractor to assist you in the installation.

You can also download helpful guides and how-to instructions from the manufacturer’s website. The more information you have before beginning the project, the more comfortable you’ll be with the installation.

• Download the proper apps. The key to your home’s smart technology lies in the corresponding apps. Make sure you’ve downloaded the right one to match your system. Many smart home technologies offer both iPhone and Android apps to provide the functionality control you need.

• Set your schedule and optimize as needed. Your smart home is an ever-evolving machine, and the more time you take to continually customize your preferences, the more you’ll get from your system. Establish your initial schedule and then add voice control through Amazon, Google or Apple.

Finally, don’t be afraid to make continued improvements. You’ve already tackled the biggest hurdle of installing your system, and the ongoing small adjustments you add will make your system great.

To learn more about today’s smart homes and lighting technologies available from companies such as Leviton, visit




]]> 0 Tue, 01 Aug 2017 11:37:09 +0000
Customizing your kitchen on a budget Wed, 02 Aug 2017 08:00:41 +0000  

Who wouldn’t want a kitchen customized to meet their specific tastes and needs? A complete kitchen renovation can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but you don’t have to spend a bundle to achieve a custom effect. A few modest investments can help make your kitchen work well and look great.

Here are ways to affordably customize your kitchen:

Get creative with cabinets.

Completely replacing cabinets can be costly, but it’s possible to create a custom look with the cabinets you already have. Customization tricks to try:

• Paint cabinets a trendy color, like dark blue. Or, paint one set of cabinets, such as those under an island, a different color.

• Remove the doors from one cupboard to create an open effect where you can display prized showpieces. Further accent the look by painting the back of the cupboard a contrasting color.

• Replace dated or dull hardware with drawer pulls and knobs that speak to your personal design tastes. For example, if you love a vintage look, replace metal hardware with glass or ceramic knobs.

Freshen up the faucet.

Cabinet hardware isn’t the only “jewelry” in the kitchen. The faucet can also be a design focal point that looks as good as it works.

If yours is old, basic or just not to your taste, replacing the kitchen faucet with a newer model that speaks to your style can help affordably reinvent the entire room. Plus, a new faucet can provide functions and features that will make your kitchen more usable.

For example, the Tournant faucet by Kohler combines traditional design with modern industrial elements, so it works well with a variety of kitchen design themes. A three-function, pull-down spray head lets you put the water exactly where you need it, while a special BerrySoft setting is gentle enough for washing fruits and vegetables.

If a more vintage look appeals to you, Kohler has recently added a bridge model faucet to its popular Artifacts line. Reminiscent of turn-of-the-century kitchen and bar faucets, the deck-mounted bridge faucet works with either lever or six-prong handles for temperature controls, and features a dual-function sidespray. Visit to learn more.

Enliven your lighting.

Good light is essential for a kitchen to function well, but it’s common for kitchens to have just one overhead light and maybe a pendant or two over a breakfast bar. Replacing dated fixtures with newer ones that suit your personal style is easy, but what can you do if you want more light without the expense of paying someone to install additional wiring?

• Replace a standard ceiling light with track lights. They require no additional wiring and you can position lights along the track to put illumination where you want it.

• Install under-cabinet lights that can easily plug into an existing counter-level electrical outlet.

• Place a swing-arm task lamp over work areas, so you can aim light where you need it most while working. The lamp can easily plug into a wall outlet.

Accentuate accessories.

Accessories are the finishing touch of personalization in any room, including the kitchen. However, since the kitchen needs to be high-functioning, look for ways to accessorize that also enhance your kitchen’s ability to work for you.

• Every kitchen has small appliances that get regular use, such as toasters, food processors, blenders, etc. If your toaster sits out on the counter, why not turn it into part of the design theme by selecting an appliance in a bright color to match your decor?

• A matching set of potholders or dish towels hung from a hook beneath a cabinet or on the side of a cupboard not only puts a much-needed item close at hand, they can also add decorative flair.

• Place a bright, cheerful area rug in front of the sink or prep area. The rug will both perk up the space and help cushion your joints while you stand in one spot working.

• A pot rack above an island provides much-needed storage space for large pots and pans, while adding a homey touch to the kitchen.

Customizing a kitchen doesn’t have to be costly or require you to sacrifice any functionality. With a few smart updates, you can cost-effectively create the personalized kitchen of your dreams.


]]> 0 Tue, 01 Aug 2017 09:59:58 +0000
How to navigate big purchases and make wise buying decisions Wed, 26 Jul 2017 08:00:39 +0000  

Are you planning an upcoming home improvement? If so, you are not alone.

Higher-than-average renovation spending is expected in 2017, according to a leading consumer magazine, with more than half of homeowners planning to spend money on home improvements throughout the year.

From upgrading appliances to gutting entire rooms, big projects can have a big impact on a home and on your wallet, so it’s important to approach any renovation with thoughtful intention.

To ensure you make the right decisions when it comes to large purchases and major home improvements, ask yourself these five questions:

How long do you plan to live in the home?

Knowing how long you expect to live in your home can help you better navigate home improvements. If you only plan to live in your home for five years you’ll likely make different decisions than if it is your forever home.

What is your budget?

Home upgrades don’t come cheap, so it’s helpful to determine a budget before you start. Consider renovations and upgrades as a smart way to maintain your home investment. By putting money into your home, you are helping maintain its integrity, style, usefulness and value.

When setting a budget, you can pay out of pocket or take out a personal or home equity loan. Additionally, some companies offer low-interest financing. If you plan to borrow for your project, make sure you clearly understand and are comfortable with payment terms.

Once you set a budget, stick to it. Problems may arise that require unexpected additional costs, but often budget blowouts are from homeowners who start spending and the excitement of the project causes them to go beyond their means.

What purchases are worth the splurge?

Research and decide which purchases are worth spending more on. For example, appliances used nearly every day are a worthwhile investment –especially if they are more energy efficient and offer features that enhance your day-to-day routine.

Rather than getting a basic washer, opt for the LG TWINWash(TM) 2-in-1 washer. It can run two loads at once, saving homeowners time and energy.

Bottom line: Make sure your purchase improves your daily life and is proven to last. (For example, LG washers and dryers were recently named the most reliable in all laundry categories by a leading U.S. consumer products publication).

What is the ROI?

The return on investment should be considered in many ways for home improvements. First, check out reputable reports like the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. For example, adding fiberglass attic insulation recoups 107.7 percent of the cost.

In addition to resale ROI, consider other ways you’ll get a return on your investment. Will your upgrade help you save energy and reduce your bills? Will it save you time and stress in daily life? Does it enhance your home’s aesthetic and flow? These are other ROIs that are just as valuable to consider as resale ROI.

What does the research say?

It’s worth your time to conduct research so you get the best outcome possible. Learn about materials to discover which is best for your lifestyle and research brands. If you’re hiring the project out, research contractors to find a reputable professional for the job.

Starting a home improvement project is exciting. Answering these questions will help ensure your time and financial investment are well spent.


]]> 0 Sat, 22 Jul 2017 09:07:24 +0000
How to light a bathroom for beauty, function, and safety Wed, 19 Jul 2017 08:00:26 +0000 Good lighting is important throughout a home, and each room has different lighting needs. Kitchens require overhead and task lighting, while bedrooms and dining rooms can benefit from variable illumination.

However, no room in the house requires more layers and nuances of lighting than the bathroom, where lighting directly influences the room’s efficiency, utility, safety and beauty.

Upgrading lighting in a bathroom can give the room a whole new look and improve its functionality for a fraction of the cost of a full renovation. While you’re planning your bathroom enlightenment, keep in mind the multiple purposes lighting plays in a bathroom, including:

Safety. Bathrooms are a prime spot for falls and injuries. A well-lit room can decrease the risk of someone stumbling or slipping.

Tasks. Whether you’re applying makeup or shaving, task lighting can provide the illumination you need to do the job well.

Visibility. Ambient lighting provides whole-room illumination that makes the space usable at any time of day.

Decorative. Lighting can minimize glare from shiny surfaces such as porcelain, glass or ceramic tile, and enhance the appearance of colors, fixtures and accessories.

Here are tips for creating effective, attractive lighting for the bathroom:

• Safety: Bathroom lighting affects safety the most during nighttime hours. A completely dark bathroom could lead to falls, as could the temporary blindness caused by switching on a light when your eyes are acclimated for darkness.

A brightly lit space can also make it difficult for you to go back to sleep after using the bathroom.

Dimmable bathroom lighting, which can be set for less illumination at night, and strategically positioned nightlights can help users safely navigate the room at night. Equip low-wattage light sources that turn on with a motion sensor, so that soft illumination comes on when you enter the dark bathroom.

• Tasks.The bathroom vanity is a hub of activity, where people shave, brush their teeth, fix their hair, apply makeup and generally get ready for the day. The lighting above your vanity or sink area is critical to how well the space functions.

Lights above the bathroom mirror, or to either side of it, can create glare and shadow. A better alternative can be to use a lighted mirror or medicine cabinet like the Verdera collection by Kohler.

Lighted mirrors and medicine cabinets eliminate harsh shadows and light “hot spots” that can come from overhead lighting.

What’s more, Verdera lighted medicine cabinets feature a convenient built-in electrical outlet to allow you to use your favorite grooming accessory. LED lights make the mirrors and cabinets energy-efficient, and all are compatible with LED dimmers, giving you even more control over task illumination. Visit to learn more.

• Visibility. Certain areas in the bathroom require basic visibility at all times, including showers and water closets. In these areas, overhead lighting can provide the ambient illumination you need. You can opt for a basic light fixture, a fan/light combination that also provides ventilation, or even a skylight for natural daylighting.

Uplighting is also becoming a popular form of ambient light in bathrooms. Lights set beneath countertops or around the base of shower stalls provide soft illumination and character.

• Decorative. Decorative bathroom lighting is your chance to have some fun. These lights may enhance ambient lighting or support task lighting, but their ultimate purpose is to add visual interest to the bathroom.

Depending on the size and style of your bathroom, you can choose decorative lighting options like chandeliers, wall sconces, pendant lights, recessed lighting and more.

Finally, be sure that every layer of light in your bathroom is as energy-efficient as possible. Replace any incandescent bulbs with LEDs or CFLs, which use a fraction of the energy to produce a comparable amount of light, while lasting far longer.


]]> 0 Tue, 18 Jul 2017 16:20:43 +0000
The new trend in decks: ‘monster’ size, and luxurious Wed, 12 Jul 2017 08:00:25 +0000 When it comes to decks, most Americans feel bigger is better, as multiple surveys indicate decks are getting larger and more luxurious, RealtorMag reports.

Today’s decks dwarf the outdoor spaces of decades ago, and blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces with features like full kitchens, dining and entertainment areas, said Kim Katwijk, owner of Deck Builders Inc. in Olympia, Wash. Katwijk is a 20-year veteran of the deck-building business, and co-producer of the upcoming web series Outdoors Outdone.

Katwijk said the intersection of two major home trends is driving the growth of “monster” decks: homes are getting larger and outdoor living has reached mainstream status.

Last year, more than half of all new homes were 2,400 square feet or larger, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Characteristics of New Housing” report. (In 1973, the average home size was 1,660 square feet.)

As homes grew, deck sizes have, too. RealtorMag reports one survey found that since 2014, the average deck size grew by 53 percent in the Northeast, to 406 square feet.

So what makes a deck project “monster”? Size, design, materials and amenities all combine in this nationwide trend.

“Monster” decks are really big. Mark Kalady, a decking sales manager for TAMKO Building Products, Inc., said he’s recently seen residential decks grow to 3,000 square feet.

Depending on the amenities included, a deck 1,600-1,800 square feet could also be considered “monster.”

Cooking and dining areas are among the most requested luxury features, deck builders say. Luxury grills, built-in pizza ovens and full-cook stoves and sinks are becoming more common.

Fire and water features such as hot tubs, lap pools, fireplaces and fire pits are part of the trend of bringing the indoors out. These focal points serve as relaxation, exercise and entertaining stations.

Katwijk said “conversational pits” designed specifically for extended entertaining allow deck-users to enjoy time together away from the cooking and dining areas.

“Monster” decks often include multiple levels, with each level serving a different theme or intended use, such as dining, conversation, swimming, etc.

Many of today’s larger decks include living room areas equipped with big-screen TVs, wireless speakers and gaming systems. But the technology used on monster decks can extend to retractable glass walls and skylights, and even the deck boards themselves.

Katwijk said the technology behind man-made decking products like Envision composite lumber offers the luxury appearance of exotic woods, but with minimal annual maintenance.

“People want an environment where they can be outdoors, yet have all the creature comforts of their home – essentially creating a space where they can do all the things that they love,” Katwijk said.

Size, amenities and even the materials used can make a deck a “monster.” This deck features multiple sitting areas, dining table and fire and water elements, and is constructed from man-made Envision composite lumber.

]]> 0 Sat, 08 Jul 2017 09:32:48 +0000
Tips to make your backyard more appealing this summer Wed, 05 Jul 2017 08:00:29 +0000 Summer is home to many of the year’s most beautiful days, so who can blame you for wanting to spend them all outside? Your yard becomes your living room and your patio the kitchen. It’s your home away from home.

If your home’s outdoor space lacks the comfort and appeal you are longing for, now is the perfect time to transform your backyard into the perfect outdoor oasis you can enjoy all summer long.

To get started upgrading your backyard without breaking the bank, follow these tips.


• A place to gather. Think of the parties you’ve hosted in your home. They’ve probably all had a common gathering place such as the kitchen counter, the living room couch or the dining room table.

Your outdoor space needs a similar location and a dining set naturally invites guests to relax. Five-piece dining sets are perfect for more intimate gatherings, while seven-piece sets comfortably accommodate larger crowds.

• The focal point of your kitchen. Grilling out is a staple of any summer party, so if your existing grill isn’t hitting all cylinders, it’s time for an upgrade.

The Master Forge 5-Burner Modular Gas Grill features four heavy-duty burners, one infrared searing burner and one infrared rotisserie burner, giving you a solution for any menu choice. Plus, its built-in halogen lights can keep your party going long into the night.

• A place to relax. The sofas and armchairs in your living room are popular sitting destinations during any indoor event, and you can create the same environment outdoors with sectional patio furniture.

The Garden Treasures Palm City Patio Sectional Furniture features sleek and sturdy black steel frames coupled with tan Olefin cushions that up the comfort level. When you sit, you’ll never want to leave.

• A little shade goes a long way. An all-day party means plenty of sun, and when guests need a break from the heat, it’s good to provide an area of relief.

Patio umbrellas are an affordable option, available in 8½ and 9-foot varieties, providing ample coverage for a large gathering. To keep the awning a hot destination into the evening, look for an umbrella outfitted with LED lights.

• The perfect accents. The difference between a backyard and an outdoor oasis is in the details you add to your space. Island King Garden Torches bring light to any situation.

With durable metal construction and a long-lasting fiberglass wick, these lights will keep their look in any conditions. To add a little extra green space to your outdoor entertaining area, consider purchasing raised garden beds. They provide a grand ambiance upgrade to your oasis at an affordable price.

Implement any of the upgrades listed above and you’ll be able to enjoy the season’s greatest days from your brand-new oasis. To find everything you need to remake your backyard, without breaking your bank, visit


]]> 0 Tue, 04 Jul 2017 09:00:21 +0000
Do you know your laundry personality? Wed, 28 Jun 2017 08:00:33 +0000 Chic, trendy, sporty, bohemian, sophisticated, fun, classic – you probably have a clear vision of your fashion and style personality. But do you know your laundry personality?

How you wash the clothes you wear is every bit as personal and unique to you as the clothes themselves. Knowing your laundry personality could help ease the load and make the chore easy and fail-proof.

A quarter of American households say they overload their washer most of the time, according to a survey commissioned by LG Electronics. Even people who say they are doing their laundry efficiently still have complaints with the process. In fact, more than three-fourths believe washers can be improved.

Recognizing your laundry personality and choosing products that cater to your unique style will make doing laundry an easy, and perhaps even enjoyable, affair. Here are four common laundry personalities, their identifying traits, and tips for achieving maximum efficiency:

The light loader.

Does your desire to separate and preserve clothes, including those delicate special care items, ever leave you with the only option of running the washer with just one or two items? You’re not alone. According to a recent survey commissioned by LG Electronics, 60 percent of Americans admitted to running a full load of laundry for six items or less.

The LG TWINWash system will put an end to that, letting consumers tackle two loads of laundry at once, or independently. The industry-first two-in-one washing machine includes a front-load washer ergonomically placed on the top for larger loads, and a smaller washer, the LG Sidekick, which sits within the pedestal for those small specialty loads.

The LG SideKick provides an additional 1-foot capacity and has six cycles to choose from: normal, intimates, hand wash, active wear, rinse + spin and tub clean, allowing consumers to wash those smaller loads, saving time and energy.

The super sorter.

Does the thought of washing dark jeans and a pink blouse in the same load leave you light-headed? You and 20 percent of Americans prefer to avoid mixing items of different colors in the same load. Some of those surveyed also don’t trust washing items like delicates (52 percent), jackets (49 percent) and blouses (30 percent) in the main wash.

Facilitate your separation efforts by using multiple baskets or hampers in your laundry room. Label them – darks, whites, delicates, workout, etc. – and encourage family members to drop their dirty clothes in the appropriate basket. For items not trusted for the main wash, the LG SideKick, part of the TWINWash system, can help tackle smaller loads, ensuring they’re properly washed by one of the six cycles.

The dumper.

Do you do minimal separation? You’re joined by a majority of Americans that load up their washers.

A recent survey concluded that 80 percent of Americans have purposely overloaded their washer to avoid doing a second load of laundry. Plus, 22 percent of Americans have deemed clothes not properly cleaned because of an overloaded washer.

High-efficiency front-load washing machines alleviate both of these problems. Unlike traditional top-load washing machines with agitators, front-load washers offer greater capacity while using much less water, which actually cleans clothes better.

It’s a myth that more water equals cleaner clothes. Plus, they have faster spin speeds than their top-load counterparts, which means your clothes come out dryer, saving you time and energy when drying your clothes.

Use color-safe detergent and cold water for every load of colors. With today’s super-efficient detergents and better washing machines, you don’t need hot or even warm water to get clothes clean; cold will work just fine and will reduce the chance of colors fading or bleeding into each other.

The habitual dry cleaner.

Summer is a busy – and sticky – time, running from work to outdoor barbecues during the hottest months of the year. And refreshing that summer wardrobe between pool parties is key to the habitual dry cleaner looking and feeling their best. That’s where the LG Styler comes in. The fashion-forward clothing management system that can refresh and sanitize clothing in as little as 20 minutes.

Just get back from an outdoor cocktail party? Place your favorite dresses, shirts or suits inside and let LG’s TrueSteam technology reduce wrinkles and odors from things like sweat or smoke, without any harsh chemicals.

While it doesn’t replace dry cleaning, it can certainly help reduce trips to the cleaners while keeping your clothes crisp and ready to go before your next brunch date or happy hour.

Whatever your laundry personality, you can find a washer, dryer and detergent that will make your chore easier and less time consuming. Then, you can spend that time on other things.

In fact, Americans surveyed say if they could cut their laundry time in half, they’d spend that extra time hanging out with their kids, watching television or doing other things they enjoy.


]]> 0 Tue, 27 Jun 2017 08:50:28 +0000
Five projects you can tackle in a weekend Wed, 21 Jun 2017 08:00:24 +0000  

This time of year was made for DIY projects. The weather is perfect, the projects have mounted, you’ve got the time and the motivation. Now if only you had the budget.

Not to worry, DIY doesn’t have to be synonymous with expensive. There are plenty of DIY projects that can be tackled quickly and affordably in just a single weekend.

Below is a list of five projects that you can use to scratch that project itch without putting a noticeable dent in your wallet.

Seal the gaps. Hidden gaps and cracks in your home could be allowing air to escape, making the temperature in the house more difficult to regulate and your energy bill more expensive than it needs to be.

Seal these gaps with an innovative air-sealing insulating foam to help protect against air and moisture infiltration. It will create a tighter building envelope that helps to reduce your energy waste and your monthly bill.

A fresh coat of paint. How many times have you walked by that wall, those cabinets or that wooden chair and thought, “I need to repaint that”?

Well, now’s the time. Painting small spaces and furniture yourself is a small, inexpensive project that can be finished in a single weekend. So start picking colors today.

Once you’re done, you can feel proud knowing that you put in the hard work to give your home a fresh look.

Ward off vermin. You’re not the only one who’s happy to see that warmer weather has arrived. Vermin of the mammal, reptile or insect variety will also be more active during the warmer months, and they may set their sights on your home.

GREAT STUFF Pestblock Insulating Foam Sealant helps block vermin from entering your home through gaps, cracks and holes.

Spray the foam to block these points of entry and the only guests you’ll greet this season are those you actually invited.

Update your window treatments. If “treatment” is a generous word when describing the accent pieces around your windows, it’s time for an upgrade. Whether curtains, blinds or drapes, window treatments can be as cost effective as you want them to be, so don’t be afraid to be picky.

And once you find treatments that appeal to you, use them to block the sun on the hottest days to reduce your energy expenses.

Expand your DIY. Your DIY projects don’t have to be confined to your home; they can also involve your boat, your RV or your other vehicles. GREAT STUFF Multipurpose Black Foam Sealant can be used to fill unwanted gaps and cracks in vehicles, allowing you to cruise into vacation with no worries.

You can scratch that DIY itch without a month-long commitment or completely draining your bank account. All you have to do is pick the projects that match your budget, your time frame and your goals, and get to work.

And when they’re done, you’ll have the rest of the season to enjoy your new and improved home.

]]> 0 Fri, 25 Aug 2017 13:03:39 +0000
Simple upgrades, habit changes yield water savings in bathrooms Wed, 14 Jun 2017 08:00:52 +0000 Researchers predict that rising water prices could mean within five years a third of American households will not be able to pay their water bills, despite the replenishment of water reserves around the country.

What’s more, the National Weather Service warns that drought could increase or reoccur if the country experiences a period of sustained heat and dryness.

Fortunately, there are many ways for you to reduce the amount of water your home uses each year. One of the best places to start conserving water is in the bathroom, where toilet flushing, long showers and deep soak baths account for the largest portion of a home’s water consumption, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Here are simple ways you can significantly reduce your home’s water consumption, lower your water bill and do something good for the environment:

Ditch water-guzzling fixtures.

Flushing the toilet accounts for about 30 percent of a home’s annual water consumption, making it the largest user of water in the home, according to the U.S. EPA. Prior to 1994, most toilets used 3.5 or more gallons of water per flush (gpf). Current federal guidelines require that toilets use no more than 1.6 gpf, but you can do even better.

• Toilets: Replace dated, older toilets with ultra-high-efficiency models like the American Standard H2Optimum ultra-high efficiency toilet, which uses an average of 1.1 gpf – that’s 31 percent less than federal mandates.

Exclusive PowerWash siphon-jet bowl cleaning technology drives this water-saving toilet to remove every trace of paper and waste, while its EverClean antimicrobial finish helps it stay cleaner, longer.

• Faucets: Inefficient and leaky bathroom faucets also waste thousands of gallons of water each year. WaterSense-labeled faucets use a maximum of 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) and as little as 1.2 gpm, decreasing water use by 30 percent or more.

The Fluent collection of high-efficiency bathroom faucets uses leading-edge technology to reduce water consumption, while producing a strong flow rate, all with high-style design to coordinate with various bathroom decors.

• Showerheads: A significant source of water usage in a home can be attributed to showerheads, pouring as many as 40 gallons per day down the drain for an average family, according to the EPA.

Since showers account for 17 percent of a home’s water use, replacing an older, less efficient showerhead with a WaterSense-certified one can curb waste in the shower. An example is the Hydrofocus 6-function showerhead that uses only two gallons of water per minute, while delivering a concentrated and invigorating spray.

Its innovative pressure-compensating operation features a plentiful water flow across all spray patterns for a customized showering experience that caters to your family’s personal preferences.

Make easy habit changes.

Replacing inefficient fixtures is an investment that will pay off over time. However, there are simple habit changes that are free and will produce results right away. Your family can easily reduce water use in the bathroom by:

• Turning off the water when brushing their teeth. Running the tap while brushing can waste as much as 3,000 gallons per year, the EPA says.

• Taking showers instead of baths. It takes an average of 36 gallons to fill the bathtub. Plus, if you take baths less often, when you do indulge in one it will feel like a treat.

• Taking shorter showers. The longer the shower runs, the more water goes down the drain. Never turn on the shower and walk away to do other things while the water warms. If you get delayed or distracted, the water could run for a long time before you actually step into the shower.

• Washing hands in cold water with soap, rather than letting the water run until it gets hot.

• Shaving at the sink, rather than in the shower. Shaving in the shower extends your shower time, unnecessarily consuming more water. Just don’t forget to turn off the water while shaving at the bathroom sink.

Taking steps to reduce bathroom water usage can help save you money in the short term and benefit the environment in the long run. These changes are simple to implement, with rewarding results to both your wallet and our planet Earth.

]]> 0 Fri, 09 Jun 2017 17:19:17 +0000
How to get great pressure-washing results Wed, 07 Jun 2017 08:00:01 +0000 Clean siding and trim can do as much for a home’s curb appeal as fresh flowers, neatly trimmed hedges and a repainted front door. You could scrub for hours trying to remove dirt, mold and mildew, or you could do the job more quickly and easily with a pressure washer.

However, if you decide to pressure wash your home’s siding, trim, fence or other surfaces on your own, it’s important to choose the right equipment for the project, and to know the basics of good pressure washing.

Pressure washer basics.

Pressure washers use powerful pumps to boost water pressure and force water through a special nozzle. The intense spray powers away dirt, grime and debris, and depending on the type and size pressure washer you choose, they can be great for both major and minor home cleaning projects.

While professionals often use gas-fueled versions for home renovation projects, electric versions like those from Karcher are affordable, convenient, and easy to use and maintain for most around-the-home applications such as siding, driveways, fences, patio furniture and vehicles.

Pressure washers use less water and complete cleaning jobs more quickly than simply scrubbing by hand. Generally, the higher the PSI (pounds of pressure per square inch) the greater a pressure washer’s cleaning power. However, PSI is not the only consideration when choosing a pressure washer.

You should also look for ease of setup and use, and availability of accessories like extensions and wands for the different projects you might want to complete with your pressure washer.

In addition to affordability, look for compact storage, an integrated detergent tank and ergonomic features such as an on/off pedal switch and tall folding handles. These features make it more comfortable to use a pressure washer and more convenient to store it when you’re done.

It’s also important to understand the type of detergent the washer will use in addition to water. Some cleaners might be too harsh for certain applications. Look for biodegradable options that protect the environment and the pressure washer itself. Never use bleach with a pressure washer, as this can permanently damage the pump.

How to use a pressure washer.

Pressure washers are powerful pieces of equipment, and you should always follow basic safety practices, such as using eye and face protection, and the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Be aware that using too high a pressure setting or holding the nozzle too close to surfaces could cause damage. Further, there are some things you should never do with a pressure washer, including:

• Never point the jet at people, animals, windows or the pressure washer itself.

• Never stand on a ladder when using a pressure washer. The kick from the wand could cause you to lose your balance. Instead, use an extension wand or second-story nozzle to clean overhead areas.

To clean siding on your home:

• First, place drop cloths over nearby shrubs and greenery to protect them from the spray and detergent.

• With the washer set at low pressure, apply detergent, moving from top to bottom. Don’t allow the detergent to dry on the siding. Use a brush to loosen any stubborn dirt.

• Use clean water and a higher pressure setting to rinse off detergent, again moving from top to bottom.

• Use a sweeping motion to clean, and keep the nozzle at least 6 inches from the siding.

To clean cement, brick or stone:

• Whether it’s a cement retaining wall, a brick path or a patio of stone pavers, first rinse the surface to be cleaned using fresh water.

• If you’re using detergent, apply it at a low pressure and work in smaller sections of about 25 square feet.

• Using a rotating turbo nozzle and a sweeping motion, clean by holding the nozzle 3 to 6 inches from the surface.

Before tackling any project with a pressure washer it’s a good idea to test the unit in a small, out-of-the-way spot to ensure you won’t damage the surface you want to clean. To learn more about pressure washers and how to clean items around your home, visit

]]> 0 Mon, 05 Jun 2017 14:16:52 +0000
‘Little’ upgrades can mean a lot to home-buyers Wed, 31 May 2017 08:00:23 +0000 Anyone who’s ever bought or sold a home knows how even little things can sway a buyer to feel a particular house is “just right.”

When you’re trying to sell your home, you should be willing to spend some money on repairs and improvements to help boost the sale price. The good news is, you don’t have to spend a lot to make a big impact if you invest in key quality details. Here are seven “little things” to help make your home more appealing to buyers, and possibly get a better price.


Upgrade your kitchen faucet and sink. These aren’t just practical tools every kitchen needs – they can also be essential elements of a room’s overall design and appeal.

Replacing a dated kitchen faucet is a minor change that can mean a lot to home-buyers. Choose a pull-down, multi-function option like the American Standard Edgewater semi-professional kitchen faucet with SelectFlo technology. In addition to modern styling, you’ll get four spray functions and a convenient pause feature, the ability to set a preferred water temperature without re-adjusting the handle, and a water-conserving maximum flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute.

Pair it with an Edgewater double bowl stainless steel kitchen sink, and you’ve created a new focal point of design, efficiency and utility sure to catch buyers’ eyes.

Install a programmable thermostat. If your home’s thermostat predates Facebook, it’s probably time to ditch the dial and install a touchpad programmable thermostat.

Not only would a new thermostat help your home look more modern, a programmable thermostat helps with energy efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy says reducing your thermostat setting by 7-10 degrees for eight hours a day can save as much as 10 percent annually on energy bills. A programmable thermostat automates the savings for you.

Replace incandescent light bulbs. If your home still has traditional lightbulbs, replacing them with energy-saving LEDs or CFLs is an easy way to improve your home’s overall energy efficiency.

These bulbs use 25-80 percent less energy than conventional bulbs and last three to 25 times longer, according to the Department of Energy. Imagine the appeal for homebuyers when your selling agent mentions that light bulbs won’t need replacing for years after moving in!

Upgrade the front door. Your home’s entrance is the feature that officially welcomes potential buyers into your humble abode. Replacing an old, weathered front door with a new one creates a positive first impression.

What’s more, installing a steel entry door returns 90 percent of its value at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.

Put a water-efficient faucet in the bathroom. A great deal of water can be wasted in the bathroom, and the faucet can be one of the biggest culprits. Replacing an older bathroom faucet with a modern water-conserving option like one from the Townsend bathroom sink faucet collection is not only visually appealing for buyers, it also speaks to their sense of environmental responsibility.

What’s more, upgrading to a faucet with handles, instead of a knob-style operation, allows for easier functionality for people with varying degrees of dexterity, from small children to senior citizens.
Add a water filtration system in the kitchen. Americans are more aware than ever of the quality of water inside their homes, so adding a filtration system can be an extra feature that appeals to homebuyers. Simple under-sink filtration systems can cost as little as a couple hundred dollars.

Install a sun tube. Who doesn’t want a home filled with natural light? Not only does sunlight deliver physical and mental health benefits, using natural light can also help reduce dependence on artificial light sources that impact your energy bills.

Sun tubes can bring natural light into dark spaces, even those on the ground floor. DIYers can install this special reflective tubing for under $500, while pro installation can run closer to $1,000.


When you’re selling a house, every little bit helps, and upgrading small details can make a big difference in how potential buyers view your home. Go ahead, make these upgrades now, and see potentially higher gains in the sale of your home.

]]> 0 Fri, 26 May 2017 14:16:41 +0000
Make your back yard an oasis this summer Wed, 24 May 2017 08:00:45 +0000 Summer is the season when your backyard takes center stage. As warm weather arrives, it’s time to head outdoors and create a beautiful and lush outdoor space that you can enjoy all season long.

“It’s no secret that backyards are the best place to spend time with family and friends in the summer months,” said Chris Lambton, yard and garden expert for Fiskars.

“Using the right tools to take care of your grass, trees, plants and shrubs will freshen the look of your outdoor space and create a yard that feels like an oasis for you and your guests.”

Lambton offered his tips and tools to help your yard flourish this season:

Maintain proper lawn height.

The optimal grass height for a healthy lawn changes with the time of year. Cut grass shorter in the spring and fall and keep it longer in summer so it won’t dry out.

Use a reel mower that allows you to easily adjust the cut height for the season. In addition to making your lawn look its best, pushing a reel mower provides an opportunity for exercise and fresh air.

Encourage new plant growth.

Pruning and deadheading are necessary for plant health as they encourage new growth.

Pruning is great for keeping tall plants within bounds, stimulating branch growth and blooms and tightening up plants that get lanky throughout the season, including perennials and shrubs.

Hand shears, like the Fiskars PowerGear2 Pruner, cut through stems and light branches and are perfect for quick and easy maintenance projects around the yard.

Deadheading can be done year-round when a flowering plant fades using a tool like a pruning snip.

Know when to water.

If you walk across the grass and the blades don’t spring back, then you know it’s time to water. Choose an adjustable sprinkler, like the Gilmour Pattern Master Circular Sprinkler, that allows you to customize the spray pattern and tailor to irregularly shaped lawns to prevent over-watering.

When watering potted plants, the goal is to create soil that’s damp but not soggy. Depending on the size of the pot, water your plants one to two times a day using a thumb control watering nozzle, which easily adjusts water flow with one touch.

Be sure to pair your nozzle with a hose that stands up to the season’s heat and sun, like the durable Flexogen Super Duty Hose.

Incorporate decorative DIY.

Creating a comfortable and inviting outdoor space makes seasonal entertaining easy and fun. One way to update your furnishings without buying a new patio set is to upcycle materials from your home.

Containers are an easy, low-commitment way to add design elements and even a splash of color to your backyard. They’re also highly versatile, allowing you to rearrange your yard on a whim or change out plants to match the season or mood.

Repurpose glass jars, aluminum cans and ceramic pots to make beautiful container gardens on your patio.

Another easy DIY is to turn old wooden crates into extra seating by painting them in bright colors, securing them atop one another and adding a decorative cushion – the possibilities are endless.

]]> 0 Mon, 22 May 2017 10:48:45 +0000
Super-simple ways to build a deck that’s friendly to bare feet Wed, 17 May 2017 08:00:38 +0000 When the sun is out and the sky is blue, your deck should be one of the most popular areas in your yard.

But, if deck boards leave you with splinters or burned feet on hot summer days, there may be little incentive to spend time in your open-air getaway.

The good news is, this problem is easily preventable. With the right plan, you can build a barefoot-friendly backyard deck that will be the hub of your outdoor living space for years to come.

Start with these three super-simple steps. It’s a choice your feet and pets will appreciate.

Create a smooth surface.

Few building materials take more punishment than decking. Whether it spends hours under scorching sunlight, withstands wintertime blizzards, or gets soaked during water fights and pool parties, your decking is bound to take abuse from the elements.

Selecting deck boards that can withstand these harsh conditions is critical to ensuring a smooth surface underfoot.

Exposure to moisture and the sun’s UV rays can deteriorate wood decking, particularly if it’s not maintained regularly and correctly. While composite decking provides greater durability, several brands have been known to rot, crack or warp as a result of moisture intrusion.

To keep your deck looking good no matter what the weather, consider composite decking made of small-size wood fibers that are fully encased in plastic.

This protects against moisture intrusion all the way to the board’s core, and such boards will not rot or warp, preventing dangerous cracks and splinters from forming.

To create an even smoother surface, install the composite deck boards with hidden fasteners. This technique eliminates popped nails, dimples from screws and other hazards to warm-weather fun.

Beat the heat.

Once you’ve narrowed your composite decking selection to brands that can withstand the toughest Mother Nature can throw their way, look for ways to beat the heat.

When the sun is blazing, the plastic in composite decking can retain heat and become uncomfortable to walk on with bare feet.

One great way to avoid the hot-foot hustle dance without compromising on your deck’s surface appearance is to use composite decking with innovative cooling technology.

“Homeowners know even the most stunning composite deck will disappoint if it’s too warm to walk on during the peak days of summer,” said Randy Gottlieb, president of ChoiceDek manufacturer AERT.

“Recently introduced products like ChoiceDek Premium composite decking with CoolDeck technology help solve this problem. By combining a durable core with a cap that is specifically engineered to optimize heat reflection and minimize heat absorption, the boards make for a more comfortable deck on sunny days.”

You may also want to consider using an awning or other shade structure to help provide relief from direct sunlight and reduce the temperature on deck. Pergolas, lattices and breezy overhead fabrics can block the sun beautifully and add to your deck’s style.

Prevent slips on deck.

If you’re installing decking near a pool or hot tub, live in close proximity to the water or experience frequent rain, it’s also important to protect against slips.

Composite deck boards with a textured, wood-embossed surface have a higher coefficient of friction and better slip resistance than PVC and composite decking products with a non-embossed surface.

The added traction will help friends and family stay steady on their feet as they enjoy your outdoor living area, and help ensure the party never has to pause for injuries.

]]> 0 Mon, 15 May 2017 15:10:00 +0000
This year’s top three trends in vegetable gardening Fri, 12 May 2017 08:00:43 +0000 Whether you go to a restaurant or stay home and dine in, you want what you eat to be fresh and full of flavor. This movement toward tasty, locally grown food is illustrated by the rise in farmers markets, food subscription boxes, and a renewed joy in growing vegetables at home.

As the spring gardening season gets underway, here are three of the top trends you can take advantage of in your own vegetable garden that can help you reach a new foodie level in 2017.

Garden size doesn’t matter. You don’t need massive outdoor space to enjoy the benefits of growing your own food. In fact, today’s garden veggies make it possible to achieve that fresh-from-the-garden taste even if you only have a small sunny patch or balcony.

With Take 2 Tomato Combos from Burpee you combine a delicious slicer tomato with a sweet cherry in one container. They ripen at the same time for a steady supply of great-tasting tomatoes, like BushSteak and Baby Boomer.

Next to your hardworking container, plant complementary herbs, peppers or lettuces, which also grow well in smaller spaces.

Explore fresh, unique tastes. Unleash your inner gourmet by selecting vegetables for your garden that create a unique flavor story or experience.

Cupcake Summer Squash offers a new twist on a familiar favorite. Its edible zucchini-like skin is shaped perfectly for savory stuffing. The presentation is sure to impress dinner guests, while it’s petite enough to enjoy solo.

Continue to experiment and be on the lookout for other unique vegetables and herbs with color, texture and global flavor. Your garden can be a culinary adventure.

Grow something amazing. We’re all a bit of a showoff when it comes to growing vegetables. The satisfaction of success is even sweeter when you can impress your friends and neighbors, whether  over the garden wall or on social media.

So why not grow the biggest, the earliest or the best?

SteakHouse is one of the world’s largest beefsteaks. This tomato routinely tips the scale at three pounds or more.

Loaded with tomato flavor and fragrance, it will get them saying, “Wow!” and get you excited for dinnertime. Up your social currency with other amazing selections like the season’s first tomato, the best herbs for recipes all season, high-yielding peppers and more.

Like many other elements of your life, the 2017 trends in vegetable gardening are all about maximizing your time, space and abilities to create an experience that’s uniquely yours. Use these ideas in your garden as your next step to fresh and flavorful food.

Visit to start your shopping list of Foodie Fresh, Space Savers, and Amazing Veggies vegetables and herbs, and to get timely garden tips and recipes from experts in the weekly blog.

]]> 0 Mon, 08 May 2017 12:52:52 +0000
Make renovation resolutions for your home this spring Wed, 03 May 2017 08:00:23 +0000 It’s no secret that springtime is synonymous with spruce-ups. But, as is often the case, homeowners home in on prettying-up patios and backyards with fresh florals and new outdoor furniture, leaving the inside of the home as “same old, same old.”

This spring, resolve to reinvent your home from the inside out with stylish décor sure to add the wow-factor it deserves.

The five refreshing projects below will to help create a beautiful setting worthy of the new season – and beyond.

Address those kitchen cabinets. The cabinets are a major focal point in a kitchen, and even the smallest changes can have a major impact on its look and feel. Start with a subtle, functional update by replacing old hardware with modern metal accents.

And, for a slightly bolder change, consider a fresh coat of paint to infuse a new design persona throughout the space.

Set the perfect scene. Take advantage of the spring weather and longer days with perfect natural lighting. Hunter Douglas’ PowerView Motorization is a sophisticated wireless operating system that allows homeowners to program their shades to automatically adjust throughout the day to make the most of natural light as it changes.

Start by creating scenes – different combinations of shade positions in one room or throughout the house – to achieve perfect room lighting, window privacy and energy-efficiency. Then, schedule the scenes to activate at the times you choose, like opening to greet each morning’s sunrise, closing mid-day to deflect the heat of the afternoon sun, and closing each night to protect your privacy.

PowerView motorized shades also seamlessly integrates with other sophisticated whole-home automation systems to add another level of convenience to everyday living and greater connectivity to your smart home.

Add comfort and style to hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are a popular style for any home, and adding comfort to the chic-but sometimes unforgiving-look is easy with the right accessories. Place comfortable, eye-catching rugs in key areas throughout the home, including the foyer or beneath the kitchen and dining room tables.

These subtle accents will create a striking contrast, soften acoustics and add stylish comfort for your feet.

Keep cool as the weather warms. Window treatments can serve as great accessory or accent, and the right window dressings will provide beauty and function in one.

With Duette Architella honeycomb shades from Hunter Douglas, sophisticated fabric choices add a modern touch to any space, while its unique cell-within-a-cell design can significantly reduce the amount of solar heat transferred through windows to keep you cooler as the summer heat kicks in. This smart upgrade lends an elegant touch to kick off air conditioning season.

Build the bathroom of your dreams. The bathroom is supposed to be an oasis, and if it’s lacking in spa-like comforts, now is the perfect time to whip it into shape.

Enjoy a luxurious massage without stepping out of the house by swapping out outdated shower heads with high-pressured and multi-setting ones that transform water into soft mists, relaxing pulses, or powerful cascade indoors.

With these easy décor updates, making your home more comfortable and stylish is a bright idea sure to last all season and through the year. To learn more about PowerView Motorization and Duette Architella honeycomb shades, visit

]]> 0 Sat, 29 Apr 2017 09:32:34 +0000
Why millennials love gardening (and you should, too) Wed, 26 Apr 2017 08:00:32 +0000 The stereotype: Millennials spend more time interacting with the digital world than the natural world around them. The reality: Five million of the 6 million people who took up gardening in 2015 were millennials, according to the 2016 National Gardening Survey.

More millennials (people between the ages of 21 and 34) than any other age group are falling in love with gardening. As a hobby, gardening is a great fit for the millennial mindset and lifestyle that emphasize individuality, independence and value.

However, the advantages of gardening that attract millennials are also relevant to every age group, and anyone who wants to begin growing a nutritious, healthful food garden.

Here are seven reasons why more millennials than ever are taking up food gardening, and why you should, too:

Gardening fosters better nutrition. Millennials care about good nutrition and knowing where their food comes from. Multiple studies show members of the generation are health conscious, and understand the relationship between the food they eat, good nutrition and good health.

Millennials know fresh vegetables deliver great nutrition, and millennial gardeners know that growing their own veggies and herbs also means they can put more nutritious food on the table.

With transplant purveyors like Bonnie Plants offering more than 250 varieties of popular, heirloom, hybrid, new and tried-and-true vegetables and herbs, it’s easy to grow a garden full of healthy, nutritious, economical veggies and herbs.

You can save money. Millennials are into saving money. Eighty percent have a budget, 72 percent are saving for retirement and 51 percent have an emergency fund, according to a TD Ameritrade survey.

Gardening can allow you to spend less in the grocery store produce aisle, and that kind of thrift appeals to millennials as well as any other age group.

Gardening is good for the environment. Awareness of environmental issues and a desire for healthful products that contribute to ecological balance are hallmarks of the millennial generation. A Nielsen study found millennials care about environmental issues and find ways to personally support a healthy environment.

When you grow your own vegetables and herbs, “food miles,” the distance a food item is transported from producer to consumer, shrinks substantially and includes only the distance from your kitchen to your own backyard.

Choose plants in biodegradable containers, like those from Bonnie Plants, and gardening is even more environmentally friendly.

You can grow a garden anywhere. While many millennials are city dwellers, others live in suburbs. The fact that they can garden anywhere – on a city balcony, urban patio or suburban backyard – makes gardening the perfect hobby for them.

Using transplants from Bonnie Plants, all gardeners can create a backyard garden plot, a vertical garden in an alleyway between city buildings, or a container garden on a balcony or deck.

The garden is a great place to come together as a family. It’s true that millennials make the most use of digital devices of any generation; they also value deep family relationships. Planting a garden with their children, significant others or friends allows everyone to spend enriching time together, working toward an enjoyable, shared goal.

Gardening can be a challenge anyone can achieve. Working toward a goal, and having a vision, are very important qualities for millennials. Gardening takes time and effort but with the right resources and information, it’s something virtually anyone can succeed at.

Millennials turn to online resources, like Bonnie Plants’ vegetable and herb growing guides, gardening how-to’s, videos and recipes to help them achieve and ensure success.

Gardening can be an adventure. Sixty-four percent of millennials say they love to cook, and 75 percent enjoy eating cuisine from other cultures, according to a survey by Barkley. For a generation of adventurous eaters and cooks, gardening can be an opportunity to grow and try new things, from edible flowers and exotic herbs, to new types of vegetables, all the while saving money by growing their own.

With millennials now dominating the workforce, and many starting families and reaching their peak earning years, it’s likely their interest in gardening will continue to grow.

]]> 0 Tue, 25 Apr 2017 11:42:01 +0000
Five projects to recreate your back yard this spring Wed, 12 Apr 2017 08:00:23 +0000 Your focus changes during the warm weather months. Your back yard becomes your new living room, and the most memorable evenings are spent outdoors with friends and loved ones.

This is provided, of course, that you have the perfect space for such gatherings. If you don’t, not to worry, the right project can get you there. DIY was made for goals such as this, and a simple weekend project can recreate your backyard space into the outdoor oasis you’ve always wanted.

Below are five projects you could tackle in a single weekend to recreate your backyard space. Review each to see which inspires you. You can always learn more about the step-by-step process to complete these projects through project blueprints and video at

A bar for the deck. A deck bar is an easy weekend project to house your cooler and act as a serving station for weekend events. Start this project by laminating four 2-by-6s together to form the top.

Cut notches from four 4-by-4s to build the legs for the bar and add the adjoining pieces to build the outside of the frame. Then add your cooler and connect your top to the frame with a hinge for a finished look.

A bench for sitting or storage. A beautiful bench that’s perfect for sitting or storing comes together in three simple steps. Build the frame from notched pieces of Western Red Cedar, before filling the back with narrow strips of wood to form the back rest.

Finally, build the bench and attach it to the frame with a series of hinges, ensuring the door can be opened whenever a little storage space is needed.

A doggy décor crate. If you’re looking for a safe place for your pooches, one where they can rest on their beds without fear of being trampled, a décor crate delivers.

The design is available in three different sizes based on the size of your dog and project plans for smaller dogs even include stairs. You can find free, downloadable building plans for each at

Time to dine on your new table. Great memories are built around the dining room table, so when you want to spend more time outdoors, don’t be afraid to take the table with you.

Building a stylish cedar table is easier than you think, and the matching benches make for a cozy gathering spot perfect for a collection of family and friends. Follow the simple building plans (see; and remember, if you choose to finish your table, you should coat all six sides before installation.

Modern privacy right in your garden. Your garden is where you spend hours doing hard work, so why not make it a relaxing destination as well?

A garden privacy nook can turn your favorite destination into a peaceful oasis with just a few rim joists, carriage bolts and Western Red Cedar 2-by-4s. Download the plans at and find your oasis today.

Warmer weather is almost here, but the season only lasts so long, so make the most of it while you can. Bring any of these five projects into your backyard and your favorite warm weather hangout space will be a spot you can enjoy all season long.

]]> 0 Sun, 09 Apr 2017 11:32:21 +0000
Four upgrades to refresh your home for spring Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:00:48 +0000 With warm weather knocking at the door, it’s time to rejuvenate your spaces and rid the home of winter clutter.

While it may be the perfect time of year for a refresh, it can be challenging to find exciting new ways to decorate. With top design trends in mind, here are four simple solutions to spring into a new look this season.

Mixed materials.

To entertain the eye, coordinate mixed materials and beautiful textures in unexpected ways. From a warm Champagne Bronze finish juxtaposed against matte white tiles, to espresso-stained wood contrasted with clean marble, this trend is all about bringing the unexpected together to create a unified design aesthetic.

Quick refreshes to any room can include accessories such as modern paintings or wall planters and potted succulents. These quick additions serve as simple ways to complement what is already in the room, eliminating the need for a full redesign.

Global inspiration.

In an increasingly connected society, incorporating design inspiration from around the globe has become an ever-present trend that is sure to make an impact.

Influenced by the most cosmopolitan cities around the world, the Pivotal single handle bath faucet serves as a beautiful centerpiece for the vanity. With clean lines and contemporary form, this collection is perfectly suited for all generations and all style preferences – from millennial to baby boomer.

While simple in design, Pivotal makes a bold, modern statement with its sleek handles and angular spout. To further amplify the contemporary aesthetic, focus on simplicity by installing mirrored cabinets to store toiletries.

For a more traditional look, pair a stainless faucet finish with warm cabinetry such as toasted almond oak.

Wallpaper wonder.

For people who choose to rent instead of purchase, creating the warm, comfortable environment we all know and love can be a challenge. Removable wallpaper is a great way to implement a design refresh and make a temporary space feel like home.

The beauty lies within the name – it’s removable. Intricate designs and lively patterns are now easily accessible; perfect for an accent wall that needs a pop of color.

If you yearn for a new design, simply remove the existing paper and replace with a new pattern.

Bejeweled beauty.

This spring, channel your inner artist and incorporate a sense of vibrancy into living spaces. Jeweled tones are experiencing a resurgence this year, proving there is no better way to energize a space than with a brilliant emerald green or a lively turquoise accent.

If the idea of painting a room is too daunting, opt for smaller updates that bring a punch of color. Thrift stores are great places to find unique accessories or that perfect piece of furniture, such as an ottoman or tufted bench that can be re-covered with a rich magenta or sapphire blue fabric.

These easy art projects serve as a great afternoon project that can refresh a neutral space.

]]> 0 Tue, 04 Apr 2017 09:45:51 +0000
Five tips for recycling bathroom products Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:00:20 +0000 Most of us are used to recycling at home, but specifically in the bathroom? Not so much.

However, your bathroom is home to a number of recyclable products, from shampoo and mouthwash bottles to bandage and tissue boxes.

With families as busy as they are, it’s no wonder bathroom recycling is far from top of mind. A recent survey of mothers, done on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., found that 60 percent of moms wish they remembered to recycle more.

The more you know about what’s recyclable, the easier it is to incorporate it into your daily routine. So, this Earth Day (April 22) – and every day – care for the planet the way you care for your family by following these five simple and creative ways to recycle and reuse your empty bathroom products.

Get a bathroom recycling bin. Sixty percent of moms report they would be more likely to recycle bathroom products if they had a recycling bin in the room.

Starting April 9, head to to learn how to get a bathroom recycling bin with qualifying purchase from Care To Recycle, a program of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. that provides fun tips and tools to increase recycling of personal care products.

With a handy bin nearby, you’ll never have to think twice about recycling in the bathroom.

Make your own recycling bin. A majority of moms (75 percent) believe that showing their kids how to place recyclable products in the appropriate bin is a teachable moment – and there’s no reason why teachable moments can’t be décor-friendly!

There are plenty of quick and easy DIY hacks, from using a wicker basket to decorating a plain trash bin with wrapping paper that matches your taste.

Involve your kids. Seventy-four percent of moms agree that involving their kids in their to-do lists helps them get more done, and 61 percent would be more likely to recycle if their kids helped out.

You can start by creating a recycling chart that rewards kids with fun, earth-friendly prizes like camping or picnics when they remember to recycle in the bathroom.

Get crafty. For items that can’t be recycled, instead of tossing them, why not remake them into something special?

The Care To Recycle Pinterest page has fun and beautiful upcycling projects, like creating luminaries out of moisturizer jars, vases out of makeup remover bottles, and much more.

Create friendly reminders. Two out of three moms admit to taking on too much during the day, and 80 percent report that forgetting tasks is a normal part of being a busy parent.

Try leaving a framed note on your bathroom counter, or task your kids with creating a creative poem to help remind you (and your family and guests) to recycle every day.

By following these five simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to making bathroom recycling part of your family’s daily routine – and helping to raise the next generation of recyclers.

Whether it’s Earth Day or any day, programs like Care To Recycle can offer inspiration for fun, creative ways for the entire family to reuse or recycle your bathroom products. Visit for more ideas.

The survey, commissioned by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., was conducted online using the services of ORC International in winter 2016/2017 among a representative sample of American moms with children 17 and under.

]]> 0 Mon, 27 Mar 2017 13:43:49 +0000
Wood pallets being transformed into beautiful home decor Wed, 22 Mar 2017 08:00:42 +0000

The saying, “what’s old is new again” has been around for years, but most recently represents a popular trend in interior design – upcycling old items with a new purpose.

Everyone from high-end designers to DIYers is enjoying and incorporating this trend into everyday life. From five-star restaurants to suburban living rooms, people are seeking out weathered pieces of wood, discarded metal and unlikely antiques to create a unique, down to earth, and comfortable design aesthetic in their living spaces.

An unusual hero of this new design trend is the wooden pallet, which can easily be purchased at any hardware store. With some creativity and know-how, these inexpensive items can be re-purposed to create a personalized statement in your home that you’ll love.

Re-imagine your wall.

Today, walls are for paint and pictures, but even if you’ve fallen in love with a certain color for your living room, don’t you think your walls can have more personality?

They absolutely can, and one way people are adding new life to their walls is by paneling them with reclaimed wood. To achieve this look, purchase a number of pallets, cut them into various sizes and arrange them on your wall.

To enhance the natural beauty of the wood and to show off your own personal style, pick a few of your favorite stain colors and apply them to the wood.

If you are looking for bright and bold colors or subtle cottage inspired tones, check out Minwax® Water Based Wood Stains. For traditional, rich wood tones, try Minwax® Wood Finish™.

It’s a deep penetrating stain that offers an array of colors, so you can create a display of contrast and patterns on your walls that can be truly stunning. After staining your wood pallet, don’t forget to protect it with a clear protective finish.

Create a fun and functional piece.

If you’re always looking to free up cabinet or counter space, use a wooden pallet to create a rustic mug holder. For this project, all you need to do is add hooks to a few of the wood slats for the mugs to hang from.

Get creative with this pallet by painting a design or phrase such as “But First, Coffee” on the top wooden slat.

You can add some dimension to wood by staining it with Minwax® Wood Finishing Cloths™. These convenient one-step cloths are pre-moistened with stain and finish allowing for easy application and clean up. They’re available in five beautiful colors from Natural Oak to Dark Mahogany, allowing you to achieve that rustic feel.

Update your headboard.

If you are looking to give your bedroom a makeover, consider building a headboard for your bed out of pallet wood.

The idea here isn’t to make an even, straight-edged piece; rather it’s to embrace a more rustic style.

Start by gathering your wood pallets and applying Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner to prepare the bare wood surface for staining. It will help to prevent streaks and blotches by allowing for even stain absorption.

Once the wood has been prepared, apply your favorite stain color. With over 100 colors to choose from, you are sure to find a color that will showcase your personal style.

Using different lengths and widths, arrange the boards so they span the width of your bed. Attach a few long pieces across the back to serve as crossbeams that hold it together. The variation in sizes will create a jagged top and make a big statement.

These are just a few of the many possibilities you can create with pallet wood. From wall décor to nightstands and tables, all you need is some wooden pallets, stain, clear protective finish and a little creativity, and you’ll be able to integrate this design trend into your home.

]]> 0 Tue, 21 Mar 2017 10:10:06 +0000
Five shortcuts to make your home sparkle this spring Wed, 15 Mar 2017 08:00:55 +0000 We all know that one person who just adores cleaning. But for the rest of us, it’s a necessary evil that gets old very quickly.

Before you tackle that long list of spring cleaning tasks, try some of these cleaning hacks designed to make these chores faster and easier. When cleaning is fun and even effortless, you’ll feel more energized and gain the momentum you need to knock out your list of chores.

Afterward, your house will sparkle from top to bottom, which is its own reward.

• Find smarter tools. Throw out the messy bucket and mop and reach for a smarter floor solution that’s efficient and fun to use.

For example, the O-Cedar EasyWring Spin Mop & Bucket System has a built-in wringer that offers superior moisture control of the mop, which makes it safe and easy to use on all hard floor surfaces – even hardwood.

The hands-free wringer requires a simple press of the foot pedal to easily spin out the water and help finish the job with less mess and faster drying times.

• Try natural solutions. Why not experiment with everyday pantry items? These often cost less and are just as effective in their cleaning power.

A simple solution of warm water and vinegar removes built-up grime from your floors, while leaving a clean, rinse-free finish. Just add a half cup of distilled white vinegar to a gallon of warm water and start mopping.

If you dislike the smell of vinegar, add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil – the fresh scent will be like a small reward!

• Shortcut to shining windows. If you want streak-free mirrors and clean windows without the hassle, Cas Aarssen, author of “Real Life Organizing: Cleaning and Clutter-Free in 15 Minutes a Day” and the YouTube channel ClutterBug, has this expert tip:

Add a teaspoon of corn starch to your favorite glass cleaner, and shake until dissolved. Cornstarch improves the cleaning power of the solution and makes streaks a thing of the past, so you’ll get the job done more quickly.

• Use a cleaning method that also protects. Aarssen has an easy tip that will not only shine up your kitchen appliances, it will repel fingerprints and food splatters often left behind:

Just spritz on a little wood furniture polish and rub in with a soft cloth until the surface shines like new.

• Clean up top. Dust can collect on those high, hard-to-reach places, such as decorative molding and ceiling fans, making cleaning day more difficult. To clean your ceiling fan without showering dust bunnies everywhere, an old pillowcase is your best tool.

Spritz the inside of the pillowcase with a vinegar and water solution and slip it over the blades of the fan, pulling it back to trap the dust.

For those tough-to-reach moldings and corners, use a sturdy rubber band to wrap a microfiber cloth around the end a broom, and give those hard-to-reach areas a clean sweep.

]]> 0 Sun, 12 Mar 2017 13:51:36 +0000
Seven steps to secure your home while you’re on vacation Wed, 08 Mar 2017 09:00:36 +0000 Warmer temperatures, budding trees and blooming flowers are all lovely parts of spring, but what you really look forward to is vacation season. Before you pack, be sure to take care of the most important asset you’ll be leaving at home – your home itself.

“Before going away on vacation, homeowners do a lot of things to prepare for the security and safety of their home while away, including stopping the mail, powering down electronics and turning off water and gas,” said Emily Lewicki, brand manager with Coleman Heating and Air Conditioning.

“Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that a home’s temperature needs to be monitored, which can easily be done by using a programmable thermostat.”

Here are seven steps to prepare your home to remain secure while you’re away:

Stop the mail. Home safety experts agree: a stuffed mailbox is a sign of an empty home. The United States Postal Service allows you to request a vacation hold on your mail up to 30 days before your departure date.

Go to to see if this service is available in your area. You should also put newspaper and package delivery on hold, too, as uncollected newspapers or parcels in front of your house could also alert others that you’re not home.

Turn off water and gas. If a water or gas leak occurs while you’re not there to address it, the emergency could cause significant damage to your home. You can reduce risks by turning off water flow to appliances like the clothes washer.

To conserve energy and money, you can also turn off the gas flow to your water heater.

Adjust the thermostat. You don’t need to spend money to heat or cool your home to a comfortable level when you’re not there to enjoy it. Turn down the thermostat, but don’t turn your HVAC system completely off.

Extreme temperatures can harm your home and its contents. A programmable thermostat can take care of temperature adjustments for you while you’re away. If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, consider installing a model like Coleman’s Hx thermostat.

The touch-screen interface makes it easy to program the system, plus a free downloadable app allows you to control the thermostat from your smartphone, no matter where you travel. Just be sure to leave your Internet connection active at home so your thermostat can communicate with the app while you’re away.

Put lights on timers or sensors. A well-lit home looks lived in and is less appealing to burglars. Put outside lights on sensors so they’ll turn on when the sun goes down. Use timers to turn interior lights on and off at appropriate times.

Prep your kitchen. Go through the refrigerator and pantry and throw away any food that could go bad while you’re away. No one wants to come home to smelly, spoiled food.

Empty the trash, and arrange for a neighbor to put the trash at the curb on your scheduled pickup day. Unplug all small appliances, like the coffee maker, toaster ovens, food processors, etc.

Power down electronic devices. Items like computers, TVs and phone chargers all draw power while plugged in, even if they’re not switched on.

Turn off and unplug electronic devices to reduce power usage in the house and protect electronics from power surges while you’re away.

Secure the garage. This is especially important if your home has an attached garage with direct access into your home. Most garage doors have a simple bolt lock that can be engaged from inside to prevent the door from being raised.

Remember to also lock the door from the garage into your house.

To learn more about home heating and air-conditioning, visit or follow Twitter @ColemanHVAC.

]]> 0 Sun, 05 Mar 2017 10:14:59 +0000
Fun projects to make old stuff new this spring Wed, 01 Mar 2017 09:00:39 +0000 Spring isn’t just the season to clean out old junk from your home. It’s also the perfect time to tackle some DIY craft projects that repurpose household items and give them new life.

Repurposing, or “upcycling,” is one of the hottest trends in home decor and design for 2017, according to online DIY community Before you throw away an old book case, battered picture frame or wooden industrial spool, why not think of ways to upcycle those items instead?

Here are five projects the DIY experts at Arrow Fastener Company recommend to help you add a fresh look to your home while giving new life to old items:

Book page wreath. True book-lovers find it painful ever to throw away a book, but what can you do with a tome that’s become too worn to read any more?

Turn it into a decorative wreath that proclaims your love of the written word. You’ll need wood for a base, an old book and a craft glue gun.

Industrial wooden spool seat and bookshelf. You may have no idea where it came from or why it’s in your garage, but that industrial spool can become the perfect place to put up your feet and read a book.

A blog post on Pandora’s Craft Box shows you how to turn a wooden spool into a beautiful bookshelf/footstool combo.

You’ll need wood stain, pieces of wood to create internal shelving, upholstery materials like batting, foam and fabric, and an Arrow T50 Heavy Duty staple gun to affix the padding to the top of the spool.

Wine bottle rustic vase. Every now and then you have a bottle of wine that’s just so good, or the bottle itself is so pretty, you just don’t want to give it up.

Turning it into a rustic vase is a great way to preserve the memories associated with the bottle and create a beautiful decorative piece for your home.

You’ll need a glass wine bottle, 20-50 feet of sisal rope, scissors, a mini glue gun, glue sticks and optional decorative embellishments.

Feline playland. If you have a bored cat and an old book case, you have the makings of magic! The blog My Very Educated Mother offers directions on how to repurpose an old book case by using a staple gun to affix rugged carpet remnants to the interior, shelves and exterior of the case.

The shelves are a fun place for kitty to sit, and the carpet gives her somewhere appropriate to sharpen her claws. You can also store toys, treats and even a bed on the shelves.

Woodland picture frame. Do you have an old picture frame or a mirror that the glass has broken out of?

You can transform the most basic or worn frame into a piece of natural art by using a glue gun to attach sticks in varying shapes and sizes to the frame.

Use sticks from a craft store or from your own backyard to decorate the frame, giving it a rustic look that brings a bit of nature into your home.

For more DIY projects to help you repurpose old items into new home decor this spring, visit or Arrow’s Pinterest page.

]]> 0 Mon, 27 Feb 2017 12:51:02 +0000
The beauty of a spa bath begins with a focal point Sun, 26 Feb 2017 09:00:05 +0000 American homeowners’ desire for spa-like bathrooms shows no signs of waning, according to the latest Design Trends report by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).

From freestanding bath tubs and floating vanities to LED lighting and soothing color schemes, some of the most-requested bathroom renovations focus on creating the atmosphere of luxury and calm found in world-class spas.

With the average mid- to upscale bathroom remodeling costing in the range of $30,000, homeowners are also looking for the most cost-effective way to create that spa-like feeling. Many are opting to build their bathroom renovations around a focal point, such as a freestanding tub or luxury shower, and round out the effect with more modest accessories and fixtures.

Choosing a focal point

Homeowners are choosing to install freestanding soaking tubs in their master bathrooms, in particular, to create an exclusive sanctuary of relaxation. In fact, in 2016 half of NKBA members were asked to install freestanding tubs in bathroom remodels, and 60 percent expect to be doing more of them in 2017.

Traditionally styled freestanding tubs were often claw-footed fixtures that meshed well with conventional design themes, but struggled to fit into the sleek, contemporary lines associated with a spa-like setting. Strikingly modern freestanding tubs offer expanded design flexibility as a focal point in today’s spa-inspired bathroom settings.

Options like the American Standard Coastal-Serin Freestanding Tub in high-gloss cast acrylic enhance the deep soaking space of a luxurious tub with a clean, simple and modern profile that fits well in spa-like bathroom design.

Few bathroom fixtures speak of luxury as clearly and loudly as a showpiece bathtub. A deep, sumptuous freestanding tub not only provides a restful spot for a soothing soak after a long day, it also serves as a striking visual focal point for modern baths.

Considering fixture alternatives

Already have a standard alcove tub, but still want to create your spa at home? Try installing a deep soak tub drain, which has a unique overflow feature that allows 2-inch deeper water than a standard bathtub drain. This universal drain works in most standard bathtubs – and that could be yours.

Replacing a standard toilet seat with an upscale option like the DXV AT100 SpaLet Electronic Bidet Seat furthers the luxuriousness of the bathroom without the cost commitment and permanency of installing a full bidet.

Its heated seat, choice of water temperature and volume for the two cleansing wands, and the oh-so-decadent warm air dryer are the ultimate self-indulgence to bring the spa right into your home.

Wood vanities and storage cabinets for bath linens continue to be popular with today’s consumers. Floating vanities and open shelving, which are gaining in use with interior designers and homeowners alike, can further the effect of an upscale spa by creating a visually clean, uncluttered effect.

Rounding out the theme

Soft, pale greens and aquas have long been associated with spa-like design, but in 2017 bathroom color choices are trending toward grays, off whites, blues and violets, according to the Design Trends report.

Sedate and subtle are the hallmarks of spa color schemes, so when choosing yours keep in mind the calm effect you want to achieve. Also, remember your color scheme doesn’t have to be limited to the walls; consider incorporating your chosen colors into cabinetry, countertops and accessories.

Flexible lighting is also key for a spa-like bathroom. Remember to incorporate brighter lighting where you’ll need it most, such as around vanities, and add features like dimmers that will allow you to reduce the amount of light in the room when you want to create a relaxing atmosphere.

Finally, adding touches that appeal to all your senses, such as music, mood lighting and aromatherapy can elevate a bathroom to a spa-like environment.

Whether you opt for a full surround system in your bathroom or add waterproof blue tooth speakers in the shower, it’s easy to bring music into your spa bath. Scent adds yet another layer of luxury and is easy to achieve, whether you choose a simple arrangement of essential oils and diffuser reeds or an electronic diffuser that gently mists aroma into the room.

Homeowners can create a spa-like bathroom with features like this American Standard Coastal-Serin freestanding soaking tub, and other subtle touches like neutral colors, adjustable lighting and open shelving to accent the environment.

]]> 0 Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:22:34 +0000
Light solutions: What to do if your house feels like your cave Wed, 15 Feb 2017 09:00:25 +0000 A house with ample windows can win your heart with silent promises of sun-drenched rooms and warm breezes wafting through open windows. The truth, however, is that even a home with windows galore can have rooms that feel dark and cave like.

Some of the most-loved aspects of modern design – open, expansive floor plans, wood flooring in darker tones, walls of windows – may leave portions of a room dazzled with sun and other parts dim and poorly lit.

For example, a room with a wall full of picture windows will often lack windows on other walls. Near the windows, you’ll get plenty of sunlight and some glare, but the natural light might not make it to the far corners of the room, especially if it’s a large space like a great room.

What’s more, interior spaces like powder rooms, laundry rooms, mudrooms and closets often have no windows at all, making them feel small and dark. No one wants rooms that look like caves – not even if your house has an actual “man cave” or “woman cave” in it.

Fortunately, a few smart decorating tricks and some budget-friendly, high-impact enhancements can help brighten rooms and relieve that cavelike feeling.

Sunlight solutions

Of course, the sure-fire way to get more light into a room is to add more windows, but that’s not always a practical or cost-effective solution. Instead, look for alternative ways to bring more sunlight into a room.

Daylighting systems can bring sunlight from a rooftop down into a room, allowing natural light to illuminate dark spaces where light from windows can’t reach.

For example, the Solatube Daylighting System captures daylight with a rooftop dome. A highly reflective tube funnels light inside the home, where a decorative fixture on the ceiling spills the natural light into dim areas. The tube fits between rafters, so there’s no need to cut through critical structures, do frame work or make repairs to sheetrock.

An options light kit provides electric illumination on cloudy days or at night. The included integrated solar-powered nightlight provides gentle, low-level illumination at night, and qualifies the entire system, plus installation, for a 30 percent federal tax credit.

With the tax credit, Solatubes start at less than $500 installed, making them a cost-effective option for any room in the house, and especially in master baths, powder rooms, mudrooms, hallways and laundry rooms.

To learn more, visit

Another option is to amplify the sunlight coming into the room. Strategically positioning mirrors can help reflect natural light to dark corners. What’s more, a large mirror mimics the feeling of a window, making rooms feel bigger and brighter.

Window dressing

Maximizing the amount of light that comes in through the windows you do have is easy. Keep curtains light and airy, and use blinds or shades to control the amount of light coming from the window.

Install curtain rods two feet wider than windows so that when curtains or drapes are open, they don’t block any of the window or the light coming through it.

You can also “dress” walls to mimic the look of windows. For example, if you have a windowless powder room, adding a transom above the door can help the room feel bigger while borrowing light from adjacent rooms.

The tactic of borrowing light can also work if you’re able to put a pass through between a closed off room and an adjacent one that has windows.

Decorating tricks

Finally, don’t overlook the power of decor in making a room feel bright and welcoming. Light-hued walls of white, cream or pale yellow or blue not only make a room feel bigger, they also evoke the visual qualities of natural light.

Large windowless rooms, like a basement play room, can benefit from large framed art. Select scenes that mimic the view you might get from a picture window, such as a seascape, mountain scene or city skyline.

Filtered overhead light can also create the effect of a natural light source. For example, drape light-colored, opaque fabric above a bed, so that the cloth conceals the overhead light fixture.

As the artificial light shines through the fabric, it will imitate the diffused look of natural light.

]]> 0 Mon, 13 Feb 2017 15:23:15 +0000
Mixing, layering materials is the trend you need to know about Wed, 08 Feb 2017 09:00:27 +0000 With the new year underway, the housing world is buzzing about the next transformative trend in home design and remodeling.

This year, it seems certain the growing trend of mixing and layering materials, something many designers and architects noticed was growing in popularity over the past few years, will dominate the remodeling and design scene.

When it comes to mixing materials, there’s no rule book. All you should do is find a combination to match your personality. This might be one of the biggest reasons why people have taken to mixing materials, as it truly allows you to create a home that is uniquely yours.

Bold and innovative.

The most immediate effect of mixing materials is that it opens new possibilities and new ways of expression. An example of this can be likened to how hard stone surfaces in a room can be complemented by soft carpet and furniture, or how the highly textured wood on a ceiling can stand in stark contrast to polished stone.

Some of the hottest looks today, such as the blending of unfinished industrial materials with modern floors and cabinets, would have been considered outlandish only a few years ago. Mixing materials gives you greater freedom to create a space that represents your style.

Style on a budget.

Of all the rooms in a home, kitchens and bathrooms still get the most attention. Unfortunately, getting that dream kitchen or perfect bathroom isn’t always inexpensive.

For those who have uncompromising taste, but are on a budget, mixing materials is the ideal solution. For instance, say you had your heart set on a marble island and surrounding countertops, but just can’t afford marble.

Instead, you can choose from a variety of Wilsonart® Quartz for the island. Engineered to showcase the erratic veins and patterns prized in marble, quartz also has the advantage of being non-porous, so it won’t stain and requires virtually no maintenance.

A timeless look that continues to win the popularity contest are nature’s neutrals in white, grey and black, offering flexibility to play with bold or demure colorful accents.

You can complement the quartz island by mixing in an even more affordable material like Wilsonart® Laminate for the perimeter countertops and vertical applications such as backsplashes and walls.

With numerous styles to choose from, you’ll be able to create a stunning contrast and dimensionality that will make your room pop. With today’s innovation in laminate manufacturing and fabrication, adding affordable luxury to your kitchen or bath has never been easier.

Utility meets style.

Parents, in particular, face a constant dilemma: They want a home with rooms that can stand up to all the abuse toddlers and teenagers can throw at it, but still have it look good.

The answer lies in Wilsonart® Solid Surface. This material is tough, non-porous, seamless and repairable without sacrificing beauty. With a wide variety of styles replicating stone, you can easily mix it with other material looks to make an intriguing statement.

To explore hundreds of options, visit and start mixing materials to see what’s possible in your home.

]]> 0 Mon, 06 Feb 2017 13:59:54 +0000
Wood planks warm up ceilings and walls Wed, 01 Feb 2017 09:00:54 +0000 For centuries, hardwood planks have been the ultimate material for residential floors. Combining exceptional durability with unrivalled good looks, oak, walnut, cherry or other solid-wood floorboards add value and beauty to any home they grace.

But these days, handsome timber planking is not only found underfoot, but also on the ceilings and walls of many stylish houses, whether newly built or freshly renovated.

“Timber beams and wood paneling have always played important roles in historical and contemporary residential design, and continue to do so,” said Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center,

“But in addition to these classic applications, we’ve seen a strong trend toward the use of floorboard-style wood planks on ceilings and walls. Homeowners are finding it’s a great way to create interiors that are clean and modern yet still have a traditional warmth.”

New York-based interior designer Laura Bohn agreed. “I’ve installed wood-plank ceilings in many projects, both in the city and the country,” she said. “The ceiling is often a forgotten surface, but I like to think of it as the fifth wall in a room – a blank canvas that can enhance the architecture of a space.”

A case in point is a vacation home in Aspen, Colo., where Bohn used tongue-and-groove red oak planks on the floors and living-area ceilings.

“It’s a big, sprawling house,” Bohn said. “Using the same materials underfoot and overhead gave the spaces added unity.”

In some rooms, the wood ceilings extend past clerestory windows to create covered porches that link the interior of the house to the mountain landscape outside. More drama is provided by the natural light that streams through the clerestories and across the ceilings, changing the look of the red oak boards throughout the day.

Rebecca Ascher, principal at Ascher Davis Architects in New York and Newport, Rhode Island, pointed out that only large, high-ceiling rooms can accommodate such visually distinctive overhead treatment without being overwhelmed.

“This is especially true if you’re using strongly characterful hardwoods like walnut or hickory,” she said. “In smaller, lower spaces, a plank ceiling with too much personality can feel oppressive.

“In those situations, I would probably specify something simple like poplar beadboard finished with a light, natural stain. That would look crisp and airy, adding visual interest while remaining pleasingly low-key.”

Home renovators discovered that installing new wood floorboards overhead is not only a surefire way to refresh an interior – even change its character entirely– but also an effective method of covering old, damaged ceilings with relative ease.

“Tongue-and-groove can be installed directly over drywall, plaster, and other ceiling materials,” Ascher said. “Just make sure it is securely attached to the joists underneath.”

Similar decorative and architectural transformations can be achieved by covering existing walls with wood planking. A feature wall clad in honey-colored oak or some other distinctive hardwood can give a room focus, bringing a sense of organization and intention to what was previously an amorphous or confused space.

It can also add warmth, color and texture to sleek, modernist interiors that can sometimes feel chilly or austere.

That is what Texas-based Cornerstone Architects did in a contemporary Austin residence. The decorative temperature of the master bedroom – a coolly elegant arrangement of steel and glass, polished concrete and white plaster – was raised a degree or two by turning the entire wall behind the headboard into a magnificent expanse of burnished walnut boards.

Installing hardwood planking on existing walls has become even easier in recent years with the development of self-adhesive boards.

“All you need is a wall surface that has been primed or painted and is clean, dry, and relatively flat,” said Jack Shannon, III of Rustick Wood Co. in Tennessee, one of a growing number of manufacturers producing sustainably grown, stick-on hardwood boards.

The 5-inch wide planks come in lengths between 2 and 5 feet and can be applied in classic end-to-end horizontals and verticals, graphic herringbones, and chevrons.

Visit for more.

]]> 0 Mon, 30 Jan 2017 11:42:08 +0000
How to safeguard your home from ice dam formation Wed, 25 Jan 2017 09:00:10 +0000 Unpredictable winter weather can wreak havoc for millions of Americans across the country, leaving them cold and reaching to crank up the thermostat. Those living in areas where the temperatures can plummet to subzero, and snow and ice are a certainty – Maine, for example – are all too familiar with what the season brings.

Staying warm and comfortable throughout the colder months is a high priority, which usually means high heating bills, multiple layers of clothing and warming soups. However, what can often be overlooked is the home itself.

For instance, icicles forming on the eaves trough may be beautiful to look at, but can often be the result of a serious problem inside the home’s roof.

Icicles form as the result of a poorly insulated attic or roof. Warm air travels up through gaps in the ceiling into the attic or roof space. The warm air escapes through the roof to cause any snow that has accumulated, to melt.

As the melted snow runs off the roof, it begins to re-freeze as it nears the colder temperatures of the eaves. This creates an ice dam.

Ice dam formation can cause a range of problems, which if left unaddressed, can quickly become a very expensive problem to fix.

Ice dams can place a large amount of structural stress on your eaves trough. The excess weight can eventually drive the eaves trough to detach from the house.

Additionally, the continual build-up of ice can lift shingles, allowing melted snow to penetrate into the roof and leak into the home. The ingress of moisture alone can cause all sorts of potential problems, from unsightly water stains to damage to electrical work.

Furthermore, prolonged dampness in an area such as the attic can leave any existing insulation sodden as well as create an environment where mold and mildew can develop.

There are several ways to reduce the risk of ice dams forming while keeping your home comfortable and warm. Although it may be tempting to climb up onto the roof and chip away the icicles and ice with a shovel or ax, this can be dangerous and could further damage the shingles and eaves trough.

Moreover, it is only a temporary measure that doesn’t get to the core of the problem.

One of the most effective solutions to reduce the risk of ice dams forming is to properly insulate your attic with a high performance air barrier and insulation material.

Spray foam insulation, for example, creates an effective air barrier wherever it is applied. Spray foam insulation, like that available from Icynene, expands rapidly upon application to fill in every corner and crevice of the attic roof and works to limit the conditioned air that is inside your home from escaping.

Not only does spray foam limit warm air escaping from your home via the roof, it reduces the risk of ice dam formation, plus allows your HVAC unit to perform more optimally to keep you and your family comfortable and warm all winter long without the stress of ever-increasing heating bills.

Homeowners can download Icynene’s free and comprehensive Home Insulation mobile app to better understand where air leaks can occur in their home, as well as how spray foam insulation can help make a difference to their home.

More information about Icynene spray foam insulation can be found at

]]> 0 Mon, 23 Jan 2017 14:03:05 +0000
Hot bathroom design updates needn’t cost a bundle Wed, 18 Jan 2017 09:00:19 +0000 Coffee bars, televisions in mirrors, smart toilets and pet-friendly amenities – a growing number of homeowners are requesting such upscale features in their bathroom design, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).

Is it any wonder that association members report the average cost of remodeling a bath is between $10,000 and $30,000?

However, you don’t have to spend that much to update your bathroom stylishly and easily.

Here are four popular bathroom design preferences, plus tips to  achieve these looks cost-effectively in your home:

Transitional is trending.

A poll of remodeling professionals showed that the vast majority agreed that “transitional” was the most-requested style in bathroom settings.

Transitional design allows you to blend elements of both traditional and contemporary styles. The result is a comfortable blend of sophistication and simplicity that is easy to create with only a modest investment.

An example is the urban depiction of the Townsend widespread lavatory faucet from American Standard in dramatic legacy bronze, paired with a modern vessel sink in sleek white. The high-arc, deep bronze finished faucet harkens to a classic era of design.

The tapered faucet shape, reminiscent of classic bridge pediments, evokes an industrial feel of city living that fits well with a lavatory that showcases contemporary angular styling.

Neutrals have staying power.

Long favored for their ability to create an easy-to-customize color foundation, neutral hues remain in vogue in the bathroom. Whites and grays are the most popular color schemes, NKBA reports, although these colors aren’t confined to walls or floors.

White continues to be the most popular color choice for toilets, tubs and sinks. In bathrooms with these pristine-toned fixtures, you can cost-effectively play on the neutral trend by adding pale gray to the walls.

For a subtle effect that will also add height to the room, paint the ceiling a gray several shades lighter than the walls.

Superior showers.

The shower is becoming a highlight of the bathroom, with many renovators reporting that homeowners want customization such as lighting, built-in seating, benches and hand-showers installed.

Remodeling your shower can be as simple as replacing an old-style, static showerhead with an upgraded, more luxurious model. One option is the American Standard drenching 6-inch square showerhead, paired with the Times Square shower system that features an ultra-convenient hand shower.

A teak shower seat and recessed lighting above the shower are also cost-effective upgrades that can elevate your shower experience to be truly spa-like.

Aging-in-place amenities.

Home design experts have long predicted that as baby boomers grow older, demand will increase for home features that will allow seniors to stay in their houses throughout their golden years. NKBA members reported evidence of this trend, with more homeowners asking for aging-in-place upgrades such as grab bars, higher vanities and chair-height toilets.

Aging-in-place upgrades are among the most useful and cost-effective bathroom improvements. Following this pattern can be as simple as installing grab bars in showers and tubs, and next to toilets.

Replacing knob faucets with single-handle or lever-style faucets allows people with dexterity challenges to easily and safely function in the bathroom.

]]> 0 Wed, 18 Jan 2017 10:38:21 +0000
Five easy projects you can tackle this winter Wed, 11 Jan 2017 09:00:10 +0000 The winter months are the perfect time to dig in and tackle easy do-it-yourself projects for an updated home you’ll enjoy all year long. These five simple home improvement projects are incredibly easy, affordable and can be completed in three hours or less.

Marvelous mirrors.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, you’re looking a little shabby.

Mirrors are timeless decor options, but the frames can look dated over time. Breathe new life into an old mirror by painting the frame a rich, modern color that pops within the current color scheme.

Another idea is to clean the frame and adhere mosaic tiles along the edge for a crafty, custom look.

Handsome hardware.

Old hardware makes any room look like a relic of yesteryear. A complete replacement can be costly, so instead, opt to paint existing hardware.

Simply remove and clean to eliminate grime. Then use one of 11 colors of Krylon Premium Metallic, like Pewter Gray or White Copper, to create a lustrous, high-gloss metallic finish in just a few coats.

A tip for painting hardware is to use an old egg carton. Turn the egg carton upside down, secure the hardware to the egg cups and spray away.

Dazzling doors.

Dingy doors can get a stylish update with minimal effort when you add some interesting detailing to the panels.

Leftover wallpaper, for example, can be adhered to the panel sections for an eye-catching look.

Another fun option, especially for kids’ rooms, is to spray paint panels with chalkboard paint. Then kids can customize drawings and messages whenever they’d like with chalk markers.

Lovely lamps.

Those old lamps still have a lot of life left in them.  They just need a fresh color and finish.

Metallic colors are trending for 2017, so add a modern touch to treasured lamps with a fresh coat of spray paint. Use Krylon Shimmer Metallic for some extra shine and shimmer to transform an old lamp into a new statement piece.

Cheeky chairs.

Wood chairs are a household essential, but because they are used so frequently, they suffer a lot of wear and tear. There’s no need to replace when the finish is dull; just add some colorful pizzazz by painting with Krylon ColorMaster Paint + Primer spray paint.

No primer is needed; plus, it dries in 10 minutes or less so you save time. Vivid shades like Gloss Emerald Green and Satin Burgundy are guaranteed to pop. Follow the simple directions below to revamp your own wooden chairs:


• Krylon ColorMaster Paint +Primer

• Protective gloves and eye wear

• Drop cloth to protect work surface

• Sandpaper

• Tack cloth


Set up a spray area by covering work area with a drop cloth. Make sure it is in a well-ventilated area.

Read the spray paint can label for proper safety and application instructions.

Prep chair surface by lightly sanding. Then wipe down the surface with a tackcloth to remove dust and particles.

Apply even coats of ColorMaster Paint+Primer to the chair in a side-to-side motion. Slightly overlap each spray, working from the top down.

Recoat, per instructions, until the chair’s surface is completely covered.

Allow paint to dry completely.

]]> 0 Tue, 10 Jan 2017 08:29:10 +0000
Smart storage can squeeze extra space into your bathroom Wed, 04 Jan 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Shampoo bottles, makeup tools, lotions, linens and laundry … the bathroom is one of the most frequented rooms in the home, and clutter can collect quickly there.

Stop the chaos before it gets out of control by implementing some smart storage solutions. With these simple ideas, your bathroom will be the most functional and fashionable room in the house.

Streamline shower shelving.

It’s time to say goodbye to hanging racks from shower heads and precarious corner shelving. The new Store+ shower from Sterling has customizable storage accessories, minimizing clutter and ensuring everything you need is close at hand.

Sturdy shelves and accessories are easily snapped into any of eight pre-molded locations within the shower – no tools necessary.

A fully accessorized wall includes four rimmed shelf/soap dishes, two 4-inch deep storage bins, and soap dishes with towel bar and two shower hooks.

Plus, the back wall has molded foot ledges on either side, providing a safe, handy shaving ledge.

To clean up your shower clutter for good, visit

Dare to go vertical.

Expand the storage potential of a small bathroom by using vertical storage options. Floor space may be limited, but by installing shelving and other smart storage options on walls, you dramatically increase space for necessities.

For example, floating shelves are an elegant and space-saving option that are easy to install over the toilet or between a mirror and a pedestal sink.

That small space above the door? Perfect for a shelf to store mason jars full of supplies or those beautiful perfume bottles.

Need extra space to store linens and washcloths? Install stacked towel racks on the back of your door or hang baskets on the wall and then place folded linens inside for a tidy look that keeps fluffy towels within easy reach.

Vamp up the vanity.

From shaving and combing to primping and curling, the vanity is center stage for your daily routines. That means clutter can easily take over the countertops and drawers if you’re not careful.

A few thoughtful steps will help you organize and maximize your vanity space.

To start, dispose or donate of any products or tools you don’t use. Then purchase some drawer organizers or reuse small plastic containers to get items in order.

On the inside of doors, install small pieces of PVC pipe vertically to store hair tools and cords. You can also repurpose spice racks on doors to hold a slew of personal products.

For hair accessories or other small metal objects, a magnetic strip on the inside of a door or drawer is amazingly effective.

With these simple storage ideas, you’ll cut clutter, keep spaces clean and never trip over a random bottle or towel on the floor again.

]]> 0 Thu, 05 Jan 2017 08:54:50 +0000
Kitchen design evolution through the decades Wed, 28 Dec 2016 09:00:35 +0000 As a reflection of the ever-changing American lifestyle, kitchens have evolved over the past 100 years from a space that was once viewed as a utilitarian work-room in the back of the house, to become the centerpiece of the home.

While trends come and go, history has made its mark on kitchen design.

Transitional style kitchens are now the most popular, as evident in research such as the 2016 Design Trends Survey conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA).

Today’s designers and homeowners are incorporating elements of past, present and future to create designs that are timeless, yet personalized to their needs.

To create the timeless kitchen of your dreams, consider these staple design-elements from the most significant decades in kitchen evolution.

1920s and ’30s: In the early part of the 20th century, the luxury marble look began to emerge in the American kitchen, usually appearing in smaller spaces like the pantry.

With marble once again making a comeback in today’s designs, incorporating the look for a pantry or island will take any kitchen from drab to fab, without the investment of a full marble makeover.

To get the same look of marble in a non-porous product, look to engineered materials like the Neolith Classtone collection, which is as durable as it is low maintenance.

1950s: The decade was the start of a new era.  Kitchens were getting fancier, with homeowners focusing more on design, rather than simple functionality.

During this decade, everything from kitchen appliances to wallpaper was bursting with color.

Take a cue from the 1950s color trend by starting small. If you are not ready to commit to a bold new range or refrigerator, elevate your kitchen color with a toaster oven or hand mixer in a trendy hue like zesty yellow-green, inspired by Pantone’s 2017 color of the year, Greenery.

1960s: The 1960s forever changed the modern kitchen by introducing the kitchen triangle – a model used to determine efficient kitchen layout.

If you are in the process of renovating your kitchen, make sure to ask your designer about the kitchen triangle to best maximize the space.

1970s: Contrary to the bold colors of the previous decades, the 1970s welcomed muted earth tones to the kitchen, particularly browns and avocado greens, for a calm, grounding space.

Give a nod to the ’70s – without the bellbottoms – by updating countertops with Neolith’s Pulpis from the Classtone collection, a tobacco brown tone with white and golden veins etched throughout the slab.

You can even experiment with the look before renovating by checking out the visualizer tool on

1980s: Oak cabinets and polished brass were all the rage during the 1980s. Brass accents are making their way back into the heart of the home once again.

To get the look with a hint of retro ’80s glam, update worn nobs and faucets with understated brass.

1990s: Watch any home improvement show, and it is more than likely the prospective buyer will have a kitchen island on the “must-have” list.

We have the ’90s to thank for that, when kitchen islands grew in popularity, allowing the host to mingle with guests while preparing the meal.

When planning for a renovation, find space for an island or a peninsula for extra seating, storage space or to create a focal point.

2000s: The 21st century ushered in stainless steel appliances and granite countertops as the epitome of the modern kitchen.

While the look of stainless is not going away anytime soon, newer alternatives to granite countertops, like Neolith’s sintered compact surfacing, are gaining ground.

The goal for today’s kitchen is form and function, with sleek, orderly and multi-purpose living spaces. By borrowing select trends from previous decades that speak to your personality and needs, you can be rest assured you will have a timeless kitchen for years to come.

]]> 0 Tue, 27 Dec 2016 17:03:17 +0000
Statement pieces to elevate your bathroom to a work of art Wed, 21 Dec 2016 09:00:13 +0000 Investing in a bathroom upgrade is in the cards for nearly a quarter of homeowners planning to renovate within the next 12 months, according to a new survey by

Improving a bathroom is rewarding on multiple levels. If you’re selling, buyers love great bathrooms. If you’re staying, a luxurious bathroom can be a relaxing oasis where you’ll be happy to begin or end a busy day.

Your bathroom is also an expression of who you are, and it should reflect not only your needs but your unique artistic flair as well.

What could be more satisfying than making an artistic statement in one of the most-used rooms in your home?

If you’re planning a bathroom renovation, here are four ways to make a statement in the space – and elevate your bathroom to a work of art:

Choose a showpiece sink.

Few design elements afford such a perfect opportunity for utility and artistry to blend beautifully as does the bathroom sink. A striking statement vessel in patterned porcelain or smoky glass can be a focal point for your vanity while still providing ample space for essential functioning.

It’s not difficult to find statement-style sinks, but to truly elevate the basin to a form of art, look for options that evoke the look and feel of the era when luxury items were handcrafted by learned artisans.

Kohler, a trusted name in bathroom fixtures for more than 100 years, offers Kohler Artists Editions collections that turn everyday fixtures into striking statement pieces.

Whether you choose the subtle, carved texture and the complex color transitions of the Derring collection, the organic beauty of the Nature’s Chemistry glass lavatories or the old-world stylings of the Sartorial Line, each piece is a unique statement of your personal artistry.

Stun with a standout shower.

Most Americans spend six to 10 minutes or more in the shower each day, according to multiple surveys.

But a shower is so much more than just a place to get clean. A shower can soothe at the end of a trying day, or invigorate your senses in preparation for a busy day ahead.

Statement showers incorporate luxury features such as multiple shower heads, wall jets, hand showers, rainfall showerheads, seating, customized lighting and even sound and video.

While bigger may be better in a statement shower, it may not always be possible. Start with a glass enclosure that makes the shower feel open to the room.

If your space is small, choose lighter-colored tile. Bigger showers can withstand darker tile work.

Create luxury with countertops.

Options like granite, marble, concrete, limestone and other natural stones might be too costly for a kitchen, where you have a lot of counter space, but they’re a cost-effective way to make a statement in a bathroom where you have less square footage to cover.

These high-end materials pair perfectly with statement sinks to create a unique, one-of-a-kind look. Upgrade bathroom countertops to your dream material and then add luxury touches like a matching backsplash or under-counter LED lighting.

Transformations with tubs.

Tub options are virtually limitless these days, and you can find statement tubs in every size and style imaginable. The tub is often the essential element homeowners and designers first fall in love with, and the one that establishes the direction for their overall bathroom redesign.

Soaking tubs continue to be popular installations for bathroom renovations, according to the 2016 National Kitchen & Bath Association trend report.

Whether you choose a traditional claw-foot design that evokes a bygone era, a concrete tub that creates a more modern or industrial look, or a porcelain confection with sweeping, graceful lines, you can find a statement tub to match your personal sense of artistry.

Renovating a bathroom is an investment well worth the time, money and passion. And it’s an opportunity to put your artistic mark on one of the most important rooms in any home.

]]> 0 Wed, 21 Dec 2016 09:04:19 +0000
One-weekend projects to get your house holiday-ready Wed, 14 Dec 2016 09:00:51 +0000 When the holidays arrive, you can prepare a scrumptious feast, present ideal gifts that are perfectly wrapped and decorate the house like something off a magazine cover. But some guests may still focus on the stained upholstery in the family room, the tacky and dated wallpaper in the dining room, and the guest bedroom carpet that looks older than she is.

This year, you can spare yourself the shame with some budget-friendly do-it-yourself projects that will take just a weekend (or less) to achieve. Your home will be holiday-ready, and as a bonus, you’ll get to enjoy the improvements throughout the New Year.

Before you begin, remember: You can save time, money and storage space by renting the tools you need. To find a rental store near you, visit

Easy, high-impact projects.

First, focus your efforts on high-traffic rooms where guests will spend the most time. For example, tackle improvements in the kitchen, living room and guest bath, but skip projects in less trafficked areas like your master bedroom. Next, pick projects that are fast, easy and low cost, but will have high impact.

You’ve undoubtedly heard it before, but it’s worth saying again – paint, paint, paint. Repainting a room is one of the fastest, easiest and most cost-effective ways to make it look better.

Most rooms can easily be painted in a day or less, even if you’re going all-out and doing the ceiling and trim as well as the walls. Score bonus points by using a rented texture sprayer to add a unique, professional look to walls.

A fresh coat in an eye-catching color can make your front door look new and inviting. A polished entryway will make your holiday decorations look even better, and wow the guests before they even ring the doorbell.

In kitchens and bathrooms, replace dated or worn faucets. Install a new showerhead in the bathroom, and add a new shower curtain.

A new light fixture in the dining room can brighten the space and enhance the festive atmosphere. Rent a steam cleaner to freshen up tile floors, carpet and upholstery. Score bonus points by using a cleaning method that’s hypoallergenic and chemical-free.

A little more effort.

Some projects take a little more effort, but their payoff can be even higher. For example, remove that tired dining room wallpaper or 80’s-style wallpaper border in the powder room with a rented wallpaper steamer.

The steamer will make the job easy as possible and that extra investment of time will give you a fresh, blank slate for updating the room’s décor.

Adding molding to a dining room or family room creates an air of quiet elegance. Whether you opt to add crown molding at the ceiling or decorative molding and wainscoting on the walls, you can rent the measuring and cutting tools you’ll need to do the job well.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can get rid of that old grungy carpet. Whether you choose to refurbish the wood floor under the old carpet, or install new carpeting, you can rent the tools you need, such as a floor sander or carpet stretching tool.

During the holidays, you don’t have a lot of time or money for DIY projects. Fortunately, you can accomplish impressive results in a short time.

]]> 0 Mon, 12 Dec 2016 16:31:19 +0000