Turn Your Backyard Into a Safe Space For Healthy Play

(BPT) – As Americans across the country retreat to their homes to help slow the spread of COVID-19, many are rediscovering the value of their yards as places to take in fresh air, engage their children in outdoor games and enjoy physical activity in a safe environment.

3 tips for safe, healthy outdoor fun for the family

Kids who can no longer participate in organized sports activities or meet their friends at the park need creative ways to burn off energy at home. Unplugging and stepping outside can be good for the whole family’s physical and mental health. Consider these three tips as you explore ways to take advantage of the green space around your home.

Educate: The backyard offers a great setting to learn about plant biology and the creepy crawlers that call our lawns home. Take a magnifying glass to your lawn and explore the habitat nestled between the blades.

Exercise: Lace up your sneakers and take to the yard for a 30-minute workout or arrange an obstacle course on the lawn for the kids. Encourage children to compete for the fastest time or create a course of their own.

Rejuvenate: As the days get warmer, enjoy a little self-care by soaking in the sun on the lawn. Consider laying out a blanket and reading. Whether it becomes family story time or some quiet time to yourself, spend some time enjoying your own personal piece of the great outdoors.

Take this time to give your lawn some TLC

Now is a great time for some DIY spring maintenance to get your lawn ready for summer and the likely heavier-than-usual use it will see as you spend more time at home. To create a lush, healthy, low-maintenance lawn that is summer-ready, follow these spring lawn care tips from the experts at Grass Seed USA, a coalition of American grass seed farmers and turf specialists.

Interseed for a thicker lawn. Lawns that are sparse or have worn patches coming out of winter can be interseeded when the soil warms up in the spring. In addition to enhancing the overall appearance of the lawn, interseeding will help keep turf dense, which is a natural defense to keeping pesky weeds out.

Simply rake away lawn debris or accumulated thatch, broadcast seed widely or target bare spots on your lawn and irrigate regularly until the seed germinates. Be sure to use a high-quality seed that is a good match for your geographic region and your lawn’s soil type, sun exposure and irrigation patterns. Seed can be ordered online and shipped directly to your home from most home improvement retailers.

Water deeply and infrequently. Rather than irrigating lightly every day, begin to water more deeply, only once or twice a week, which will encourage strong root growth and make for a hardier lawn in the summer. Most turf grasses will stay vigorous if they receive about 1 inch of water per week, including rainfall (and drought-tolerant species such as tall fescue do well on even less).

Mow early and leave the grass taller. Start mowing your lawn before it gets too tall. Scalping an overgrown lawn will stress the plants and potentially cause problems all season long, so make sure you never cut off more than one-third of the grass blade height at a time. A good rule of thumb for most species is to mow when the grass reaches a height of about 3 inches. That means you can cut it to 2 inches – or you can even leave it a little taller to protect the growing point at the base of the blade and improve your lawn’s wear tolerance.

Feed your lawn. Grasscycling – leaving the clippings on the lawn after you mow and allowing them to decompose – can save you time and provide up to 25% of your lawn’s fertilizer needs. To meet the rest of your turf’s nutrient requirements, you’ll likely need to fertilize in the spring and fall. The spring application should be relatively light and should feature slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to avoid causing rapid but weak growth, which can make the lawn less durable.

If you’re among the many Americans seeking activities for energetic kids, suddenly finding time for long-delayed home improvement projects, or just needing a breath of fresh air, step out the backdoor and take advantage of your home’s lawn. By engaging in a few DIY spring lawn projects now, your lawn will be ready no matter what summer brings!

Tips To Protect From the Unexpected: Necessary Home Essentials

(BPT) – While spending more time at home, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to make sure your family is ready for the unexpected in the event a home fire or carbon monoxide (CO) leak occurs. You might be surprised to learn that CO poisoning is the number one cause of accidental poisoning in the United States each year and, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three out of five fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Make sure your family and home are prepared by following these tips and tools.

Every level, every bedroom.

Even if you have smoke and CO alarms in your home, you and your family may not be sufficiently protected if you don’t have enough devices throughout your entire home. To help ensure the highest level of protection, the NFPA recommends installing alarms on every level of the home, inside every bedroom and outside each sleeping area.

Test, maintain and replace.

Even though testing your alarms is as simple as pressing a button and waiting for the beep, a First Alert survey showed that more than 60% of consumers do not test their smoke and CO alarms monthly. Test alarms regularly, change the batteries every six months if battery-powered and be sure all alarms have a battery backup if hardwired, for protection during a power outage. To eliminate battery replacements for a decade, upgrade to 10-year sealed battery alarms to make battery replacements a thing of the past. Also, if you can’t remember the last time you installed an alarm, chances are, it’s time to replace it. Alarms are on duty 24/7 and need to be replaced at least every 10 years.

Double-up on safety.

While many homeowners know the importance of protecting their home from the threats of smoke and fire, studies show that fewer households are equipped with CO alarms. CO is responsible for an average of 450 deaths each year. CO is an invisible, odorless gas that is impossible to detect without an alarm. For ultimate home safety, install combination alarms for 2-in-1 protection, such as the First Alert Combination Smoke and CO Alarm with a 10-year sealed battery for long-lasting protection.

Be prepared to fight small flames.

According to the NFPA, the number one cause of home fires is unattended cooking. Cooking fires are expected to increase significantly with incremental cooking occurring at homes across the country right now, so it is important for you to stay alert and be watchful in the kitchen. Beyond alarms, having fire extinguishers – and knowing how to use them – is an integral part of a home safety plan. Place a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and keep it within reach so it is easily accessible in the event of a fire. First Alert manufactures a model, the First Alert Kitchen Fire Extinguisher, which is rated to fight flammable liquid and electrical fires and features a durable metal head.

Form an escape plan.

In the event that your family needs to evacuate your home, every second counts – and yet the NFPA reports that only 32% of American households have actually developed and practiced an emergency escape plan. Involve everyone in your household when developing an emergency escape plan. Identify two exits out of each room, including windows and doors, and set a dedicated meeting spot outside. Once outside, stay outside and call 911. Be sure to practice your escape plan with the entire family at least twice a year.

To learn more about how to keep your family and home safe, visit www.FirstAlert.com/BeReady.

Spring Into 2020 Design Trends

(BPT) – The year is already off to a stylish start, but there are plenty more trends that will be coming into focus in the coming months. Designers around the country are exploring a dynamic mix of patterns and unexpected colors, plus creative new approaches to flooring, accents and lighting.

Here are the go-to trends making a splash in design studios and homes this spring.

Florals are blossoming

Just in time for spring, floral designs are bringing walls and furnishings to life. Floral wallpaper is coming back in a big way, turning rooms into virtual gardens. But not to worry – the latest designs are not your grandmother’s wallpaper. Intriguing, modern and sophisticated floral designs in vibrant color choices are available to suit any taste.

Biophilic design

Another great trend for spring combines people’s passions for naturally occurring aesthetics and nature, often brought to life through indoor gardens, small trees or “living walls.” These design statements allow plants and other aspects of nature to become a visual focus in any home.

It is also inspired by natural materials like wood and stone, earth tones and natural colors, and organic shapes. These elements are showcased throughout the home, including in wooden architectural beams, stone-based accent pieces and naturally colored accent walls. Yesterday’s linear furniture designs are being replaced by softer, curvier shapes that mimic forms in nature.

Naturalistic flooring

Designers and homeowners alike are making a statement in flooring that combines intriguing design with a natural flair, such as geometrically patterned flooring created from naturally beautiful hardwood.

“Patterned flooring is beginning to dominate today’s interior designs,” says Katie Allen, design and trend director at Lumber Liquidators Flooring. “It can be used in a wide variety of spaces to add texture and character to any room.”

For example, it is easier than ever to create a warm, visually exciting look in almost any home with a chevron pattern using Bellawood Engineered Hardwood Flooring from Lumber Liquidators. Each patterned plank is arranged in a custom zigzag pattern, meaning homeowners won’t be wasting time installing individually angled boards.

The handcrafted distressing of the wood also reveals the natural grain and rich brown hues, appealing to homeowners wanting a natural look.

Color your world

Along with the emphasis on nature-based color palettes comes a shift away from the neutral tones that have become popular over the last couple of years. Jewel tones like deep blues, a variety of green hues and even subtle pinks are seeing a comeback for walls, rugs, cabinets and furnishings.

Designers are often choosing strongly contrasting colors to make visually bold statements, like pink against blue, rich blue against a lighter green or any color paired with black or white.

Mix and match

Unusual juxtapositions of color are being matched by contrasting textures and materials. Architects and designers are getting creative with the interplay of materials such as marbles against woods, plus geometric patterns created by tiles used for accent walls or as a backsplash.

Fiber art – like handcrafted rugs, throw pillows, blankets and wall hangings – is popular again, and will help make any room pop. Rattan and cane furniture also provide similar variety in terms of texture, color and pattern.

Brighten it up

Lighting is no longer just a way to illuminate your space, but a bold detail to add visual excitement to any room. Champagne gold lighting fixtures are one fun trend that really stands out, seen in every room from living and dining rooms to kitchens and baths.

Some of this spring’s overall trends can easily be brought to life through lighting choices, from wicker or caned pendant lamps to rounder, more organically shaped lighting fixtures.

Let your own personality and design sensibility shine through when decorating your living spaces, using these trends as inspiration.

Want to see more flooring options and ideas to help transform your home this spring? Visit LLFlooring.com to see the latest in flooring materials and designs.

Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal

(BPT) – Looks matter and first impressions count! So to pique the interest of potential buyers, refresh your home’s exterior and boost the curb appeal with new siding. In-the-know design pros are choosing cypress siding for the upgrade. It looks great and can last a lifetime, no matter what Mother Nature might have in store.

“Cypress siding offers the complete package,” says Zack Rickman of the Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association, www.CypressInfo.org. “It’s not only beautiful, it offers proven outdoor performance by naturally repelling insects – like termites and carpenter bees – and minimizing decay, chemical corrosion and other damaging elements.”

Be informed

Wood siding offers a timeless look that is often imitated, but never really duplicated. And while there are many siding products to choose from, homebuilder Stephen Ellis, MGB Fine Custom Homes of Sarasota, Florida, chooses cypress. And for good reasons!

“Often we clad our homes entirely in cypress,” he says. “It’s a material we enjoy working with because it’s dimensionally stable and holds up well in our humid, coastal environment. And it’s locally sourced, which is something homeowners are valuing now more than ever. Ultimately, the decision comes down to the architectural style of the home, maintenance and cost. I do my best to help homeowners make an informed decision based on their goals.”

When it comes to picking a siding style, cypress is available in all the popular patterns, like traditional bevel or modern shiplap. Yet in Ellis’ area, he’s seeing a different trend. “These days, we’re putting up a lot of board and batten,” he says. “It’s always been popular for farm houses, but it looks great on beach homes and complements the casual, relaxing vibe.”

Expert advice about finishing options

“If you’re drawn to cypress’ natural honey-like hues and want to enhance the natural richness of its color and grain pattern, focus on semi-transparent, oil-based stains,” Rickman advises. “These products provide superior protection because they penetrate the wood and allow it to breathe, whereas water-based stains sit on the surface and are prone to peeling and cracking.”

If a cleaner, solid color look is more your style, Rickman says 100 percent acrylic latex paint, with a compatible primer, is the way to go to ensure cypress’ best performance.

Architect John Harrison Jones, Memphis, Tennessee, says some of his clients prefer the weathered wood look. “It’s contextual to our region and environment,” he says. “And while cypress is naturally decay and water resistant, I still recommend applying a water-repellent sealer to provide added protection. Some products include an ultraviolet light inhibitor to block the sun’s rays and prevent premature graying. Nevertheless, cypress will weather to a light gray patina over time.

“If you want the weathered look now, consider applying a bleaching stain with a subtle gray tint. But, be careful not to apply too much because it can get too light. Test it out on a piece of scrap wood first.”

Whichever finish you choose, Rickman recommends always applying stain, primer or sealer to all sides and edges of the boards. “This will protect the wood from moisture and prevent problems down the road,” he says. “And perhaps most importantly, make sure to follow the finish manufacturer’s instructions.”

For more ways to boost your home’s curb appeal with cypress siding, visit the Southern Cypress website at www.CypressInfo.org.

4 Outdoor Cleaning Tips That Could Help You Save Thousands

(BPT) – The sounds of birds chirping, longer daylight hours, and budding trees and flowers are early signs that warmer weather and spring are on the way. That means more time outside to enjoy nature, but it’s also a sign it might be time for a little spring cleaning.

“Cold temperatures, snowfall and winter rains can have a big effect on houses and landscaping, so now’s the time to check for potential home repairs and maintenance,” said Christopher O’Rourke, Mercury Insurance vice president of property claims. “Spring cleaning isn’t just about getting rid of belongings you no longer want or need – it’s also a time to get your home in tip-top shape so you can enjoy it throughout the rest of the year.”

Here are four tips O’Rourke recommends to welcome the new season and save some money down the road.

Clean your gutters.

Gutters collect debris over time, especially when rain, snow and wind causes twigs, pine needles and leaves to settle on your roof and in your rain gutters. Accumulated debris can create blockages that direct water into the home or, in areas without much precipitation, can act as kindling in the event of a fire. Buildup also allows mildew and mold to develop, which can slowly decay a home’s exterior and roof.

“Preventable damage like mold or mildew that develops and rots a home’s exterior isn’t covered by homeowners insurance,” said O’Rourke. “It’s important to routinely clean out gutters – even if you have gutter guards installed, they don’t completely protect against debris building up eventually. An hour or two spent cleaning or checking your gutters is time well spent compared to the alternative.”

Trim branches and remove dangerous trees.

Thunderstorm frequency picks up in summer months, and high winds can occur year round, so it’s best to get a jump on tree maintenance in early spring. Regularly trimming tree branches reduces their chance of breaking during a storm, which could cause power outages or property damage.

“Properly trimmed branches present a lower risk of falling onto your home, power lines or possibly injuring someone on your property,” said O’Rourke. “Also, in areas that are prone to wildfires, trimmed trees create a buffer zone to help lower the chances of flames easily jumping onto your roof.”

Consider having the trees on your property inspected by an arborist to determine their health and have diseased trees removed before they topple over unexpectedly. Removal costs vary depending on height and difficulty, but range from $100 to around $1,800. These preventative costs are not covered by your homeowners policy, but can be a wise investment that saves you time, money and anxiety.

Watch out for service lines.

Homeowners who want to plant gardens, trees or install additional landscape features to enhance their outdoor living space should be aware of potential underground utility lines. Most service lines – a network of exterior, underground utility lines or pipes that supply a home with electricity, gas, water and sewer functions – are only buried a few inches beneath the ground. Accidentally hitting one when digging can result in loss of service, expensive repairs or a serious injury.

If a break to a service line happens on a homeowner’s property, special machinery may be needed to excavate pipes from beneath the ground, which may require digging under your home, garden or driveway. The homeowner is responsible for repair or replacement costs, and this damage can be inconvenient, expensive and isn’t covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.

“The average cost to repair a break to a service line is about $5,000 and most Americans wouldn’t welcome such a large surprise bill,” said O’Rourke. “Homeowners should definitely consider purchasing an endorsement to their insurance policy to protect against losses of this nature. Mercury offers this coverage as an addition to our home insurance policy and it costs as little as $8 a year, depending on the home’s age.”

To be safe, homeowners should call 811 before digging so the utility companies can send a locator to mark the approximate locations of underground service lines.

Service your air conditioning unit.

Regular maintenance of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems is essential to ensure the equipment is in proper working order, which can save money on energy bills, as well as protect against expensive repair and replacement costs.

“No one wants to unexpectedly find themselves living in a sauna during the dog days of summer, so the start of spring is a great time to have your air conditioner inspected,” said O’Rourke. “You should also change your air filter to make sure it’s operating at its highest efficiency, so when that heat wave hits you’ll be nice and cool inside your home.”

Have a professional inspect your HVAC unit to make sure its exterior condenser coil and compressor are clean and free from blockages – the average cost for an inspection is about $300.

Your home will bring you security and joy for many years to come. Taking the time to maintain it is well worth the investment.

Focus Your Bathroom Remodel With a Striking Visual Statement

(BPT) – There is nothing more inviting than a luxurious, well-appointed bathroom, but no matter how ambitious the remodel, there are unique challenges that come with every project. Whether updating the guest powder room or redesigning the master bathroom of your dreams, from plumbing and lighting to budget and space limitations, there is a lot to be considered. One way to approach a project is by defining the space through singular choices that will move an everyday interior into a space to remember: an extraordinary marble vanity, exquisite lighting fixture, classic vessel sink or deep soaking tub – pivotal pieces can set the stage upon which all else revolves.

How you choose that signature piece to take your room to the next level can be intimidating. Here are some approaches to help make your dream space a reality.

Make a statement

Once you’ve decided on that one stand-alone piece, it’s time to draw in all the secondary players to complete the interior and fit your particular style. What do you want to visually highlight or contrast to bring the design center stage? Is it a particular color or family of colors that are more welcoming than others? Are there certain textures that naturally appeal to you – smooth and polished, or organic and irregular to the touch? Do you prefer classic design elements or those with a modern edge?

Innovations in the bathroom have revolutionized what’s possible. Large bathrooms have the space to create inspired retreats, from scene-stealing freestanding bathtubs to spacious glass-enclosed, walk-in showers equipped with multiple showerheads and the very latest in technology.

Another stylish alternative is the vessel sink. Whether making a grand statement by pairing them or as a singular statement in a smaller space, a vessel sink is a beautiful addition to any bathroom. Most require the same standard footprint as a drop-in basin, and there are quite a selection of vessels to choose from, including designs handcrafted from glass, carved from stone or cast from bronze and other metals.

One of the latest designs is the KALLISTA Myam Decorative Vessel. Crafted from solid bronze, the Myam Vessel has an interior of satin bronze, polished bronze or white satin bronze, contrasted by a textured eggshell exterior of matte black or matte white. With its classic lines and rich finishes, the Myam is just one example of how a vessel sink can visually impact your interior in a significant way.

Color and texture

Neutrals remain a confident, versatile choice, allowing you to layer varying shades to create depth and weave in pops of color to add visual excitement. If you do select a vibrant color, highly veined marble or elaborate detailed flooring allow it to play a larger role within your interior design. Mix in metals or other neutrals to complement and support those key design elements.

Texture also adds character and personality to a room. Fixtures featuring hand-rubbed multi-layered finishes create warmth, highly-figured marble and stone add dimension and irregular patterning only nature can provide, while natural wood lends an organic component to the interior. Playing with textures and surface finishes has never been more interesting – and today’s choices are more varied than ever.

Know the limitations of the room

If you have a small room to work with, you do not want to overwhelm the eye with too many elements. Keep lines clean and simple, and let the one signature piece command without competition from other design elements.

If there’s limited natural lighting, consider adding mirrored effects to enhance the lighting within the room. Antiqued mirrored cabinet finishes and wall tiles such as recent innovative designs by Robern and ANN SACKS reflect light within the room, adding dimensional depth and glamorous sophistication.

For rooms with high ceilings, a chandelier can center and balance a room while adding dramatic flair. Choose a traditional or modern chandelier that suits your style. If ceilings are lower, decorative flushmount ceiling lights or wall-mounted sconces provide a beautiful addition to an otherwise unremarkable room. Switching out lightbulbs with vintage Edison-inspired bulbs can completely change the character of a light fixture, adding charm by giving the lighting design an acquired feel.

What’s Next In Outdoor Living? Top Trends for 2020

(BPT) – The appeal of all things al fresco has never been higher with homeowners across the country investing more time and money than ever before into their outdoor spaces. Based on insights from decking contractors, retailers and home design experts, industry leader Trex Company has compiled its annual outdoor living forecast, predicting the top design trends for 2020 and beyond.

“It’s always fascinating to compare the trends reported by our customers with those projected by the industry at large,” said Leslie Adkins, vice president of marketing for Trex. “This year, we also engaged celebrity designer Alison Victoria to take our forecast to a whole new level.”

According to the latest report, the following five top trends will influence outdoor living in the new decade:

Mixed materials

2020 is the year to mix it up. Add visual interest to an outdoor space by juxtaposing materials such as concrete and composite, wicker and aluminum, copper and stone. Integrate nature-inspired materials that maintain cohesion with the natural surroundings, and infuse color and pattern with pillows, cushions, furnishings and decorative accents.

Sizzling kitchens

As the foodie phenomenon continues to thrive, outdoor kitchens will continue to evolve. Picture fully appointed culinary centers complete with specialty appliances such as smokers, pizza ovens and integrated refrigerated storage – all housed in stylish all-weather cabinetry. Capturing this trend is the new Trex Outdoor Kitchens collection, featuring stainless steel cabinetry solutions in color and style options that allow homeowners to create functional spaces that rival interior spaces.

“A good kitchen is essential – whether indoors or out,” emphasized Victoria, host of HGTV’s “Windy City Rehab” and DIY’s “Kitchen Crashers.” “A well-designed and well-appointed kitchen becomes the heart of any space. It’s where people gather. It’s where memories are made. So, make it memorable!”

Industrial inspiration

There is a growing shift toward sleek, contemporary designs and materials for interior and exterior spaces as homeowners are increasingly finding inspiration in commercial settings like hotels and restaurants. Outdoors, this trend is manifesting in more industrial aluminum railing styles with sleek profiles and contemporary rod, mesh or glass inserts designed to optimize sightlines and deliver a modern flair.

Fire and water

“Fire and water are all the rage right now for outdoor spaces,” Victoria noted. “These elements not only take a space to the next level; they connect it to the natural surroundings. Even in an urban setting, these elements add a sense of tranquility that can make you feel like you’re a million miles away.”

Fire pots, such as those in the new Trex Outdoor Fire & Water collection, can be positioned almost anywhere to create a cozy gathering spot – or combined in a series to provide an ambient boundary for larger outdoor areas. For even greater visual impact, a fire table can serve as a focal point and elevate the luxury and comfort of an outdoor space. Likewise, the soothing sound of trickling water from integrated spillways, bowls or other features can instantly conjure calm and set a relaxed tone and atmosphere.

Bonus space

If you have a raised deck, there is undoubtedly some open space underneath. While, historically, this space has been used for storage, the design trend for 2020 is to turn it into bonus living space by installing a deck drainage system. Designed to divert water away from a deck, systems like RainEscape create a dry space that can be outfitted with everything from furniture and accessories to lighting fixtures, ceiling fans and entertainment components.

For more outdoor living ideas and inspiration, visit Trex.com.

Hottest Kitchen Trends From KBIS 2020

(BPT) – Today’s home chefs want – and expect – more from their kitchens than ever before. To optimize their culinary and entertaining skills, they seek exciting new ways to push the boundaries of what they can do at home. These forward-thinking cooks also aim to prepare meals efficiently, using the best high-tech advances available. In fact, a new study conducted by The Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence reveals that kitchen designers have seen increased demand for dual-fuel appliances in the past year and that convection and induction cooking are on the rise.

Kitchen innovations on display at North America’s premier kitchen design show, the 2020 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, offer a window on the latest technology to help home chefs achieve their culinary dreams.

As best-selling cookbook author, educator and host of the “True to Food” film series, Mark Bittman observes, “The more people cook, the more interested people become in their kitchens. When you’re interested in your kitchen, you’re exploring: What can make this easier? What can make this more fun? What can make me a better cook? Appliances are certainly a part of that.”

Top appliance makers are bringing elements of professional-quality kitchens into the home, with some now catering to a new generation of forward-thinking home chefs known as “Technicureans.”

Sous vide cooking

Once limited to professional chefs, sous-vide is a cooking technique that utilizes precise temperature control to deliver consistent, restaurant-quality results. Sous-vide has been the go-to method in some of the world’s best restaurants for years, and for good reason: it brings food to the precise temperature chefs look for and delivers perfect doneness, edge-to-edge, every time for a variety of foods like steak, chicken, fish and more.

Luxury kitchen appliance brands are bringing sous-vide to home chefs. For example, Signature Kitchen Suite offers the industry’s first pro-ranges with built-in sous-vide right on your cooktop – in addition to induction and gas – culinary game-changers for today’s foodies. With these 48- and 36-inch dual-fuel pro ranges and even new rangetops with built-in sous-vide, more individuals can bring restaurant-quality results to their home kitchens.

Cutting-edge food storage options

The best chefs start with the freshest ingredients. That’s where the importance of food storage comes in.

Don’t want cool air escaping while finding what you want in the fridge? With InstaView technology from LG, knock twice on the glass panel to see inside before opening.

You can also store frequently used items in an adjustable bin; the Door-in-Door design lets you keep cold air in while quickly selecting them.

Mixology mastered

Whether you love crafting cocktails or just want unique ice options, the InstaView Refrigerator with Craft Ice is the first to create automatically large, slow-melting spherical ice, without the hassle of molds. At two inches in diameter, Craft Ice enables you to keep your drink at the perfect temperature without watering it down. You can also choose cubed or crushed ice.

Its new water dispensers also accommodate just about any size glass or bottle. Use the Measured Fill feature to dispense exact amounts of filtered water (4, 8, 16 or 32 ounces).

Smart technology

A top trend seen in many KBIS 2020 kitchen appliances, including dishwashers, refrigerators and ovens, is more precision in terms of automation, plus connectivity to consumers.

Top appliances today use the latest technology to calculate the exact amounts needed for each task, whether that means specific detergent amounts, humidity or temperature controls.

Thanks to Wi-Fi connectivity, many manufacturers make it possible for you to control and monitor your smart appliances from anywhere, using your virtual assistant or phone.

Sink innovations

Kitchen designers also showcased innovations to help home cooks clean up and access water quickly and easily. The Best of KBIS 2020 includes everything from the latest in pull-out or pull-down faucets, faucets that respond to voice commands, advanced water filtration systems and sinks that double as work stations.

Outdoor cooking options

Another trend celebrated at KBIS 2020 is the elevation of the outdoor grill. Certainly not your father’s grill, the latest models for outdoor cooking are not only elegant and sturdy in construction, but also allow for cooking at different levels, with the ability to vary the distance between the food and the heat source.

To learn more about 2020 kitchen innovations, visit LG.com and SignatureKitchenSuite.com.

Tips To Stay Warm and Safe From Carbon Monoxide

(BPT) – As temperatures drop and we crank up the heat or turn to alternative power sources, the risk for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning significantly increases. Often dubbed “the silent killer,” CO is an invisible and odorless gas that is impossible to detect without a CO alarm.

Recent surveys revealed more than 40% of American homes do not have CO alarms, and nearly two-thirds of homes do not comply with established CO alarm recommendations. According to the National Fire Protection Association, CO alarms should be installed on each level of the home, including the basement, and near every sleeping area.

Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning, so it’s vital to be prepared and aware! As one of America’s favorite TV first responders, actor Taylor Kinney knows the importance of practicing and maintaining proper home safety precautions, which is why he is partnering with First Alert to share important messages about home safety.

“You never think your home will be the one to catch fire, but then it happened to me,” said Kinney. “It’s the same with carbon monoxide, which is why educating the public about CO is so important. The danger CO can cause in your own home is real, and the only way people can protect themselves is with an alarm.”

Here are tips on how to avoid this preventable risk:

Hidden threat

Carbon monoxide can be produced from any fuel-burning device, such as furnaces, boilers, stoves and even cars. It is important to have appliances inspected annually and never use a generator indoors or anywhere CO can collect. Also, be mindful of the garage. Never leave a car running in a garage, even if the door is open, as fumes can leak into the home.

Know the symptoms

CO poisoning is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Because you can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, you might not recognize the symptoms of CO poisoning, as they can be confused with those of the common cold or flu, such as nausea, headaches, dizziness and weakness.

Take action

Equipping your home with working CO alarms is the only way to detect this poisonous gas. For premium protection against both fire and CO, install combination alarms for 2-in-1 protection, such as the First Alert 10-Year Battery Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm, which eliminates battery replacements for a decade. Once installed, maintenance is key. Remember to test your alarms regularly and replace alarms at least every 10 years. If CO symptoms appear, or if an alarm sounds, move to fresh air immediately and then call 911.

Establish a family emergency plan

Knowing – and practicing – what to do in the event of an emergency is crucial. Develop a plan in case of a fire or CO incident. This includes designating an outside meeting place a safe distance from the home and, once safely outside, calling 911. If CO symptoms appear, or if an alarm sounds, get everyone outside to fresh air immediately. Once out, stay out until the home is cleared and safe to re-enter.

For more information, visit www.firstalert.com.

Bringing the Indoors Out: 2020 Outdoor Living Trends

(BPT) – 2020 outdoor living trends are all about enjoying your backyard alfresco – but with the comfort and ease you expect from your indoor spaces. Today’s outdoor spaces are transforming into an extension of the home. The current outdoor design also takes into account the look and feel of your entire home, including the interior and exterior, building materials and surroundings.

Connecting with nature: Biophilic design

Biophilic design is achieved when natural elements are incorporated into the space, helping people feel connected to the natural environment. It creates a calm, tranquil space and reduces stress. Biophilia makes sense for indoor urban environments needing to bring the outdoors in, but how does it work when you’re already outside?

Biophilic design for outdoor spaces means integrating natural elements with constructed elements to create a harmonious space. A plant wall or raised garden bed can integrate greenery and pops of color with the built elements of your outdoor space. It also means using natural materials, like wood and stone, to complement the surrounding environment.

Create greener, more sustainable spaces to celebrate the environment, which can help encourage pollinators, grow healthy food and forge a cohesive outdoor space. You can also use materials such as Belgard’s permeable pavers, which allow water to drain through the surface, replenishing the soil and aquifers beneath your path, walkway or driveway.

More than just a grill

Today’s homeowners want much more than a grill in the backyard. With aspirations to cook and entertain guests outdoors with everything the best outdoor kitchen can offer, the possibilities are endless – from grills to cooktops and ovens or even a wine cooler and an outdoor bar.

Homeowners also have many options when it comes to the design and price point of their outdoor kitchen. Some may lean toward a grill island, adding prep and storage space to their grilling station, while others might create a full-on outdoor kitchen with a grill, smoker, refrigerator, sink, seating area and more.

Either way, homeowners can get a feel for exactly what their space will look like before breaking ground through Belgard’s design resources. The Belgard Design Studio takes a simple sketch, some dimensions and a couple of photos and turns it, using design software, into 3D animations and virtual reality experiences to give homeowners a sense of the finished product in their backyard.

Sleek, modern design

While it may seem contrary to the more organic approach of biophilic design, the contemporary trend toward sleek, modular furniture can enhance your outdoor space.

Modular, sectional pieces with clean lines and streamlined design can be arranged and re-arranged to accommodate any natural elements you want to incorporate in your space, or to handle different numbers of guests when entertaining.

The minimalist approach to furnishings also allows the natural elements around you to take center stage.

Multifunctional spaces

Whether your home is in an urban area with limited green space, or you want to optimize your outdoor living, get creative:

  • Add vertical planters
  • Hang hammocks for lounging
  • Create built-in seating
  • Build raised garden beds

Here’s where some of that modular seating can come in handy, too. Some urban homes make good use of their front porches and yards, instead, which invites more neighborhood engagement and a feeling of community.

Entertaining both night and day

Regardless of the time of day – or year – you and your family can relax comfortably in your outdoor sanctuary, thanks to modern technology and the latest outdoor installations:

  • LED lighting is installed in a variety of ways. You can install strips of light and/or spotlights, even using multiple colors, to add flair at night.
  • In the harsh sunlight, large umbrellas and movable shade walls or screens can keep your space cool and more comfortable.
  • For cooler climates, an outdoor fireplace provides heat and light for cozy evenings in the yard.

Whether you have a straightforward vision for a patio or dream of elaborate outdoor living spaces, these ideas can help you create your oasis. For more information on how you can upgrade your outdoor space, visit Belgard.com.