2019 Outdoor Living and Design Trends For Every Homeowner

(BPT) – Outdoor living continues to grow in 2019 as homeowners dream of adding spaces that provide tranquility, connection and touches of nature. More than just a home enhancement, these spaces are meant to inspire people to set digital devices aside and find moments of calm while making memories with friends and family.

Now is the perfect time to plan updates to outdoor living areas so as the seasons turn, you’re ready to enjoy your outdoor space to the fullest. Joe Raboine, director of residential hardscapes at Belgard, offers his expert insight into top outdoor design trends of the year that you should consider for your home.

Blurring of indoor and outdoor areas

Beyond windows and patio doors, home designs are truly blending indoor and outdoor areas thanks to features like folding walls and collapsible screens. For example, imagine a family room that opens up completely to an outdoor patio for easy entertaining, made possible by retractable walls plus smart lighting and strategic heating and cooling sources for seasonal comfort. These types of integrated spaces make the backyard a one-of-a-kind extension of the home.

Clean lines and contemporary style

Modern lines are a top interior design trend and it is expanding into outdoor living spaces, offering a seamless visual transition. Contemporary style with clean lines, textures and shapes have taken over more traditional styles, particularly among younger homeowners. Modular, large-format pavers embrace this trend and are expected to continue to increase in popularity, with smoother textures gaining traction.

Monochromatic and “greige” tones

The contemporary trend also leans toward monochromatic color schemes. Gray continues to be popular, with the growing trend of “greige” – blends of gray and beige tones – poised to take off in 2019. These muted hues blend seamlessly with the landscape, plus they allow homeowners to use strategic pops of color with furniture and flowers to create customized spaces that reflect their personalities perfectly.

Outdoor kitchens and fire features

In an effort to make outdoor spaces an authentic extension of the home, livability is a priority. That means outdoor kitchens and fire features continue to be a top trend. Kitchen additions like pizza ovens are reflective of the foodie movement, while fire features using gas fuel rather than wood are reflective of the desire for convenience, plus they are a good fit for many municipal regulations.

Sustainability is king

As more homeowners are prioritizing green living, outdoor designs that become a part of the local ecosystem are in high demand. This could include planting to support pollinators and integrating edible landscape into the design. Water features are growing in popularity, used to add a tranquil element to outdoor spaces while masking unwanted sounds, such as traffic or other noise pollution.

Visualization of designs

Partnering with the right designer is key to achieving the outdoor space of your dreams. More homeowners are asking for 3D designs in order to properly conceptualize a space before it is brought to life through construction. Belgard Design Studio can take a simple sketch with dimensions and a few photos and turn it into a 3D rendering or virtual reality experience so homeowners can see the true potential of their outdoor space.

Small footprint designs

Outdoor living isn’t just for homeowners with large properties. Houses with small footprints are adding impressive outdoor spaces in surprising places. This could be maximizing alleyway access, adding a courtyard to a small backyard, or shifting the focus by utilizing the front yard to create a patio and fireplace area. If you long for an outdoor living space, don’t let space constraints limit your dreams.

These 2019 outdoor living trends, in effect, will prove to create a year full of innovative outdoor projects that fit the needs of every homeowner.

Connectivity Is King This Home-Buying Season

(BPT) – The spring home-buying season is just around the corner and that means people are busy making improvements to get their homes ready to sell. These days, home upgrades are increasingly focused on one key feature: connectivity. In 2019, buyers want smart homes they can easily control from anywhere. From smart HVAC and sprinkler systems to connected garage door openers, it’s all about creating convenience and comfort.

Security gets connected

Security systems are nothing new, but the technology used to arm those systems is changing rapidly. More and more home security companies now offer fully connected systems that allow users to protect and monitor their homes from any smart device. Whether it’s a live video feed, the ability to lock and unlock doors remotely or just checking that all sensors are working properly, integrated security systems offer peace of mind. Having the infrastructure in place can be a selling point for buyers who want to make sure their new home is as safe as possible, given they’ll only have to set up the monitoring subscription upon move-in.

Updated garages add value

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value survey, a garage door replacement is the number one home improvement project in terms of return on investment. But these days, more homeowners are taking it a step further and installing new technology to make the garage more user friendly. For example, the SilentMax Connect garage door opener from The Genie Company comes with Aladdin Connect technology built-in to improve convenience and functionality. Not only is the opener super quiet – ideal for attached garages – but the connectivity features allow you to check whether your garage door is open or closed, grant individual access with virtual keys, instantly know when someone is operating your garage door (authorized or not), and provide a log of when each opener was used – all from your phone or smart device. Thanks to this technology, you can open the garage door remotely for delivery people, a housekeeper or for your child coming home from school. Considering your garage is one of the most accessed points in your home, this functionality is a great security feature and proves that garages offer more than just storage space. With the right connectivity tools and features, they can provide convenience that will be attractive to future owners.

Save energy, increase comfort

As home improvement trends go, increased connectivity is rivaled only by the desire for more energy-efficient homes. Smart thermostats accomplish both these aims and can increase the value of your home in the process. Smart thermostats let you easily control the temperature in your home from any connected device. You can set a daily schedule for your heater, adjust the temperature in individual rooms or let the system program itself based on your usage history. For energy-conscious buyers, this kind of technology provides a way of living that’s as aspirational as it is attainable.

Lighting the way

Smart lighting has turned from a novelty to a practical tool as products have gotten more advanced. Programmable lighting allows you to schedule when your lights will come on, turn on and off lights remotely or change the lighting to improve aesthetics. With a smart lighting system, you’ll never have to get out of bed to turn the lights off downstairs, and you can always come home to a fully lit house, boosting your sense of security. With these kinds of applications, your home’s lighting can go from a ‘given’ to a must-have, attracting buyers like a moth to a flame.

New, smart products are hitting the market every day. For homeowners savvy enough to incorporate this new technology into their homes, they’ll not only be more connected, but they’ll likely see more offers rolling in when it comes time to sell.

5 Ways To Create an Inviting Room Using Tile

(BPT) – Today’s tile trends extend so far beyond their traditional use as a staple of bathroom design that you may not recognize them. While once the most attractive and innovative tiles had to be imported, contemporary handcrafted tile and stone products for home design are now being made right here in the United States.

Homeowners and interior designers alike are always seeking distinctive visual touches to make each home special. Here are five ways tile design can enhance a room.

Elevate small spaces. Use tiles interchangeably to create a unique design. The Ann Sacks Radius Collection by designer Barbara Barry has five distinct modular designs that can be used independently, or combined to create patterns to delight the eye. Creative use of a variety of tile shapes like these can easily elevate small spaces such as baseboards, fireplace surrounds or backsplash areas in a kitchen.

Make a color statement. Whether you choose a single color or mix colors to create a pattern, the choices can overwhelm. “I enjoy the soft juxtaposition of watery blue tones, soft green tones and the neutral colors of gravel,” explained Barry. While Barry is known for her love of soft colors, you may choose colors that best complement elements already in the room. If you’re not working with a designer, consider traditional complementary color pairs when making decor choices, such as red-green, blue-orange or yellow-purple.

Create a calm mood. The latest trends in interior design reflect the desire for homes to be sanctuaries. Inspired by the clean lines, appropriate scale and exacting proportion prevalent in Midcentury Modern architectural design, Barry describes her collection as “soft modern, defined by a curved edge for a sensual feel.” Barry adds, “In this busy world, I want to come home to calm rooms and quiet spaces.” Choosing colors, lines, shapes and scale with simplicity in mind can help contribute to a feeling of calm.

Personalize your space. Find what appeals to you, and work with a designer or manufacturer who can meet your requests. In her collection, Barry provides tools for consumers or designers to customize patterns. Designed to spark the imagination, five distinct patterns in varying scales punctuate interiors with personality. Smaller manufacturers can personalize your project with their flexibility, customizing color choices and resurrecting a retired pattern or color, or even by recreating tiles present in a home refurbishing or renovating project. Make your space your own.

Create visual interest. Choose different textures through materials like wood, glass or tile to break up an otherwise ordinary surface in a room. Radius is available in all Made by Ann Sacks matte and gloss colorways, which can be installed as a singular color statement or mixed to evoke a unique, personalized design, whether to create a captivating statement-making wall or to cover an entire floor. The choice of tile adds a textural element to a room that can’t be duplicated by any other material.

Ann Sacks fell in love with tile while on a family vacation to Mexico when she was 13, and later used that passion to create a business inspired by those Mexican tiles. She hired gifted artisans to grow her business into a true American success story. Ann Sacks, founded in 1981 in Portland, Oregon, draws talented craftspeople to create inspiring designs in tile, stone, plumbing, lighting and accessories. These creations are traditional in terms of craft, but aligned with contemporary design trends. Today, the company includes the work of 15 designers.

Whether you choose to use tile in a more traditional way in your bath or kitchen, or to elevate another space inside a home with a more innovative style, use a customized design and select colors to create a unique environment anyone would want to call home.

Building a New Home? Protect Yourself Against Today’s Faster, Scarier Fires

(BPT) – If your new home is among the one million or so being built in the U.S. this year, congratulations! You’ll have the chance to customize it to your dream home preferences.

One feature that should be at the top of your priority list is the best possible fire protection for yourself and your loved ones: home fire sprinklers. While choosing household systems may not be as fun as picking paint colors and carpeting, it’s even more important. And asking for fire sprinklers could literally save your life.

That’s because home fires today are hotter and faster than fires of the past. Homes with unprotected lightweight building material and flooring burn faster, failing quicker (often collapsing in a fire). Common synthetic furnishings and belongings burn hot and fast and produce toxic smoke. Larger, more open layouts enable faster flashover. That means they can become deadly to people and pets in as little as two minutes.

The tragic facts are that seven people die in U.S. home fires each day, while another 12,300 are injured. The residents aren’t the only ones in harm’s way; firefighters are constantly in danger of injury or death. Studies show they’re being diagnosed with cancer as a result of their occupation.

Home fire sprinklers are dependable. They not only save lives; they protect property and possessions (reducing fire damage by as much as 81 percent). Most insurers offer sprinkler discounts that lower your homeowners’ premiums.

“New homeowners have a great opportunity to ensure their houses are optimized for fire protection,” notes Lorraine Carli, HFSC president and vice president of outreach and advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association. “Start with working smoke alarms on every level, and prepare and practice a home escape plan. Create a complete system of fire safety by asking for home fire sprinklers.

Here are the basics:

* Your sprinklers will be customized for your home, ensuring proper protection for your unique layout. Usually the sprinklers are connected to the household water main. In areas where there is not a city water supply or well water, a tank and pump are typically used for water supply. Piping is hidden behind the walls and ceilings.

* There are several kinds of sprinklers made just for homes. Some can be hidden behind round plates. Some sprinkler companies offer custom painted sprinklers to match your décor.

* Each sprinkler is individually activated by heat, so the entire system does not activate. Each sprinkler has a temperature-sensitive glass bulb. If a fire starts, the high heat from it breaks the glass, allowing the water to flow onto the fire. That controls or even puts out the fire, allowing you and your family to escape.

* You need not worry about your sprinklers being set off by smoke alarms operating, burnt toast or cigarette smoke. They’re designed to operate from the high heat of a fire, usually between 135-165 F.

Your family’s fire safety is in your hands! Ask your builder for home fire sprinklers. The best time to install fire sprinklers is when the home is being built, while walls and ceilings are open and accessible.

Learn the facts about home fire sprinklers from the nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, a non-commercial educational organization that offers free information and resources. Follow HFSC on Facebook and Twitter.

Mortgage Insurance: Added Cost To Homebuying Or Smart Way To Get In?

(BPT) – The homebuying process is exciting, but can also seem fraught with added costs, like a home inspection, title insurance and closing costs. And if you can’t afford a full 20 percent down payment on a conventional home loan, then you will most likely pay for private mortgage insurance (MI). Some people consider private MI yet another added cost, but it helps creditworthy middle-income homebuyers qualify for home financing sooner with a low down payment. Is it really an added cost if it saves time and money in the long run?

For most people, low down payment home loan options include conventional loans with private MI and government-backed loans like those offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). While comparable, each of these options has important differences. For example, the minimum down payment for an FHA mortgage is 3.5 percent while it’s only 3 percent on a conventional, privately insured mortgage.

Another key feature of private MI is that it can be canceled when a borrower reaches 20 percent equity in his or her home. Borrowers who purchase a home with private MI can typically cancel it within 5 to 7 years, resulting in their monthly bill going down. Private MI’s cancelability makes it a more affordable option over FHA-backed mortgages, which typically require mortgage insurance premiums for the entirety of the loan term. Both are offered by most mortgage lenders, so it’s smart to ask a loan officer for both options so you can compare and do the math.

The myth that a homebuyer needs 20 percent down to obtain a mortgage is simply not true. Low down payment mortgages are widely available and used every day across the country. In 2018, the National Association of Realtors found that first-time homebuyers typically put down 7 percent, while repeat buyers put down an average of 16 percent. Many homebuyers choose a lower down payment option to preserve some savings for home improvements or save for other goals. The time it could take to save up a 20 percent down payment is significant. On average, it could take up to 20 years to save a full 20 percent, plus closing costs, for a $257,700 house – the national median sales price. With home prices on the rise, the amount of time it takes to save up could only increase. Private MI can mean the difference between getting into the home of your dreams sooner or waiting for years.

For over 60 years, more than 30 million homeowners of all backgrounds have used private MI to successfully buy their homes. In the past year alone, private MI helped more than one million borrowers nationwide purchase or refinance a mortgage. According to a study by U.S. Mortgage Insurers, 56 percent of purchase borrowers were first-time homebuyers and more than 40 percent had incomes below $75,000.

For decades, millions of homeowners and prospective homebuyers have relied on private MI to help them affordably and responsibly purchase their homes – in turn helping them build personal wealth. Today’s historically low mortgage interest rates are a good reason to buy a home now. It is estimated that in 2019, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will be around 5 percent. Borrowers should take advantage of these historically low mortgage interest rates because experts forecast that primary mortgage rates are on the rise.

Getting a mortgage with private MI and keeping more of your hard-earned money in the bank can be a very smart way to invest in your future. Check out lowdownpaymentfacts.org to learn more.

How To Add a Bathroom In an ‘Impossible’ Space

Add a bathroom to an ‘impossible’ space to catch home buyers’ attention

(BPT) – When it comes to real estate, you’ve probably heard kitchens and bathrooms typically sell houses. While you may not have enough money for a kitchen remodel, adding a bathroom can be a more affordable way to enhance your property and catch buyers’ attention.

By adding another bathroom to your home, you immediately increase your chances of the property getting noticed. Technology makes it simple for buyers to search properties of interest by their designated criteria. One of those is “minimum number of bathrooms.” By adding to that amount in your listing, you’ll be getting in front of that many more potential buyers.

Adding bathrooms to difficult spaces

Bathrooms increase a home’s value and add to its functionality – both elements that buyers desire. Homeowners can begin to research opportunities to add bathrooms to their properties presale. This often means enhancing basements, garage slabs and other spaces that can be more difficult for contractors to add plumbing systems with conventional in-floor drainage.

If you have a space that would be ideal for a bathroom but appears to be impossible due to the need to break through concrete or other types of flooring, there’s another solution to consider: above-floor, macerating plumbing systems. Developed a half century ago in Europe, these systems are still relatively unknown in the United States; however, they offer a vast opportunity for homeowners.

Macerating systems from makers like Saniflo reduce waste and paper from the toilet and send it under high pressure through piping directly into the septic or sewer system. No waste is stored, and the systems are low-cost compared to traditional plumbing. Systems are discreet, quiet and open the possibilities of affordable additions in less time. Learn more at Saniflo.com.

If you want to add a bathroom to prepare your home for resale, don’t be limited by the seemingly impossible. Here are five “impossible” home improvement scenarios where above-floor plumbing may be the solution:

Main floor on-slab construction

Owners of slab-built homes may hesitate to cut into the concrete foundation in order to accommodate conventional plumbing. No matter how careful a contractor is when cutting into concrete, a variety of problems can arise – from unexpected obstructions to poor-fitting patches and even stress cracks. Above-floor plumbing systems eliminate the need to cut into the slab, so integrity isn’t compromised.

Basements

If your home is built with a basement, bathroom additions can be problematic due to concrete and existing plumbing limitations. Above-floor, macerating plumbing is a smart solution for fast, cost-effective bathroom additions in lower-level rooms. Now you can highlight the comfortable living space and make it feel like a true entertainment center or like home to prospective buyers.

Historic homes

Opening walls or floors to accommodate piping may jeopardize important historic elements, such as original wood flooring or plaster walls. Systems like Saniflo’s macerating toilet and plumbing technology eliminate the need to cut through a floor to install new drainage, while minimizing the impact on walls as well. The system also fits easily into small areas like a closet or the dead space behind a stairway, meaning homeowners don’t have to compromise the flow of their historic homes to add a bathroom.

Raised homes

Bayou and beach towns often boast charming raised homes. Adding a bathroom to the lowest floor of a raised home can be problematic; conventional plumbing pipes may detract from the aesthetic value of the space beneath the home, which is often used for car ports, porches and decks. Above-floor plumbing eliminates the need for unsightly pipes, so you can make a great first impression to potential buyers.

Warehouse rehabs

In cities across the country, warehouses have found new life as condos and apartments. The problem is heavy brick construction can make adding traditional plumbing difficult. Above-floor plumbing eliminates the need to cut into or remove bricks, and allows renovators to install attractive, cozy bathrooms in smaller spaces. Imagine how upgrading a one-bath condo to a property with two bathrooms will enhance resale.

If you’re preparing your home for the current real estate market, you want it to stand out. An extra bathroom can help you do that and attract high bids from buyers. Thanks to above-floor macerating plumbing systems, the possibilities are endless.

5 Simple Ways To Bring More Color To Your Home

(BPT) – When you look at your home’s interiors, do you find yourself craving a refresh? If so, there’s no better time than the New Year to update your home with thoughtful design touches that embrace the power of color.

Color is a key component of interior design and a useful tool for updating any space. What’s more, colors can convey many emotions – from calm to energetic – helping you create rooms that are perfectly reflective of your personal tastes.

Even though the possibilities are endless, color can be intimidating. While you may like the use of color when you see it online, in magazines or other people’s homes, the uncertainty about how to incorporate it into your own home may hold you back. Fortunately, a few simple expert tips and tricks will have you using color like a pro in no time.

Lifestyle expert and EasyCare Paint Brand Ambassador Camille Styles knows the power of color in transforming spaces from bland to beautiful. She uses color throughout her home to create rooms that are stylish and unique and you too can transform your favorite spaces by using her top tips to bring color into your home:

Paint an Accent Wall:

An accent wall commands attention and creates depth in the space, becoming the focal point of the room. The color you choose can be any hue that’s different from the other walls in the room. Whether it’s slightly different or drastically different is up to you.

“I’m really into EasyCare Paint’s French Coast color,” says Styles. “Its strong blue hue makes a bold statement without being too harsh or overpowering.”

Add a Rug:

Transform a room in an instant with a vibrant rug. It will add the perfect touch of color and can even be changed out seasonally to bring new hues into the space. A rug with a bright color or pattern can help create the illusion of more space so don’t be afraid to use one in a smaller room to open it up and make it more inviting.

Start Small:

Many people are timid about color, so you can start small and incorporate a new, bold tone with items like a coffee table accessory or oversized pillows. You may find that your choice quickly becomes a favorite piece in your home, plus you’ll gain the confidence to add more color to other rooms, too.

Introduce Textures:

Bringing in different colors and textures, such as a plush throw blanket or a woven basket, takes your space up a notch and adds another visual layer. Since these aren’t permanent fixtures in the room, they offer an easy way to play around with colors to see what works best in the space.

Embrace the Unexpected:

Bring in a bold pop of color by doing something unexpected, like painting the trim instead of the wall.

“Black can take a room up a notch with its rich tone. “EasyCare Paint’s Crow color will really wow your guests whenever you entertain,” says Styles.

Whether you’re looking to do a quick update or a complete interior design overhaul, color makes a room more dynamic and energized. From simple décor pieces to bolder accent walls, bringing color into your home is a great way to refresh in the New Year.

For more color inspiration, visit www.truevaluepaint.com.

Simple Bathroom Installations With Big Impact For 2019

(BPT) – Craving a more beautiful bathroom? Resolve to make this the year that you finally create the bathroom of your dreams.

Fortunately, you don’t need a major remodel. Consider these ideas for simple changes with big impact. With a little planning and effort, you’ll add to your home’s value and functionality, while getting the “Pinterest-worthy” bathroom you know will make you smile every day.

Project 1: Fresh, eco-friendly style

Transitional style is today’s most popular bathroom style, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, and with good reason: almost limitless design potential.

The American Standard Town Square S bathroom collection, inspired by classic American architecture, makes it easy to create a ‘put-together’ look in bathrooms of all sizes, with a full suite of fixtures and faucets that are easy to install for a stunning refresh.

Performing beautifully, you would never guess just how much water the Town Square WaterSense-certified faucets save: almost half the water of regular faucets!

There is nothing better than a beautiful new bathroom that is as easy on the eyes as it is on our water resources (not to mention the little extra cash you get to keep in your wallet when a lower water bill arrives!).

Project 2: Modern flooring

When you look down, do your bathroom floors leave something to be desired? Redoing the flooring is a simple weekend project that will transform the space.

Tile is a great bathroom flooring choice because it is so versatile and long-lasting, and can be created to look surprisingly like other materials, such as wood, creating unique looks that wouldn’t typically be possible for the bathroom space.

Want to step it up? Consider heated flooring to add comfort and a touch of luxury. This top trend works with a variety of different types of flooring material.

Project 3: Customizable shower

A restorative shower experience is at the top of the list for a new bathroom must-have.

Intuitive products like GROHE SmartControl make it easy to control the precise amount of water with a simple push of a button. A turn of the dial allows for accurate control of water volume and temperature. This makes it easy to change modes quickly, from when you want less water while soaping up to when you want more water to rinse off.

Project 4: Personal pampering

Bidet seats and toilets are a smart bathroom upgrade for a wellness-focused home. Drawing on Japanese traditions and technology, water cleans more thoroughly than toilet paper, so it’s more healthful for all users.

A great option is the DXV AT 200 LS SpaLet with its heated seat, soft night light, fully-automatic cleansing wand and adjustable water temperature settings. This bidet toilet will also score bonus points because it is designed for fast and easy installation, so you can create your spa bathroom retreat a lot sooner than you think!

With these project tips that involve simple product installations, updating the look and feel of your bathroom won’t feel like an overwhelming undertaking.

2019: The Year of the Space-Age Home

(BPT) – In 2019, the “space-age” home will become a reality with modern innovations that are poised to change the way we think about luxury, elegance and comfort. Incorporating advanced technology into your home is essential when elevating its overall style, design and functionality.

What better way to create a futuristic environment than by living like an astronaut in your own home. You can do exactly that with the new Flotation Tub with ZERO DIMENSION from TOTO. Made from proprietary Galaline man-made marble, the stylish tub combines a luxury spa aesthetic with space-age technology that simulates zero gravity by offering bathers a weightless experience. After more than a decade’s research, TOTO discovered that a unique posture – with the reclining body stabilized and the hips, knees and ankles flexed – reduced the joints’ mechanical energy/load to nearly zero. Astronauts sleep in this position; it enables the most relaxing rest possible. Cerebral blood flow studies show activity in the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for language – is dramatically reduced, enabling a meditative state.

With the TOTO Flotation Tub as a bathroom focal point that showcases luxurious design, add sleek accessories to enhance your space, such as a smart mirror that doubles as a TV monitor. Imagine checking the weather as you put on your makeup or watching the news as you shave, creating a dual functionality and must-have futuristic design component.

Space-age aesthetic is all about blending minimalistic features with high-tech devices, allowing for a seamless transition between design and innovation. But why stop with just the bathroom? Consumers will continue to see a vast range of technological innovations throughout 2019, inspiring home transformations that are out of this world!

To reach new worlds, innovation is key, especially when it comes to energy efficiency. For state-of-the-art elements both inside and outside your home, consider installing the highly anticipated solar windows that will collect solar energy while remaining transparent. The windows utilize photovoltaic technology, similar to what’s being incorporated into solar blinds and solar roofs. These kinds of energy-conscious building materials will add a space-age look and functionality to your home, bringing you into the next century.

Make everyday life more efficient with a home automation system, a rapidly growing innovative technology that allows users to manage various household settings with one single command. Users have control of their entire house at their fingertips including their security, lighting, climate and entertainment systems, even their household appliances.

By incorporating an innovative and design-forward centerpiece like TOTO’s Flotation Tub, along with additional subtle, sleek tech accessories and gadgets into your living space, the space-age, futuristic home can become your reality.

Home Security Tips For the Holidays

(BPT) – For many, the holiday season means travel! In fact, millions of U.S. residents travel more than 50 miles away from home during the holiday season. Unfortunately, burglars are also aware of these holiday season travel statistics. While many families look forward to the holidays, it is easy to get carried away with excitement and forget to prepare your home for your time away. There’s nothing worse than coming back from a relaxing vacation to a stressful situation at home, so it is best to be prepared and protect your home before you travel.

Home security matters

It may sound simple, but it is important for people to remember to set their home security systems to the appropriate settings before leaving for travel. Investing in a high-quality, easy-to-use security system grants the ultimate peace of mind for travelers. If you forget to arm your system before you leave, don’t panic! Some home security systems let you arm, or disarm, your system by remotely accessing it via any smartphone, tablet or computer. You can also set up alerts to remind you if your system hasn’t been armed.

You could also invest in a smart doorbell that automatically sends a text or email to you each time the bell is triggered. Take a look at your security cameras to make sure everything is OK, or have a trusted neighbor stop by. Smart doorbells can also trigger entryway lighting to give the illusion that someone is home.

Remote locks are also useful if you are planning on going away for the holidays, but still need to allow certain visitors into your home while you’re gone. You’ll be able to lock and unlock your doors remotely and be alerted every time the door is unlocked. This means if you happen to forget your house keys you’ll be able to let yourself in when you return from vacation. If you’re leaving your teens or young adult children behind this holiday season, you can get alerts for when they leave or come home. You can even set up an emergency automation that unlocks your doors if a fire is detected.

If you’re still likely to worry with a home security system, smart doorbell and remote lock, then consider video surveillance. You’ll be able see live video of your home from your smartphone, tablet or computer and sync your cameras to motion detectors so you can receive video clips of movement as soon as the sensors are triggered.

Don’t let your home look abandoned

If your home looks like it has been abandoned, that is often a green light for a passing burglar.

It’s one thing to arm your home security systems before you leave, but it’s another step entirely to make sure your home looks lived in when you’re gone. However, there are a few ways you can create this illusion:

* Ask a neighbor, friend or family member to help collect mail and packages, shovel snow and move cars. Trick burglars into thinking you are there.

* Use a smart lighting system that lets you program lights to come on at specific times each day. This is an easy way to make it look like you’re home.

For more information and tips, visit: USAA.com/ADT.