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.

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.

Embrace Timeless Design Elements For a Lasting Aesthetic

(BPT) – As trends transition in and out of style, an understanding of what takes a space beyond temporary can help achieve a truly timeless design. Whether it’s blending the past with the present for a new take on traditional, or selecting decor and furnishings with a quiet, yet self-assured air, certain elements will establish endurance and ensure an aesthetic that is – and always will remain – relevant.

Enduring interiors

Curate a space that will withstand the test of time by opting for clean lines and even proportions to create an unobtrusive look that will remain effortlessly in style. For a sense of depth and character, consider textured wallpaper, or an authentic rosewood coffee table that will develop a natural patina over time. To further establish staying power, select a complementary neutral palette of soft gray or sandy beige, then accent the clean canvas with quintessential jewel tones for stately elegance.

Classic cues

Invite the past to the present, blending influences from the Edwardian Era and sensibilities from the Machine Age for timeless appeal. Incorporate a modern revival of classic forms with the Invari Bath Collection by Brizo. Subtle design elements display intricate craftsmanship in every graceful nuance, from hand-assembled linchpin joints to finely ridged coining for an artisanal touch. Finishing details, such as black crystal knob handles, elevate the overall look, bringing adornment into a space without excess.

Quiet confidence

A sense of poise and purpose helps to achieve an ageless aesthetic. Select perfectly scaled furnishings that enhance the design, while also serving an intentional role. Opt for fewer, more distinguished elements that can easily transform to changing tastes. Consider a stately stone fireplace to ground the space, or tasteful, yet surprising elements, such as lacquered cherry wood walls or scalloped wainscoting. For an overall cultivated tone, add worldly accents such as a decorative sculpture to create a visually striking and self-assured focal point, then position dramatic uplighting, giving it an almost regal air.

Outlasting elements

Take time to curate a space without granting trends too much influence, whether it be a patient search for an antique mirror or a large-scale painting that boasts modern, yet classic styles for a transitional effect. Make design decisions that lend versatility across aesthetics, from built-in, vaulted bookshelves in the living room, to lustrous tile flooring in the bath space for a clean, polished look. Where possible, maintain a sense of forethought and incorporate decor that is easily adaptable. Elements such as elegant pendant lighting or lush linens can be updated easily to fit current trends, carrying the space seamlessly through time.

How To Keep Your House Warm – Even In Freezing Temperatures

(BPT) – With the early arrival of winter, the grip of cold temperatures and snowfall that landed along with it, now is a good time to start thinking about keeping your home warm and cozy all season long.

This winter, consider the strategies below to keep your house warm, even during the most frigid days of the year.

Help your HVAC system work more efficiently

No matter what kind of heating system you have, you can take steps to keep it working at its best.

  • Schedule annual heating tune-ups
  • Change the furnace filter frequently
  • Make sure ductwork dampers are open
  • Check air vents – are they open? Are any blocked by furniture?
  • If you have a home with radiators, make sure they aren’t blocked
  • Avoid wild temperature swings – set your thermostat for reasonable highs and lows at night and during the day, since extremely low temps could result in freezing pipes, and your system has to work extra hard to aim for higher temps than it can handle

Consider upgrading your HVAC system

If you have an older system that just can’t keep up or you live in a climate with extreme temperatures, consider upgrading to a new high-efficiency heating system. It may save you money and energy in the long run, while increasing your comfort level.

Thanks to advances in technology, today’s HVAC equipment can provide more consistent air flow and better maintain a constant temperature in every room. In the middle of winter, all of that adds up to a more comfortable and cozy home without the enormous utility bill.

For the latest and greatest in comfort technology for your winter upgrade, consider a duct-free split system equipped with LG’s newest heating technology, the compact and powerful LGRED° (Reliable to Extreme Degrees), designed for even the coldest of climates. With continuous heating capabilities down to -13° Fahrenheit, LGRED° technology provides superior heating performance that will keep you warm all winter long. This increased performance not only delivers heat when traditional HVAC systems are unable, but operates with top notch efficiency, cutting energy costs and increasing savings.

Pair this technology with sleek indoor units, like the LG Art CoolTM lineup, for comfort without sacrificing style. An added plus is that LG systems can make one or many rooms perfectly toasty without tearing up walls or altering the home’s appearance.

Block the leaks

If you have drafts or leaks in your home, you’re losing valuable heated air and letting in the cold. Start by checking doors and windows for any drafts.

  • Improve your doors’ weather stripping and use a draft blocker to further keep cold air out
  • For windows, an insulation kit and heavy drapes can help you prevent leaks
  • If you have an unused fireplace, install a fireplace plug to keep warm air from heading up the chimney
  • Cover up mail slots or pet door flaps that may be leaking air, especially at night
  • Close vents and shut doors to rooms that are seldom used, so more warm air can be redirected to rooms in use
  • Schedule an energy audit from your energy company to identify areas for improvement
  • Attic insulation is also recommended, since heat rises

Reverse ceiling fans

As heat does rise, ceiling fans set on low and adjusted to turn clockwise will help pull up cold air and draw down and circulate warm air that’s hanging out near the ceiling.

Warm your floors

When heat rises, don’t leave your floors out in the cold.

  • If you’re interested in remodeling, radiant floor heating can help warm up a room, and has become especially popular for bathrooms
  • Invest in thick, plush rugs to help rooms feel warmer to your feet

Following just a few of these tips will make a big difference in helping your house feel cozy and warm, even during the most extreme cold temperatures of winter. To learn more about ways to easily improve your home’s warmth this winter, visit LGHVAC.com.

8 Tips To Prep Your Home During (and After) the Holidays

(BPT) – Hosting guests, baking treats, kids on school break and managing a packed social calendar – the holidays can be a stressful, busy time. And with so much to do, household chores can fall by the wayside, leaving your home messy and disorganized.

These eight tips will help you enjoy a cleaner home so you can focus on spending time with loved ones and start the new year off with a sparkling, welcoming home.

1) In the kitchen, clean as you go

Before you start baking or cooking, make sure the dishwasher is empty and ready for your dirty dishes. As you mix ingredients and use dishes, rinse and place them in the dishwasher along the way so you prevent pile-up in the sink. And as you finish using each ingredient, put it back in its rightful place.

2) Boost your laundry loads

If you host friends and family, chances are you’ll have plenty of bed linens to wash when your guests leave. Save time with a washing machine that can quickly handle your family-sized loads without compromising performance. The LG TurboWash 360 will clean a large laundry load in less than 30 minutes, helping you save money and energy as well.

3) Give everyone a task

Cleaning up is easy when you get the whole family involved. Divide and conquer the cleaning tasks to get the job done in no time.

4) Stock up on supplies

Equip your bathrooms and kitchen with all the necessary cleaning supplies. It only takes a few minutes to wipe up a spill or quick mess – especially when your supplies are within easy reach – making your cleaning tasks more manageable.

5) Refresh kitchen appliances

After you’ve cooked, baked and stored feasts, your kitchen will be ready for a deep clean. Use a disinfecting cleaner to scrub all the surfaces of your refrigerator, freezer, blender, oven, dishwasher, sink, cabinets and drawers. Dispose of food items that have expired or that you no longer need and make your kitchen feel new again.

6) Prevent winter boot mess

In areas with ice, snow, or even rain, boots can make a huge mess. Avoid stepping in puddles inside your home by asking everyone to take their boots off before they come through the door and place them into plastic bags. The bag collects the ice and snow as it melts and keeps your floors nice and dry.

7) Revive area rugs

High foot traffic areas accumulate stains, dirt and odors – so don’t skimp on cleaning your rugs. Take each rug outside and gently shake away dirt and dust. Leave the rug hanging out to remove more dust and air out any odors. You can also use a rug brush to help remove hair or caked-on dirt.

8) Prep for the rest of winter

Even when the holidays are over, winter sticks around for a few more months.

While preparing for the rest of winter, upgrading your HVAC system will help you and your guests stay warm and cozy. With continuous heating capabilities down to -13° Farenheit, LGRED° technology provides superior heating performance that will keep you warm all winter long. This increased performance not only delivers heat when traditional HVAC systems are unable, but operates with top-notch efficiency, cutting energy costs and increasing savings. Pair this technology with sleek indoor units, like the LG Art Cool(TM) lineup, for comfort without sacrificing style. An added plus is that LG HVAC systems can be installed easily by a contractor to make one or many rooms perfectly toasty without tearing up walls or altering the home’s appearance.

4 Home Upgrades That Are Good For the Environment

(BPT) – Consumers today are more mindful about the environmental impact of everything they do, from driving and traveling to energy usage in their homes. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps homeowners can take to save energy and help the environment.

Boost your insulation

You may already know what areas of your home are poorly insulated, simply by how you feel when it’s cold or hot outside. You can have a professional home energy audit conducted to help pinpoint areas that need improvement. Many energy companies provide an audit free of charge.

Start with the attic: If your attic is insufficiently insulated, you could be losing a lot of heat over the winter, which means your home is wasting energy – and money. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that boosting attic insulation can save 10-50 percent on heating costs.

Upgrade your heating and cooling system

Heating and cooling your home uses the most energy, so investing in Energy Star certified HVAC products can make a big difference when it comes to cutting energy costs and your home’s impact on the environment.

For a new HVAC system in a variety of styles to fit any décor that can be easily installed by a contractor, you might consider wall-mounted duct-free systems from a trusted brand like LG. They offer a variety of ultra-quiet “Art Cool” options (the sleek Mirror, stylish Premier and unique Gallery, which looks like a picture frame and allows you to display your own artwork). These systems are smart-enabled, allowing homeowners to adjust the temperature from their LG ThinQ app for Android and iOS users, or with simple commands via Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

The most eco-conscious consumers will want to look for “Energy Star Most Efficient” HVAC solutions. For example, the Art Cool Mirror earned the 2019 designation and also features advanced “Reliable to Extreme Degrees” LGRED, heating technology that delivers 100 percent heating capacity down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit and continuous heating down to -13 degrees Fahrenheit. This will keep you warm and comfortable all winter long with remarkable energy efficiency.

Replace doors and windows

You may be losing a lot of heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer through your doors and windows, especially if they’re older. The latest energy-efficient models of windows and doors not only reduce leaks around the frames, but they’re made from materials that enhance insulation.

Doors: According to EnergyStar.gov, energy-efficient doors not only fit better and have improved weather stripping to reduce air leakage, but also use improved core materials for superior insulation. Where glass is used, they reduce heat flow via double- or triple-paned insulating glass.

Windows: Energy Star qualified windows use superior framing materials, including multiple panes of glass, with air- or gas-filled space between for additional insulation. They’re made from Low-E (low emissivity) glass, with special coatings to reflect infrared light. Warm edge spacers keep the glass panes the correct distance apart reducing heat transfer through the window.

Go solar

While most people are aware that solar power harnesses the sun’s energy to create electricity, many don’t know how easy and cost-effective it is to go solar.

The newest technology behind solar energy has made it increasingly accessible and appealing for homeowners. For example, new energy solutions such as LG’s “NeON R ACe” are high-efficiency solar panels that incorporate a built-in micro-inverter (that converts DC electricity to AC) instead of a separate traditional inverter. Recessed into the frame of the solar module, the micro-inverter simplifies the installation process and allows more flexibility to create a solar array that looks attractive on your roof. When going solar, it’s important to seek out a brand you trust, one like LG that offers solar panels covered by a 25-year limited product, part and performance warranty.

Choosing just one area to upgrade will save energy, reducing your home’s carbon footprint. You’ll also feel more comfortable throughout the year, as you better regulate the temperature of your home.

Inspiration and Tips From the 2019 ‘Whole Home Concept House’

Tips and technology for a healthier, more livable home

(BPT) – Today’s home builders, designers and innovators are working to create interiors and living experiences that take into account consumer trends toward seeking a more healthful environment, inside and out. This year’s “Whole Home Concept House,” by leading design magazine House Beautiful, places focus on design elements and appliances created to promote health, livability and sustainability, reflecting the increasing desire of American consumers for an approach to interior design that goes well beyond aesthetics.

“At House Beautiful we believe our homes should be a refuge that helps you recharge and unplug from our busy external lives – and that if you design it well, you will live a happier and healthier life,” said House Beautiful’s market director Carisha Swanson. “The Whole Home Concept House is the culmination of our year-long wellness initiative. We’ve built out a real home that embodies and showcases ideas and innovations that feed happiness and drive well-being in every facet of our lives.”

Here are some of the 2019 Whole Home Concept House’s top features that consumers can adopt in their own home designs and renovations to improve livability and enhance their home environment.

Make it easy to clean.

Especially for homes with children, choosing fabrics and other materials that are tough enough to withstand dirt and stains for flooring, walls and furniture makes it easier for parents who don’t want to spend every moment cleaning. For the Whole Home Concept House, Atlanta-based designer Vern Yip used heavy-duty, stain-resistant fabrics in the foyer and living room, along with wipe-able wallpaper that’s easy to keep clean. Swanson emphasizes that this approach gives families more time to do the things that they really want to do in life.

Fight allergens where they live.

The latest technology for the laundry room now keeps clothes and linens as free from allergens as possible. Choose appliances certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America for the best results, such as LG’s TurboWash 360 front-loading washing machine. The washer’s proprietary Allergiene cycle removes 95 percent of pet dander and dust mites. All LG products in the home are equipped with smart technology, enabling users to control key features from anywhere with the ThinQ mobile app or using voice commands via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Avoid chemicals.

For refreshing clothes and removing light wrinkles in under 20 minutes, the LG Styler steam closet helps extend the life of clothing between laundering. There is no plumbing required, so the unit can be used in any room. It reduces the need for dry cleaning, cutting down on potentially harmful chemicals in your wardrobe, as well as removes 99% of allergens and bacteria from clothing, pillows and even children’s stuffed animals with the gentle power of steam.

Keep food fresh longer.

To store and prepare healthy, fresh food effectively, the Whole Home Concept House featured the latest in food storage and preservation technology from luxury kitchen appliance brand Signature Kitchen Suite. Their integrated refrigerators and freezers are engineered to provide the largest capacities in their respective classes, while also minimizing temperature fluctuations to help maintain optimal food freshness longer, reducing food waste.

Cook like a chef.

For cooking your healthiest, most delicious meals, the Signature Kitchen Suite 48-inch Dual-Fuel Pro Range provides home chefs with all the tools available to professionals, such as the first-of-its-kind pro-range with built-in sous vide modality, along with induction and gas, all on the cooktop. The sous vide cooking technique uses precise temperature control to deliver consistent, restaurant-quality results that preserve the true flavors, vitamins and nutrients of the food, needing little or no added salt or fats.

To learn more about the 2019 Whole Home Concept House, visit Housebeautiful.com/wholehome or see the November issue of House Beautiful.

6 Ways To Turn Your Home Into a Natural Oasis

(BPT) – As the year comes to an end, many people make resolutions to start the New Year strong. This might mean ramping up your workout routine, increasing your self-care regimen or finding time to de-stress.

The EPA reports we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, but most people feel that spending time in nature has a positive effect on their mental well-being and stress level, according to a recent YouGov study commissioned by VELUX. So, if your goal is to de-stress, here are some healthy behaviors and design tips to help you bring nature’s sanctuary indoors.

Fill your home with photos of nature

Surrounding yourself with images of nature can have a positive effect on wellness. Try framing some photos of special memories in nature like a hike with your family, beach sunset or mountain view.

Let in more fresh air and natural light

Today’s homes are built tighter and more sealed, which means they trap toxins from daily living – such as cooking, cleaning, pets and more – inside. Adding skylights that can open is a simple home renovation project to improve fresh air flow, helping rid indoor air of pollutants. Additionally, studies show that exposure to natural light helps to sync your circadian rhythm, allowing for better sleep at night.

Fill your home with natural scents

Up your chef game by using fresh herbs in your cooking that will fill your kitchen with natural fragrance. Making an indoor herb garden ensures you’ll always have some on hand. You can also incorporate fresh herbs into bouquets or wreaths for a natural air freshener throughout your home.

Meditate or do yoga in the morning

Waking up with stretching or meditating is a great way to prepare yourself for a successful day. Open the blinds or curtains on your windows and skylights to let in early morning light and help you feel invigorated and refreshed.

Go green with your décor

Reap the benefits of nature by bringing it inside, adding greenery or even fruit into your décor. The possibilities are endless – use a bowl of fresh fruit as a centerpiece or mix different sizes of pots to create a succulent gallery. Little touches of green in each room will go a long way.

Use natural cleaning products

Many common cleaning products have harsh chemicals that can be inhaled or absorbed into your skin. Combat the dangers of these toxins by switching to natural cleaning products. You’ll feel safer and more relaxed when your home is chemical-free.

From boosting your home’s natural light to going green and adding plant life, it’s easy to turn your home into a natural oasis with these simple steps. For more information, visit whyskylights.com.

How To Maximize Your Garage Space

(BPT) – Did you know over half of Americans (59%) feel that engaging in hobbies helps relieve stress? This was one finding in a survey of over 3,000 Americans conducted in 2017 by Kelton Global on behalf of Gladiator, the nation’s leader in customizable garage and household organization solutions.

While work and family obligations may prevent many from pursuing their favorite activities, the survey revealed that another factor acting as a roadblock was having enough space to store equipment or supplies needed for hobbies. Whether you love biking, crafts or other activities, chances are you need easily accessible space to store your gear.

Here’s where your garage comes in. The same survey found that 3 out of 4 Americans prioritize storage as the leading use for their garage – but that 28% of Americans can’t even fit a car in their garage because of the clutter.

What’s the solution? Get motivated to optimize your storage space so you can easily access all the things you love to do. Once you’ve rid yourself of the clutter, you can start clearing out even more floor space for your vehicle, woodworking bench, arts and crafts or drum kit for your garage band.

Here are some smart ways to make the most of your garage.

Figure out your needs

First, determine how much room your vehicles take up, then map out how much floor space you’ll need for any other items, such as a work bench or space to maneuver items you use frequently. Group the items you want to store in your garage according to category, then get ready to create more storage possibilities for all your gear.

Optimize your walls

Take a good look at all the wall space that’s currently being unused in your garage. Fortunately, there are solutions for your walls that don’t involve building bulky shelving that further encroaches on your floor space. For example, the Sports Caddy GearTrack Pack by Gladiator can hold much more than just basketballs and baseball bats. It installs easily on the wall and includes a ball caddy, which holds up to 25 pounds, that you can use for anything from helmets to sleeping bags, bags of potting soil or other bulky items you want kept off the floor. It also has two scoop hooks for heavier sports gear, backpacks, purses, garden tools and more.

Foldaway storage solutions

Another versatile option is to use a storage product that can transform from a wall­-installed storage cabinet to a sturdy work surface. Gladiator’s Ready-­to­-Assemble Foldaway Work Station provides both a space-­saving storage cabinet and a functional work surface that can be mounted to their GearTrack or GearWall for easy wall storage. The versatile work station can be used as a gardening center, paint station or as a cabinet for power tools.

Look up

There’s another area of your garage that is most likely underutilized – the overhead space.

To safely use overhead storage space in your garage, you’ll need a very secure, heavy-duty solution like the steel Overhead Storage Rack made by Gladiator, which has a weight capacity of 750 pounds spread across 96 cubic feet of storage space. The unit is flexible, and its height can be adjusted so you can lower the rack for easier access.

With smart solutions that use every area of your garage both safely and efficiently, you can make the most of your garage this year. Optimizing your garage storage space allows you to make more room in your life – for all the things you really love to do.

Low Maintenance, High Curb Appeal: Top Exterior Home Trends of 2020

(BPT) – Whether you are thinking of selling your home next year, or simply looking to update certain elements, investing in your exterior will deliver a return on your investment in both resale value and enjoyment.

From siding and garage door to the landscape and patio, there are many opportunities to refresh the outside of your home for style and function. The top trends of 2020 are all about bringing fresh ideas to tired spaces, updating with the latest product innovations, and ensuring your exterior gets as much love as the interior of your home.

Indoor-outdoor living

With a strong desire to expand living space, homeowners are investing in decks and patios that have a seamless flow from indoor to outdoor. Products such as Royal(R) Building Products’ Zuri(R) Premium Decking offer all the beauty of real hardwood flooring without the maintenance. Zuri’s variety of rich colors allow homeowners to create intricate designs and inlays that add an upscale look that can be completely customized.

Screened porches with floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors are popular as well as porch/deck hybrids that can be designed to feature built-in kitchens, fireplaces and seating. To further personalize the space, homeowners are mixing textures and materials, including metal, wicker and wood, in outdoor furniture and features to create individualized style.

Mixing styles and designs

Following the popularity of farmhouse styles in the last decade, homeowners continue to create a hybrid look that incorporates select modern farmhouse designs, as well as elements of midcentury modern and industrial influences into the exterior home design. Mixed-use siding is at the forefront of this trend. Board and batten siding mixed with stone continues to gain popularity for a modern farmhouse look. Another popular design is mixing clapboard siding with textures of shake or vertical style of board and batten to create visual interest and balance. Black windows add a modern industrial look along with a sleek metal garage door to pull together the overall design.

Exterior colors and accents

Across the country, darker, more pigmented colors are transforming homes with showstopping appearances that stand out from a sea of beige that was so popular in the past.

The traditional red front door is being replaced by statement doors that define an entryway with style and class. Black and blue doors are trending as well as designs that feature glass and iron elements. Dutch-style doors are also popular for 2020 and beyond. In addition to a statement front door, homeowners are thoughtful about entryway decor, adding personalized doormats, house numbers and door knockers, as well as changing out decor seasonally.

While dark colors are trending nationwide, pastel colors are popular for coastal homes. Light blue is just one example that looks striking paired with white PVC trim in exterior applications. Royal Building Products Celect Canvas, an unpainted version of the brand’s cellular PVC siding, is an ideal low-maintenance option for coastal homes that need durability for harsh weather. The siding can be customized with hundreds of beachy paint color options to suit your individual style.

Minimalist maintenance

Homeowners are continuing to invest in design solutions for their exteriors and yards that require little to no maintenance, yet allow them to fully enjoy outdoor living. They are opting for high quality products using durable materials, such as limestone, gravel and bamboo. Garden bed designs incorporate pavers, rocks, evergreen plants and annual plants, to achieve a low maintenance exterior that still delivers on curb appeal.

Above all else, homeowners are looking to make exterior designs their own in 2020. New builds and home renovations that utilize durable materials are a top trend, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to design. For more exterior design inspiration, explore the photo gallery at www.royalbuildingproducts.com/gallery.