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.

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.

How To Maximize AI Usage At Home

(BPT) – As the prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) in the home grows, so too does the amount of helpful features available to make daily tasks much easier. While the abundance of smart home technology (powered by AI) can seem overwhelming, the more you know, the better these functions can impact your life positively. Through a true understanding of these innovative breakthroughs, you can easily expand the usage of AI in your home and take advantage of its benefits.

This vision of life made better through AI was highlighted at the recent 2019 AI Summit | New York at which key speaker Dr. Nandhu Nandhakumar, Senior Vice President of Advanced Technology at the LG Technology Center of America in Silicon Valley, discussed the company’s AI innovations on improving the quality of life as well as the need for a clear direction of AI in the home in the future. LG’s vision is manifested in LG ThinQ®, LG’s brand for products and services incorporating advanced AI technologies. It aims to deliver easy, personalized, proactive and efficient solutions, bringing new intelligence to connected living.

Here are some benefits of AI you may be overlooking:

Be more secure

Some of the newest home security systems, including video doorbells, use aspects of AI to help protect your home and family more effectively.

Security systems using AI can analyze input like video surveillance to determine when something is an actual threat, since false alarms are frequent problems with many security systems, or they can activate facial recognition software to help identify someone approaching your home.

Save water

With AI, such places like your bathrooms and lawn can use smart technology to evaluate how much water is being used and avoid waste. Smart sprinklers can not only be controlled remotely, but will even monitor the weather to avoid over-watering. The latest in-home smart water systems can detect leaks and turn off the water supply to prevent flooding inside your home.

Save energy

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of AI today is in energy savings, which can be not only cost effective, but also helpful for the environment.

For example, LG ThinQ®, LG Electronics’ brand that incorporates advanced AI technologies, brings new intelligence to connected living through its smart, AI-powered appliances and electronics. On its popular line of dual inverter room air conditioners, you can seamlessly control the unit from anywhere via its smartphone application to turn off or lower the temperature before leaving the house to make any changes. You can even put your home’s HVAC system on “vacation mode” to lower costs while you are away.

This convenient and energy-saving connectivity works for a variety of the brand’s smart home appliances, including laundry machines and refrigerators.

Save money

LG ThinQ® also analyzes your family’s habits and preferences when using connected machines and devices. For example, it can adjust the cooling power of your refrigerator just before the most active time of use each day (such as after school/work and while dinner is being prepared). This leads to a more efficient home and positively impacts your bottom line.

It can also let you look inside your refrigerator to see what you need to shop for or how soon your milk expires. Using this kind of smart technology will lead to less spoiled food, saving money on grocery costs.

Save time

Through LG’s Proactive Customer Care, a service that uses artificial intelligence to deliver the most advanced customer service related to product maintenance, consumers are alerted to potential issues before they happen. It can also expedite repairs and offer useful maintenance tips, saving users time and money while keeping appliances performing at their best.

For added time saving convenience, enabled smart TVs can help you save time through bringing a higher intelligence and convenience to your living room. With the installed Google Assistant and Alexa, you can enjoy personalized entertainment and even enjoy online shopping straight from the TV. They are also ready to control your entire connected home from changing the light settings of your living space or adjusting the room temperature.

The AI platform for LG TVs is constantly evolving through its deep learning engine, and this helps the TVs learn how to properly respond to users based on voice command data. The ultimate goal of LG’s AI platform isn’t just to create a smart device that responds to users’ requests, but to analyze user behavior to offer personalized recommendations and optimal settings for unique tastes and specific environments.

Through meaningful innovations, AI intends to make daily routines simpler and more enjoyable. By better understanding users – recognizing patterns and preferences – it can anticipate user needs and proactively take action on their behalf. The more consumers use it, the better it works for them.

Such features need to be clearly communicated to users to aid in their understanding of the technology. When used well, AI enables consumers to live fully and seamlessly connected to a wide range of products in the home, all working together to make life easier. “We, as an industry, need to do a better job of educating consumers on the advantages of AI as it can be overwhelming. To do this, a clear direction in which AI needs to be headed is a must,” emphasized Dr. Nandhu.

To learn how AI can improve your daily life, visit LG.com/us/lg-thinq.

3 Things That Might Go Wrong If You Don’t Winterize Your Home

(BPT) – Fall is here, which means, like it or not, cold weather is just around the corner. While most of us would prefer not to think about turning on our heat just yet, this is actually the best time to check your heating to ensure everything is operating as it should.

Neglecting to winterize your home and letting small issues pile up can have big repercussions. Ahead of the winter season, HomeServe, a leading provider of service plans, repair and installation services for the home, wants to make sure you’re aware of three major things that may go wrong if you don’t winterize your house or neglect your heating system.

Your utility bills may skyrocket.

Utility bills often jump up in the winter due to the increased hours of darkness and the cost to heat your home.

But if your heater is on the fritz or your filters are clogged, you could be in for an even bigger surprise. Dirty filters cause your furnace to work harder, which leads to inefficiency and a shortened lifespan for your heating system. Replacing filters is often an easy task for homeowners. A yearly tune-up is an inexpensive way to help prevent a costly system breakdown in the coming months. Also, keep in mind that some warranties require annual tune-ups, so don’t let your warranty go invalid by skipping this year’s tune-up.

The threat of carbon monoxide is very real.

Do you know how old your furnace is? Do you know how long it’s been since a professional checked it over? Carbon monoxide poses a health threat when the heating system flue, vent or chimney becomes blocked from debris or other material. During a heating system tune-up, a professional service technician can check to make sure all your vents are not blocked and are working properly. Drains and traps also need to be checked and combustion gases should be analyzed and compared to the specifications of your furnace or boiler to make sure everything is running safely. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home is another smart way to help with early detection.

Water pipes can burst.

It’s not just your heating system that needs to be winterized. All too often it happens – we wake up to realize our pipes are frozen, or even worse, leaking. Before the cold sets in, make sure outside hoses are put away and water is turned off. Evaluate which pipes are at the greatest risk for freezing during cold weather. For example, if your water pipes come up from an un-insulated crawl space, or if they are in or close to an uninsulated outside wall or vent, they are more likely to freeze and burst in low temperatures. Inside pipes should be covered in insulation to keep pipes warmer longer. Pipe insulation is easy to apply and available at most hardware stores and home centers.

By having an annual tune-up in the fall, you can catch small issues now, instead of experiencing bigger problems in the dead of winter. A tune-up can also save energy, reduce heating costs and prevent a system breakdown in the coming months.

For more information on National Tune-Up Day, including a heating system check-list, visit nationaltuneupday.com.

Simple Steps To Keep Your Second Home Safe From Costly Repairs

(BPT) – Whether it’s a cabin up north, a villa down south or a quaint cottage near family, many people in the United States own second homes. You spend time at these vacation properties during some seasons, but for much of the year they remain empty. That’s why it’s important to take precautions to ensure your property and belongings stay safe even when you’re not there.

Not only are vacation homes a target for thieves, but empty homes are often vulnerable to the elements and the unexpected. For example, can you imagine the damage that a water leak would cause if it remained undiscovered for weeks … or months? With a proactive approach you can keep your investment safe and give yourself important peace of mind.

To keep your second home secure, consider these smart steps:

1) Create the appearance of a lived-in home

It doesn’t matter if your home is in a well-traveled section of the city or a remote part of the forest, you want it to be secure from criminals. Vandals and robbers scout for empty homes, so one of the best ways to deter them is to make your property appear to be lived in. If they think someone is home, they’re more likely to stay away.

To create the appearance of a lived-in house, stop mail and newspaper deliveries immediately. Nothing screams “empty house” like a few weeks’ worth of papers at the front door. Next, keep the lawn mowed and trim the landscape, so the home is well maintained and doesn’t have overgrown shrubs where criminals can hide. Finally, alert a trusted neighbor that you’ll be gone, so they can keep an eye on things. Don’t know anyone nearby? Or is the property isolated? Consider hiring a property manager to check on the house periodically.

2) Consistently monitor water use

Even small water leaks can cause big damage, and if you’re not living in a home, that damage can multiply quickly. From leaks that cause terrible mold growth to burst pipes that flood entire floors, it’s easy to see why water is a top concern for owners of second homes while away. One simple solution is the Phyn Plus: Smart water assistant + shutoff. This intelligent device is installed on the main water line after the meter by an authorized Uponor Pro Squad team plumbing expert. Once installed, it uses programmed data and learns the home’s water-use habits, so it can proactively detect leaks and water problems in real time.

If a change is detected, you are alerted through a smart app on your phone, so you can take appropriate next steps. Phyn Plus will even shut off the water when an emergency is detected. You then can monitor or turn the water back on from any remote location. Learn more at www.phyn.com/installation.

3) Implement multiple security measures

Of course, you want to ensure you secure all doors, windows and other points of entry. But to really keep tabs on your second home, consider investing in a security system with an app or program for easy remote monitoring. With a live-monitor feature, you can check your home at any time. Additionally, programmable lights that turn on at set times inside give the illusion of people being home, and motion lights outdoors eliminate dark corners.

Finally, you might consider registering your home as vacant with the local police. Some cities offer a free service where an officer will come periodically to check your home while you’re away. Keep in mind this might not be available in your area and there may be a time limit for how long you can request these checks, but it’s worthwhile to call your local law enforcement and ask.

Put worries aside and keep your second home safe and secure by following these simple steps. That way you can feel confident that every time you visit your vacation property, you can enjoy it to the fullest.

3 Things To Know About Saving Money On Your New Roof

(BPT) – Replacing an aging or damaged roof is an important step to protect your home from the damage the elements can dish out – heat, wind, rain, snow, sleet and hail. But homeowners may not realize that the type of shingle they choose can make a big difference, not only in the protection it offers to the home, but also in the cost of their homeowners’ insurance.

Here are a few things homeowners should keep in mind when looking to save money with a new roof:

1) Roof replacement can save money

Even though it’s initially costly, homeowners in large parts of the country can actually save money by installing a new roof.

For years, insurance carriers have been incentivizing homeowners to install shingles that are rated for impact resistance in an effort to reduce the number of roof claims. As a result, using qualifying impact-resistant roofing products may qualify for significant premium discounts on homeowners’ insurance in some states.

“Insurance companies are spending so much each year replacing roofs that we’ve started to see some companies change their straight deductible to a percentage of the home’s total value,” said Curt Boyd, owner of Academy Roofing in Aurora, Colorado. “Homeowners see a $4,000 deductible and they don’t want to spend that to replace their roof every two years. They start looking for ways to buy value.”

The nudge toward impact-rated shingles (sometimes called “IR” shingles) is increasing. Recently, some municipalities in Colorado went as far as mandating UL 2218 Class 4 Impact Resistance classification for all new roofs, a trend that’s anticipated to continue in other severe weather-prone areas.

2) The type of shingles you use matters

Most major shingle brands now have a UL 2218 Class 4 Impact Resistance classified shingle available, but the way the shingles are reinforced differs widely. The newest IR asphalt shingle on the market, the Heritage IR shingle from TAMKO Building Products, Inc. reinforces the entire back of the shingle with a strong polyester fabric. Other methods used to reinforce IR shingles include using fabric over portions of the shingle or coating the shingle with another substance.

While they are distinctly different than traditional shingles because of their reinforcement, these UL 2218 classified options still offer the pleasing aesthetics homeowners have come to expect from modern asphalt shingles.

3) Check with your insurance carrier

Many major insurance providers offer premium discounts for UL 2218 Class 4 classified shingles, but the percentage of savings and the areas of the country where the discount applies vary by carrier. Homeowners should check with their insurance carrier online to see a list of pre-approved shingles and regions, and get a quote from their local agent. Boyd said that he’s seen premium discounts close to 30 percent in Colorado for Class 4-rated products.

Learning about the newest and most effective shingles on the market can help save money and worry, by protecting the home from the top down and potentially reducing insurance costs. Homeowners contacting their insurance carrier and getting educated about roofing options can make a smart choice for their homes and their wallets.

3 Tips To Make Your Bathroom More Inviting and Functional

(BPT) – We tend to think of the bathroom strictly as a utilitarian space, and therefore not worthy of the same energy and expense put into designing spaces like the living room or kitchen. We spend a lot of time in the bathroom, however. It’s the room where we start and set intentions for our day. In the evening, the bathroom is where we go to unwind – some people prefer soaking in a bubble bath while others take a hot shower to relax after a long day.

How a bathroom is designed can dramatically affect your experience. Consider improving your daily ritual with these three upgrading tips.

Design with ergonomics in mind

Ergonomics is the process of designing and arranging spaces so that they fit with the people who use them. When making upgrades to your bathroom, it’s important to think through how you use the space each day. What a functional design might look like to someone else could be inconvenient for you.

Bathroom storage tends to be treated as one-size-fits-all. Many bathrooms have a vanity that contains deep cabinets. People with this basic storage solution are forced to use small containers to organize their products and often have to rummage through belongings to get what they need.

An ergonomic bathroom considers what items you use most frequently, and is designed to keep those items accessible. Consider adding a medicine cabinet to your bathroom to keep smaller products that get easily misplaced on hand. A vanity that offers a top drawer allows you to store everyday items, like a hair brush or toothpaste, up higher than a storage cabinet would, meaning you wouldn’t have to bend down as often.

Find the best solutions through personalized designs

The way that your bathroom is set up and how you use your bathroom are unique. It’s often difficult to find an off-the-shelf solution that gives you exactly what you want from this space. Consider a solution instead that is customizable to your needs. Whether you’re working with a difficult bathroom layout or you feel limited by space constraints, modular designs help ensure you are able to meet your storage needs.

Bring technology into the bathroom

Technology plays a big role in most people’s lives, so it’s no surprise that it has started to pop up in bathroom designs too. Consider how technology can simplify your daily routine. For example, defogging technology can be built into the vanity mirror to allow one person to shower while another is using the mirror. If you have products that need to be charged, like an electric toothbrush or razor, consider installing USB ports inside the medicine cabinet to ensure your go-to items are always ready to use.

Technology can bring entertainment into the bathroom as well. If you like to start off the day with some energetic music or unwind in the bath listening to your favorite podcast, Bluetooth technology can be the perfect way to add entertainment without sacrificing counter space.

The bathroom plays an important role in your day-to-day life. Use these tips to design a functional space that best fits your needs and find more ideas for bathroom upgrades at www.robern.com.

Money-Saving Roofing Secrets Every Homeowner Should Know

(BPT) – Replacing an aging or damaged roof is an important step in providing crucial protection from the damage the elements can dish out – from heat, wind and rain, to snow, sleet and hail. But homeowners may not realize that the type of roof shingle they choose can make a big difference, not only in the protection it offers to the home, but also in the cost of their homeowners’ insurance.

Here are a few things homeowners should keep in mind when looking to save money with a new roof.

Roof replacement can save money

Even though it’s initially costly, homeowners in large parts of the country can actually save money by installing a new roof, as long as they choose the right shingle.

For years, insurance carriers have been incentivizing homeowners to install shingles that are rated for impact resistance in an effort to reduce the number of roof claims. As a result, using qualifying impact-resistant roofing products may qualify for significant premium discounts on homeowners’ insurance in some states.

“Insurance companies are spending so much each year replacing roofs that we’ve started to see some companies change their straight deductible to a percentage of the home’s total value,” said Curt Boyd, owner of Academy Roofing in Aurora, Colorado. “Homeowners see a $4,000 deductible and they don’t want to spend that to replace their roof every two years. They start looking for ways to buy value.”

The nudge toward impact-rated shingles (sometimes called “IR” shingles) is increasing. Recently, some municipalities in Colorado went as far as mandating UL 2218 Class 4 Impact Resistance classification for all new roofs, a trend that’s anticipated to continue growing into other severe weather-prone areas.

The type of shingles you use matters

Most major shingle brands now have a UL 2218 Class 4 Impact Resistance classified shingle available, but the way the shingles are reinforced differs widely. The newest IR asphalt shingle on the market, the Heritage IR shingle from TAMKO Building Products, Inc. reinforces the entire back of the shingle with a strong polyester fabric. Other methods used to reinforce IR shingles include using fabric over just portions of the shingle or coating the shingle with another substance.

While they are distinctly different than traditional shingles because of their reinforcement, these UL 2218 classified options still offer the pleasing aesthetics homeowners have come to expect from modern asphalt shingles. Heritage IR features the same naturally-deep shadow lines that portray the look of wood shakes, and they are available in some of the company’s most popular color choices.

Check with your insurance carrier

Many major insurance providers offer premium discounts for UL 2218 Class 4 classified shingles, but the percentage of savings and the areas of the country where the discount applies vary by insurance carrier. Homeowners should check with their insurance carrier online to see a list of pre-approved shingles and regions, and check with their local agent for a quote of the premium discount for their specific home. Boyd with Academy Roofing said that he’s seen premium discounts close to 30 percent in Colorado for Class 4-rated products.

Learning about the newest and most effective shingles on the market can help save money and worry, both by protecting the home from the top down and potentially reducing insurance costs. Homeowners contacting their insurance carrier and getting educated about roofing options can help them make a smart choice for both their homes and their wallets.