5 Simple Steps for Protecting Your Home During the Holidays

Home Protection(BPT) – When you think of the holidays, celebrations, presents and friends likely come to mind – not crime. Unfortunately, burglaries increase at this time of year, and your home could be a target. With a few simple safety precautions, you can protect your property, your family and your valuables now and well into the new year.

“Taking steps to protect your home during the holidays isn’t radically different from what most people should be doing the rest of the year,” says Thomas Leman, a retired 27-year veteran of the police force and criminal justice professor at Argosy University Online. “The problem is that most people get lured into a false sense of security and tend to let their guard down, thinking that crime won’t happen to them.”

Take precautions today to protect your home and deter criminals. Consider these five simple steps:

Step 1: Decorate with care
When it comes to holiday decorations, modesty is definitely the best policy, says Leman. “While you may love the look of a Christmas tree in your front window, expensive decorations on display can be a signal that there are valuables inside your home worth a criminal’s time. Gifts under the tree are the most blatant of these displays and are a welcome invitation for thieves.” Leaving gifts tucked away until the last possible minute is a quick and easy safety precaution. If you must display presents, make sure they are out of sight from any windows or doorways.

Step 2: Lock it up
Whether you are home, running errands or away on vacation, take care to close and lock all doors and windows. Remember to set alarms, too. “Given that most people have extra valuables and gifts in their homes during this time, it’s a good idea to practice home safety whether you’re there or not,” says Leman. Leman adds that a simple dowel placed in a sliding glass door or window can be an inexpensive way to secure vulnerable entrance points. “Alarms or closed circuit video surveillance systems are a great and inexpensive way to protect your home,” he adds.

Step 3: Light the night
A well-lit and well-groomed home provides an important measure of safety. “The better the lighting in your home and yard, the fewer places there are for criminals to lurk,” says Leman. USAA, a leading provider of banking, insurance and investment services to the military community, recommends the 3 foot/6 foot rule: trim branches to 6 feet off the ground and shrubs down to 3 feet to minimize hiding places for burglars.

Step 4: Dispose smartly
It’s best not to alert strangers to the new 70-inch flat screen in your home by leaving the box on the curb for refuse pickup. “When it comes to big-ticket items and valuables, boxes on the curb can be an advertisement for the new valuables in your home,” cautions Leman. “Take the time to break down boxes and recycle them or put them on the curb over time and inconspicuously,” he says.

Step 5: Be a tricky traveler
Be proactive about home safety if you have holiday travel plans. Never let mail or newspapers pile up at your home, as it is an instant indicator you are not there. Have a neighbor collect mail and newspapers or have your service stopped by calling the post office and newspaper provider. “Set your lights and television on timers,” suggests Leman, who also advises homeowners to have a neighbor park their car in your driveway intermittently to keep up the appearance that someone is coming and going.
For more information about Argosy University, visit argosy.edu. For more information about The Art Institutes, visit artinstitutes.edu.

The Art Institutes is a system of over 50 schools throughout North America. Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options vary by school and are subject to change. Several institutions included in The Art Institutes system are campuses of South University or Argosy University. Administrative office: 210 Sixth Avenue, 33rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 ©2014 The Art Institutes International LLC. Our email address is [email protected]

Argosy University (www.argosy.edu), with 28 campus locations in 13 states and online, is a private, accredited academic institution dedicated to providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs to students. Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options are subject to change. ©2014 Argosy University. Our email address is [email protected]

6 Design Trends to Heighten Your Home’s Style in 2015

21007363(BPT) – As the new year kicks off, it’s the premier time to refresh and refocus on certain aspects of your life… and the home is no exception. Say goodbye to lackluster interiors as renowned interior designer and DIY television personality, Taniya Nayak, has forecasted the top trends for 2015 that will be sure to enhance and revive any home.

Deep, Rich Hues

Be bold with shadowy and opulent tones; there are many ways to infuse a rich color scheme into your space. “Don’t be intimidated by dark hues,” says Nayak. “Incorporate shades from the same color family throughout a room with a coordinating accent wall, rug and decorative pieces – such as pillows and blankets. This creates a bold, yet harmonizing visual.”

“The concept of a ‘pop’ of color is blown up in 2015,” adds Nayak. “We’re seeing deep, rich hues adorning walls, lavishly upholstered furniture pieces, window treatments and area rugs. This year, we like to say ‘go bold or go home.'”

When painting with deep colors, imperfections are more visible than with lighter shades. To ensure your painting project is flawless, use FrogTape brand painter’s tape to achieve sharp paint lines. The tape is treated with patented PaintBlock Technology, which prevents paint bleed, leaving you with an impressive, crisp edge.

Gallery Walls

Create a room that’s uniquely yours by making a gallery wall with items of your choice. Display an array of mirrors, framed family photos, sketches or even postcards – the key is to be creative and be yourself!

“2015 is all about you,” Nayak explains. “Hanging a variety of frames or objects in a well thought-out cluster on the wall provides the perfect place to showcase pieces that are important21007397 and meaningful. When people walk into your home, they’ll know exactly what you love.”

Bold Patterns in Neutral Colors

Although neutrals provide a calm palette, it’s possible to infuse bold statements into these rooms, as well, with the use of patterns. Revitalize your room with a geometric rug in an earth tone, and also add window treatments with a daring floral design in a complementary, yet understated, color. When mixing prints, pair structured, linear patterns with organic ones for a look that’s polished, and not too “matchy.”

“This is a beautiful way to add drama and what appears to be ‘texture’ to a space,” adds Nayak.

60’s Mod

The retro panache of mid-century modern decor will perk up rooms with its soft, sculptural lines, woven upholstery and bright accessories in geometric shapes. Search for vintage furniture pieces like rounded chairs and button-cushion couches with short, tapered legs to add a sense of authenticity.

“We are going retro mod – way back to the 60s where design was about curvy forms, vibrant colors and eccentric patterns,” Nayak says. “Be prepared to leave your design fears at the door and go full throttle with the bright and loud elements found in the mod movement. ”

Organic Elements

This year, mount antlers above your mantel; or create centerpieces with shells, metallic leaves or branches for a rustic vibe. With these earthy components juxtaposed against woodsy furniture and ivory tones, you’ll create an impressive, outdoorsy aesthetic.

“It’s easy to bring nature and organic structures into your home,” Nayak assures. “Leave linear styles out of the equation. Instead, think of free flowing shapes, colors found in nature and the peaceful serenity associated with the outdoors. The goal is to evoke the same emotional responses throughout your home.”

Copper

“Each year we see a particular metal rise to the top of every designer’s list; and this year, it’s all about copper,” Nayak says.

Copper is a captivating metallic that adds a modern edge to even the simplest scheme. Small pieces make a big statement, so subtly pepper in copper pieces to your decor, like light fixtures, planters or table settings. Display copper cookware in your kitchen – it’s a great way to add a touch of glamour without being gaudy.

2015 is full of impressive design trends. Use Nayak’s expertise, and this year, your home will serve as a canvas for self-expression, creativity and style.