Transform Your Home Today, Stay Safe Tomorrow

bath(BPT) – While many can only dream of the day they’ll retire, for baby boomers, that dream is quickly becoming a reality. By the year 2030, approximately 20 percent of Americans are expected to be age 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But retirement doesn’t necessarily mean relocating to a senior community. More and more, adults choose to “age in place,” remaining in their current home, even after retirement. Here are a few ways to add extra convenience today – and ensure a safe home in the future.

Change Up Common Areas

When thinking about the long-term, start with the layout. In a perfect world, it’s ideal to have all the key living spaces – bathroom, kitchen and bedroom on the first floor. If your home wasn’t built with a first-floor bedroom or bath, and stairs have to be a part of your plan, install no-slip strips on the edge of each stair to help limit trips and falls.

Next, make sure there’s plenty of room to move. Aim for doorways that are at least 32 inches wide, though 36 inches is ideal. Tight corners and doorways are a challenge for those with walkers or canes. For stress-free opening and closing, change out door handles from traditional knobs to lever handles for an easier grip.

Then, focus on the flooring. Installing carpeting can provide warmth and cushioning for you to enjoy now, and offers an added element of safety when it might be harder for you to maneuver around in the future. Choose a low pile carpet to minimize tripping – too much shag is a safety hazard. Area rugs are a major no-no, as unsecured rugs and loose carpet are one of the main causes for slips and falls. If you can’t bear the thought of losing your area rug, use carpet tape to secure it firmly to the floor.

Boost the Bath

If you can only update one place in your home, make it the bathroom. The bathroom typically offers the most opportunities for injury. In fact, roughly 234,000 injuries occur annually in the bathroom alone, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An easy way to incorporate safety is to install grab bars. Today’s grab bars are stylish, fitting in seamlessly with your space, rather than seeming obtrusive and sterile. Install them near the toilet, (make sure you have a comfort-height commode for easy sitting and standing) as well as in the shower. Some models, like the corner shelf with grab bar from Moen, pull double duty adding an element of additional storage you can take advantage of immediately, providing room to store your shampoo, and will help keep you safe while entering and exiting the bath. Check out retailers like Lowes for a wide array of options that are fashionable as well as functional.

In the shower, a handheld showerhead, like the Magnetix Engage showerhead from Moen, is an ideal option for those who may want to be seated while they bathe. Engage with Magnetix is also handy for cleaning the shower, by eliminating bending and squatting which can be hard on your joints as you age. Finally, at the vanity, choose a faucet with lever handles – they’re easiest to grip and turn – and install sconces near the mirror for additional lighting.

In general, the most important advice for any room in your home is to think efficiently. Locate items that work together near each other to make tasks easier today, tomorrow and in the years to come.

5 Smart Upgrades for the Most-Used Rooms in Your Home

kitchen(BPT) – Kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms are typically the rooms in any home that get the most use, which could also be why homeowners, when surveyed, consistently cite those rooms as the ones they most want to renovate. It makes perfect sense to upgrade the rooms where you spend the most time, but in high-traffic areas, you can’t afford to make changes just for the sake of cosmetics. You want improvements that can enhance your enjoyment of a room and its functionality.

Here are five smart improvements to make in the rooms users of voted as the most popular ones in their homes: kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and game rooms.

1. Add Natural Light

Most rooms in the home look better and are more functional in natural light, and more daylight can help reduce the need for artificial light. What’s more, there’s no arguing the positive mental and physical health effects of natural light. Daylight stimulates the body to produce Vitamin D and boosts brain levels of serotonin, which is thought to be associated with positive moods.

Adding skylights is a practical, cost-effective and attractive way to bring more natural light into virtually any room. Remote-controlled, solar-powered fresh-air skylights from Velux America provide not just natural light, but passive ventilation, a real plus in kitchens and baths. Adding solar powered blinds, in designer colors and patterns, increases energy efficiency while giving you total control over the amount of sunlight entering a room through the skylight.

In kitchens, Energy Star-qualified fresh air skylights increase natural light and ventilation without requiring any loss of wall space you could better use for cabinetry. In bathrooms, they provide the perfect combination of privacy and healthful natural light and ventilation.

If you already have older glass or plastic bubble skylights, you can upgrade to the latest solar powered models, plus solar blinds, and receive a 30 percent federal tax credit on the products as well as installation costs. You can even bring more natural light into rooms or areas without direct roof access, like half-baths, closets and hallways, with Sun Tunnel tubular skylights. Visit to learn more.

2. Add Organization/Storage

Clutter and chaos not only make a room function less efficiently, it can impact your mood as well. Adding organization and storage to rooms where clutter typically collects – such as bedrooms, living rooms and game rooms – is an easy, cost-effective way to improve the function of the room and how you feel about spending time in it.

In bedrooms, maximize closet space by installing organization units. A variety of manufacturers offer ready-made units you can install yourself. Or, for a bit more investment, you can have a professional closet organizer custom-make a unit to fit your space and needs. In living rooms and game rooms, built-in shelving and cabinetry is a functional and beautiful way to improve organization.

3. Improve Ventilation

Air flow is critical to the health of your home and everyone who lives in it. Ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms carries away excess moisture that can cause mold and mildew, and creates a fresher, more healthful environment by exhausting stale indoor air.

Bathrooms should be equipped with exhaust fans, and kitchen hoods should vent to the exterior of your home whenever possible. You can further improve ventilation by installing Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered fresh-air skylights, like those made by Velux. Because these skylights open, they provide passive ventilation to allow stale indoor air to escape and admit fresh air. A sensor operates a motor to close the skylights automatically in case of rain.

4. Replace Older, Inefficient Fixtures and Appliances

Fixtures and appliances are key elements of kitchens and bathrooms. Older ones not only look dated and shabby, they can cost you money because they use more electricity and water than newer, more efficient models.

Replacing old faucets, shower heads, dishwashers and washing machines with newer models that use less water can reduce your water bill and give kitchens and bathrooms a whole new look. Energy Star-qualified appliances such as stoves, clothes dryers, refrigerators and washers also use less electricity than older appliances, so you can also lower your energy bills.

5. Freshen the Foundations

Every room benefits from a good foundation, and that doesn’t just mean sturdy flooring. Wall color, flooring materials and trim are fundamental elements in any room. Simply repainting walls and woodwork can completely change the way any room looks. Or, if you like the colors you have, a fresh coat in the same color will make the room look brighter and newer. Replacing worn carpeting or dated tiles, or refinishing a hardwood floor are also great ways to improve the foundations of any room.

4 Futuristic Bath Upgrades to Indulge in for 2016

bath 1 (BPT) – Are you planning a bathroom remodel in 2016? If so, you’re not alone; the National Association of Homebuilders predicts a 6 percent increase in remodeling in the coming year. Some of those remodeling homeowners will seek upgrades to transform their bathrooms into true oases of luxury, beauty and efficient functionality.

Bathroom renovations remain among the most popular home improvement projects, and can greatly enhance not only real estate value but your enjoyment of your home as well. From high-end fixtures that clean themselves to smart showers, here are leading-edge bathroom upgrades that add luxury and value to your bath:

The Fixtures of Tomorrow

Space-age technology now meets timeless design in luxury fixtures like the Neorest 750H by TOTO. While the toilet’s sleek, contemporary styling compliments a variety of modern bathroom design themes, its Actilight technology uses ultra-violet light and a special glaze to break down dirt in the bowl and rinse it clean with ewater+, a system that mists and cleans the bowl with electrolyzed water after every flush. A heated seat, deodorizer and warm water personal cleansing system elevate this high-tech sensor toilet to a relaxing and refreshing experience.

The ewater+ system is also a key technology feature of TOTO’s Washlet S350e. Ergonomically contoured to make personal cleanliness more comfortable, the Washlet is fully automated and includes a remote control and heated seat, warm aerated cleansing, a self-cleaning dual-action spray wand, warm air dryer and built-in deodorizing system.

Space-Age Showers

The idea of a shower as a place to relax – rather than to just get clean – has been around for a long time, but modern technology is taking the concept tobath 2 the next level. From showers that can function both as traditional spray showers and steam showers, to “smart showers” that allow you to program customized temperature, pressure and spray settings for multiple users, a variety of high-tech, luxury upgrades are transforming the simple shower into a customized experience.

Smart showers can also be remote-controlled, allowing you to start the water flow and set the temperature before stepping into the shower – ensuring you’ll never again get an unpleasant temperature surprise. You can also choose to install a water-proof sound system that allows you to stream your favorite music from a mobile device and listen through multiple speakers, including one in the shower head itself.

Smart Mirrors

If you’re a bathroom multi-tasker, smart mirrors can make life easier and help you keep step with the busy pace of your lifestyle. On the simple end of smarter mirrors, an anti-fog bathroom mirrors use heat and/or special coatings to ensure mirrors remain free of condensation even after the hottest shower – so you never have to wait for the mirror to clear or wipe of fog and live with the streaks.

On the higher end are digital mirrors that incorporate a touchscreen display, WiFi, TV and Internet functionality. Some also allow you to use favorite apps, so you can check the weather or scan emails while shaving or doing your hair.

Digital Electronic Faucets

Touch-free faucets have been around for a while, but modern digital electronic faucets do far more than turn on without the touch of a finger. Electronic faucets also use infrared technology to turn off when a user’s hand moves away. Digital features also allow users to see the temperature of the water and program the temperature and the duration of the flow, so you don’t have to touch the faucet to turn it on or off while brushing your teeth. You can even find faucets that feature touchscreen technology so you can not only control temperature, but monitor your water usage too.

An upscale bathroom remodel returns nearly 60 percent of its cost at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report. However, when you opt for luxury bathroom upgrades, your investment can enrich your enjoyment of your home far beyond the monetary value of the improvements.

Reduce the Risk of Home Fires

fire(BPT) – While the number of home fires occurring in the U.S. each year has fallen by more than 50 percent since 1977, the ratio of people who die in home fires has remained virtually unchanged, based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In 1977, deaths occurred in .8 percent of home fires, and in 2013, that rate was .7 percent. One possible explanation for this discrepancy: home fires now burn hotter and faster than they did 40 years ago, meaning victims have less time to escape a burning house.

“In a series of experiments, UL demonstrated that the nature of residential fires has changed dramatically,” says Eric Skare, a volunteer firefighter in Minnesota and product manager of fire safety systems for Uponor. “Flashover – the point when intense heat causes an entire room to become engulfed in flames – now occurs less than five minutes after a fire starts. It used to take 30 minutes or longer for flashover to occur. People now have less time to get out of a burning house, even if their smoke alarms have alerted them to the fire.”

The UL study cites several factors as driving the changes in home residential fires, including:

* Modern home design is toward larger homes with more open floor plans, an arrangement that facilitates the spread of fire. Older homes were smaller overall and featured smaller room plans.

* Construction materials currently in use contribute to a faster burn time.

* Today’s home furnishings are made from many synthetic materials that combust easily, meaning fires have more fuel.

* In UL testing, modern windows of all types failed faster than windows made from older – or “legacy” materials. In some cases, the time difference was significant. For example, legacy windows made of wood with a metal frame and nine single-glazed panes failed in about 12 to 16 minutes, while modern premium wooden frame windows with two panes of double-glazed glass failed in about four to six minutes. When windows fail, they admit more oxygen into a burning building to feed the fire.

Working smoke alarms in a home are proven to reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities. Virtually every construction code in the U.S. requires smoke alarms in new construction. Functioning smoke alarms reduce the risk of home fire fatalities by 50 percent, according to the NFPA. A residential sprinkler system slashes the risks even further – by 80 percent. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that all homes should be equipped with both smoke alarms and sprinklers. And the International Residential Code also requires fire sprinklers for new-home construction.

A typical system represents about 1 to 1.5 percent of the total cost of new-home construction. For example, a $200,000 new home would require an investment of about $2,000 to install sprinklers – far less than the cost of other, less safety-oriented upgrades, such as premium appliances or flooring.

Multipurpose systems like Uponor’s, which use durable, flexible PEX piping, reduce costs even further. Because the home’s cold-water plumbing fixtures are fed from the sprinkler loop, less piping is required for the installation. And recent approvals now allow Uponor’s PEX piping to be left exposed in unfinished basement applications, which simplifies installation requirements even more.

“If you’re building a new home or undertaking a major renovation, there’s life-saving value in asking your builder to install a fire sprinkler system,” says Skare. “It doesn’t have to cost a bundle to buy yourself and your family more time in case of a fire, and it’s well worth the investment.”

To learn more about residential fire sprinkler systems visit For more information about fire safety and building construction, visit or