(BPT) - Cleaning the bathroom and emptying the dishwasher isn’t at the top of a couple’s “To Do Together” list, but it may be the true language of love. In fact, a recent survey from home appliance leader LG Electronics found most Americans (52%) get turned on by their partner doing housework. In fact, those who do chores with their partner (60%) are nearly twice as likely as those who don’t (37%) to believe a person who is good at chores is good in bed.
So what’s the key to a better relationship? Communication and housework.
That couldn’t be truer for celebrity couple Rachel Zoe, renowned designer and editor-in-chief of The Zoe Report, and her husband Rodger Berman, president of Rachel Zoe Inc., who have been together for 26 years. Rachel and Rodger are proof that communication and managing housework together could lead to a happier relationship.
“Rodger and I have young boys, so there is always something to clean or pick up around the house,” shared Zoe. “We work as a team to tackle the different housework, so we can spend more time together.”
Over their decades-long relationship, Zoe and Berman have some advice for how to handle disagreements over housework:
1. Divide and conquer
Splitting up household responsibilities makes it quicker and easier to get housework done. While one person prepares dinner, the other can set the table and then clear it afterwards. This helps couples feel like they’re both doing their part and no one is putting in more effort than the other.
“We love to entertain and there is always a lot of preparation before guests arrive,” Zoe said. “Rodger and I divide up the responsibilities, which makes it so much easier and faster. For example, I’ll cook and he’ll load the dishes so everything is clean and ready when people arrive.”
2. Find the right tools to make tasks easier
“When we have friends and family over, we want to spend time with them and not worry about running around doing a million things and cleaning up,” notes Zoe. “We make sure we have the right tools to help us — our newest trick of the trade is the LG QuadWash dishwasher. It looks amazingly chic in our home but it also makes our lives easier. Because it has four powerful spraying arms, instead of the traditional two, we don’t have to worry about prewashing or rewashing the dishes.”
Technology can help couples tackle cleaning and maintain their home together. Set reminders for whose turn it is to clean out the refrigerator or use the LG SmartThinQ® app to monitor and check when the dishwasher is done. Using technology can help couples spend more time together and less time cleaning.
3. Specialize according to priorities and strengths
Specializing is one way to ensure everyone’s priorities are met and housework gets done. Some people would rather clean the bathroom than load a dishwasher, while others don’t mind a layer of dust on furniture but can’t abide a sink full of dirty dishes overnight. The party who hates bathroom cleaning can be responsible for all dishwasher duties, including making sure the sink is dish-free at the end of the day. Meanwhile, the other party can tackle bathroom duties.
Zoe and Berman prioritize housework based on the other’s preferences. “I love cooking and it’s important to me to always serve good meals, so I handle all the cooking,” she says. “Rodger actually likes doing the dishes, and he knows I can’t sleep if there are dirty dishes in the sink, so he always makes sure the dishes are loaded in the dishwasher before we go to bed.”
4. Never use housework as a tool for revenge
One in four people surveyed by LG said they have purposely messed up a partner’s laundry after a fight. Zoe admits when she’s angry with Berman she may not take the throw pillows off his side of the bed, or make his nightly frozen yogurt. However, she also verbalizes to him what she’s upset about.
"Sharing responsibilities has always been an effortless part of our relationship," Zoe says. "That's the way we have always approached our lives. We have always thought of ourselves as a team."
(BPT) - You love entertaining and treating guests to delectable dishes and fun times. Unfortunately, your kitchen layout, appliances and even the faucet are so downright unappealing that the thought of planning and preparing a party menu is equally unpleasant.
What do you do when you’re built to entertain, but your kitchen is not? Renovate!
Reason to renovate
The kitchen is a favorite room to remodel, and a minor kitchen refresh can return more than 80 percent of your investment at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report. But ROI isn’t the top reason people renovate kitchens. According to the 2017 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study, most people who remodel their kitchen do so because they just can’t stand it anymore.
So, if you love playing host but don’t like the kitchen that stands in the way of your entertaining, revamping the room is the perfect way to make it more party-friendly.
Renovating for entertainment
Here are five upgrades that can help make your kitchen the perfect platform for entertaining:
1. Give yourself some space. If you’ve decided to go all in for your kitchen renovation, and have an older home with a closed-off kitchen, consider opening the space to the home’s main living area. If your home already has an open floor plan, consider ways to tie the kitchen more intimately to the living area, such as continuing one style of flooring through both rooms, or repeating an accent color in the kitchen and adjacent common space.
2. Work smarter with a new faucet. The sink is a key point in the workflow triangle for any kitchen, and the faucet should take center stage in this performance. A contemporary faucet with task-driven spray patterns is a must for entertaining, but wouldn’t an extra pair of hands also be great to have with the flurry of pre-party activities? An easy and quick solution is a hands-free faucet, such as the American Standard Beale kitchen faucet with Selectronic technology, which allows you to turn water on or off without the need to touch the faucet. This touchless technology makes food prep easier, while also helping to prevent cross-contamination of foods.
Taking hands-free technology one step further, the addition of a sleek, European-styled GROHE kitchen faucet with Foot Control allows you to control the flow of water with a tap of your toe at the base of the sink cabinet. Now it will be super simple to fill a big pot or rinse off a large skillet, using both hands to hold it securely while turning on the water at the same time.
3. Upgrade appliances. Depending on your budget, you can find appliances to help with virtually every aspect of entertaining, from dishwashers that entirely eliminate the need to pre-rinse, to refrigerators that help compile your grocery list. Even on a modest budget, you can improve on your current appliances, especially if they are older and less energy efficient. Double stoves are great for cooking a lot of food for large groups of guests, warming drawers keep food warm until ready to serve, and beverage drawers ensure you’ll always have enough refreshments for everyone.
4. Choose cleaning-friendly surfaces. Did you ever wonder why stainless steel sinks continue to be a popular choice in kitchens, regardless of the room’s decor? It’s because stainless steel sinks not only look good, they also retain their beauty longer by resisting stains and scratches. Plus, drop-in and undermount stainless steel sinks from American Standard offer both single and double bowl options for simplifying kitchen tasks. Picking dirt and germ-busting surfaces like stainless steel, stone countertops, ceramic tile, etc., can help make it easier to keep your kitchen clean, leaving you more time for entertaining.
5. Create an island paradise. The standalone island has become a must-have for entertainment-minded homeowners. An island can serve multiple purposes when throwing a party, from providing extra workspace or hosting a second sink, to giving guests a seat closer to the action. You can even choose a multi-level island that will allow you to interact with guests while concealing work areas and sinks from view.
If your kitchen has been holding you back from blossoming into the host of your dreams, these easy upgrades can help the room better match your personality and entertainment needs.
If your favorite room is outdated and dingy, a renovation may be all you need to make the old feel new and to fall in love with your home all over again. Upgrading your home can be a big job, and unless it’s part of a pre-move-in plan, few homeowners find it practical (or even possible, from a budget standpoint) to execute a large-scale project. However, tackling the updates one room at a time and focusing on small changes that bring big returns can put those overdue enhancements well within reach.
Small changes that add up to a big impact
(Family Features) If your favorite room is outdated and dingy, a renovation may be all you need to make the old feel new and to fall in love with your home all over again.
Upgrading your home can be a big job, and unless it’s part of a pre-move-in plan, few homeowners find it practical (or even possible, from a budget standpoint) to execute a large-scale project. However, tackling the updates one room at a time and focusing on small changes that bring big returns can put those overdue enhancements well within reach.
Also consider upgrades that can increase natural light and fresh air without compromising privacy, such as the addition of skylights to your ceiling, or “fifth wall,” which can completely change the lighting dynamic of the room. In addition to balanced, natural light, skylights like those from Velux can open to help refresh your space and keep it odor- and moisture-free.
Which Skylight is Right?
Electric skylights are wired into your home electrical system and open and close via a radio frequency, touch-screen remote control.
Manual skylights open with a hand lever; a control rod is generally available for out-of-reach installations.
For extra style and light control, consider complementing the room’s decor with skylights featuring colored blinds, which are available in more than 100 colors and styles, and also offer remote control operation for convenience in raising and lowering the blinds and opening skylights to let in fresh air. Learn more about making the fifth wall part of your renovation plan at whyskylights.com.SOURCE:
(BPT) - Live-edge hardwood, in which the sides of the slab are left unmilled to retain the natural profile of the tree trunk, is an increasingly popular decorative trend in today’s residential interiors. The technique is not only used for pieces of standalone furniture such as tables and benches but also for built-in elements like shelving, mantles, counter tops, bars and kitchen islands.
“Most mills cut off the rough tree edges, turning the raw timber into neat boards,” says Linda Jovanovich, of the American Hardwood Information Center at www.HardwoodInfo.com. “But the current demand for live-edge slabs has led to a small but vigorous subset of producers who specialize in the category.” These are often boutique businesses that source, dry and mill limited batches of timber for use in furniture of their own design and manufacture.
“Some larger sawmills sell live-edge slabs to the public,” Jovanovich continues. “You visit their showroom and pick your own one-of-a-kind piece of ash, cherry, red oak, walnut or whatever other hardwood species they have in stock. A cabinetmaker can then custom-make a piece of furniture or a built-in feature to your exact specifications.”
Sustainability-minded entrepreneurs are responsible for another niche in the live-edge hardwood market: small urban suppliers that source culled or fallen trees from the backyards of private homes, public parks, graveyards and other leafy locations in their city and its immediate environs. One such enterprise, RE-CO BKLYN in Brooklyn, New York, recently harvested four 12,000-pound logs from a 150-year-old storm-felled elm in nearby Prospect Park. The logs were taken to an upstate mill to be sawn into live-edge slabs and dried before being shipped back to Brooklyn, where they were either sold or used by RE-CO for tables, desks, bar counters, shelves, headboards and other beautiful custom-made pieces it produces.
“It was George Nakashima, the legendary Japanese-American mid-century furniture maker, who pioneered the use of live-edge slabs in refined residential settings,” says New York–based designer Glenn Gissler. “Previously, untrimmed wood planks, sometimes with the bark still intact, were used for rustic, log-cabin or ranch-house effects — elements that referenced the traditions, myths and aesthetics of the American Old West. With his gorgeous large-scale pieces, comprising multiple slabs of characterful woods like walnut and cherry connected with butterfly joints, Nakashima showed us how unfinished natural edges and richly figured knotted surfaces fit perfectly into even the most sophisticated urban interiors.”
Today, original Nakashima pieces are highly collectible and command high prices at auction. But his free-edge aesthetic is more influential than ever as homeowners discover the ability of live-edge furniture to work with almost any decorative style. Paired with blackened-steel legs, for example, a live-edge slab of burled walnut creates a dining table with loft-worthy industrial chic. Fixed to the bedroom wall, a free-form expanse of warm-toned cherry provides a romantic headboard. Or a hefty live-edge slab of oak, supported on an equally hefty oak-slab base, makes for a monumental console with the presence of a piece of archaic sculpture. New York–based designer Laura Bohn has even used the chainsawed cross-section of an elm trunk — complete with its bark — as a counter top on which to mount a stainless steel powder-room sink. “It introduces a decidedly rustic note into a thoroughly modern space,” she says. “And yet it looks perfectly natural, as if it had just grown there of its own accord.”
Visit www.HardwoodInfo.com for more about residential design trends and other applications and products using American hardwoods.
As much as half of the average homeowner’s monthly utility expenses go toward cooling and heating, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Fortunately, numerous technological advances are making it easier than ever to manage home energy use.
Save Money Through Energy Efficiency
(Family Features) As much as half of the average homeowner’s monthly utility expenses go toward cooling and heating, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). For many households, that makes energy the largest home-related expense each month, next to a mortgage payment.
Fortunately, numerous technological advances are making it easier than ever to manage home energy use. In fact, the DOE estimates you can save as much as 10 percent a year on energy costs by simply adjusting the temperature up or down when you’re away during the day. Installing a programmable thermostat that never forgets to adjust on a busy morning and kicks back on before you arrive home can help you earn these savings and reduce energy consumption.
Lighting is another major energy challenge. However, smart light bulbs let you adjust your home’s ambiance (and energy usage) with just a couple of quick taps. Paired with motion sensors that detect movement (or a lack thereof) and adjust lighting accordingly, smart bulbs can help reduce the waste of energy caused by lighting unused rooms.
Similarly, smartphone applications that connect to other appliances, utilities and home features offer the best of personalized comfort and convenience while providing tools to help minimize your home’s energy consumption.
Zoned Climate Control
While a zoned system is generally considered a premium home feature, it isn’t unattainable and actually offers long-term savings, due to its energy-efficient operation. The home is divided into zones, designated by floors, rooms or areas – however the homeowner chooses – which eliminates the “all on” feature of traditional air conditioners.
A system like Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating’s Zoned Comfort Solutions offers a true zoning-system with convenient controls and automation, along with whisper-quiet operation. Both ducted and non-ducted units are available depending on the space and occupant needs. Additionally, some models have advanced filtration features to help eliminate allergens, contributing to improved air quality.
For a new build, installing a zoned system from the outset is relatively simple. However, zoned systems are also a possible solution for replacing your home’s HVAC system or rectifying a problem with a single uncomfortable room. Pairing the system with sensors or remote app controls can bring operating costs even lower through computerized automation.
Find more ways to save money on your energy bill at mitsubishicomfort.com.
A state-of-the-art zoned climate control system can be configured to your specific needs, but all the customization options can make it tricky to predict how much your installation might cost. Taking into account these variables can give you a better sense of how much you’ll be spending.
New equipment. Each system includes an outdoor unit, indoor unit(s), controls and parts including the refrigerant line-set, wiring and electrical accessories. Conditioning one room or zone comes at a significantly different price than cooling and heating a home with eight or more zones. Generally, new equipment comes in between $3,000-$15,000, depending on the number of zones and size of the home.
Labor. This is what you will pay a licensed HVAC contractor to install the system (and remove your old one, if necessary). Contractors’ labor prices vary widely, but expect to spend an amount roughly equal to your equipment cost, depending on your geographic location and the complexity of the installation.
Additional costs. Depending on your existing system, you may incur costs for items such as electrical work to install a new 240V outlet ($200-$1,000, or more if your electrical panel requires a new circuit); an equipment pad, stand or brackets for the outdoor unit ($50-$300); ductwork (prices vary greatly depending on the home); and controller options (approximately $200-$300 each).
Unique situations. Some homes, such as older homes, high-performance homes and homes in extreme cold-weather regions, often require auxiliary heat or specialized designs or equipment, all of which can impact the cost of the system. However, with Mitsubishi Electric’s Zoned Comfort Solutions, 100 percent heating down to a 5° F outdoor temperature can be attained.
Rebates. Some states offer rebates for the installation of more energy-efficient appliances, including HVAC systems. These rebates can help offset some of the upfront costs associated with installing zoned systems. Consider speaking with a professional or researching available rebates in your region before purchasing a new system.
Photos © 2017 Scripps Networks, LLC. Used with permission; all rights reserved.SOURCE:
Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating
(BPT) - Are you planning an upcoming home improvement? If so, you are not alone.
Higher-than-average renovation spending is expected in 2017, according to a leading consumer magazine, with more than half of homeowners planning to spend money on home improvements throughout the year.
From upgrading appliances to gutting entire rooms, big projects can have a big impact on a home and on your wallet, so it’s important to approach any renovation with thoughtful intention.
To ensure you make the right decisions when it comes to large purchases and major home improvements, ask yourself these five questions:
How long do you plan to live in the home?
Knowing how long you expect to live in your home can help you better navigate home improvements. If you only plan to live in your home for five years you'll likely make different decisions than if it is your forever home.
What is your budget?
Home upgrades don't come cheap, so it's helpful to determine a budget before you start. Consider renovations and upgrades as a smart way to maintain your home investment. By putting money into your home, you are helping maintain its integrity, style, usefulness and value.
When setting a budget, you can pay out of pocket or take out a personal or home equity loan. Additionally, some companies offer low-interest financing. If you plan to borrow for your project, make sure you clearly understand and are comfortable with payment terms.
Once you set a budget, stick to it. Problems may arise that require unexpected additional costs, but often budget blowouts are from homeowners who start spending and the excitement of the project causes them to go beyond their means.
What purchases are worth the splurge?
Research and decide which purchases are worth spending more on. For example, appliances used nearly every day are a worthwhile investment — especially if they are more energy efficient and offer features that enhance your day-to-day routine.
Rather than getting a basic washer, opt for the LG TWINWash(TM) 2-in-1 washer. It can run two loads at once, saving homeowners time and energy.
LG TWINWash combines any Energy Star(R)-certified LG front load washer — including the largest capacity on the market (at 5.8 cu. ft., it’s large enough to fit a full set of king-size bedding and a comforter) — with a second washer, the LG SideKick(TM). This smaller washer sits in place of the pedestal, and washes 3-4 lbs. of clothes, making it perfect for custom-care items.
Owners of LG washers can also decide to upgrade their existing front load washer from 2009 on with the LG SideKick instead of purchasing a new one — making a big upgrade simple.
Bottom line: Make sure your purchase improves your daily life and is proven to last. (For example, LG washers and dryers were recently named the most reliable in all laundry categories by a leading U.S. consumer products publication).
What is the ROI?
The return on investment should be considered in many ways for home improvements. First, check out reputable reports like the Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. For example, adding fiberglass attic insulation recoups 107.7 percent of the cost.
In addition to resale ROI, consider other ways you'll get a return on your investment. Will your upgrade help you save energy and reduce your bills? Will it save you time and stress in daily life? Does it enhance your home's aesthetic and flow? These are other ROIs that are just as valuable to consider as resale ROI.
What does the research say?
It's worth your time to conduct research so you get the best outcome possible. Learn about materials to discover which is best for your lifestyle and research brands. If you're hiring the project out, research contractors to find a reputable professional for the job.
Starting a home improvement project is exciting. Answering these questions will help ensure your time and financial investment are well spent.
(BPT) - Kristen Johnson* loved her home, her family and their active lifestyle. She’d never want to change a thing — except for her foyer and adjoining dining room. When she and her husband first moved into their home, they had intended to refinish the hardwood floors in those areas in a darker stain to better fit their style, but life got in the way. Twelve years, two boys and countless birthday parties, pets and indoor soccer games later, their floors were covered in scuffs, scratches and stains, and some of their walls needed repair. To complicate matters even further, they had a wraparound staircase with a wood-tone banister that would also need to be refinished if they decided to change their floor.
With their big family reunion and a house full of people just weeks away, Johnson and her husband knew it was time to make a change. However, they couldn’t afford to disrupt their busy schedules, and they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of renovation dust getting all over their ceiling fans, cupboards or worse — especially with their son’s dust allergies. They knew if they decided to take on this renovation project, they’d need it finished quickly, and they’d need the entire project to be as dust-free as possible.
What’s the big deal about renovation dust? Beyond creating a huge mess, renovation dust is also a health concern. As any homeowner who has embarked on an interior renovation project knows, the resultant dust gets everywhere — even inside closed cabinets and in adjacent rooms. However, as problematic as the mess is, dust-related health hazards are of even greater concern, particularly to allergy sufferers. Traditional methods of mitigating dust usually involve extensive prep work, like hanging plastic sheeting and taping off doors, or doing a thorough post-renovation top-to-bottom cleaning. Both options are extremely time-consuming.
Is there a better way to handle renovation dust? There is a better way to handle renovation dust: by collecting it right at the source like the pros do. Professional contractors are used to dealing with renovation dust, and given the volume of work they do, they create dust far more frequently and in much greater volumes than the average homeowner or DIYer. Rather than spend valuable time on prep work or post-project cleanup or suffer through the use of uncomfortable dust masks, they use dust collection tools that capture and contain dust immediately as it’s created, before it can become a mess or airborne health hazard.
How Johnson tackled her dust-free renovation. Because of their tight timeline, Johnson and her husband decided to take on some of their renovation themselves using supplies purchased at their local hardware store, but they let the professionals handle the tricky floor/banister redo.
To repair their drywall, they patched the damaged areas using joint compound and a drywall sander, which together cost about $130. To make the sanding process dust-free, they added a Dust Deputy, which they connected directly to the drywall sander and to their wet/dry vacuum. They found that this combination captured virtually all the dust generated by the sanding. They noticed no dust in the air, and the Dust Deputy prevented the fine drywall dust from clogging their vacuum filter.
Even though they had the flooring contractor tackle the floor and banister, they saved a few dollars by removing the varnish from the banister and other hard-to-reach areas themselves. To do this, they applied a gel varnish remover using a brush (together about $20), then scraped the wet varnish residue using a Viper Scraper attached to their Dust Deputy and wet/dry vacuum. The scraper captured the residue, and the Dust Deputy contained it for disposal, without it ever reaching, or damaging, their vacuum.
Their big splurge was on the floor refinishing, which they left to the pros to tackle (about $2,500). To keep that process dust-free, they selected a dust-free contractor in their area who used a cyclonic Oneida Vortex dust collection system with HEPA filtration. In the end, they finished the project virtually dust-free and just in time for their family reunion, and they were very pleased with the results!
*Kristen’s last name has been changed for privacy.
Being safe and comfortable at home is a large part of living well. Home modifications and repairs can help everyone, especially older adults and people with disabilities, maintain an independent lifestyle and prevent accidents. Here’s how you can get started making your home more accessible.
Improvements for Independence
Modifications to make your home more accessible
(Family Features) Being safe and comfortable at home is a large part of living well. Home modifications and repairs can help everyone, especially older adults and people with disabilities, maintain an independent lifestyle and prevent accidents.
Many older adults prefer to stay at home for as long as possible, but too often don’t think about whether their homes will meet their needs as they age. Making improvements for independence before they are needed is a good way to ensure that a home is ready for aging in place. Forward-thinking improvements may also help prevent falls, which often cause the need for long-term care.
Many changes, such as adding grab bars in bathrooms, can be done without a major redesign or full-blown renovation. Depending on your circumstance, it may also make sense to consider things like widening doorways and lowering countertop heights for someone who uses a wheelchair.
Here’s how you can get started:
Cost and contractors
More information about home modifications, including financial assistance, can be found at eldercare.gov.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Administration for Community Living
Interested in Publishing on The Home Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!