3 Unexpected Upgrades to Add Beauty and Comfort to Your Home

home updates(StatePoint) While a simple home upgrade once meant a new area rug or fresh coat of paint, these days, there are new and unexpected ways to update your space in order to add beauty and comfort to your home.

• Think Smart: New technology can add unexpected convenience and luxury to your everyday life. Virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, can help make your space cozy, comfortable and secure, giving you the ability to control light bulbs, door locks, blinds, music and more with voice commands. Companion apps also allow you to control home elements through your phone from anywhere.

Particular about your shower? Create the perfect experience every day by programming temperature and water flow settings to your liking.

Enjoying family movie night and don’t want to get off the couch? With a WiFi-enabled SIMPLEconnect smart fan from Hunter Fan Company, for example, you can turn the light and breeze on and off with simple voice commands.

• Living gallery wall: Add vitality and beauty to your space with a living gallery wall, whereby plant life becomes a work of art. Known as a vertical garden, there are many ways to go about it, whether it’s affixing planters in a pattern to your wall or hanging a flat panel of succulents and moss and bordering it with a picture frame. This will create a lively visual and a healthy one at that — adding oxygen to the rooms of your home, or even nutrition, should you choose to plant herbs.

• Add a breeze: Whether you live in an old house where central air is non-existent or you just want to add some ventilation to your space with a low-key upgrade, there’s no need to call in an HVAC team. Adding a ceiling fan to the landing of your staircase, for example, can help pull and circulate cool air into the upstairs space. Or, consider transforming the traditionally neglected laundry room into a space that’s comfortable for getting chores done. The addition of a ceiling fan can create a breeze and alleviate the heat created by the dryer. Low-profile versions like the Cranbrook from Hunter Fan Company, are a good fit for the small square footage of a laundry room.

For more design or upgrade tips, follow Hunter Fan Company on instagram at @Hunterfanco or visit itsaHunter.com.

Thinking outside the box when updating your space can go a long way toward adding beauty and comfort to your home.

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PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Diana Elizabeth Blog for Hunter Fan Company

Welcome to your Smart Home

Imagine it has been a long and difficult  day at work.  You come home to find  the porch light on and  your garage door opens automatically as your car pulls up.  Inside the lights are on, temperature  is a perfect 72 degrees, your favorite music is playing, pets have been fed and your dinner has been started. Welcome to your smart home!the-smart-house

What is a “smart home”?

“Smart Home” is the term used  for a home that has devices such as security systems, lights, thermostats, computers, entertainment systems and even appliances  that can communicate with each other and can be controlled from just about anywhere in the world using the Internet, blue tooth and your cell phone. The true smart home will even anticipate your needs.  If a device uses electricity it can be put on the network.  Smart home technology is available today for not only brand new homes but for older homes as well and for virtually every budget.  There are 100s of products to choose from and more are coming to the market daily.    There are products that unlock doors as you get close, light bulbs that you can program to change color and brightness, cameras that let you view your home from anywhere in the world and motion detectors that send an alert to your smartphone.  Smart home technology is making our lives easier, safer and saving us money by making our homes more energy efficient.    Here are a few widely available and relatively inexpensive  products that you can install yourself  to start you on the road to a smarter home:

One of the simplest and least expensive ways to incorporate smart technology is with a “smart outlet” The The Belkin WeMo Insight Switch,  which goes for around $50, is one such device.  You simply plug it  into any electrical outlet and then plug in your lamp, tv, coffee pot etc.  These outlets use your home Wi-Fi network and enable you to use  your smartphone to turn the outlet on and off whenever you choose and wherever you are.  Are  you at the airport and wonder if you turned off the coffee maker?  It’s not a problem as long as your coffee maker is plugged into a smart outlet, you can just use the app on your cell phone to turn it off.  Belkin also has a motion sensor available for an additional cost that will alert your phone if motion is detected or if it not detected for a period that you can specify.  This might be especially valuable to an elderly person living alone and those that care about them.

Home Security is a big reason many people begin to look into smart home technology.  The  iSmart Alarm has several different packages starting at around $200 which include motion detectors, contact sensors and  a panic siren.  Your cell phone is alerted if the system detects an intruder.

The Nest Thermostat  learns your schedule and automatically adjusts its settings based on your preferences.  It also  keeps track of your energy usage.  You can  control the temperature from your smartphone wherever you are so if you are going on vacation you can turn the heat down and save.   Nest also makes a security camera and a smoke/CO detector that will alert your phone if it goes off.  Many other products work with Nest  from keyless door locks to Whirlpool appliances.  A Lutron app will turn on the lights if it detects the smoke detector is activated.  

For all of the positives of a smart home there are also some negatives.  One of the biggest downsides is that the different platforms  used by different systems  don’t communicate which each other.  This means you might  need to use several  different apps  to monitor and  connect  to your home.   Several companies are working on this connectivity issue now.   Wink and Samsung’s   Smart Things  both have several major manufacturers -( Belkin, Honeywell, Sonos, Yale, Logitech for Smart Things and Philips, Honeywell and GE for Wink) who are offering compatibility with their products.

Google  ( the owner of Nest) and Apple are also  trying to solve the connectivity problem.  Both companies are working on creating a common language that any device,  no matter who manufactures it, can talk to .  Google is using a form of its Android platform and the Apple HomeKit is already built into its iPhone operating system.   Right now there is no clear leader in the field so it will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years.