School lunch vs. bag lunch: What’s best for your kids?
Bag it or buy it? What’s healthier and what will they eat? It’s a question faced by parents each school year. Often, there’s an assumption that bagging is better, but there’s also the convenience and choices of school lunch to consider. Good news: both the tray and the tote can be winning meals. A few important facts can help make this year’s lunchtime decisions a breeze.
New school lunch initiatives
Much attention has been paid to children’s health and there’s an increased awareness that lunch at school is a critical source of nutrition for students. New federal guidelines have been introduced to ensure that menus provide more whole grains, more fruits and vegetables and less fat and sodium. Thanks to dedicated efforts driven by schools, parents and the federal government, many positive changes are occurring.
“There’s a lot happening in the lunch line,” says Dr. Brian Wansink, researcher and professor at Cornell University. Wansink and Dr. David Just, researcher and associate professor at Cornell University, created Smarter Lunchrooms, a multi-faceted program that provides schools with tools that can improve children’s eating behaviors in the cafeteria.
“It’s a common misconception that kids won’t eat healthy foods, but our work shows that not to be the case. We can encourage healthy choices in the way we present foods to kids,” says Wansink. He and his team have carefully studied the cafeteria line and how kids choose foods. The placement of foods on the lunch line, how foods are named on the menu and offering choices significantly affect which foods kids select.
For example, moving fruit from a commercial bin to an attractive fruit bowl near the end of the line is proven to increase selection. “Banning favorite foods such as tacos and pizza from a cafeteria can backfire,” adds Wansink. “When kids feel restricted or forced into a decision, they rebel and may choose not to eat. Nobody wins in that scenario. We know a healthy lunch is necessary for good school performance.”
Companies have stepped up to improve nutrition by creating new versions of kid-favorite foods that meet the new USDA school meal rules. Stir-fry, tacos, pastas and pizzas have become healthy fare as lower fat, lower sodium, whole grain versions have been introduced. For example, Schwan’s Food Service created Big Daddy’s(R) Cheese Pizza with a 51 percent whole-grain crust. It contains 25 percent Daily Value (DV) of calcium, as well as healthy amounts of potassium and protein, for less than 320 calories. Spicier sauces and more ethnic food choices are meeting students’ expanded flavor palates, too.
As of this fall, school lunches will also offer more produce, including dark green, red and orange vegetables, dry beans and legumes, all of which are nutrient-rich. More farm-to-school programs add the option of locally grown produce for portions of the school year.
Bag lunch betterments
Much like the cafeteria, the quality of a bag lunch hinges on what’s been chosen and eaten. To paraphrase Wansink, it’s not nutrition until it’s eaten.
One easy step to improve the quality of a bag lunch and the chance it will be enjoyed is to increase your kids’ involvement in the process. Have them help shop for foods and talk to them about which food categories make a lunch that makes a difference. Then have them help bag it up.
Remember that drinks matter at lunchtime. Soda, fruit drinks, and popular energy drinks and sports drinks lack calcium and often contain added sugars. That’s a problem. Up to 90 percent of a person’s bone density is formed by age 18 and those school years are crucial for building bone strength to last a lifetime. Be sure to pack a calcium-rich drink.
New grains and new ways of making bread mean better whole grain bread choices are available for sandwiches. Breads can be soft and moist yet still deliver whole grain goodness plus, in some cases, enough nutrients to rival fruits and vegetables.
Food safety is a big concern for bag lunches. Perishable foods need to be eaten within two hours if they’re left at room temperature and most brown bag lunches sit in a desk or locker for longer than that, turning them into bacteria havens and making them risky to eat. Home-packed meals need to be put in insulated, chilled bags that will keep foods in a safe temperature zone, sometimes for four or five hours. If your child isn’t keen on carrying an insulated bag (many older kids aren’t), or to reduce overall food safety risks, school lunches are an easy, nutritious fix.
Lunchtime is a highlight of many school days and an essential part of a productive one. Talk with your kids about what they eat and how lunch can help or hold them back from learning, running faster at recess or performing their best in after school activities. A healthful lunch will keep them fully fueled for the rest of their day.
Courtesy of ARA
Five Things Before Purchasing A House
One of the main purchases you are going to make is buying a house. You have to think about it and think all your options before making the decision. Here are some of the things you need to know before you buy a house:
1) It is more essential that you have a good credit. You will most likely obtain a loan to buy a house. Thus, you should ensure that your credit is good for a smooth sailing application. It would be better to check your credit history frequently for your own security as well.
2) Prepare for long-term debts. Keep in mind that it will take years before you will be able to pay the house completely. Ensure that you will be able to manage payment for the mortgage. Having a financial cushion is significant. Since the debt is long-term, anything can occur.
3) Most loans need a document from the appraiser so it is better to get their opinion when you see a potential house. The appraisers are experts in giving values to properties depending on the location, structure, features, and added extras to the house. This will stop any sales representative from pricing the house overly.
4) It is very attractive to buy a beautiful house at a very cheap price. Before you decide on purchasing the beautiful house, ensure that it has a safe environment. Take note that one of the factors that make a house costly is good location. If you think that the price is much cheaper than it looks, the locations may not be that attractive. Ask the appraiser why the value is low. Water is almost difficult, or the neighborhood is not safe. These factors are very important in your decision-making.
5) Make sure that the house you choose suits your lifestyle. It is so attractive to purchase a house especially if it says Sheldon Homes for sale. However, you have to verify the house first. No matter how beautiful the house is, if it does not coincide with your behavior, you will not be comfortable in it. When you choose a house, make sure that it makes you feel at ease.
Your financial state is more important when planning to a buy a house. This makes it essential to monitor your credit on a regular basis. Finally, you have to know more about the home before purchasing it.
by: Sheldon Kalnitsky
Ten scenic drives sure to leave you breathless
With more than 100 scenic byways throughout America, there is plenty to see and do on the road no matter the time of year. So, as the seasons roll by, jump in the car and take in fall’s vibrant leaves, winter’s snowy wonderland, spring’s wildflowers and summer’s long hours of light.
White Mountains Trail Scenic Byway (N.H.)
The 100-mile White Mountains Trail will take you through some of the most beautiful parts of New Hampshire. It passes through the famous White Mountains and goes past Mount Washington, which is stunning in both the fall and spring for scenic drives or hiking. Moose are plentiful in the White Mountains, so whether you’re on four wheels, two wheels, or two feet, keep a watchful eye.
Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway (Va., N.C., Tenn.)
Skyline Drive, which starts in the Shenandoah National Park, winds 105 miles through the western mountains of Virginia and links up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Away.com, a travel inspiration site, says to check out the wildflowers, ferns and mountain laurel in bloom in the late spring. The 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway then link Virginia to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina and Smokey Mountains in southern Tennessee. Since the elevation ranges from 650 to 6,000 feet, there is a wide range of time to see fall color.
State Route A1A (Fla.)
The historic Florida A1A byway runs almost the length of the eastern coast of Florida from Amelia Island at the Georgia state line to Key West. Along this route you’ll pass through seemingly endless beachfront towns, including St. Augustine, which is the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the United States, Cocoa Beach, which was the site of NASA shuttle launches, and Miami’s famous South Beach.
Natchez Trace Parkway (Tenn., Ala., Miss.)
The Natchez Trace Parkway was long ago created by Native Americans and was later used as a link between the Mississippi Territory and what is now Nashville. With a little more than 440 miles to explore, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails to be found. Camping is a budget-friendly option for a multiday trip, too.
Talimena Scenic Drive (Ark., Okla.)
The 54-mile Talimena Scenic Drive takes you through Arkansas and Oklahoma. You’ll drive along some of the highest ridges between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rocky Mountains in the Winding Stair and Rich mountains. This area experiences four distinct seasons and can be a great spot to see wildlife such as black bears.
Sky Island Scenic Byway (Ariz.)
Just 27 miles long, the Sky Island Scenic Byway is literally a climb from desert to forest. Take a photo of a cactus at the beginning of your drive, and then, 9,000 feet up, take a photo of yourself in the forest. This route is one of the only paved roads to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Enjoy this area for hiking, backpacking and even skiing.
Top of the Rockies (Colo.)
Feel like you’re on top of the world as you drive the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway. At 10,424 feet, the Tennessee Pass is breathtaking. Plenty of wildlife can be seen along this 75-mile stretch before you wind up in the old mining town of Leadville, which is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.
Beartooth Scenic Byway (Mont., Wyo.)
Providing a path to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park, Beartooth Scenic Byway in Montana and Wyoming reaches some of the highest heights in the northern Rockies. In fewer than 54 miles you’ll see snowcapped peaks, lakes and even glaciers. Plan ahead; this road is only open weather permitting, so check with the DOT before heading out on your trip.
Seward Highway (Alaska)
This 125-mile highway links the Alaskan cities of Seward and Anchorage. Starting at the Gulf of Alaska and winding through scenic areas like Chugach National Forest, this road trip is probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This highway gives visitors a way to see both the water and interior of southern Alaska.
Highway 101/California State Route 1 (Calif., Ore., Wash.)
Both Highway 101 and California State Route 1 run north-south along the California, Oregon and Washington coastline. These routes are also known as the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, Pacific Highway and the Oregon Coast Highway. Start in southern California, and when Hwy 101 branches off inland, take SR 1 along the magnificent California coastline. Plenty of views of both the coast and forests, like Redwood National Forest, will be captured.
Courtesy of ARA
Escape from reality by creating at-home retreats
Life is hectic. And although technology has made our lives easier to multitask and stay connected, it also means that no matter where you go, it’s hard to fully escape. While traveling to a remote island to get away for peace and relaxation would be a wonderful retreat, you can easily avoid the hustle and bustle of your daily routine by creating peaceful escapes throughout your own home.
Bliss in the bath
The bathroom is the only place where you can shut the door and have complete “you time” with little to no interruptions. “As people’s lives get busier, multitasking is the norm - and our time in the shower is no exception,” says Jack Suvak, senior director of market research and insights for Moen. With 54 percent of respondents to a recent survey on showering behaviors saying they have children living at home, a shower means a bit of precious alone time, and people take full advantage of the peace to think about the day, their lives and more.
To add a bit of bliss in the bath, add a spa-like shower with multiple spray settings to meet every mood. The Moen Caldwell Shower Combination offers a spa of multiple sprays and a variety of spray patterns - creating the perfect shower retreat. The collection features an incredible selection of options - both a five-setting wallmount showerhead and a five-setting handheld showerhead with five unique spray settings. And the best part? It won’t cost a fortune.
“It’s been interesting to watch how the bathroom - and the shower in particular - has become a therapeutic retreat in homes of any size,” says Rebecca Kolls, senior director home strategist at Iconoculture, a Corporate Executive Board company. “Living today is a juggling act. Consumers want balance, peace and tranquility, and that is now as easy as stepping into the shower. An effective showerhead brings an experience that’s as good as it gets - the golden ticket for relaxation whenever someone wants, or needs, it. It’s a step away.”
It’s time to truly enjoy your shower and create the ultimate getaway. After all, you deserve it. And the multiple spray settings of the Caldwell collection are perfect for everyone in the house, with a slide bar that allows users to easily adjust the handheld showerhead up or down to the preferred height with just the push of button.
Zen in the den
The TV is blaring, the phone is ringing off the hook, and power cords from everything from the Blu-ray, to the Wii, to the table lamp are refusing to stay neatly tucked away. Your den area might be a go-to hangout place, but it’s still easy to create peace among the chaos.
De-cluttering is one of the simplest things you can do to create order and a sense of calm. Remove items that haven’t been used in months and get rid of furniture that serves little to no function. The less clutter your den has, the better you’ll feel. It’s also important to open the windows whenever possible. Less mess and fresh air can easily change the outlook of a room.
Perfection on the patio
Don’t let that drab patio furniture or lackluster backyard get you down this season. A few pieces of bright colors can really change your outlook. Start off by planting flowers to spruce up the look of your space - no matter how small. Even if you don’t have a yard to put them in, flowers can be housed in pots, on balcony railings and even hung from the ceiling. They are the perfect addition of color and soothing smells.
Another great idea is to update your seating areas on your patio. A comfortable rocker, glider or lounge chair could be the perfect addition to create an inviting area for you to escape in a book or relax and unwind socializing with friends. If you already have seating, create an attractive and comfortable update with seat cushions, which can be found for reasonable prices at local retail stores and even outlets - giving your wallet a break.
Follow these tricks, and you’ll be on your way to feeling great, inside and out.
For more information about Moen and its products, call (800) BUY-MOEN or visit moen.com.
Courtesy of ARA
Sign of the design times for kitchens Designing a kitchen that fits your style preferences
The number of kitchen styles and design options for homeowners to consider during the building and remodeling process is enough to make a person go crazy. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by simplifying your options.
Keep an eye on trends
Traditional? Transitional? Contemporary? The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) recently surveyed more than 350 designers to identify the top trends and styles they tend to incorporate into their kitchen and bath designs. According to this survey, transitional style, a combination of traditional and contemporary, is now the most popular style in both kitchens and bathrooms.
This marks the first time (since the NKBA began tracking annual design trends) that “traditional” is no longer the most common type of design. The survey also showed that contemporary is the next most common style - with shaker, arts and crafts and cottage also following as frequently used styles.
Richer, warmer and darker wood species and finishes are dominating in popularity. “Hickory cabinets are catching on, as the dramatic grain variation is ideal for creating a rustic look,” says Sarah Reep, director of designer relations and education for QualityCabinets. “Despite the growing trends, maple and cherry are still homeowner favorites for cabinetry.”
Determine your style
While it’s good to be aware of the trends, keep in mind that you are the one who will have to live with this kitchen. Incorporate design elements that you and your family will enjoy for years to come. If you don’t plan to stay long, consider resale value and how kitchen design might help or hurt it.
Determining your personal style is the most crucial step before the kitchen remodeling process can begin (after budgeting, of course). Take pictures of other kitchens that you like and tear out pages from magazines. Scan home and design blogs to get ideas. Apartment Therapy recently revealed the best home design blogs with its award (as nominated and voted by readers), The Homies 2012. These blogs are a good place to start.
Several websites offer great resources and inspiration galleries for homeowners trying to plan their kitchens. QualityCabinets has an Idea Gallery that showcases a wide range of options, from more formal and traditional to sleek and contemporary. Pinterest is another great place to collect home and design ideas and save them to later share with your designer.
Work with a professional designer
While many people think they know their desired kitchen style, many have a difficult time articulating and identifying exactly what they want. A professional designer can help you design a kitchen that is comprehensive and consistent in design style.
The difficult task is designing a room that comes together as a whole versus bits and pieces. This is where a designer comes in and can turn a nice-looking kitchen into one that is both stunning and functional. Designers can also help you add a personal flair through the accessories, organizational features, hardware and finishes you choose.
Courtesy of ARA
Bumps in the Real Estate Buddy System
Just like any endeavor, sometimes the road is going to be bumpy in the Buddy System in real estate. Here are some examples:
1. There’s this buyer who’s been in the house for two years already. But then he just stopped paying.
2. There are sellers who won’t sell the house the way you want them to. After six months, you just heard the news that the house was sold at a very low price. So, it kept you wondering, “Why didn’t they consult you back?”Â or “Why did they sell it to someone for a lesser price?”Â Emotion is the reason. Sellers are so fed up with their emotions for 6 or maybe even 12 months. Until they reach a point where they got themselves thinking and so they’ve finally accepted it. They need to move on and lower the price to have it sold quickly.
3. Another situation is when the seller just wants to move on with their lives. They reach a point where they just desire to have a peace of mind because it’s never about the money. At the end of the day, they want the house sold and they’ll do anything to get rid of it so they can continue on with their lives.
4. If your buddy’s house isn’t up for selling, they might be calling to tell you:
“My wife and I have talked and we would like to express our sincere gratitude for everything you’ve done. I know you’ve been selling our house for $400,000 and we’ve had lots of people coming here. However, things haven’t been working out but we’re really thankful for your hard work. We also talked of how we eagerly want to move on with our lives because it’s such a hassle on our part and we’ve come to a decision where we just want to move on. We’re really grateful for your work and we do want to have the house sold at $400,000 but we were thinking of $320,000?”Â
So, these are just some of the bumps you and your buddy will be going through. But still, it’s always good to consider a Buddy System.
You must both understand that you are not working for the seller and the seller is not working for you as well. Instead, you are buddies. You are a team. You work together to get the house sold. You get the paperwork organized and come up with deals so that you can both benefit from this joint venture partnership. You get what your buddy wants and at the same time gain the profit.
In sum, the Buddy System helps both buddies maintain a good relationship towards each other!
Courtesy of ARA
Tips for saving your travel budget during the holiday season
The holiday season is the perfect time to hit the road and celebrate with loved ones, but travel expenses tend to skyrocket around this busy time of year. With a bit of planning and research, there are many easy ways to save on travel, lodging and activities around the holidays.
As you plan your upcoming trip, take time now to research deals and discounts that can help make your vacation more affordable. Here are a few that can get you started:
* Online deal and savings sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial or Yipit are extremely popular and a great way to save money in your local city. However, you can also take advantage of these sites while traveling. Check out the deals offered in your destination city to save money on restaurants and entertainment this holiday season. Often, these can allow your family to take advantage of the attractions without breaking the bank.
* When visiting friends and family this holiday season, consider staying at a hotel that provides the comforts of home, while providing extra savings. Hilton Garden Inn is currently offering the Fast Ways to Free Stays promotion through Hilton HHonors. Members can choose between earning double points per stay or earning a free night certificate after four stays or 10 nights at participating Hilton Garden Inn hotels through the end of the year. Sleeping in a comfortable hotel bed will ensure your family gets a great night of sleep and is rested for the festivities, without burdening your holiday hosts or your wallet. With more than 525 locations worldwide, Hilton Garden Inn also offers free Wi-Fi for guests - allowing you to remain connected without extra costs.
* Start searching now for your plane reservations. Look for and book your travel deals on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoons, when airlines tend to reduce fares. Consider being flexible in your travel dates and airport choice. Sometimes you may find better deals when traveling during the middle of the week, rather than over the busy holiday weekend. By avoiding major airports in favor of smaller, local airports, you may find increased availability and lower prices on major airline and budget carriers, with shorter check-in and security lines.
The holidays are a great time to get together with family, especially if you can find special deals and discounts to make the trip more affordable, giving you more money to put toward holiday gifts or activities.
Courtesy of ARA
Five basic steps to making a house your home
Owning a home remains a key element of the American Dream. In fact, a recent survey by TD Bank revealed that 84 percent of young renters (ages 18 to 34) intend to buy a home in the future. While it is exciting, home buying can be overwhelming and complicated if you don’t have a general knowledge of the process.
Equipping yourself with the right tools will allow you to navigate the complexities of the home-buying process. Here are five helpful steps to follow on your way to homeownership.
Step 1: Learn the home-buying ABCs: Build your homeownership knowledge by participating in a first-time homebuyer class at a local non-profit agency in your community to answer any questions you may have. Staying well-informed will help you feel confident and in control of this major financial decision and nip any initial questions in the bud.
Step 2: Get out your calculator: Owning a home requires a large investment of time, energy and money, so make sure you are careful when making the decision to buy. If you’re like 43 percent of survey respondents, staying within budget is the top consideration. It is important to determine how much you can afford - you don’t want to fall in love with a house out of your reach. When applying for a mortgage, the bank will assess your debt to income ratio. By looking at your income and current monthly debts, you can determine your ideal monthly payment. From there, you’ll be able to narrow the focus of your house search to homes in your price range. Be sure to include down payments and other upfront costs in your calculations.
A few free, helpful online tools can help you determine just how much you could potentially afford. For example, visit TDBank.com and check out its mortgage calculator.
Step 3: Shop wisely: Condo? Single-family home? A fixer-upper or new construction? Once you know how much you can afford, determining your housing needs - and selecting a qualified real estate professional - before you start looking, will help make finding your perfect home much less time-consuming. In addition to being able to answer any questions that come up during the process, a real estate professional will work on your behalf to pre-screen houses and guide you through negotiations.
Step 4: Pick your perfect match: According to the survey, acquiring a mortgage and making a down payment is the most preferred method of payment for those who intend to own a home. With the variety of mortgage products that exists today, it’s essential you choose the right one for your needs. How long do you plan on living in this house? Do you plan on making improvements to the home? Answering these types of questions will help you hone in on your financial strategy. Finding the right mortgage is about more than a rate and terms - it’s about finding the right financial partner. Don’t get led down the wrong path by choosing a bank that doesn’t provide flexible options. Look for a bank that offers a hassle-free mortgage guarantee to ensure your first home purchase is as smooth and worry-free as possible.
“As a portfolio lender, we are able to set our own lending guidelines and interest rates,” says Michael Copley, executive vice president for retail lending at TD Bank. “This allows us to provide our customers with the most adjustable and affordable financing options to suit their borrowing needs.”
Step 5: Sign on the dotted line: Once your home has been inspected, your contingencies have been met and your mortgage has been approved, it’s time to close the deal. In most cases, a closing officer and your attorney will be present during closing. As the buyer, you should make sure to bring a binder for homeowner’s insurance (document proving you have adequate homeowner’s insurance), a paid receipt for the first year’s premium and a certified or cashier’s check for your down payment and closing costs. Before the closing begins, review your mortgage, mortgage note and settlement statement documents to ensure there are no errors or red flags. Remember to ask questions during the closing, as the closing officer is there to help.
After you’ve signed all documents and paid your closing costs and down payment, the closing is finished. Congratulations and enjoy your new home.
To get more information and to download your free TD Bank First-Time Homebuyers’ Kit, visit esecure.tdbank.com/net/firsttimehomebuyers/default.aspx.
Courtesy of ARA
2012 homes will mix old and new designs under one (smaller) roof
Today’s consumer mindset is steeped in common sense and careful decisions. When making a purchase, individuals aren’t looking to accumulate “stuff.” They’re looking to buy an experience. That experiential purchasing behavior is especially true when it comes to selecting items for the home. Current home decorating is not about flashy, over-the-top design; rather, it’s about decorating for real life - a home that’s smaller, more well-equipped and custom-made for its owners’ lifestyles.
“Homeowners are getting back to basics,” says Rebecca Kolls, senior director, consumer strategist of home and garden, Iconoculture, a leading consumer trends advisory firm which presented at Moen Incorporated’s INSPIRE Design Seminar. “They are putting roots down and investing in items to increase their quality of life.”
How are homeowners making their spaces more practical and livable for the long term? What exactly are the hot trends for 2012? Kolls points to several distinct ideas, including: practicality, rightsizing, style-telling and universal design.
Practical and perfectly sized homes
Today’s average new home is smaller than those from recent years at 2,135 square feet. It emphasizes inviting, livable spaces, and downplays the formal, untouched rooms of yesterday. Despite a decrease in overall square footage, kitchens are growing, homeowners are adding more porches, ditching the conventional living room concept and embracing fewer - yet larger - rooms.
To fill those rooms, homeowners are looking for products that provide function, as well as fashion. They are no longer buying for the sake of buying. “The first question consumers are asking is, ‘Do I need this or do I want this?’” says Kolls. They’re looking for more practical solutions for everyday life, like items that promote health and overall well-being, versus over-the-top indulgences.
Instead of one purely decorative element, homeowners are springing for more affordable luxuries with experiential benefits. In the bedroom, these purchases include new mattresses for increased comfort and a better night’s sleep, plus items like improved lighting and window coverings that facilitate a gentle transition from sleeping to waking. Bathroom remodels include items like towel warmers, steam showers and multiple body spray outlets that promote relaxation and spa-like indulgence. Moen Flushmount Body Sprays are especially appealing to the remodeling consumer looking for added wellness benefits: Each body spray is equipped with an adjustable spray face, allowing the user to position the water sprays exactly where he or she desires by pivoting up to 20 degrees in any direction, for the ultimate in customized relaxation and rejuvenation.
Gone are the days of perfectly-matched rooms and pristine homes. Today’s homeowners are looking to tell a story through their decorating, with pieces that put a personal stamp on their spaces. People are stylizing the most-used room in the home - the kitchen - by adding workstations, artwork, photography and more furniture-like cabinetry enhanced by decorative cabinet knobs and pulls, like those offered by Moen.
Homeowners mix-and-match more now than ever before, complementing a great-grandmother’s antique dining room table with modern, geometric dinnerware; putting vintage photos into new stainless steel frames; storing K-cup coffee pods in antique coffee bins. “Homeowners are adding pieces that make sense: items that enhance their experience and put a personal stamp on a room,” Kolls says.
Baby boomers are the first generation to collectively fight aging. These individuals are caring for their parents, their children, and even their grandchildren, all while making plans for their own future. Boomers want to spend the rest of their lives in their own home and they’re looking for universally designed products to help them do just that. In the bath, boomers are incorporating ADA-compliant products, like new Weymouth lever-handle faucets and custom showering options from Moen. The Weymouth collection brings elaborate, traditional styling to the bath, plus reliable, nearly effortless operation for individuals of all ages and abilities.
In addition to more accessible everyday items, homes with several generations under one roof are also utilizing technology to help keep all members of the family safe and well. In fact, according to Kolls, wireless home health monitoring technologies are expected to grow by $4.4 billion by the year 2013. Smart mirrors that can monitor day-to-day health, including changes in appearance, plus alerts that report whether an aging parent has commenced his or her daily routine, are just a couple of examples of how technology is bringing additional security and flexibility to the lives of caregivers.
Today’s home may have a smaller footprint, but it is much more personal and memorable than houses of the past. Families are spending more time in the home and incorporating multiple generations under one roof, which makes for richer design - and even richer experiences - than ever before.
Courtesy of ARA
Go big or go home with your redecorating? Why not both?
“Go big or go home.” It’s a popular sports chant that’s found its way into numerous other aspects of American life. But when it comes to home decor, going big at home may not seem like an option, especially if your budget is less than grand.
In reality, it is possible to make a big difference in your home decor on just a moderate budget of $5,000 or less. The room that will give you the biggest “wow” for your investment is the one your guests spend the most time in - the living room. Here are some tips for getting that “go big” feeling for less money.
Do it yourself
Look for high visibility projects that you can reasonably do yourself, like painting, tiling or even installing murals for living rooms. Keep in mind your level of DIY skill and how polished and professional you can reasonably expect your finished product to look. If you choose a project that’s a bit above your current skill level, make sure you prep for the new experience with plenty of research or a hands-on class. Many home improvement stores offer low-cost or even free classes on popular home improvement projects.
Big projects look … well, bigger
It’s no mystery why repainting the walls, changing out flooring or switching window treatments all make such an impact on how a room looks. The bigger the surface area of the design element you change, the greater its affect on the room’s overall appearance. Making a design change to a large room element can allow you to generate major impact with a relatively minor investment of money. Window treatments can add up if you go with custom options, but if your windows are standard sized and you’re a savvy shopper, you can track down bargains that will allow you to dress up your windows for as little as a few thousand dollars. Painting is even more cost effective, and you can redo a large room for a few hundred dollars.
Borrow a designer’s trick
When it comes to grand statements, designers have a trick or two up their sleeves. They also know how to make the most of a shoestring budget, so look to popular designer tricks for inspiration. One interior design technique that has held its popularity against the test of time (and the economy) is a wallpaper mural. Adding a custom wall mural to your interior design plans offers the opportunity for creativity and customization, and maximizes the use of your wall space in making a grand statement. You can find plenty of online options at websites like MuralsYourWay.com, many for less than $1,000 and most for well under $3,000. They’re easy to install, and you can even opt for the type that is removable and reusable. So if you tire of the look, you can take it down and move it elsewhere, fold it up and store it for another time and even color match it to your wall paint color.
If you’ve decided to keep your fun money at home this season, you can go home and go big, with some planning, savvy shopping and a touch of DIY creativity.
Caption 1: The addition of a bright wall mural makes a bold statement and transforms a space.
Caption 2: A blank wall offers an opportunity to go big with color or graphic elements.
Courtesy of ARA