Operate your motorized window coverings by mobile app

(NC) – According to the experts, motorized shades are hotter than ever – and no wonder.

Energy management, convenience, glare control, privacy, and security, UV protection for furniture and carpeting, plus an increasing number of skylights and hard-to-reach windows are cited as the leading reasons why.

With or without power, Hunter Douglas window treatments excel as window dressing solutions. Now the company has announced its new Platinum App to give you more precise than ever before of its battery-powered products from your mobile device.

This is the first ‘shade-control’ app available as a free download with no service fees. The Platinum App is controlled directly from an Apple mobile device – and the setup is easy and requires minimal hardware. After a few short, preliminary steps, the app lets you operate all the Hunter Douglas window coverings in your home (or in your rooms) at the same time, or one shade at a time – in real time. Or, you can use the timer feature to schedule your shade movement for later. Operate the window coverings by scene (activity), by room or by time.

The Platinum App puts you in control without complicated wiring or the added expense of an electrician. Other benefits at your fingertips will be:

• Enhanced energy efficiency: You can set your shades to lower when the sun is the hottest or raise them in the winter to let in the solar heat to help manage heating and cooling costs. You can also adjust window covering vanes and slats to harvest light deep into the room to reduce the need for artificial lighting.

• Convenience: With the app, any media room takes on a “Hollywoodian” air. Prefer your window dressings positioned a particular way when you’re reading? No problem. Create a personalized “scene” with the app and it will move the window treatments to the exact position you wish, whenever you wish. It’s simple to program and easy to use. In fact, a single swipe of the app’s slider bars can tilt and raise or lower the product.

• Glare control: Having trouble with the glare on your computer screen while finishing that proposal for the office or emails to friends and family? The app gives you total control.

• Privacy and security: Many homes these days are built cheek-to-jowl, requiring something special to guard one’s privacy and security…and comfort level. The app lets you adjust your window fashions for when you are not at home. Set scenes and raise them during the day, lower them at night, or raise some and lower others to avoid suspicion and help protect your home.

• UV protection: We all know the havoc the sun’s ultraviolet rays play on our skin. The same holds true with artwork and furnishings. If exposed to too much sunlight they can fade, discolour or become otherwise damaged. Obtain the happy medium – sun protection with light and a view – with products such as Silhouette and Pirouette window shadings. The sheer facings protect against UV rays even when the vanes are open. With the app, you can adjust the vanes as the sun becomes brighter and more control is needed.

• Difficult-to-reach windows: We all love the look of skylights and oversized windows, but most of us don’t like having to get out the ladders to reach them. Hunter Douglas points to its SkyLift, a new system that covers skylight window openings of up to 80 square feet. The Platinum App works on products with this option as well, for control above and beyond expectations.

• Child safety: Motorized treatments are free of operating cords, making them ideal for homes with tots underfoot.

Motorization has gone mobile and it’s not going back.
More information is available online at http://www.hunterdouglas.ca.


Taking the intimidation out of DIY bathroom renovation

(BPT) – When it comes to home improvement, Americans have embraced doing it themselves – in a big way. Among homeowners who plan to make improvements, 64 percent say they will do it themselves, according to American Express’ Consumer Spending and Saving Report. Yet one area of home improvement continues to give even adventurous and confident DIYers pause – bathroom renovation.

“Many people who don’t think twice about installing flooring or cabinetry or even tiling on their own, still feel they need a professional to upgrade their bathrooms,” says Gray Uhl, director of design for American Standard. “However, with the availability of easy-to-install products, like no-tools toilets and Speed Connect faucets, bathroom upgrades are well within the abilities of most do-it-yourselfers.”

Upgrading or adding a bathroom continues to be a winning home improvement for owners, whether they intend to sell or stay in their homes. A mid-range bathroom remodel recoups more than 65 percent of its cost at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report. An upscale bathroom renovation returns more than 58 percent.

If you’re considering remodeling a bathroom, here are quick, easy ways to spruce up your bathroom yourself, and still end up with professional quality results:

Start small: the power of bath accessories

When you think of bathroom accessories, towels and toothbrush holders likely come to mind. But anything that enhances the look of your bathroom decor can function as an accessory. Simple moves like swapping out dated cabinet hardware (or adding it where there was none) can help transform the look and feel of the bath.

Switching out a boring mirror with a beveled option can turn a functional background element into something eye-catching. Or, dress up an existing mirror by adding a frame. It’s easy to find mirror framing kits online or in your favorite home improvement store.

Keep thinking creatively when it comes to accessories, and imagine what you could do in the shower area. If your shower is a tub/shower combination, replacing a standard straight curtain rod with a curved one not only creates an elegant appearance, it can give you more elbow room while you’re using the shower.

If you have a shower stall with a door, consider swapping a plain glass door with a decorative one. Home improvement stores often carry a variety of designer options that are frosted or have a pattern. A new shower door can make an old shower look fresh and bold.

Style and function: replace toilet and bathroom faucet

The toilet, sink and faucet are essential elements that can be beautiful as well as functional. Replacing dated, inefficient models with newer options can give a bathroom a whole new look – and improve its usability. Easy-to-install products make updating these important bathroom fixtures simple and speedy.

Replacing a faucet can be a challenge when there are so many moving parts to contend with – not the least of which is the drain. Typical bathroom faucets can have as many as 14 parts to connect. American Standard’s Quentin bathroom faucet collection features a Speed Connect pre-assembled drain that requires no special tools or plumber’s putty.

Products like the American Standard Champion line of high efficiency toilets (HETs) blend powerful performance and water savings with easy installation. The WaterSense-certified Champion HETs use 20 percent less water than standard toilets without losing any flushing power. Available in tall height and elongated or round-front models, these toilets offer practical features like a slow-close seat that eliminates loud slams. Plus, their permanent EverClean antimicrobial finish inhibits the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew on the surface. Made for fast, easy installation by DIYers, Champion toilets that feature the EZ-Install kit include everything do-it-yourselfers need to install the toilet without the use of special tools or difficult bolt-cutting.

Added bonus: Buy a Champion and be a champion, joining a campaign by American Standard to raise awareness that almost half the world lacks a safe way to go to the bathroom. For every Champion toilet sold in the U.S. and Canada, American Standard will donate a hygienic latrine pan to a developing country to help raise the global standard of living through safe sanitation. Learn more at FlushForGood.com.

Forget the remote, smartphone, and iPad apps gain territory in homes across Canada

(NC) – Whoever thought the household sanctity of the remote control could be threatened? Well, it has been of late, as have other common home systems and devices. Smartphone and tablet apps may have started out as fun accessories just a few years ago, but thanks to modern technology and innovations, they have now expanded and evolved to make our homes look good and work smart.

Here are some must-haves, according to both savvy consumers and the most discerning media alike. Let’s start with one that helps to keep you polished and organized, the first step for anyone running the show at home.

Key Ring

If you’re not organized, chances are your home won’t be either. How about that collection of loyalty membership cards that crowd our key chains and wear holes in our wallets? De-clutter by going paperless and adding your current cards to Key Ring, an app that allows you to easily keep your membership cards in one place, accessible with the push of a button. Use it to scan and store your existing loyalty cards, enroll in new loyalty programs and access exclusive coupons and discounts. Key Ring also allows users to share their cards with friends and family members. Go to the iTunes store for a free download.

Platinum App

For most people, the hardest part of waking up is taking those first steps out of bed. The new Hunter Douglas Platinum App, however, can make your mornings brighter. Use the free app to automatically raise your window shades so you can greet the morning sun each day without so much as lifting a finger. Just in time for hockey season, it also allows you to pre-program your window treatments to tilt to an exact position to keep out the sun’s glare for the Sunday afternoon game. You can move all the window coverings in your home or room at the same time, or one at a time, in real time to achieve the ambient effect you desire. Or, use the timer feature to schedule a “scene” for later. And, during family getaways, the app helps keep your belongings safe with pre-programmed shade movements that suggest you are at home. Learn more about enjoying precise control of your Hunter Douglas battery-powered window treatments as never before by visiting hunterdouglas.ca/platinumapp.

iHandy Level

Filling the walls of your home with photographs and art is a tasteful way to personalize the space and make guests feel at home. Choosing the right piece of art or picture frame can be a daunting task. There is nothing more dreaded, however, than a crooked wall hanging. To avoid this décor faux-pas, download, iHandy Level, which helps to properly align wall hangings and will also take various measurements without overcrowding your toolbox. Start your virtual toolbox for free by going to the iTunes store.


Phillips has created a wireless LED home lighting system called Hue. Hue, with its namesake app, allows users to control the smartest light bulbs in the world. The free app is also equipped to name and save specific room settings. LED Hue bulbs can also recreate any colour in the spectrum on demand. Visit the iTunes store.

If you let these apps gain territory in your home, you won’t be disappointed.

More information is available online at http://www.hunterdouglas.ca.


Courtesy of Newscanada

Tips to ensure your shower upgrade doesn’t turn into a leaky mess

(BPT) – Bathrooms are certainly among the busiest rooms in any home. But a bathroom can be so much more than just the place where you get ready during your hurried morning routine. One of the hottest trends in home decorating and remodeling is creating a bathroom that serves as a spa-like retreat.

Soothing colors and natural materials are right on trend, but if you really want your bathroom to be an oasis of calm, it also needs to be low-maintenance. If you’re worried about your beautiful new shower leaking, it’s hard to enjoy the experience. Instead, start by taking steps that ensure you don’t have to worry about leaks and the damage they cause.

Whether you’re a DIY expert or hiring the job out to a professional, it’s important to carefully review the plans for a new shower. If you’re bringing a contractor on for the job, ask what kind of materials and practices they’ll be using to ensure that they’re not cutting corners. If you’re up for a do-it-yourself job, carefully consider the materials you’ll use – look for options that make your job easier but don’t skimp on quality. For instance, the new Shower System from USG is designed to streamline installation without compromising on performance.

Keep these tips in mind to ensure that your shower is as durable and leak-proof as possible:

* The shower tray: Having the right base in your shower makes all the difference. There’s a perception that the best way to ensure a leak-proof base is an expensive and labor intensive mortar bed. But there are solutions that can cut down on cost and labor. The pre-sloped, high-density, molded-foam shower tray in USG’s DUROCK Shower System, for instance, has a 2 percent slope that makes it easily compatible with a wide array of tile shapes and sizes, offering comfortable flooring and simplicity of installation.

* Waterproof membranes: No matter how beautiful your tile, it’s what’s underneath that counts. Using a waterproof membrane ensures far better performance long term. A strong (tear-proof) and thin waterproof membrane over a durable backerboard, such as DUROCK cement board ensures that your shower stays waterproof, even beyond what your eye can see.

* The drain: A securely fitted drain will help keep water flowing where it’s supposed to go. If you’re installing a shower system, consider using the proper drain assembly that goes along with it. Systems like the USG DUROCK Shower System offer a versatile drain assembly and wide range of drain grates in 52 designs and finishes. Elegant and functional grates integrate with shower systems but still allow homeowners to choose the style that’s right for them. Keep in mind that grate height might need to be adjusted to match tile thickness and the DUROCK Shower System offers maximum flexibility.

A carefully constructed shower will hold its beauty for a long time. And that means your bathroom will remain a retreat where you can think about relaxing instead of repairing. For more information about waterproof shower installations, visit http://www.durockshowersystem.com.

Courtesy of BPT

Simple projects to spruce up the look of your home

As the days get longer and things get a little brighter inside your house, it becomes easier to notice the places that could use a little extra TLC. It’s also the perfect time to work on simple home improvement projects as you wait for warm weather to come.

Here’s a checklist you can work on now so your home will be vibrant and welcoming once long summer days roll around.

Once the light begins to reflect off your floors, you really start to notice some imperfections. If you’ve been waiting to screen and recoat your hardwood floor to give it a new shine, now’s the perfect time to do it. If you’re replacing tile, vinyl or linoleum flooring, a heat gun is a great tool to help soften the adhesive for easy removal. The Wagner HT3500 digital heat gun offers 12 precise temperature settings, making it an easy-to-use tool for do-it-yourselfers.

One of the easiest ways fill your rooms with warmth is to give them a fresh coat of paint. Increased sunlight will help you choose the color that works best with your room, and you can finish painting before the weather gets really nice and you want to spend more time outside.

Spring is a great time to take a look at your window treatments and see if they could use a little love. Cleaning your blinds and washing your curtains can give your indoor space a little extra life. If you’re repainting, you may also want to consider repainting or restaining your window frames. You can also use a heat gun to help you remove old paint or varnish from your frames.

As the weather warms up and you’re again ready to use your deck, you’ll probably notice plenty of debris that’s collected over the winter. Start by giving it a good spray with the hose to clear away everything. If you plan on staining or repainting your deck, mild temperatures are ideal. If you get it done in the spring, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it throughout the year.

Since you’re freshening up the rest of your house, don’t forget the bathrooms. Besides simply scrubbing your tub, cleaning bathroom tile and regrouting is an easy way to get your bathroom looking clean and bright. This project can be done over a weekend and is simple enough for most homeowners to handle.

By taking some time to tackle these projects now, you’ll give yourself a whole summer of relaxing in the warmth of your newly refreshed home. For more project ideas, how-to videos and information on tolls for painting, staining and other home improvement tasks, visit http://www.wagnerspraytech.com.

Courtesy of BPT

Reasons to consider using keyless entry deadbolt for your home

Are you thinking about using a keyless entry deadbolt for your home, but are not sure this is smart? Then you need to be aware of the many reasons why it is smart for anyone.

There are a number of reasons that you have to be aware of, but the following are the most essential reasons for you to know.

One: Security – When you use a keyless deadbolt, this will make your security much better for your family. No burglar is going to be able to just break into your home anymore.

They will have a very difficult or even impossible time trying to get in. These deadbolts are designed so they will be able to keep people out that you don’t want in your home.

When you want to keep your family safe, security is the most important thing you can provide them against burglar danger. The only way to make sure that your family stays safe is to make sure that danger can’t get into your home and this lock was designed to do just that.

Two: Convenience – You will not have to worry about losing your keys and not being able to get back into your house, when you have this type of lock for your home. With it being keyless, it is very simple for anyone in your family to get in and not get locked out.

Three: Prevents theft of your keys – Using a keyless door lock requires the use of your fingerprints for your family to get into their home. This means that you will be safe from someone taking your keys and using them to gain access to your home and they won’t be able to make a copy of them either.

This will prevent anyone from being able to get into your home from the theft of your keys. That means better security and safety for your family, which is very important these days.

Four: Multiple users – You can choose to add as many people’s fingerprints to the deadbolt system as you need to. Adding and removing fingerprints is really easy for any family to do.

This makes it simple for everyone in your family to have their fingerprints added so that they never have a problem getting into your home.

These are the main reasons that you want to consider using a keyless entry deadbolt for your home. There are many benefits to using this type of lock for your home, as you can see. Now, you just need to decide if this is the right type for your home, or if you prefer another type that may not offer these benefits for your family.

 by: Jeff Schuman 


Design Your Dream Garden

(NC)-Wish you could give your garden an instant makeover? It’s easy to make a dramatic difference with accessories.

Fun fences! Faced with a concrete wall? Put up a trellis or two for an instantly dramatic and elegant look. Play up the look even more by adding some climbing plants to highlight the trellis.

Blooms are in the Air! Hanging baskets add colour to an outdoor space. “Choose large baskets like the PC® Jumbo Hanging Basket,” suggests Peter Cantley, garden guru at Loblaw Companies Limited. “The flowers are beautifully colour coordinated, and the basket is big and roomy and that’s so important because a larger soil capacity helps keep plants from drying out. For real impact try brightly coloured baskets like apple green or plum, which coordinate beautifully with flowers”

Rocky road! Add some pretty pebbles or stones around plant bases or arrange large, smooth rocks along the edges of a pathway. This sophisticated look will draw attention to the shapes and curves in your yard.

Light of the Party! Proper lighting is essential for entertaining on summer evenings and for creating the perfect ambience in your garden getaway. Light from candles, lamps or illuminated planters make a big difference with a splash of colour.

Light up planters can add fun and flair to your garden. The PC® Solar Powered Multi-Colour Illuminated Planters light up in the evening and give your gatherings a lovely ambience. They also make perfect containers for ice and bevvies during those summer parties too!

Courtesy of Newscanada

First time home buyers, speedier down payments

(NC)-Home ownership is a big dream for many young Canadians, and is likely the single biggest investment most of us will make in our lives. While saving for a down payment can be challenging, Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust, says that young Canadians can save for a down payment a little quicker by following a few simple rules.


“First, examine your budget and set a savings goal,” says Haque. “Take advantage of online budgeting tools to gain insights into where you spend your money. Also remember that in addition to your down payment you will need to save for the additional costs involved with a home purchase, which include land transfer tax, moving costs and legal fees.”


Next, curb your spending and increase your savings. “Even a small adjustment in your spending habits can go a long way toward helping you save a bigger down payment,” says Haque. “For example, consider using transit to get to work instead of driving and paying for parking – it can really add up over time.”


One of the most effective – yet overlooked – strategies is to put money aside before you can spend it. Haque suggests setting up a regular, preauthorized transfer service that moves a specific amount from each pay cheque into a high interest savings account. Making savings automatic is a simple and effective way to stay disciplined while saving for a down payment.


Finally, Haque reminds first time home buyers that they may be able to take advantage of the federal government’s Home Buyers’ Plan. “Those who have been actively saving for their retirement can access up to $25,000 from their RSPs to bump up their down payment when they purchase their first home. The RSP funds must be paid back within 15 years, so it is important to factor this repayment into your monthly budget.”


For more advice on saving for a down payment, visit http://www.tdcanadatrust.com/homeownership

Courtesy of Newscanada