Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Upping your laundry room's wow factor

(BPT) - Doing the laundry is no longer relegated to dark, musty basements where no one cares to go. Thanks to modern technology, great design and access to innovative ideas online, laundry rooms have moved upstairs and come into their own. In fact, laundry rooms today are right up there with dream kitchens and dream bathrooms — and the more style, function and “wow factor,” the better.
“Laundry rooms are no longer just utilitarian,” said Anitra Mecadon, TV personality and award-winning interior designer. “People want stylish, healthy environments where they can relax, multitask and have some fun while doing the laundry.”
Below are four ways Mecadon recommends to ramp up the wow factor, function and allure of your laundry room:
* High-tech appliances
When looking for washers and dryers today, there are more features than you can imagine. You should consider your needs and desires before starting your search — and we’re talking about more than gas or electric, front- or top-loading, color, budget and space parameters. Today’s “smart” appliances offer custom wash cycles, wrinkle removal, steam cleaning, less noise, delayed start times, moisture sensors with allergen and sanitize cycles and more. There’s even a machine that washes two separate loads with different setting options at the same time. And nearly every machine today is Energy Star-certified for energy efficiency.
* Loads of style
Laundry rooms today can be decorated to complement other rooms in your home — and Pinterest and Houzz offer loads of pictures online to spark your creativity. Laundry rooms can be country French to modern, whimsical to multifunctional — and it’s not unusual to see them in bold or soothing colors, with comfy chairs, statement lighting, flat-screen TVs and docking stations to play music or charge tablets and phones. They also can include windows to let in natural light. If you think white and stainless are your only color options, think again. They can be turquoise, burnt orange, glacial blue, fire engine red, kelly green and even black stainless.
* Function galore
Washing and drying are only part of doing the laundry. There’s sorting, folding, hanging and ironing — and each of those steps needs its own space, supplies and storage. Baskets for sorting and carrying laundry can be wicker, plastic or wood and stored for all to see or out of sight. Counters for folding can be granite, marble, quartz, butcher block or laminate, and many people put them over their washers and dryers as well as around the room. Drying racks made of ladders or upcycled cribs can be creative and functional. Ironing boards can be stand-alone, foldable and stored in cabinets or retractable and out of sight. Washers and dryers can be big or small, stacked or all in one — and even put on pedestals.
* High-performance drywall
When laundry was relegated to the basement, part of the dread of doing laundry was the thought of being surrounded by dampness, mold and mildew — sometimes from washing machine water hose failure causing mold to grow within the wall cavity. Because your washer and dryer introduce water, moisture and heat into the room, it’s important to use drywall with extra protection for your laundry room walls and ceilings — such as moisture-, mold- and mildew-resistant PURPLE XP drywall by National Gypsum. PURPLE XP — which stands for "Xtra Protection" — products are GREENGUARD Gold Certified for indoor air quality, while aiding in the creation of healthier indoor environments.
“I love that prettier and more functional laundry rooms are becoming places people want to hang out and do laundry, but it’s important to think about what’s behind all that style and function — and that’s their walls,” said Mecadon. “Walls and what they’re made of are important and they’re not all the same.”
If you are in need of new appliances visit: WHIRLPOOL OUTLET

For more information, go to www.AskForPurple.com.

5 DIY home upgrades anyone can do in a day

(BPT) -

(BPT) - Do-it-yourself home projects are sweeping the nation, and it’s easy to see why. DIY is typically budget-friendly and fulfilling to complete; simply find the right project to match your skill set and needs.
To get started, here are five inexpensive projects that can by tackled by any DIYer, each of which will have an impact on the entire home.
* Make a hardware swap. Replacing your kitchen cabinets changes the entire look of your kitchen — but it’s expensive and requires considerable skill. For a simpler, smaller project that can still have a big impact, replace the hardware on your cabinets instead. Select the hardware type first — knobs for doors and pulls for drawers, for example — then move on to style. Crisp, sleek hardware goes best with a modern kitchen, while more detailed offerings work well with classic, traditional kitchens.
* Refresh your space with a fresh coat of paint. Repainting a wall or room is the perfect way to showcase your style, without breaking the bank. The Unity palette from Sherwin-Williams® 2018 Colormix Forecast offers unique color choices that pair together perfectly, making it easy for homeowners to create a cohesive look in their space. Try going bold with pops of peacock on an accent wall, such as Sherwin-Williams 2018 Color of the Year, Oceanside SW 6496, or you use the palette’s grounded browns to put a new spin on traditional hues. It’s easy to recreate a space that reflects who you are, without making expensive renovations.
* Illuminate a simple change. It doesn’t always take a huge change to reinvent a room; it can be as easy as changing the light fixture. You could choose to repaint your existing chandelier, or you could give your ceiling fan a new look by replacing the blades. If you’re on the crafty side, try making your own shade for an existing lamp with some of your favorite fabric.
* Invite people to your gallery. Can’t decide on the one perfect image for your wall? Then why not go for several? Gallery walls are a great way to show your favorite prints and photos artistically. Pick the wall and apply a fresh coat of paint before building your gallery — after all, this wall will now be part of the exhibit. Once the wall is ready, pick your photos or prints and set them in frames you love. Now the fun part lay your works of art on an open floor space and rearrange them until you find the perfect layout. Once you’ve found it, grab your hammer and nails and bring your gallery wall to life.
* Bring a new vibe to your existing furniture. If a chair or love seat is starting to show its age, reupholstering it is a great way to give the piece fresh life. Remove the current fabric and replace it with new fabric of your choosing. Apply staples or stitching to hold the new fabric in place, and that old piece of furniture will have a distinctive new look.
You can find the hardware needed here: HARDWARE WORLD

Sunday, June 4, 2017

3 steps to becoming a savvier online shopper

(BPT) - Every day, people use data to influence their decision making — from where to go for dinner, to selecting stocks in which they should invest, to where to live. Every Google search we perform, every Yelp review read or written, each item of clothing, houseware or electronic device we put in our virtual cart, is another data point companies can use to personalize our experience with their brands.
Despite all the data at their disposal, it seems many brands still don’t fully understand what consumers want from them in terms of products or services or how to best engage with their end buyer. A recent survey from cloud and big data integration company Talend shows 88 percent of information technology leaders believe their organization truly understands its customers, while only 61 percent of consumers believe companies understand their needs.
This begs the question: How do we differentiate between those brands that are using our data the right way, versus those that have a long way to go? Second, how do we help the brands we love understand us better without sacrificing our privacy?
1. Understand which data to share.
Think about your favorite shopping app or website. Does it know which brands you prefer? What about your shoe size? Does it have your zip code stored for shipping estimates? Does it make appropriate recommendations? The strongest relationships in life work both ways, so if you want a brand to know what you want from them, perhaps it’s time to share a little. Taking five minutes to fill out some basic profile information in your “preferences” could, at the very least, save you time on future shopping excursions and might even lead to a surprise find.
2. Use data to get the best deals.
When you’re shopping online, you can quickly compare prices for the exact item you want to purchase across multiple vendors, and, if you have time to wait, be alerted should the item go on sale. The best example is travel. There seems to be a never-ending list of websites available for booking flights and hotels, but booking the first flight you see without shopping around is rarely going to get you the best deal. Countless studies have shown booking on certain days of the week, or a particular number of weeks ahead of your trip, will yield the best results. From there, one still has to compare prices against different websites to find the best fare. Luckily, some of the top search engines are making this even easier for consumers by indicating whether the price is high or low. The art of finding the best deal is really in comparing the data.
3. Know where to draw the line.
At the end of the day, privacy is still important, and it’s prudent not to share too much personal information. Think critically about which data is going to be absolutely necessary to enhance your experience with the companies you rely on. For example, it’s not necessary to share your contact list, your geolocation or (if you’re on a mobile device) access to your camera if you’re using a music or financial app. Some brands ask for too much, and it’s up to each individual to determine which data makes sense to share with each brand and what doesn’t. For example, don’t be too quick to provide broad access to an app you've just downloaded. Also, as painful as it may be, do read the privacy policy of the sites you frequent and understand how they use and protect the personal information they collect on you.
Ultimately, most companies today are still just scratching the surface when it comes to understanding the impact customer data can have on the profitability and success of their business. There is still a lot of room for growth when it comes to companies effectively using data to address consumer needs. It’s up to each one of us to make sure we are sharing the right data with them, while also using that data to our advantage to get the best deals and online experience possible.

5 precise points to look for in the perfect PC

(BPT) - What drives you in the search for the perfect PC? Is it premium design and the high-end components? Or are you a performance person where nothing but the best specs will do? And what about price? Do you worry that you'll have to sacrifice some of the things you want simply because they are too expensive?
There are many things to consider when looking for the perfect PC but price and performance are not mutually exclusive. With today's modern devices, you can have both. So start your search by focusing on the parameters below and you'll find the perfect PC that fits your needs, and your budget, in no time.
Modern design
This is where your tech really shines, thanks to the latest advancements that separate the newest devices from their predecessors. Crafted from 100 percent aluminum, the Acer Swift 3 packs the power of a 7th Generation Intel Core processor into an ultra-slim .7” frame with full high-definition capabilities and 12 hours of battery life.
Meanwhile, the versatile Dell Inspiron 13 5000 Series 2-in-1 can transition from a laptop to a tent to a tablet with ease, and has a full high-definition wide-viewing angle display to play media powered by its Intel Core processor.
Finally, the HP Pavilion x360 allows you to work, write and play naturally on the touchscreen. It's a convertible 2-in-1 with an optional active pen, the enhanced experience of FHD IPS display and audio tuned by the experts at Bang & Olufsen. It also allows you to store millions of documents or hundreds of movies with up to 1 terabyte of HDD storage.
Powerful and portable
The size of your new device plays a huge role in how you use it. If you plan to travel with your device, then you’ll want a more compact model like the slim, lightweight, ultraportable 2-in-1 ASUS Transformer Mini. This powerful tablet features a comfortable, angled keyboard and a handy kickstand delivering 140-degree views no matter where you take it. Plus, channel your inner creator with Windows 10 Creators Update and Active Pen, which creates the feeling of writing with a pen on paper.
Whether you plan to carry your PC into that next business meeting or out with friends, appearance matters, and nothing tops sleek and stylish. The Samsung Galaxy Book 10 is a 2-in-1 with a gorgeous display and a brushed metal finish that’s sure to get noticed. And with the included Samsung S Pen, 10 hours of battery life and the ability to sync up with your Samsung phone, its functionality can't be topped.
Safe and secure
The more time you invest in your PC, the more important it is to protect it. The Lenovo Yoga 510 (Flex 4) keeps your content uniquely yours with a simple, secure log-in fingerprint reader and Windows Hello. It’s the perfect gatekeeper for a device with plenty of storage for all your most cherished keepsakes.
Personalized for you
Each of the devices mentioned above is available at an affordable price allowing you to find the perfect PC to meet your needs and your budget. Once you narrow in on the features and functionalities that are a must have for you to help you tackle your personal and professional to-do's, you'll find that there is a PC out there to fit your needs.
So don't delay. Start your search for your next device today, and put the power of state-of-the-art technology on your table, your lap or in the palm of your hand. Stop by your nearest Microsoft Store, microsoftstore.com, or your local retailer to find the one that's right for you.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Get safer drinking water

(BPT) - Your home plumbing could be making you sick and costing you money. Hard water, which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, may be directly contributing to the buildup of dangerous bacteria in your household pipes. This is a serious problem across the United States, especially when you consider that nearly 90 percent of American homes have hard water.
Left untreated, the water you use to wash your fresh fruits and vegetables may actually contain more bacteria, and the problem isn't only in the kitchen. When you take a hot shower the steam you are inhaling can also contain the same microbial contamination that is in the rest of your plumbing, exposing you to bacteria such as Legionella, which can cause Legionnaire's disease.
Normally, the piping used in home plumbing, whether it is copper or PVC, has very smooth interior surfaces that don't permit bacteria to settle and grow. However, hard water results in scale formation on the interior surfaces of those pipes and that provides a perfect home for bacteria.
Researchers at the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University found bacteria may grow in pipes filled with both hard scale and soft scale at the same rate. This is important new information because some forms of water conditioning produce this soft scale.
The only solution is to remove both hard and soft scale in the pipes with a traditional salt-based water softener. These work by running the incoming hard water through a resin filter that traps the calcium and magnesium in the water - as well as iron, manganese or radium ions - and replaces them with sodium ions.
A salt-based water softener doesn't just help protect your health, it protects your appliances, as well. Hard water scaling clogs waterlines and plumbing, forcing appliances to work harder and operate less efficiently. Hard water can reduce the efficiency of water heaters and increase electricity costs by as much as 48 percent, according to the Battelle Memorial Institute. Hard water also damages appliances like water heaters, dishwashers, shower heads and faucets. These must be repaired and replaced more often as a result.
Kitchens also benefit from soft water because it is up to 12 times more effective at cleaning dishes than increasing the amount of detergent used. Researchers found that for clothes washing machines, the most important factor in removing stains from clothing was water softness. Reduction of water hardness was up to 100 times more effective at stain removal than increasing the detergent dose or washing with hotter water. In fact, soft water can reduce soap use by as much as half.
To determine if you have hard water, look for spots and scale buildup on fixtures. You can also test your water yourself to check for hardness with home water testing kits or you can have a water treatment professional do the testing. For more information on water softening and salt health please visit www.saltinstitute.org.