Quick Guide for Designing the Perfect Home Office

As more people than ever work from home, opinions remain divided: some people love it and can’t imagine returning to their cubes, while others hate it. Regardless of where you fall on the love/hate spectrum, you’ll still need to carve out a productive little corner of your home for work. But that can be easier said than done! For just a couple of days, setting up shop at your kitchen table may suffice, but long term WFH stints require a dedicated office space.

Here's a quick guide for designing a comfy home office:

Choose your location wisley 

Let’s face it: you’re going to spend a big portion of your day in your home office. Something in the ballpark of eight hours a day, five days a week (or more). That means you'll need to choose your new space wisely. In other words, don’t cram yourself into a tiny, windowless nook in your house, or set up shop at the breakfast table where you have no privacy and no reprieve from distractions. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing the location for your new home office: 

  • How much privacy do you have? 
  • Is it a high-traffic area? 
  • What’s the noise level like? 
  • Do you have enough room to work? 

Depending on your home, you may not be able to check off all of these boxes, but your new office should fulfil most of these needs. 

Lighten the mood 

Light often gets overlooked, but it’s probably the most important feature after room layout. Without the right lighting, you'll end up with eye strain and headaches. Too-bright lighting can leave you struggling to see past the glare on your screen. 

A few helpful rules of thumb:

Angle your computer monitor away from the window to prevent glare.

You may have to make some adjustments at first., depending on the direction your office faces. East-facing windows will have the worst glare in the morning, but western windows will only get bad later in the afternoon. 

You’ll want a good solution for task lighting. A desk lamp is perfect for evening work hours. Unlike overhead lights, you can move your desk lamp around to adjust for glare. 

And if your office is particularly large or shadowy, you may wish to pair your desk lamp with a floor lamp to lighten the atmosphere. 

Colorize your space 

Don’t be afraid to change the color of the room--even if your new office was once a guest bedroom, storage room, or even a converted garage. Now it’s your office, and you deserve to spend time in a room painted a color you love!

This is where “mood” comes into play. 

Do you need something bold and exciting to get yourself going in the morning? Then try a vibrant color like electric yellow or lime green. But if you find yourself in need of calm during the stressful workday, opt instead for a tranquil shade of seafoam blue or leafy green.

Get organized 

This can be a tricky one, especially if your new office is light on square footage. But it’s important to get an organizational system in place so you know exactly where to find what you need when you need it. Vertical file folders, desk organizers, and small bookshelves are all excellent choices for keeping your papers, office supplies, and technology organized. Floating shelves are a lifesaver if you don’t have a ton of floorspace to work with. 

Get comfortable…

....with a comfy desk and chair! You might feel the urge to nab a chair from your kitchen table or dust off a folding chair from the garage. Don’t do that just yet! Keep in mind that you’re going to spend forty hours a week parked in this chair, so you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor by getting one that’s comfortable and ergonomically correct. Even if you have to shell out some money for a fancy office chair, it’s totally worth it and certainly cheaper than a chiropractor!

Above all, be sure to have fun and get creative when designing your home office. It's your space! It's where you'll think of some of your brightest ideas and accomplish your proudest career milestones. You deserve to have a working space that's comfortable, productive, and most of all, fun!

Did we miss any tips? Let us know in the comments!

4 Signs You Need Replacement Siding

Siding is one of the most essential features of your home’s exterior. Not only does it give your home style and appeal, but it also has the lofty job of protecting it from the elements.

That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your siding’s health. Once siding starts to break down, it can no longer effectively protect the underlying framing and insulation. And that leads to all kinds of issues, like mildew, wood rot, and pest infestations. Yikes!  

Luckily, your siding will start dropping hints when it’s ready to be replaced. Here are some common warning signs that the time has come for replacement siding:

Mold

Mold is always a bad sign, no matter where in your house it pops up. Siding is no exception. When mildew grows on siding, it looks like gray or greenish stains. It may appear on all exterior walls of your home, or just in certain areas.

While mold doesn’t necessarily mean you need brand new siding (you may be able to powerwash it or scrub it off), it’s certainly a sign that your siding needs some TLC. However, if the mold is extensive or was left to grow for a long period of time, your siding may be damaged and need replacement. Especially if you have wood siding, which is more delicate and prone to weather damage than vinyl.

image via Aardvark Power Washing

Warping

Healthy siding will lay flush against the exterior walls of your home, with each board stacked neatly atop the next. They should like the crisp horizontal lines on a piece of notebook paper. If your siding is instead bowing or arching away from the wall, that’s a serious problem. It usually means the siding has suffered from water damage, pest activity, or poor installation. Although warping is most common for wood siding, homeowners are often surprised that it can happen to vinyl siding as well.

image via Reddit

Gaps and cracks 

Just like holes in a suit of armour, siding with visible gaps or cracks can’t protect what lies underneath. Water from passing rainstorms and melting snow will eventually make their way through the gaps. Insects and rodents may decide to seek warmth and refuge beneath your siding. Cracked siding can even lead to drafts, which make your home less comfortable and energy efficient. As you can see, siding gaps can lead to a whole trove of problems!

Discoloration

Siding is routinely exposed to wind, rain, hail, sunlight, and anything else mother nature can throw at it. All of that exposure will eventually take a toll on your siding. Each type of siding will react differently to the elements. For wood siding, you may see peeling paint like the image below. However, vinyl siding isn't painted because it's manufactured in a specific color. Instead, it fades in the sun, so certain areas of your home may look lighter or darker than others.

So, do any of these red flags sound familiar? If so, your home is an excellent candidate for replacement siding. Fortunately, there are lots of exterior remodeling companies out there that can help you upgrade your siding. Just be sure to check out their reviews before you let them anywhere near your house!

Fall 2020’s Top Design Trends

Fall is in full swing, and seasonal design trends are popping up like bats in a lightning-struck bell tower. Too dark? Well, it’s been kind of a dark year. Maybe that’s why this fall’s looks are trending towards bright, airy, and simple. In a year filled with darkness and uncertainty, people are understandably turning their homes into calm, comforting oases where they can ride out the storm. 

Without further ado, let’s have a look at some of Fall 2020’s hottest interior design trends:

Dried grasses 

This fall, it’s all about natural fibers: wicker, rattan, clay, linen. Dried grasses are also entering the mix and make a perfect down-to-earth accent. Wheat, pampas grass, and cattails are all neutral colored grasses that complement the muted, earthy palette that’s so popular this season.

You can find lots of beautiful dried grasses on Etsy, but they’re fairly fragile–if you’re looking for something more robust, you may want to splurge for artificial grass (Michaels has a good selection).

 

Floral wallpaper

Floral wallpapers are still flourishing this season, busily seeding plain walls with their vibrant foliage. Although wallpaper has been out for some time, the recent love of plant-print fabrics (and plants in general) combined with a zeal for all-things vintage has created fertile ground for a major comeback.

If you’re not quite ready to surrender your walls to mother nature, you can experiment with peel and stick wall coverings; they’re non-permanent and easy to peel off. Perfect for the changing seasons!

Rattan

Drag your rattan patio furniture inside–it’s not just for the outdoors anymore! Rattan furniture is making a big resurgence this fall: couches, armchairs, coffee tables, and matching end tables are just some of the many rattan items you’ll see this season.

If you’re not keen on replacing your entire living room with rattan, you can still get your fix with accessories like a rattan mirror or tea tray. Budget-savvy shoppers should be able to scoop up some great vintage rattan pieces for a steal at resale shops or eBay. 

We also like this Rattan Wicker Sofa Chair and Round Coffee Table by PHI VILLA.

Layered lighting 

Many of us will be stuck at home this fall–working, studying, hosting socially distant gatherings, or simply biding our time until spring. An unintended consequence of social distancing is that our homes are becoming multi-functional spaces where we work, relax, and socialize–sometimes all in the same room!

Having different lighting options–a.k.a. layered lighting–gives you the flexibility to create the right atmosphere for any number of activities. Task lighting, like desk lamps or pendant lights, is great for getting work or chores done. Once you’re wrapped up for the day, you can switch to mood lighting with a chandelier or even light a few scented candles to relax.

(To learn more about different types of lighting and how to use them, check out this post

Canopy beds

The towering silhouette of a canopy bed is unmistakable, which is perhaps why it’s gaining such popularity during the year’s most visually dramatic season. And as bedroom designs trend towards becoming lighter and breezier, a large canopy bed can create a perfect “anchor” point in an otherwise airy space. 

An understated canopy bed like the Raina Queen Canopy Bed by LexMod is perfect as a stand-alone piece or dressed up with earth tone linens.

Vintage decor 

It feels wrong to say that vintage is “back” since it never really went away, but it’s definitely experiencing a popularity surge this season. Thanks to the brutally tumultuous year we’ve experienced, many people are seeking the comfort offered by vintage items. To put it simply, they remind us of a simpler time!

If you’re not comfortable going thrifting this season (which is totally understandable), you can putt a vintage twist on some of your existing accessories by applying a patina finish or pairing it with some of those lovely pampas grasses.

Fall 2020’s Design Trends: Key Takeaways 

Despite this season’s many distinct trends, one thing is certain: it’s all about comfort. From cozy textures to ambient lighting, people are reinvisioning their living spaces to comfortably accommodate both work and leisure.

And remember: you don’t have to totally remodel your home to achieve the look. A few candles, comfy pillows, or dried grasses are more than enough to immerse yourself in this season’s interior design trends without leaving you bankrupt for the holidays.

Minimalist Room Designs to Help Your Create a Calmer, More Satisfying Space

There's something calming about a near-empty room. It's uncluttered, quiet, reflective--and it encourages us, as viewers, to do the same.

I don't have the willpower or organizational skills to commit to the minimalist lifestyle, but looking at pictures from people who can is deeply satisfying.

Minimalist Kitchens

Minimalist kitchens are popular because they always look clean, never look cluttered, and invoke a sense of quiet dignity. You can achieve this look by sticking to a neutral color palette and minimizing decor. Pay particular attention to areas of the kitchen that tend to get "loud" like the backsplash, curtains, and hardware.

Minimalist Home Offices

Minimalist style is perfect for home offices. Clutter, loud colors, and busy designs can be distracting and make it more difficult to focus on your work. Instead, opt for a home office design with clean lines, minimal clutter, and stark, soothing colors.

Minimalist Dining Areas

Whether you're wolfing down a quick breakfast and plopping down at the dinner table after a grueling day at the office, it's nice to feel relaxed during mealtime. Using simple, functional furniture is a great way to encourage your busy brain to focus on the things that truly matter during meal time, like the delicious meal before you or the lively conversation of your family members.

Minimalist Bar

Here at Remodelgramme, we're of the opinion that no house is complete without a well-stocked bar. When the time comes to relax with a tumbler of your favorite bourbon or a cold glass of wine, you can appreciate the experience with a simple, well-organized bar.

Minimalist Living Rooms

Living rooms, like the name suggests, are a place where we can host a lively get-together, relax with a favorite movie, or even take a much-needed nap. That's why it's important that your living room is a practical space that accomodate all of these activities and more.

Minimalist Bedrooms

There's a common misperception that minimalism has to be stark, uncomfortable, and brutally austere. But minimalism can be combined with cozy fabrics, soft colors, and warm accents--like the rose gold table lamp below--to create a simple, comfortable space.

Minimalist Decor

It's okay to dress up a minimalist room with a few accessories or artistic features. The key when decorating in the minimalist style is "more is less." If you're struggling to keep a room from looking cluttered, remove a couple of your least favorite decorations to see if that improves the overall look. And remember, you can always stash your belongings--pots, pans, extra bedding, clothes--in drawers, cabinets, and furniture that doubles as storage to make the room look cleaner and less cluttered.

Four Outdoor Lighting Styles Perfect for Dining and Entertaining

As we spend more time at home, whether it’s working remotely, raising a family, or simply enjoying the simple pleasures of life, our backyards are becoming a haven of activity. 

In fact, many homeowners now see their backyards as an extension of the home--three season rooms, screened-in porches, and solariums are being used to create exciting indoor-outdoor spaces. 

And these days, it’s not uncommon to see a full kitchen or entertainment area housed outdoors, complete with cooktops, televisions, and wet bars.

To keep the fun going long into night, you need great lighting! Luckily, innovative lighting companies have created a variety of stunning fixtures to perfectly illuminate your outdoor space. 

Outdoor Chandeliers 

Who says chandeliers are strictly for indoors? In fact, chandeliers are an excellent lighting choice for outdoor spaces. Not only do they make an unforgettable visual impression, but they also generate lots of light. One chandelier can easily illuminate a small or medium sized patio. 

Placement tip: one trick with outdoor chandeliers is that you have to have fairly high ceilings to make them work. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to hang them at least seven feet off the ground--that should protect even your tallest guests from accidental collisions! 

Outdoor Pendant Lights

Pendant lights are another stylish option for outdoor lighting. Smaller than a chandelier, pendant lights are often hung above dining tables or sitting areas in rows of two or more. The ability to choose the number of pendant lights and placement of the lights means you can easily shape them into your “vision” for the space. Since pendant lights are also popular indoors, they can make your porch feel like another cozy room of your house. 

Placement tip: If you plan to mount your pendant lights above a table, the bottoms shouldn’t be any closer than 32 inches from the table. That gives you ample room to move around and dine comfortably without being blinded by bright lights. 

Outdoor Ceiling Lights

Also known as flush mount lights, this style of lighting doesn’t dangle like pendant lights or chandeliers. Depending on the style, they may lay flat against the ceiling or extend by just a few inches, maintaining a low-profile. 

Their compact form makes them perfect for low ceilings, over entryways, and under eaves. In other words,  anywhere you might bump your head against a long pendant light! They’re also popular for covered outdoor spaces, since flush mount lights won’t be blown around by the wind like dangling lights.

Outdoor Sconces

Sconces are a great pairing with chandeliers or flush mounted lighting. Since sconces are smaller and less vibrant than larger fixtures, they’re excellent for mood lighting or path lighting. That’s why you’ll often find sconces mounted near doorways and windows. They’re also perfect for drawing attention to certain focal points like end tables and wet bars. And since they’re mounted flush with the wall, they integrate easily with small spaces and windy areas. 

Placement tip: Sconces come with either upward-facing or downward-facing bulbs. Downward bulb sconces are best for being at eye level or lower (like a garden path) so you’re not blinded. Upward facing sconces should be mounted higher on the wall to create ambient lighting. 

Countertops 101: Butcher Block

Known for their warm, rustic appearance and rugged practicality, butcher block counters are a popular choice for remodeled kitchens. And since wood is relatively affordable, you can look forward to years of life from a butcher block countertop--as long as you can keep up with its unique maintenance requirements. 

Here are some insightful tidbits about butcher block to help you decide if these countertops are right for your kitchen.

What Is Butcher Block?

The first thing you’ll notice about butcher block counters is that they’re made of wood. That already makes them unique among popular countertop materials, which tend to heavily favor natural stone and imitation stone. 

Butcher block counters are built with toughness in mind. To achieve that, they’re assembled from many straight cuts of wood that are then adhered to make sturdy slabs. The finished slab gives you a sturdy surface to cut and prep your food on. It’s a big built-in cutting board! 

Keep in mind that not all butcher block countertops are made alike. There are three varieties you should know about, since they all have different traits:

Butcher block island featuring the distinct "end grain" pattern.
  • Edge grain is used most often for counters due to its strength, stability, and lower price point. Edge grain butcher block counters are made by placing the wood boards on their sides and connecting them so that the edges create an even, uniform surface. 
  • Face grain boards are laid flat to give the counters a streamlined appearance. This material is not used as often for kitchen counters since it can easily be marked or scratched when used to chop and cut food.
  • End grain is the most expensive material of the tree but is also the strongest. End grain countertops are made from small blocks that are arranged in an almost checkerboard pattern. It’s ideal for cutting food because it hides knife marks and does not run knife blades.

Which Wood Is Best for Butcher Block Counters?

Nearly any species of wood can be transformed into butcher block counters. Maple is used often because it is strong, and the grain is clear. Red oak and cherry are also appealing choices since they offer a stunning, rich color. Butcher block countertops can also be created from bamboo, particularly for end grain counters.

Tips for Maintaining Butcher Block 

Butcher block counters need some regular TLC to keep them in good condition. If you skip maintenance, your counters will turn dull and crack, and you’ll have to replace them sooner than planned. 

Butcher block needs to be oiled or lacquered 

Without a proper finish, butcher block counters will begin to crack, warp, and lose their natural luster. Luckily, keeping them intact is as easy as applying the right finish. 

The “right” finish depends on how you plan to use your new counter. 

If you plan to do a lot of cooking and food prep, we recommend using an oil finish like mineral oil. For homeowners who plan to use the space as a dining surface, you can opt for a lacquer finish instead. That’s because oil finishes can rub off on clothing or paper, which makes it more practical than aesthetic. 

What kind of oil is best for butcher block? 

Any oil you apply to your counter should be food grade for safety. But when it comes to your oii of choice, you have lots of great options to choose from. 

Popular oils for butcher block include:Mineral oil

  • Vegetable oil
  • Linseed 
  • Beeswax
  • Paraffin 
  • Diluted varnish 

Mineral oil is a fan favorite because it’s colorless, flavorless, and odorless. One applied, it keeps out water and protects the wood from bacteria and mold.  

You can find mineral oil at a drugstore or health food store. If you buy mineral oil at your local hardware store, be sure the oil is safe to use on the surface if you prepare food on the counters. 

How do you oil a butcher block counter? 

Remove all items from the countertops and wipe the surface with a damp cloth. If there is anything on the wood, use a dough scraper to remove it. You can also use fine sandpaper to buff away burns and scratches before oiling the counters. 

Pour the oil on the counters and rub it into the surface with a dry cloth. Let the mineral oil absorb into the wood. This step can take as little as one hour, or you can opt to leave the oil on overnight. Once you’re done waiting, simply wipe the counters with another dry cloth to remove any excess oil.

How Much Do Butcher Block Countertops Cost?

The price of butcher block will vary depending on the grain construction, type of wood, and thickness of the wood. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay between $75 and $150 per square foot of wood. 

Here is a list of butcher block types and their average cost per square foot:

  • Flat grain - $60 per sq. ft. 
  • Edge grain - $85 per sq. ft. 
  • End grain - $150 per sq. ft. 

Another affordable option is to contact the manufacturer of your choice and select a butcher block worktop available in standard counter sizes and lengths. If you’re a DIY savvy homeowner, you can cut the top to fit around corners and appliances and install it yourself. For those less confident in their DIY skills, a local handyman service can assist you without breaking the bank. 

Is butcher block for you?

Butcher block is a great option for homeowners who want a practical surface for cooking and food prep. And if you don’t mind doing a little maintenance here and there, your butcher block counters will last a lifetime. 

Although wooden countertops aren’t right for everyone, they can make an excellent addition to homeowners who don’t mind a little upkeep every now and then. 

If you think butcher block countertops are the ideal addition to your kitchen, you can check out slabs at a local showroom or speak with a trusted contractor about installation options.

Inspiration Gallery:

Butcher block counters with apron sink by Clayton Homes
Farmhouse style butcher block island by Cabinets by Graber
Tiered butcher block island with built-in bar seating by Water's Edge Woods
Waterfall style butcher block counter with live edge by Water's Edge Woods

Countertops 101: Marble

Marble countertops are a hot trend for kitchens and bathrooms.

Why? Because the unique patterns and colors bring a natural yet upscale feel to any space. The marble stone is also beneficial if you enjoy cooking or baking as the "always cool" surface is ideal for rolling out dough or other prep work.

To help you learn more, we put together this marble countertop guide that explains marble colors, finishes, how much marble countertop maintenance you should expect, and the average installation cost.

With choices for every budget and style, you can quickly transform your home with stunning marble countertops!

What colors do marble countertops come in?

Most marble is white, grey, tan, brown, green, black, or pink. Veins or flecks within the stone tend to feature these same colors along with unusual bits of golds, purples, blues, or silvers.

As marble is a natural product, each slab will have unique characteristics and veining. This "one-of-a-kind" feature is appealing to homeowners who want an exclusive look.

Image of various marble colors via TINO

What finishes are available for marble countertops?

Marble countertops are available in three unique finishes:

Polished: A polished countertop is buffed to a gorgeous sheen. The finish showcases the stone's natural beauty by highlighting all the colors and veins. It also reduces the chance of staining, but the glass-like surface is easier to scratch.

Honed: A honed finish creates a matte texture. The soft finish hides imperfections but also mutes the color and veining. Sanding leaves the marble pores open and more susceptible to stains, so sealing is a must for long-lasting wear.

Leather look: A "leather" finish is a texture on top of a honed marble surface. This finish creates a bit of gloss, yet helps hide imperfections and fingerprints.

Do marble countertops need maintenance?

All countertops need maintenance, and marble is no exception. The real question is, "Do marble countertops stain easily?"

The answer is yes, it can, as marble is a porous stone. Depending on the finish you select, marble can scratch or show annoying fingerprints.

Luckily, there are some simple ways to keep your marble countertops looking elegant for years to come:

Sealing

You should seal marble countertops to prevent staining.

Topical sealers form a waterproof barrier on the marble surface, but the finish wears off with sliding dishes or cleaning. Hot items set on a topical coating can also cause scorching.

Penetrating sealers seep into the marble to fill gaps, so liquid spills can't soak in and form stains. Penetrating sealers are not fully waterproof, but do allow time to wipe up messes.

Regardless of the sealing method you choose, both require yearly reapplication to keep the marble surface looking its best.

Cleaning

Clean up any spills immediately to prevent the chance of staining, especially wine or coffee.

Watch out for acidic cleaners, as it can cause surface marring. Avoid abrasive powdered cleansers or scouring pads to keep scratches to a minimum.

A spritz of warm water and liquid dish soap wiped off with a soft cloth is the best method to clean marble countertops. For tough messes, use a cleaner made specifically for marble or stone surfaces.

Protection

Use cutting boards when prepping food. When setting hot items on the countertop, use trivets to stop burns or discoloration.

We also recommend using placemats on marble eating areas, and adding felt pads on the underside of canisters or decor that sits on your countertops.

How much do marble countertops cost?

The average price for installed kitchen countertops in a mid-range marble is about $3,000, but costs can be as low as $1,200 or upwards of $15,000.

Here is a list of popular marble types and their average cost per square foot:

Calacatta - $180 per sq. ft. (due to its rarity)

Statuario - $150 per sq. ft. (another rare marble)

Bianco Venatino - $100 per sq. ft.

Danby - $80 per sq. ft. (quarried in Vermont)

Black marble/travertine - $75 per sq. ft.

Bardiglio - $60 per sq. ft.

Yule - $50 per sq. ft. (quarried in Colorado)

Carrerra - $40 per sq. ft. (most common marble type)

Pink - $30 per sq. ft. (quarried in India)

Is Marble For You?

Marble countertops can be a serious investment in terms of time and money. The benefit is that no matter which type or price point you choose, it can last a lifetime with proper sealing and maintenance.

Searching for the "perfect" marble countertop can be a fun experience that allows you to bring the astonishing artwork of mother nature into your home. Nothing makes a statement and improves resale value like beautiful marble in your kitchen or bath.

With so many colors, patterns, and finish options, you are sure to find the perfect marble countertop to enhance your space!

Inspiration gallery:

This Statuary marble countertop by West Chin Architects extends over the island to accommodate built-seating.
This kitchen design extends the marble countertop to the backsplash to create balance and uniformity. Image via Architectural Digest.
Waterfall countertops extend the beautiful marble top all the way to the floor in this kitchen design by Silver Marble & Granite.
Honed Statuary marble countertops and backsplashes bring elegance to this kitchen designed by Workshop/APD.

Smart Home Upgrades That Will Make Your Life Easier (and More Fun!)

Picture this: the year is 2020 and you’ve just arrived home to your smart house. Do you…

A) Ask Alexa the best recipe for pancakes
B) Raise the thermostat to 75 degrees from a touch screen on your wall
C) Unlock the door for an expected guest while comfortably seated on your couch

With the right devices, you can do all of these things and more. Just a few decades ago, this was the stuff of science fiction. Fast forward to the present, and we can select from a panoply of cutting-edge devices to make our daily lives easier and more comfortable.

If you’re just dipping your toes into home automation, it can seem overwhelming. New gadgets and brand names are popping up faster than you can ask Google where the nearest brunch restaurant is located. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular smart home upgrades so you can choose the perfect new gadgets for your home!

Keyless Entry

Have you ever gotten home from a long day at work and realized you forgot your keys at the office? It’s not a pleasant feeling. If you had a keyless lock, all you’d have to do is type in a passcode or press your fingerprint to the touch screen. Never get locked out again! 

Before you decide to invest in a new keyless entry system, be sure to do some research into different brands to make sure you’re getting all the features you need. Some keyless systems allow one-time entry codes for visitors, while others integrate with personal systems like Alexa for voice-activated entries. Depending on the model you choose, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100-$275 for your smart entry system.

Doorbell Camera

A smart doorbell combines security and convenience in one elegant package. Smart doorbells, like Ring and Nest Hello by Google, feature a live video feed so you can see who’s waiting on your doorstep. All you have to do is check the app. Some apps are also voice enabled so you can communicate in real-time with whoever’s outside. If you have a keyless entry system, you can share the one-time passcode to let your guest in, even if you’re not home! 

The video stream doesn’t end when you close the app. Most smart doorbells have recorded footage that you can review at a later date, which is a huge help for reporting suspicious activity and solving property crimes. Not only does your doorbell camera help you keep your home safe, but it also protects your entire community! 

image via CNET

Smart thermostat

Even with the convenience of a programmable thermostat, keeping your home at a comfortable temperature for everyone who lives there can be a frustrating task. Especially if you live somewhere with big daily fluctuations in temperature. Smart thermostats, like Google Nest, learn your comfort preferences and make subtle adjustments to the temperature throughout the day. The result? A home perfectly attuned to your comfort!

Smart Lighting

Lighting is one of those home decor features that plays both decorative and functional roles. Without good task lighting, you’d fumble through tasks like cooking, cleaning, and working. But if you’ve ever tried to watch a movie or enjoy a romantic dinner under harsh task lighting, then you know it’s not the greatest option for mood-setting. Luckily, smart lighting lets you adjust the lights throughout your home with just a click of a button. From dimming the lights to switching to different color bulbs, you have the flexibility to create any atmosphere you desire. Just like for smart light bulbs and start playing around! 

Smart Hub

If you’re the proud owner of more than one smart home system, you may want to consider investing in a smart hub. The “hub” is like a homebase for all of your tech. Once you set up the hub device, you can control all of your disparate smart home devices from a single app. This is a great option if you have multiple devices from different manufacturers, since the smart hub interface allows you to access all of them from one convenient platform.

image via gadgetgram

Trend spotlight: Wall mounted vanities

The aptly named floating vanity gained new heights in 2020 as a popular bathroom design feature. Aside from having an intriguing name, floating vanities have a unique, memorable appearance: they look like they're hovering above the bathroom floor.

But instead of using magic, floating vanities are very practically grounded to the back wall or side walls of the bathroom. Not only do they look cool, but the space below the vanity makes storage and cleaning easier than ever.

Let's take a look at the top styles of floating vanities:

Single Sink Floating Vanities

Like the name suggests, a single sink floating vanity features just one sink. With the sink perched dead center, this style of floating vanity is well-balanced and pleasantly symmetrical. Available in both small and mid-range sizes, it's perfect for bathrooms of all sizes and layouts.

Wall to Wall Floating Vanities

If you have extra real estate in your bathroom, you can upgrade your single sink vanity to a wall-to-wall model. This style of vanity is anchored by three points: the back wall and both side walls. This puts an interesting twist on traditional single sink floating vanities, which are only anchored by the far wall. Thanks to their larger profile, wall to wall vanities provide extra space for storage and decoration.

Double Sink Floating Vanities

Also known as "his and her" vanities, double sink vanities feature two sinks. This style of vanity is perfect for couples and shared bathrooms. Double sink vanities are roomy, providing ample storage space both above and below the vanity, especially if you opt for a model with built-in cabinets or shelves.

Custom Wall Mounted Vanities

With a little DIY ingenuity. you can craft a floating vanity that perfectly complements your bathroom's style and layout. And if you're not particularly craftsy, that's okay too--there are plenty of talented interior design firms out there that would love to help you realize your "vision" for your new floating vanity. The upshot of a custom vanity is that they come in almost every style, color, material, and design you can dream up!

Which is your favorite style of floating vanity? Let us know in the comments!

5 ways to make a small bathroom feel bigger

Do you have a small bathroom that you wish was a little roomier? Is it impossible to physically change the structure of your bathroom? If you feel like your bathroom is too small and claustrophobic, yet you cannot easily make structural renovations, you can easily create some extra space just by getting creative with the interior design.

A small bathroom is not the end of the world, and you do not necessarily need to renovate the blueprint to make it more comfortable. All you need to do is make a couple tweaks to your existing accessories. Here are a couple small bathroom design ideas, which can save you a lot of time and money down the road.

Big Mirrors

It goes without saying that you need a mirror in your bathroom, but have you considered getting the largest possible mirror that could fit on the wall?

Mirrors act a lot like windows, spreading light all throughout the room. So, the larger the mirror, the more light gets reflected. A large mirror creates the illusion that the bathroom is big.

If you have a small mirror that hangs over the sink, consider swapping it out for a single mirror large enough to cover the entire wall. It will also brighten up the bathroom considerably.

Photo by Arley Bateca from Pexels

Large Floor Tiles

If you have small floor tiles, they should probably go. Not only are they more difficult to clean, but they catch the eye and divide the room up into tiny pieces. Small floor tiles create the illusion that the bathroom is actually much smaller than it truly is.

The easy solution? Use large floor tiles, and they should be plain in color. Fewer lines on the floor contribute to a less cluttered look. The space will immediately open up, and the floor will be much easier to keep clean. A clean bathroom always looks brighter and larger than a dirty one.

Photo by Curtis Adams from Pexels

Clear Glass Shower Doors

If you do not have clear glass shower doors, chances are, whatever you do have is creating an "extra wall." Having an "extra wall" makes your bathroom look much smaller than it actually is.

If you can get a clear glass shower door, you will remove the wall effect that occurs with a curtain and textured glass. The light will be reflected throughout the room, and the space will literally open up.

Clear glass shower doors are also much easier to clean, and are splash proof. If possible, you should choose a frameless clear glass shower door, as having no frame will omit all visual barriers.

Photo by HausPhotoMedia.com on Unsplash

Floating Shelves

All bathrooms need storage space, but the way you design it can make or break the visual effect of the bathroom.

Rather than have a clunky cabinet, see if you can install open shelves that are closer to the ceiling. The shelves will be up and out of the way, and the walls will look further back than they actually are. This makes the room apear bigger, even with the same amount of storage space.

If you have some room between two studs, you can also install open shelves to create a recessed shelving unit.

Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

Tiles up to the ceiling

The more divisions you have throughout the bathroom, the smaller the bathroom will feel. That is why it is important to install stylish tile all the way up to the ceiling on your walls. You should take out any trim that is between the wall and the ceiling. Even though trim might be cheaper, it will make the walls appear shorter and the space much smaller.

Even if you do not have a high ceiling, having one material from floor to ceiling will make the room appear taller than it actually is. The space will dramatically open up.

Photo by Piyush Makwana on Unsplash

Conclusion

As you can see, all is not lost if you feel like you have a small bathroom. All you need to do is make some little changes to the existing space. The most important thing is to focus on bringing in more light, which you can do by removing any "walls," and adding large mirrors.

There are plenty of more small bathroom tips for making your bathroom look even larger, but hopefully this is enough to get you started. The next step is to start making some changes, and watch your bathroom grow!