The Smart Home and Our Connected Life

 Almost everything today is digitally connected …whether at home or on the go. Connected technology saves you time with everything from smart phones to smart homes!

Tech Lifestyle Expert Carley Knobloch has partnered with and four brands for a look at some great smart tech for 2019 that will help simplify your life.

First up … a laptop is a must! Made for today’s mobile multi-taskers, the thin and light Yoga C630 combines the power and productivity of a Windows 10 laptop with the always-on, always-connected mobility of a smartphone thanks to integrated 4G LTE and Wi-Fi support. Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 Mobile Compute Platform, the Yoga C630 gets up to 22 hours of local video playback and features a natural pen-on-paper experience on its vibrant 13.3-inch FHD IPS touchscreen display with optional Lenovo Pen and Windows Ink.

Next, to stay connected at home, Orbi Voice is a smart speaker integrated with Amazon voice assistant, Alexa and uses the Qualcomm Wifi Mesh platform to create expansive whole home Wi-Fi coverage (up to 4500 square feet) to create an entire ecosystem of mesh Wi-Fi products. It also features premium audio technology, creating incredible room-filling sound from the audio experts at Harman Kardon. Alexa makes it easy to play music from the most popular streaming services, control other IoT devices, check traffic, weather, and so much more – without needing a separate device. It’s truly an innovative leap, and the start of a trend expected to accelerate in the 5G era.

Smart products can also help keep families safe. Fire is getting faster, but you can get ahead by installing Kidde Wire-Free Interconnect Smoke Alarms in your home. Kidde’s new interconnect alarm solution offers exceptional safety benefits without the hassle of hardwiring or a Wi-Fi connection. The interconnect technology helps alert you to a fire no matter where you are in your home. When one alarm senses a hazard, all interconnected alarms sound throughout the home. The alarm also comes with a sealed 10-year battery, which you don’t have to worry about changing alarms batteries. Simply replace the entire alarm after 10 years.

Home security solutions are getting smarter and more convenient too. Schlage Encode is the newest connected device to enhance the brand’s portfolio of innovative smart locks. The deadbolt is easy to install, with a quick connection to in-home WiFi, making it even more convenient for homeowners to have secure, remote access control. The built-in Wi-Fi technology eliminates the need for an additional hub and allows users to set-up and manage the lock via the Schlage Home or Key by Amazon apps. This means users can lock and unlock their deadbolt, monitor the lock’s status, and send virtual keys to trusted friends and family, all from the convenience of their smartphone. Homeowners can create up to 100 unique guest access codes for temporary, recurring or permanent access. This information, along with the lock’s activity, can be tracked and monitored within the app, giving homeowners greater peace of mind. Through the Schlage Home app, users can also pair their deadbolt with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. When managing the lock via the Key app, users can enjoy compatibility with other platforms such as Amazon Cloud Cam, Ring video doorbell and cameras, and Alexa.

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Storm Doors: Advantages and Tips for Your Home

The versatility of a storm door to transform your home and your comfort level, between the warm and cold months throughout the year, earns it a spot on most homeowners’ project lists.

Each season brings out something new from a storm door, and yet many consumers struggle with the benefits of and tips for buying a storm door.


* A Warm Welcome. Setting the tone of your home with the entryway is essential. Storm doors create a better first impression for guests and make your home feel warm and inviting. With the entry door open, natural light can create a bright and welcoming space for you and your guests.

* Better Air Circulation. This is one of the transformative features of a storm door. In the warmer months, it can become a screen door. Many storm doors feature either full- or half-glass panels that can be switched out with a screen at any time. Some doors, such as the Rolscreen Storm Door from Pella, feature hidden screens that are simply pulled into place when needed.

* Exterior Door Protection. A storm door can help protect your front entry door from rain, ice, and snow. And it can help protect your entry door investment and maintain curb appeal.

* Improved Energy Efficiency.

Storm doors can help reduce energy loss by providing a buffer against summer heat and winter cold. With a storm door, the other systems in the home, such as the heater or air conditioner, don’t need to work as hard.


* Sizes & Configurations. Ensure that you are getting the right size by measuring the opening for the storm door — between the door jambs, not the door itself. Most screen doors come in standard door widths of 30, 32, 34, and 36 inches and may be hinged on either side. But some can be specially designed to open to the right or left. Be attentive of the way the entry door opens.

* Designs. Want to see the whole entry door? Want a retractable screen or a screen that is removed every winter? With updated hardware styles, beautiful glass designs, including Low-E options, retractable screens and assorted colors to choose from, you can keep the architectural aesthetic as well as your functional goals in mind when shopping.

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Contemporary Style – What It Is And Tips for Your Home

Contemporary style and design are everywhere and can be a foundation for many new homes built today.

But what exactly does that mean and how can it be incorporated into existing homes?

“Contemporary style is really about reduction – reducing things to their essence and having really clean lines and uncluttered spaces,” says Alan Pickett, Pella Corporation’s resident architect.

Current contemporary design offers a softer take on modern – it has the same simple, clean lines, but with decoration that is naturally minimalistic. Light, color, and fabrics all play a part in gaining a contemporary look for your home.

Today’s contemporary-style dwellings will have asymmetrical shapes, windows with minimal trim in a contrasting or dark color, and a lot of glass and other textures.

The following tips from Iowa-based Pella Windows can help you find just the right design to accent your home:

* Add neutrals with color – One clear sign of contemporary design is neutral tones, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring.

Shades of gray and blue are particularly prevalent in contemporary style, and white and taupe color palettes allow for simple, bold colors to take center stage as in favorite wall photos or a definitive area rug.

*Let the light in – Light and shadow in a space are key to contemporary style and are much less about decoration. Not only do the light fixtures need to have straight lines and sleek metallic finishes, but even the windows in your home can outline its contemporary design. Windows with a vast expanse of glass and thin frames, such as Pella’s Architect Series Contemporary line of wood windows, can engulf a room in light and be the foundation for achieving contemporary style.

* Use textiles – In reducing things to the essence, silk, wool, linen and cotton – all natural fabrics – are typically used to highlight the clean lines of contemporary design.

This also means having furniture with less ornamentation and using natural materials such as wood with less grain. The natural textiles also offer the option of adding bold color into a minimalist space.

* Mix it up – Most homes today are going to have some existing traditional elements – such as crown molding – but don’t let that stand in your way. Paint the existing design features in the previously mentioned neutral colors – shades of gray and blue, white and taupe. Then add an accent color and some contemporary furniture that will pull the traditional and contemporary vision together.

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3 Tips (Including Virtual Reality) For Avoiding Home Improvement Blunders

Want proof of how carefully you need to weigh the alternatives before making upgrades to your home?

Look no further than the Florida couple who last year decided to have their house painted to look like artist Vincent Van Gogh’s famous canvas “The Starry Night.” It wasn’t just that it was such an odd choice for an exterior that it attracted tourists – sort of the local answer to New York’s Madame Tussauds – it was that the city of Mount Dora took them to court over it.

“Graffiti,” the city called it.

“First Amendment!” countered homeowner Lubek Jastrzebski, an immigrant from Communist-era Poland, who argued that the city code didn’t address house colors and aesthetics.

Yes, that’s an extreme example of unintended consequences. But even though legally the homeowners wound up off the hook, anyone now contemplating shelling out significant bucks on home improvements should read on for some tips on avoiding costly missteps.

* Don’t paint your house brown either. Since most people have it in the back of their minds that they’ll eventually want to attract buyers other than those obsessed with Dutch post-impressionist painters partial to yellow and blue swirls, know that just concluded that medium brown and taupe were the worst exterior color choices in terms of resale value.

Both depressed the sales price by $1,970 compared to homes painted white, an analysis by the real estate website of more than 32,000 photos from sold residential properties around the country found. “Greige,” on the other hand – a combination of gray and beige – was the big winner, fetching $3,496 more than its drab brown counterparts.

* Tech is your friend. It was two years ago that a noted design guru had this to say to the New York Times about online virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D rendering tools: “It’s definitely the wave of the future, because it allows the general population to make design decisions without feeling hesitant or insecure,” said Khoi Vo, a professor and the chair of the department of interior design at Savannah College of Art and Design.

Well, the future is undoubtedly here, with programs like Room Sketcher even allowing you to play architect by creating your own floor plan, furnishing the space, and then visualizing your work in 3D.

But say what you’re interested in is boosting your home’s all-important curb appeal with a roof upgrade. The Virtual Home Remodeler from GAF (, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, lets you experiment with different looks by first either downloading a photo of your own home or choosing from among the many styles – everything from Victorian to ranch to French country – pictured on the website.

“It’s an easy way to see what would look best with your home,” said Paul Dellanno, assistant marketing manager at GAF. “Because what may work for a ranch-style house may not work for a Tudor.”

Once you’ve picked a house style, the process continues. Do you prefer the Antique Slate color shingles from the company’s Camelot Shingle line you clicked on, for example, or the Golden Prairie color ones from the Glenwood Shingle line?

And the house trim and exterior walls? White or something more daring?

As Dellano explained, “you can even check how the result looks at different times of day and seasons.”

* Be wary of fads. “It looked like Darth Vader had moved in,” is how a writer for described the latest trend of painting houses black in her Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood.

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