Top 10 Christmas Light Ideas to Brighten Up Your New Home

Christmas light ideas

Looking for the best Christmas light ideas to brighten up your new home? New Home Source has 10.

By Drew Knight

Looking to add a little extra spirit to your new home this holiday season? Brighten it up with an updated Christmas light experience. And since we’re heading into the year 2017, we all know it could use a little updating.

Whether you’re an experienced Christmas lights fanatic or just getting started as a new homeowner, these top 10 Christmas light ideas can definitely help you up your game this year:

10) Time It Right

The easiest way to update your lighting system this year is to put it on a timer.

At a low price, Walmart sells a three-outlet mechanical timer with multiple settings (light it up for two to eight hours), from dusk till dawn and a daily repeat. Just pick your setting and enjoy the feeling of complete automation.

This one’s almost a must-have, because who wants to go outside in the snow to unplug it all?

9) Rope ‘Em In

Tired of the typical string lights and icicles? Try rope lighting.

Perfect for wrapping around columns, banisters and tree trunks, rope lighting adds a modern appeal to your Christmas lights display.

8) Supersized Decor

From inflatables to Christmas light sculptures, you’ve seen them in all the best holiday displays … but they’re not for everyone.

Some communities have guidelines and restrictions toward how “supersized” and how bright you can actually go, so before your develop a plan, check in with your HOA — and next-door neighbors — to make sure you’re not going overboard.

From a lit llama to an air-blown Yoda Santa, you’re bound to find something that suits your holiday style.

7) Cast a Net

Have a good supply of foliage in your front yard? Instead of lighting it up branch by branch with string lighting, take the easy way out with net lights.

Save time and energy by casting a net over a bush or tree in moments.

6) Brighten Your Path

A Christmas décor staple for many holiday spirit enthusiasts, simple path lighting is an easy way to add character and cheer.

If you have a stretch of sidewalk or driveway in front of your home, light the way with some pathway markers. For example, Lowe’s has plenty of options from candy canes to oversized light bulbs.

5) Raise the Curtain

A rarer treat you don’t see too often is the Christmas light curtain.

Perfect for draping across your front window or from your porch rafters, this light curtain has a whimsical cascading effect.

4) Go Green with LED

With the help of LED lighting, the future is now.

When compared to the bulbs of the past, LED Christmas lights generally have a longer life, carry less risk of electrical fire and are more energy efficient — many even come with Energy Star certifications.

Available in regular style, fairy or dewdrop and even solar power, we highly recommend these mighty lights.

3) Holiday Projections

Rounding out our top three are projector lights, similar to what you’d see at a rock concert or theater.

From star-spangled Laser shows to light and bright snowflake projections, there are plenty of options for upping your production value.

2) Custom Colors

If you really want to get technical, check out Philips Illuminate C9 lights series. This selection of holiday lighting allows you to customize your light show every night with different colors and moods.

With the help of the Illuminate app on a smart phone or tablet, you can browse through colors or create your own, select one of the many preloaded functions (like warm or cool) and even change the speed of these functions.

It’s the perfect way to get your first go at the world of extreme Christmas lighting.

1) Put on a Show

But, if you’re ready to put together a Christmas light display worthy of viral video fame, our No. 1 tip can help you get there.

The Home Depot sells a system to help sync your lights along with your favorite holiday songs. Dubbed the Holiday Brilliant Spectacular Light and Sound Show, this series of products can detect the pulse of music you select and trigger the lights to match the beat.

These products allow you to select your music via Bluetooth from a computer, smartphone or tablet, control it up to 30 feet away and amplify the sound to suit your needs.

Learn how it all works right here. And if you learn it right, we’d love to see a link to your holiday display in the comments.

Happy holidays and may all your Christmases be bright!

Drew Knight is a digital content associate for New Home Source.

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Thanksgiving Preparation Guide for Your New Home

Thanksgiving Guie

Our Thanksgiving preparation guide for your new home is the perfect resource for prepping your home for the best kind of holiday — the kind where food’s involved.

By Drew Knight

With the holidays in full fledge, you may be worried about prepping your new home for the family — because we all know they want to see the new place.

Before you panic about having the whole gang over for the first major holiday, take a moment to breathe. New Home Source has you covered when it comes to prepping your new home for the holidays.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, there are plenty of tips to be learned about hosting a family gathering. Here’s our Thanksgiving preparation guide for your new home:

Choose a Menu

Choosing a Thanksgiving menu is more than just selecting a turkey, throwing together some stuffing and popping in a side of potatoes. It actually takes a little more thought than that.

Are there food allergies in the family? Is a vegetarian coming to the table? So before you start your menu preparations, ask around and find out preferences from your friends and family.

Not really looking forward to cooking everything at home? Make it a potluck. Find out who’s bringing what and if they’ll need any space in your oven or fridge. You don’t want to run out of kitchen space and wind up with an undercooked ham.

For further advice on choosing a Thanksgiving menu, we refer you to these guides from Better Homes and Gardens and Martha Stewart. And for the proper timing for grocery shopping and cooking as the big day approaches, the Food Network has you covered.

Prep Your Kitchen

If you just recently moved in, this step may be a breeze. Still, it’s important that you make plenty of room in the kitchen. Here are a few steps to make the heart of your home Thanksgiving ready:

  • Clear your counters. You’ll want to make sure there’s plenty of room for serving dishes, plates, cutting boards and other preparation materials. Nobody likes a cluttered kitchen, especially when preparing multiple dishes.
  • Clean the oven. If you’ve been moved in for a while, you might want to take the time to clean out your oven. Nothing ruins that delectable smell of a turkey in the oven than burnt pizza cheese and crust.
  • Clean the fridge/freezer. While you’re at it, take a moment to clean out your fridge space. Make double sure you have room for all your serving dishes — and those your guests might be bringing.
  • Declutter and take inventory. Make sure you have everything you need and take inventory through your drawers, cabinets and pantry. Do you have enough glasses, silverware and plates for everyone? You might also want to make a list of what you need at the grocery store and what you already have.
  • Run the dishwasher. After you’ve ensured you have everything you need, run all your dirty dishes and utensils through the dishwasher one last time. After the meal is served and plates have been picked clean, you’ll thank yourself knowing you have an empty dishwasher.

Set the Table

Finally, it’s time to decorate the star of the show. No, not the turkey, it’s the dining room table. Here are the key points of interest:

  • Placemats, napkins and table runners. If you’re not taking the easy way out — paper napkins and plastic silverware — you might want to go shopping for holiday fabrics and placemats. A cohesive and color-coordinated theme can really bring in the holiday feel.
  • Plates, glasses and silverware. After you’ve made sure everything is sparkling clean, arrange your eating ware accordingly around the table. Check out The Emily Post Institute’s guide for a formal table setting if you want to be real proper.
  • Centerpieces and décor. Last, decorate the table with a holiday centerpiece — nothing too big that you can’t see your family’s shining faces — and a few other decorative items. For inspiration, browse these Thanksgiving table setting ideas from Country Living.

And there you have it, the keys to the best kind of family get-together — the kind where food is served.

Happy holidays!

Drew Knight is a digital content associate for New Home Source.

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2017 Paint Color Trends: What to Expect

2017 Paint Color Trends

Many of the major paint brands have released their “Colors of the Year” and revealed their trend forecasts for 2017. From left, Honey Glow, Poised Taupe, Byzantine Blue and Cloudberry.

By Drew Knight

It’s about that time of year again … the time all the major paint companies start releasing their “Colors of the Year” and outlining trends to expect in the seasons to come.

Well, if you’ve ever walked down the aisles of a paint store, you know that there are a lot of paint brands. How could you ever stay on track of what’s hot and what’s not?

As the new home authority, we like to think we’re pretty up to date — even on paint. We’ve browsed through the top brands’ reports and caught on to some similar trends, so you don’t have to waste any time scouting out each and every color.

Here’s a rundown on what you can expect when it comes to 2017 paint color trends:

Colors of the Year

From the swatches that have been released thus far, it appears the Colors of the Year are trending toward cool pastels and bold, natural accents.

Dunn-Edwards – Honey Glow: This warm, golden yellow color was chosen because it “evokes feelings of curiosity and natural marveling of the world around us.” Perfect for making a loud statement, this paint color is a great choice for adding a pop of color to your home as an accent wall paired with white or gray. An added bonus, 10 percent of all sales on this color will benefit HoneyLove, a non-profit group aiming to reduce the threat of bee extinction.

Sherwin-Williams – Poised Taupe: Sherwin-Williams says this “timeless neutral is modern, classic and a beautiful balance of warm and cool.” Catching on to the trend of gray color choices that has developed over the years, this color serves as a transition from the monochrome gray to a more complex taupe and brown. Try it out with cool blues and soft earth tones.

Glidden – Byzantine Blue: Catching on to the trend yet? This cool blue is perfect to pair with dark neutrals. Glidden says their Color of the Year “stretches the boundaries of purple to borrow all of the best qualities of blue and gray, making it an appealing color choice for nearly any room.”

Olympic – Cloudberry: Another cool and calm selection, Olympic writes that “Cloudberry is the perfect complement to the minimalist style that is strongly trending in the year ahead.” Another great choice for pairing with neutral grays, Cloudberry is perfect for creating a serene and calming effect in your home. With all the hustles and pressures of daily life, who doesn’t want easy, at-home relaxation?

2017 Color Forecasts

If these four color selections can tell you anything, it’s that you can expect both comfort and confidence in 2017 home design. Comfort: cool neutrals that evoke feelings of relaxation and meditation. Confidence: bold, natural colors that evoke feelings of worldly exploration.

Along with a Color of the Year selection, many brands release their trend forecasts for the year, most of which help bring about these ideas — and the right color palettes to design with.

With their colormix 2017 Color Forecast, Sherwin-Williams released a plethora of palettes that work well with Poised Taupe. Organized into the palettes of “Noir,” “Holistic,” “Intrepid” and “Unbounded,” these selections were chosen with the themes of night, sustainable design, travel and identity.

BEHR has also released a group of palettes it expects to be on-trend in 2017. Organized into the “Comfortable,” “Composed” and “Confident” palettes, these selections are designed to be inspirational, personal and tailored to help you create a home that fits your style and unique personality.

If you’ve already fallen in love with any of these beautiful colors, we highly suggest checking out one of these trending palettes to develop a color scheme that works with it. From cool and calming to bold and adventurous, these on-trend colors can truly help your new home become a reflection of you.

Drew Knight is a digital content associate for New Home Source.

Posted in Home Decor/Furniture, Interior Design | 1 Comment

5 Smart Toilets to Elevate Your Bathroom’s IQ

Kohler Veil

Smart toilets, like the Veil Intelligent Toilet by Kohler (above), are a great way to boost the value and efficiency of your bathroom. (Image courtesy of Kohler)

By Drew Knight

If you’re one of those top-of-the-line shoppers who wants the best of the best, why stop at kitchen or cosmetic upgrades?

With all the smart technology out there, it was only a matter of time before we headed to the bathroom for a boost. That’s right, we now have smart toilets on the market.

Whether it’s in your budget or not to upgrade your commode, we thought it would at least be fun to see what’s out there competing in the game of porcelain thrones. Without further ado, here are five heavenly smart toilets that will make you hail these porcelain thrones.

1) The Veil Intelligent Toilet by Kohler

With a minimalist and ergonomic design, the one-piece Veil Intelligent Toilet includes a handful of features that are easy to control on a touchscreen LCD remote control.

It features a tankless design with direct water supply, dual flush options (0.8 gallons per flush for liquids or 1.28 gallons per flush for solids), a stainless steel wand for multiple bidet-style functions, front and rear wash modes for cleansing, a self-cleaning function using UV light and electrolyzed water systems, a warm-air drying system with adjustable temperature settings, an automatic deodorization system, an adjustable heated seat, a motion-activated seat cover opening system, an LED-illuminated bowl night light feature and so much more that we just got tired of writing.

And intelligence doesn’t come cheap. This toilet weighs in at about $4,275, but it certainly has it all!

TOTO Neorest 750H

(Image courtesy of TOTO)

2) The TOTO Neorest 750H

If you thought that was a costly commode, wait till you see TOTO’s Neorest. At a list price of $10,200, this is one toilet that’s not to be tested.

The Neorest 750H features Actilight technology, a UV light cleaning system built into the lid. Together with a special ceramic bowl glaze and an ewater+ electrolyzed mist cleaning system, cleaning is easy as ever. This toilet also features a tornado/siphon jet flushing system, a heated seat, deodorizer, a dual flush function (0.8 gpf and 1.0 gpf) and a Washlet with three wash modes.

With a universal height and auto lid opening and closing functions, it’s one of the most user-friendly toilets on the market.

Delta Brevard Toilet

(Image courtesy of Delta)

3) The Delta Brevard Toilet with FlushIQ

Looking for something a little more affordable? We don’t blame you. At about $500, this smart toilet might be a smarter choice.

The Brevard Toilet by Delta includes a feature it calls FlushIQ , meaning it offers overflow protection, leak detection and a clean, touch-free flush. And with exceptional flushing power, this powerful potty is engineered for clog-free performance.

While it may not be self-cleaning, this toilet comes with two great warranties and is designed to save you loads —  from repairing leaky plumbing to extreme water bills.

Sun-Mar Compact Electric Toilet

(Image courtesy of Sun-Mar)

4) Sun-Mar Compact Electric Waterless Self-Contained Composting Toilet

For the eco-friendly toilet enthusiast, composting is the only way to go. And when it comes to composting toilets, Sun-Mar is one of the best.

The Sun-Mar Compact is a low-profile, medium-capacity, electric-composting commode. With a patented Bio-drum, you can rest-assured that its self-contained system will allow for odorless decomposition.

No water or sewer connections are required and it also creates no pollution and no odors. While it may cost you around $2,000, just think of the money you’ll be saving on water bills — plus you get the added benefit of recycling waste into usable compost.

Santerra Green FlushSmart

(Image courtesy of Santerra Green)

5) Santerra Green FlushSmart

For about $1,000 more, the Santerra Green FlushSmart toilet is a great option if you want a more discreet composting system.

Listed for around $3,800, this toilet connects to a remote composting unit that can be installed on slab level, in a basement or an outside shed. One of the most advanced environmental toilet systems available today, this modern-looking vacuum-flush toilet comes in two styles and uses as little as 0.2L of water to flush waste to its composting unit without even needing gravity.

For even greater efficiency, this system “pulverizes” waste before it reaches your composting unit. Environmentally friendly and discreet — it’s a win-win.

Drew Knight is a digital content associate for New Home Source.

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Connected Appliances: The Voice of the Future

Amazone Echo sitting on counter in kitchen

Connected appliances and devices, like Amazon Echo, can help homeowners manage their home. Photo courtesy of Amazon.

By Laurie Leiker

Years ago, the Jetsons showed us what homes would be like in the future — a robot maid and computerized systems controlling everything, from temperature to food preparation to lighting and entertainment.

With the advent of smart home technology, we’re almost there. One area that’s been lagging behind, though, is connected appliances. Where do we stand and what does the industry have in store? Are connected appliances the voice of the future?

Are connected appliances merely novelties or will they truly change the way we interact with our kitchens? The truth is, ready or not, appliance manufacturers are bringing connected appliances to the market and they’re here now.

A recent Twitter chat of industry experts – KB Tribechat – highlighted what we can expect to see in the near future and it involves one word — voice.

Connected appliances bring us one step closer to the promise the Jetsons made all those years ago, especially with the addition of voice technology, through Amazon Alexa and similarly equipped appliances. One company put it this way, “The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home; now, it’s the brain too.”

Most major appliance manufacturers have connected appliances available — everything from smart ovens allowing you to preheat your oven while you’re on the way home, to being alerted via text when the last of the milk has been used.

By adding voice, those appliances now give you an added hand. Say you’re cutting vegetables and realize you could use more light. Simply saying, “More light, Alexa,” the LED-equipped lighting fixtures raise the lumen level and you’re working safer.

Connected appliances with voice command also increase cleanliness in the kitchen. While you’re mixing the meatloaf, you can simply say, “Preheat oven to 375.” The oven does just that, all without having to stop, wash your hands and press the button or, in some cases, having to use your elbow to turn on the oven to preheat so you don’t get hamburger juice on the button.

Beyond voice controls, connected appliances can help save money. Appliances can automatically adjust power, based on ambient temperature in the home, reducing energy costs. And who doesn’t want a refrigerator that automatically displays the latest items on sale at the grocery store? Keep a running shopping list on the refrigerator smart panel, then have recipes, coupons and nutrition information delivered automatically to your smartphone while you’re in the store. Suggested recipes can be delivered daily based on what’s in the refrigerator, making a run to the store unnecessary (they can even help with recipes for those leftovers).

One expert was especially impressed with how connected appliances can help those with physical limitations, turning on the washer or dryer automatically, providing different types of alerts, depending on if the homeowner has visual or hearing challenges and, overall, providing more options to those with physical challenges will change the way they interact with the kitchen in general.

The connected kitchen still won’t uncork your bottle of wine and pour a glass so it’s ready when you get home, but the advantages of building homes with increased connectivity, allowing all aspects of the home to join the conversation, will mean homebuyers will step into their new homes, ready to face the future.

Laurie Leiker is a contributor to New Home Source.

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Snore Rooms: A New Home Answer to Sleeping Troubles

Snore Rooms

With new homes, custom options such as snore rooms are a great way to address daily troubles.

By Drew Knight

It’s a problem that many home shoppers are embarrassed to admit: they have a hard time sleeping because their partners are snorers.

While the issue itself is nothing to be ashamed of, we all should enjoy a good night’s rest. Luckily for new home shoppers, there’s a simple solution. So before you kick your loved ones to the curb, listen up.

The answer? Snore rooms.

Visbeen Architects, a national architecture firm who has worked with homebuilders like Pulte Homes and David Weekley Homes, has started to include these spaces in houses for some of their special clients.

“Snore rooms tend to be things people are incredibly sensitive about,” says Visbeen Architects President Wayne Visbeen. “So many times during the building process I talk to clients very subtly about sleeping habits and I make it easy for them to talk about it.”

And what he has discovered is that many clients interested in these so-called snore rooms are open to the concept, but don’t want to make it obvious that one of them snores. Thus, Visbeen ushers in the art of disguise.

“What we do to disguise snore rooms is create a little sitting area, a reading nook, a room with a TV or a daybed-type of scenario out of the bedroom itself as a snoring room or snore niche,” says Visbeen. “So even when people visit the home and see it, they won’t know it’s actually a snore room.”

Another option Visbeen Architects provides is to connect a library, den or sitting room to the owner’s suite, as well as to another area of the home like a hallway or foyer so that during the day that room is experienced as just that. Yet, during sleeping hours, the doors to that space can be closed and a hidden sofa bed can be revealed for that noisy sleeper.

“Those rooms are very wise uses of space because, frankly, you end up with one space with multi purposes — a cost-savings room with two purposes,” adds Visbeen.

And that, folks, is one of the beauties of buying a newly built home. Today, more than ever, homebuilders are catering to you to deliver a product that suits your wants and needs, no matter how unusual the option.

“We create a lot of unique spaces, whether it’s home management centers or rooms that change uses,” says Visbeen. “We’re offering up solutions for every part of life when we build a home.”

Even if you and your partner are lucky enough that neither of you are snorers, there’s still a lesson to be learned here: If there’s an issue that’s pestering your current living situation, never hesitate to discuss it with your builder. You never know when a simple solution could be hiding in plain sight.

Drew Knight is a digital content associate for New Home Source.

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OK, Google, We’re Ready for Google Home

Google Home

Google Home, a personal assistant device, was released today during Google’s Hardware Event. Photo: Google

By Patricia L. Garcia

OK Google, let’s roll! The much-anticipated Google Home is finally here.

Announced at today’s Google’s Hardware Event, the software (and now hardware) company revealed that it has an answer to Amazon’s Echo and it’s ready to ship Nov. 4. Think of Google Home as Google Now on steroids.

The voice-activated personal assistant is $129, which comes with a free six-month trial of YouTube red. The sleek Bluetooth-enabled device comes in several colors, with fabric or metal speakers and works with your Google account, making it easy to access things like your Google calendar. There’s not a lot of hardware on the device, aside from a touch-sensitive top you can use to change the volume or to pause music or podcasts.

According to Google, you can use the device to:

  • enjoy entertainment, such as streaming music throughout your home or listening to your favorite podcast;
  • get answers by asking questions about, well, just about anything;
  • manage tasks like setting alarms or verbally add items to shopping lists;
  • plan your day by searching and asking more about local businesses or get status updates on upcoming flights and
  • control your home with short phrases (our favorite use-case from Google suggests “Get these kids off my lawn” to turn on automated sprinklers).

Of course, there are many more practical – and impractical – ways to utilize Google Home. A highlight of the device is the ability to easily connect to other smart home devices in the home, like Chromecast and Nest, which Google owns.

The very forgetful music lover in me loves Home’s ability to spin up songs you might have forgotten the name of – as an example, during the press event, Google asked Home to play the Shakira song from Zootopia. Home played “Try Everything.”

No word yet on any security issues that may come from using the personal assistant, nor any word on how Home will handle a household with more than one Google account – this is something that annoys me about my car. Sometimes it’ll immediately connect to my phone; others, it’s searching for my husband’s phone.

If this device can manage any quirks of many voice-recognition devices (“I said call Alice, phone; not Alex!”), Home will be a welcome addition to the swath of personal home assistants on the market.

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