The keys to an affordable home automation system

As a concept, the connected home probably sounds like a wonderful idea to any tech enthusiast. As a reality, it also probably feels very unattainable to the average homeowner making the average salary.

While the benefits are appealing, the thought of installing technology that can tie together things like lighting, heating and air conditioning, and security sounds like an expensive proposition that can only be afforded by homeowners who live in the wealthiest neighborhoods.

Not true.

Recent advancements have made the prospect of affordable, advanced home-automation functions much more realistic for the average homeowner.

The value of a home security system to improving safety is well-known; a five-year study by Rutgers University of Criminal Justice concluded that residential burglar alarm systems did decrease crime, says Robert Puric of home-security giant Honeywell. Homeowners are now using the same concept of connectivity to not only improves their life security but their lifestyles as well, and they’re doing it affordably, too.

Honeywell, for example, recently introduced a wireless controller that allows homeowners to control their lighting, locking, heating and air conditioning and (of course) security from a single touchscreen device. More than simplifying control, however, the device (called Tuxedo Touch) can help these systems work together. Tuxedo Touch can manage security, door locks, up to four video cameras, lighting, automated shades and temperature controls. It can be managed and controlled within the home through an iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Internet TV or any other compatible wireless mobile device, using either Wi-Fi or Ethernet – and literally at a fraction of the cost of a typical home-automation system.

Additionally, home automation helps homeowners save even more money by cutting back on energy consumption. Automation systems can automatically reduce energy-using features like air-conditioning, heating, lighting or shades whenever the system’s security function is armed – which usually indicates the home is unoccupied. These types of features can have a significant impact on energy bills to save money.

This app-free, remote access provides homeowners with multiple lifestyle benefits, not the least of which is improved personal safety. Homeowners can:

* Manage their home’s energy efficiency. A home security system not only keeps the home’s contents and people safe, it can help control energy costs as well. These systems allow homeowners to remotely change or set programmable thermostats, lower or raise automated blinds, and turn lights on or off. Or, users can set the system to automatically reduce energy-using features like air conditioning, heating or lighting whenever the system’s security function is armed – which usually indicates the home is unoccupied.

* Access video cameras that function as part of a security system. These cameras enable homeowners to not only see who’s at their door, but also access real-time images or view video clips of what’s going on inside the home. With Honeywell Total Connect remote services, homeowners can receive an alert that a child has arrived safely home from school, keep an eye on their pet, or take note of when a package has arrived on their doorstep.

* Prevent home-damaging crisis. By placing environmental sensors in risk-prone areas like bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, utility rooms or unfinished basements with exposed pipes, homeowners can monitor for leaks, floods or extreme temperature changes. Used in conjunction with a remote services product, environmental sensors can help homeowners catch potentially costly problems. Knowing right away that a pipe has burst or a leak has occurred can give homeowners the opportunity to repair the problems before they cause extensive damage.

In the past, separate keypads controlled security, heating and air conditioning, lighting and other systems, says Puric. Wi-Fi technology has made the concept of the ‘connected home’ a reality. Home security and communication in one has never been easier or more affordable to achieve.

Courtesy of BPT

Themed bedroom ideas that can grow with your little girl

As a parent, how to decorate your child’s room is one of the tough decisions you have to make. She might love Dora the Explorer today, but it’s not likely that she’ll want cartoons on her walls forever. You could end up spending a ton of money redecorating every year or two if you don’t think ahead. Here are seven theme ideas for girls’ rooms that can grow with her over the years, saving you money.


All little girls love to be princesses – and teens like to act like them too. Take a more mature approach to it from the start. Chose a subdued pink and pair it with browns to give the room a Victorian look. Canopy beds are regal, but they can be expensive. Instead, go for a smaller, removable net canopy, which attaches to the ceiling via a ring and only flows over the head of the bed. Use gold touches to finish the room with an elegant feel, and display princess toys that your child has until she outgrows them.


Instead of painting cartoon flowers and bumble bees all over the walls, which can be fun for a toddler but overwhelming for a teenager, try using real flowers (or silk flowers if you don’t have a green thumb) on shelves that are out of reach of tiny hands. Use natural colors, like greens and browns, for painting and sheer curtains to let in as much light as possible. Keep the artwork on the walls whimsical enough for a children’s room – like pictures of fairies or butterflies – yet sophisticated enough for teens; skip the cartoons and look for prints of paintings.


Creating a retro room for your daughter can be fun, but don’t go too crazy with the flower power and smiley faces! Instead, stick to using colors that were popular in the 1960s and add fun touches like beaded curtains, printed rugs, and beanbag chairs. Use a lava lamp as a night light and stick to fabrics in funky prints, like paisley.


Pink French poodles and polka dots look cute in a little girls’ room, and it is actually fairly easy to take that style idea and make it appropriate for any age group. Start with color – a Parisian themed room should have elements of black, pink, white, and tan. Stuffed poodles can easily be replaced on shelves with more sophisticated decor, such as an Eiffel Tower replica or French country prints. Add mirrors and sconces to the walls (out of reach of small children of course) and for the furniture, think wrought iron and wood painted white or cream and distressed.


Girls can love sciences and technology as much as boys, so why not choose a celestial outer space theme for your child? Use navy-colored paint to give the illusion of a night sky and glow-in-the-dark stars that can be removed if she no longer likes them when she’s older. To give the room a girl’s touch, use celestial sun, moon, and star accent pieces and pretty cloud or sunset artwork.


Tropical themed bedrooms are always a hit for kids, but creating an island paradise that will still be appropriate when your toddler is a teen can be challenging. Subtlety is key here. Use beach colors like aqua and blue for the walls or furniture and instead of carpeting, go for a wood floor that gives the room a more beach bungalow feel. For small children, use some tropical-inspired rugs to make the play surface safer, and use shells and hibiscus flowers to complement your design. You can also use bamboo and wicker for furniture and blinds in the room, and frame artwork featuring mermaids, dolphins, and sailboats for the walls.

Hollywood Glitz

Most young girls love to play dress up, and teens may also be very into fashion. A Hollywood glitz and glam room can be great for themed bedrooms. Instead of a traditional dresser, chose a vanity, which your daughter will appreciate when she’s in high school, and instead of a wallpaper border, string white Christmas lights around the room that can be kept up all year. Use clear beads that give the illusion of diamonds in the window treatment and for a chandelier-like lighting fixture and add a few touches of animal prints in pillows, throw rugs, etc. for a little fun.

Remember, your toddler may not grow up to like the style you chose, so be prepared for your tomboy teen to hate her garden-inspired room or your cheerleader to have an issue with the beach theme you picked. The good news is that no matter what theme you use today, if you switch out the accessories, she’ll love it tomorrow. Avoid huge decor choices that are hard to change, because you want her room to grow with her tastes.

by: Max Sheppard

Choosing the best garden furniture!

Garden furniture, also popularly known as outdoor furniture and patio furniture, is perfect for your outdoor settings. They are also very useful for seating arrangements in gardens, lawns, hotels, and restaurants. A patio set consists of a table, chairs (four to six), and an umbrella or parasol. These can be customized according to the need of the buyer and what setting they plan on using it in. For example, you can have a fixed or movable parasol as well as a fixed or movable parasol heater to enable people to sit outside during cold weather conditions. Garden furniture is made of materials which can withstand a range of weather conditions and is durable. The most common materials used are wood, aluminum, wicker, plastic, and wrought iron.

Popular Types of Garden Furniture

Due to the availability of a variety of materials, garden furniture is made in lot of different styles to give your garden a new look and feel. Following are the most popular styles.

* Wooden garden furniture: It’s been popular from the start and meets the needs of all kinds of home settings. Popular varieties among wood are teak, acacia, softwood, and hardwood. Teak is very durable due to the presence of protective oils, is very dense and very strong. Acacia is available in appealing textures and can withstand water, as well as being flexible and strong. Hardwood is very strong and durable for all weather conditions. Softwood is light in weight, but is strong and is very useful for movable furniture.

* Rattan garden furniture: It is very durable, attractive and made from woven synthetic plastic. It is also light, comfortable, and requires low maintenance. It comes in various styles, colors, and designs, and are made more comfortable by adding cushions. Rattan furniture is also a very popular choice because of its resistance to water and heat.

* Plastic garden furniture: This is another wonderful option for a simple and cost-effective setting. It is not too stylish but is quite durable in varying weather conditions. It is also light in weight, available in many colors, and great for movable furniture.

* Cast-iron garden furniture: It is a slightly more expensive option but is very durable and strong compared to other materials. It also requires much less maintenance and is weather-resistant. It is available in various designs and is quite stylish.

Before shopping for the right garden furniture, it is essential to analyze the needs of your outdoor spot and the decide on the right type of material for your furniture. There are a number of styles and looks available for an outdoor setting, and these living room styles provide comfort and durability suitable for all weather conditions. Some other factors to keep in mind are the type of sets available and their cost compared to your budget.

by: Broad Gallacher

Courtesy of BPT