Choose Deep Rich Color

Granite Countertop

Real Estate Staging

Undercounter Refrigerator

Privacy And Safety Blinds

Energy-Saving Motorized Shades

Check Smoke Alarm Batteries

New Self-Cleaning Oven



Tips For Decorating With Stronger Colors

(NAPSI)—When it comes to decorating, color experts are predicting that homeowners will be seeking out stronger colors in their search for intensity.

Seeking Sensation

The bold choice to turn to vibrant, optimistic colors is two-fold: a search for euphoria for some and, for others, a sense of oneself.

According to PPG Pittsburgh Paints color expert Dee Schlotter, for many people, intensity is a survival strategy in times of crisis. “For some, it means seeking out extremes of sensation, rebelling against the bland existence that comes with cynicism and disenchantment. For others, it means ‘unplugging’ in order to reconnect with a life they feel is fleeting,” added Schlotter.

Sensation seekers will go for colors that stir the senses and set them in motion, amping up the chromatic density of their lives. Expect their spaces to be full of strong contrasts-heavy and weightless, shadow and light, hot and cold.

On the other hand, some individuals will use strong color as a way to turn inward and unplug. Expect them to opt for quiet, understated palettes accented by deep, rich colors in order to create the space they need to take time to relax.

If you are thinking of taking the leap to strong, deep color, here are some tips:

• If you appreciate deep, rich colors outside your home-whether in the clothes you wear or when you see these colors in restaurants or other people’s homes—then you will probably also like them in your own home.

• Consider an accent wall. This is a great way to get a smaller taste of strong color while still adding interest to the room.

• Test first. Use a large test sheet and a “time test”—view your color in all light: morning, noon and night. Live with it for a few days to make sure you love it.

• Don’t let timidity hold you back. Recognize that there’s only one life to live and there’s no time to waste. If not now, then when?

To learn more about the latest color trends for decorating, visit the PPG Pittsburgh Paints website at

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Caring For Granite Countertops

(NAPSI)—Granite countertops are the most popular option available when it comes to kitchen or bathroom remodeling. They look great, they’re durable, but they can also cost thousands of dollars.

Granite requires special care and attention because it’s a natural stone. Here are a few tips to help you protect your investment:

• Seal your countertops: According to the Marble Institute of America, an industry group, granite countertops should be sealed so that the stone is more resistant to dirt and spills. Check with the manufacturer or retailer about the best kind of sealer to use on food preparation areas.

• Be careful what you clean with: Never use ammonia—based products-or cleaners containing vinegar, lemon or orange—on your granite countertops. Avoid abrasive cleaners such as dry or soft cleansers. Don’t use cleaning products that contain acid such as bathroom, grout, or tub and tile cleaners. Specialty granite cleaners can be used, but they can be expensive. There’s a way to stretch your dollars.

• Mind your budget: JAWS Glass & Hard Surface Cleaner ( cleans granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, glass and even your flat-screen TV. It’s also non-toxic and costs less than most other cleaners because each JAWS product is actually two bottles in one. (The cartridge refill is attached to the bottle.)

There are also some other basic preventive measures you can take to protect your granite countertops:

• Use coasters: Place a coaster under all glasses, particularly those containing alcohol or citrus juices that can etch or dull the surface of many stone countertops.

• Use trivets or mats: They’ll protect your granite countertop from hot dishes and help avoid scratches.

Granite countertops can really add spark to a kitchen or bathroom. Proper care will keep them looking beautiful.

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Setting The Stage

(NAPSI)—With a flood of real estate listings on the market, sellers continuously search for ways to stand out.

The process is called staging. Done correctly, it can make a house look bigger, brighter, cleaner, warmer and make homebuyers want to buy it.

To help, here are some tips:

• Curb Appeal: The exterior of the house is the first thing potential buyers see; make sure it’s bright, clean and inviting.

• Clean: Clean from top to bottom, getting rid of clutter and organizing the space. Don’t forget the ceilings and fans.

• Brighten Up: Do what you can to help buyers envision living in the space. Make sure windows are streak free. Hide personal pictures. Instead, decorate with fresh flowers.

• Living Space: Choose neutral tones for the walls and furniture. Slipcovers are an inexpensive way to spruce up old furniture. Add pillows for pops of color.

• Dining Area: Set your dining room or kitchen table. Use brightly colored plates and napkins.

• Master Bedroom: You can make the space appear larger by limiting furniture to essentials; a bed and dresser will do.

Working closely with a licensed real estate agent can often help sellers achieve the best results. For more staging and DIY tips, visit's Idea Gallery.

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Build In Style

(NAPSI)—Upgrading your home with a dream kitchen and staying on budget can be a challenge. An increasingly popular solution to both these design challenges are built-in amenities. Whether it’s a wine and beverage center or undercounter built-in refrigerator, built-in appliances are an easy way to add storage space while sticking to your budget.

For example, Haier’s undercounter built-in beverage center holds up to 150 cans and some 12-inch bottles. And this efficient model has not sacrificed style for function. The center features sleek insulated double-paned glass doors with a stainless steel doorframe and pro-style handle.

Designed for today’s integrated kitchens, bar or family room, the dual-drawer undercounter refrigerator is stainless steel inside and out, with 5.4 cu. ft. in capacity, two refrigeration drawers and electronic temperature control. The easy-to-clean touch-control panel allows for simple temperature adjustment while the top-drawer divider system easily adjusts with one hand to securely hold items of different sizes such as fruits and vegetables, cheeses and liquids.

The company’s products deliver a premium appliance experience while leaving room in your budget for must-have amenities such as granite countertops.

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Do-It-Yourself Privacy and Light Control

(NAPSI)—Homeowners concerned that getting attractive, safe and effective blinds means hiring expensive contractors for complicated installations will be pleased to know that there’s an easier option.

The leading manufacturer of doorglass can help you solve a multitude of entry door challenges in just minutes. Blinds and shades created for easy DIY installation let you control privacy and light, cut cleaning time and increase energy-efficiency—all while protecting the safety of your family with a cordless design.

The Problem

Traditional blinds and shades can be cumbersome to install and operate. What’s more, according to Consumer Reports, blinds and shades with cords are among the most recalled products in the nation because of choking hazard risks for small children.

An Answer

Fortunately, add-on blinds and shades are easy to install and eliminate the need for cords because they use an innovative cordless control system that is enclosed in tempered safety glass. You can raise, lower and tilt them with the touch of a finger. You can also adjust the level of natural light you let in, customize privacy options and help regulate room temperature to increase energy-efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), “When completely closed and lowered on a sunny window, highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent.”

Expert’s Advice

The DOE offers this advice: “Lower shades on sunlit windows in the summer. Shades on the south side of a house should be raised in the winter during the day, then lowered during the night.”

“Safety and energy-efficiency are always top concerns,” says Tom Kraeutler, host of the popular national weekly radio program and website on home improvement, “The Money Pit.” “ODL Add-on Blinds and Shades are not only safer than traditional blinds and shades, but they are also an easy DIY remodeling project that the average homeowner can install in just minutes.”

The blinds and shades can be installed on doors with raised frames or flush frames around doorglass and, once secured, do not swing when the door is opened or closed. They’re available in white with a white frame, and the frame can be painted or stained if desired. There are standard half- and full-doorlight sizes, half-sidelight and full-sidelight, and larger sizes for flush fiberglass and steel patio doors. They carry a five-year warranty.

Learn More

For more information or to locate a nearby retailer, you can visit

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Motorized Shades: Energy-Saving, Practical Decor

(NAPSI)—Your shades can be more than a decorative element, if they’re motorized. Motorized shades are a cool way to add technology to your home and can make life easier, save energy-and more. Here are features and benefits:

Control Hard-To-Reach Windows

Do you have high living room windows or windows behind a sunken tub in your master bath? What about windows behind your kitchen sink? Shades in hard-to-reach areas can be difficult to open and close. With motorized shades, you can easily adjust shades with one button press.

Add Convenience

Manually lowering shades takes time. With motorized shades, you can lower them all at once without even getting up from your chair. Plus, you may be more apt to raise and lower these shades than manual ones.

Eliminate Cords

Unlike many manual shades, motorized shades are cordless, so kids and pets can’t get tangled in the cords.

Save Energy

Adjusting shades with the seasons can help keep your heating and cooling expenses from going through the roof. Motorized shades make it easy to block the sun’s rays in summer to help keep a room cool or let them in to warm a room in winter.

Motorized honeycomb shades feature pockets that trap air, providing superior insulation. The fabrics may provide better insulation than your windows.

Protect Interiors

Over time, the sun’s rays can damage fabrics, artwork and flooring. Your being able to press a button to lower shades and block those harsh rays will help extend the life of your home’s interior.

Affordable Luxury

Now you can have the benefits of motorized honeycomb shades without pulling wires for electricity-with Serena remote controlled shades by Lutron. Because you control them via a remote, they’re great for hard-to-reach windows.

Available from, these shades are battery powered, so you can easily install them yourself in about 10 minutes. They use store-bought batteries, feature innovative technology that extends battery life up to three years, and start at just $299.

The shades come in sheer, light-filtering and room-darkening fabrics, so you can choose the amount of sunlight in the room. The shades are available in four different pleat options, five textures and a wide variety of colors.

Learn More

To learn more about adding convenience and energy savings with motorized shades, visit or call (888) 445-8063.

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Ten “To Do’s” For Homeowners

(NAPSI)—It’s time to check around the house to make sure things are operating efficiently. Here are 10 often-overlooked tasks to add to your home-cleaning list:

1. Check AC: Have your air-conditioning system tuned up to lower energy bills and ensure the system is running at its manufacturer-rated efficiency.

2. Check Water Heater: If your water heater is more than five years old, check it for signs of leakage or rusting at the bottom.

3. Fertilize Lawn: Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer once in the spring and again in the fall.

4. Check Refrigerator: Clean the refrigerator’s condenser coil with a long-handled bottle brush and a vacuum cleaner with an attachment hose to remove dust and lint that could shut down the unit by causing it to overheat.

5. Clean Gutters: Clean the gutters so the rainwater flows easily off the roof. Clearing leaves prevents water from pooling in areas and attracting mosquitoes.

6. Organize Closets: Wash or dry-clean clothes before storing them in a zippered sweater or blanket bag or in a plastic bin.

7. Clean Carpets: Vacuum carpets and shampoo with a spray foam or powder, or rent a steamer from the hardware store for a deeper clean.

8. Wash Exterior Windows: Pick a cloudy day to wash exterior windows. Too much sun dries the cleaning solution too quickly and creates streaks.

9. File Important Documents: Store warranties, operating manuals and other documents in hanging files, folders or binders for easy access.

10. Check Batteries: The average home is filled with battery-operated devices-from flashlights to smoke detectors to cordless phones. Don’t forget to test those devices and replace the batteries with fresh ones.

Test smoke alarms once per month and change the batteries at least twice per year. Ensure there is at least one working smoke alarm on every level of your home, particularly in or near sleeping areas.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 3,000 people in the U.S. lose their lives in residential fires every year. It’s time to replace the batteries if the detector emits a warning sound, such as chirping or beeping.

Interstate Batteries makes 16,000 different kinds of batteries—powering automobiles, laptops and everything in between. Interstate All Battery Centers will have, find or build the right battery for just about any gadget around your home.

For more information, visit

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Cook, Host And Clean With Elegance And Ease

(NAPSI)—While celebrity chefs with seemingly unlimited time and resources can turn out a four-star dish with ease, most people have to deal with the real world, where the U.S. Department of Labor saw a 4.8 percent increase in the USDA’s Consumer Price Index for food last year. Fortunately, you can follow three simple tips to become the master of your kitchen.

Plan to Plan Ahead

Make a larger-quantity meal in the beginning of the week and plan on eating it at least two more times later on for lunch or dinner. Sites such as let you print a shopping list directly from favorite recipes, while makes it easy to find the best deals on groceries in your area. By freeing up the time it takes to think up, shop for and prepare meals, you’ll have more time to dedicate to tackling a new recipe later in the week.

Get Social

Hosting doesn’t have to be stressful. Potlucks can be a great way around the effort associated with cooking. Pick an old standby recipe you know you do well and ask every guest to bring a dish or drink. You can even use the potluck to share recipes. If a dish inspires you, make a mental note. To really spice things up, pick a theme such as Spain or Morocco, set up some music and decorations, and enjoy the sounds and flavors of exotic places at little cost.

Clean Less

For many, the most annoying and time-consuming part of preparing meals is cleaning up afterward. Lasagna bubble-overs, oil splatters and pie drippings are some of the worst offenders, especially in your oven’s interior, where they turn into blackened lava fields of excuses not to clean. Meanwhile, the self-clean mode can take hours and really heat up the kitchen. To solve this problem, there’s a new time-saving, self-cleaning technology known as “AquaLift.” Grime is lifted from the inside of these new ovens with water and low heat, and after a quick wipe down, they’re clean in under an hour. This kind of range from Maytag can save you hours in cleaning, and you won’t have to stay out of the kitchen because you can’t stand the heat. Instead, you can spend the time getting things done.

Learn More

For further kitchen tips, visit or call (800) 344-1274.

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