Living Large In Small Places Re-Key Your Locks Lead-Free Water Recirculator Standby Power Generators Home Monitoring Alarm Systems Cork Flooring Tax Credit Prevent Pest Infestations

Cooking Up A Kitchen Makeover On A Budget

(NAPSI)-Having to exercise some caution when budgeting for a kitchen makeover does not mean doing without beautiful things.

With some budget-conscious choices, a kitchen makeover can be a cost-effective yet personalized improvement, which can ultimately increase the value of your home.

Here are some simple tips for a do-it-yourself (DIY) customized kitchen makeover that won't break the bank:

1. Remove old fluorescent lighting that reminds you of your third-grade classroom and replace it with recessed lighting to add elegance and extra height to the kitchen.

2. Painting cabinets can completely change the feel of the room. If color is what you're looking for, painting an accent wall rather than the cabinets can create a bold statement and a nice backdrop for artwork.

3. Replace the hardware on your kitchen cabinets. This is inexpensive and easy for DIY beginners.

4. Swap out your old featureless faucet with a new one that will provide greater functionality and add a sense of style to the room. The new Avanti Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet from Pfister is the first pull-down from the company designed on a smaller scale for homeowners who desire the style and functionality of a pull-down, but don't want something that appears awkward and oversized in a more modestly sized sink or kitchen. It features stream and spray modes, as well as a curvature that starts at the base and twists its way up to the spout, giving a bit of contemporary flair while remaining traditional enough to coordinate with virtually any style of décor.

5. The area between the bottom of the cabinet and the countertop is known as the backsplash. Customizing this blank canvas with textured materials rather than paint is an easy way to personalize the kitchen and add a sense of style. Whether you go modern with glass or slate tiles or more eclectic and ornate with a custom mosaic, the possibilities are virtually limitless.

6. Add crown moldings to the kitchen. Crown molding is now available in much-less-expensive fiber composite materials. Not only are these materials going to save on overall costs, they are also easier to work with.

7. Bring wall décor from the living room into the kitchen to integrate the spaces and make them more continuous and connected. This is a valuable tip for small living spaces as it makes the layout feel more open.

8. If you have a small, cramped kitchen, open it up by removing the cabinets and replacing them with shelves or pot racks to show off your fabulous cookware.

9. In need of some fabulous cookware? Restaurant supply stores have great deals on appliances such as ovens, refrigerators, rolling carts, shelves and sinks, as well as cookware.

10. Last but not least, don't forget the kitchen sink. Vessel sinks, which have become very popular in the bath, are gaining popularity in the kitchen. If you love cooking as a group with your family, a trough sink, which is long and can accommodate multiple faucets, might be the best choice for you.

For more DIY design ideas, visit www.pfisterfaucets.com or follow Pfister on Facebook.

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Living Large In Small Spaces

(NAPSI)—From sky-rise lofts to tiny-size apartments, there are innovative and ingenious ways to get the most out of your space with organizational solutions that beat those small-space blues.

Today, many new homes and apartments are designed smaller with affordability in mind, as Americans cut back on everything from personal spending to the size of their homes. Several recent studies from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) indicate that the days of the "McMansion" are over, as consumers look to downsize.

In fact, the average size of new single-family homes in America is now about 2,438 square feet and 46 percent of first-time homebuyers purchased homes smaller than 1,500 square feet, according to the NAHB. As homes continue to shrink in size, storage becomes a real challenge.

Fortunately, you can maximize the living space you have by converting special-use rooms into highly functional rooms that can be used frequently, such as a mudroom, multipurpose living room or an outdoor living space. Don't forget about those unused nooks and crannies, which can be ideal areas for adding extra storage space. For example, an underutilized alcove can be turned into a customized reach-in closet with a ClosetMaid® do-it-yourself laminate system.

An overdecorated small space can look cramped, so cut the clutter. If you can't get rid of it, hide it by supplementing the furnishings you already own with pieces that double as storage. Built-in seating in the dining room can add much-needed storage while accommodating extra dinner guests. Affordable and stylish options include ClosetMaid Cubeicals®, which come in 2-, 6-, 8- and 9-square designs. They can be placed under the window or used as a side table by the couch and even as a mini entertaining area.

Finally, define the areas in your abode and consider furniture that fits the scale of the room. An accessory such as a mirror can become the focal point of a room. It also adds dimension by reflecting natural and artificial light.

To find out how you can create your own unique storage and organization solutions, visit www.closetmaid.com or call (800) 874-0008.

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Five Reasons To Re-Key Your Locks

(NAPSI)-Is your home security at risk? According to FBI statistics, 8,600 break-ins occur in the U.S. every day (that's one every 10 seconds!), and more than half the time, they're happening during broad daylight, entering right through the doorway. But most break-ins are a crime of opportunity, so you have the power to take back control.

According to the Kwikset American Security Study, nearly one-third of homeowners have lived in their current residence for five years or less. And while moving into a new home can be very exciting, it's also a vulnerable time for home security because there's no telling how many people have copies of your house key. That is, unless you've physically changed or re-keyed the locks yourself…which is an affordable, smart and simple way to up your odds of foiling a break-in before it even occurs.

Following are five more important reasons to re-key or change the locks to your home:

1. You have lost, stolen or unreturned keys: More than half of homeowners routinely loan out house keys to people who don't live there; e.g., housekeepers, gardeners, babysitters, neighbors and so on.

2. You've recently moved: A shocking 47 percent of U.S. homeowners did not re-key their locks upon moving into their home, with about a third having never re-keyed or changed their locks at any point since living there.

3. You have tenants: When tenants move out, they give the key back. But there's no way to know if they're holding on to a copy. Ensure the security of your rental unit by re-keying the lock immediately upon tenant departure. Not only will this ensure no unwanted "houseguests" are staying on the premises while vacant, but it's also important for the safety of your new tenants.

4. You're remodeling, upgrading or updating: Even when working with the most reputable contractors, the minute you give them a house key you're relinquishing control over your home security. There's no telling how many copies they could potentially make, and there's no guarantee of the integrity of their subcontractors.

5. You'd prefer one-key convenience: Imagine how much easier it would be if one key unlocked all the points of entry to your home. No more fumbling through key rings trying to decipher which key unlocks what.

While it may sound like a daunting project, re-keying your locks can be as easy as 1-2-3. Kwikset®, a leader in residential door hardware, developed a groundbreaking lock technology called SmartKey®, which allows homeowners to quickly and easily re-key their own locks in a matter of seconds without having to remove the lock from the door.

Providing superior security, SmartKey deadbolts are made with high-quality stainless steel internal parts to ensure smooth operation, increased strength and exceptional durability. These deadbolts are designed to withstand picking, and include the security of BumpGuard™ to protect against lock-bumping attacks. They've even proven their superiority at a recent professional lock-picking competition. Only one of 56 Kwikset SmartKey deadbolts was able to be picked by a professional locksmith in under 10 minutes, compared to 44 out of 56 deadbolts that were successfully picked for the competition.

Learn More

For more information, visit www.Kwikset.com, see Facebook or call (800) 327-5625.


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Getting The Lead Out Of Your Drinking Water

(NAPSI)-While many people are aware of the dangers of lead in paints and toys, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says potentially toxic lead is most commonly found in a home's plumbing and water system.

Extended exposure to lead in drinking water can cause a variety of adverse health effects ranging from delayed physical and mental development in children to kidney problems or high blood pressure in adults. Dwellings built before the Safe Drinking Water Act amendments of 1986 are especially vulnerable.

Lead can sometimes "leach" from pipes in the water service line entering a building or from welds used on pipes in the home. However, there are several things you can do to decrease or eliminate the threat of lead in your drinking water:

Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to Lead

• Do not consume water that has been sitting in your home's plumbing system for more than six hours.

• Run cold water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it.

• Use cold water for drinking or cooking.

• Never cook or mix infant formula using hot water from the tap.

• Use a faucet or filters that can remove lead from drinking water.

• Use a professionally installed water filter system on the pipes entering your home as well as under the faucets in your kitchen and bathrooms.

• Put your filtered water in a safe container—glass or BPA-free plastic.

• Invest in lead-free, energy-saving plumbing products such as balancing valves and the brass ITT Bell & Gossett ecocirc® water circulating pump that can save a family of four up to 12,000 gallons of water a year.

To learn more about how to get the lead out of your drinking water, check out EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791 and website www.epa.gov/safewater/lead/index.html. Explore lead-free and energy-efficient products at www.bellgossett.com.


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Stationary Generators Offer Added Security

(NAPSI)-Increasingly, homeowners are seeking alternative sources of energy that can meet their needs in an emergency.

When a home loses power, off goes the heat, out go the lights, the food in the refrigerator spoils and the garage doors can become disabled. Losing power for days, weeks or even longer can be costly, inconvenient and dangerous.

While many homeowners have tried to address their need for electricity in an emergency with a portable generator, portability may not be the key. Experts such as the American Red Cross suggest that during power outages, permanently installed stationary generators are better suited for providing backup power to the home than portable generators.

An automatic standby generator can sense an outage and respond immediately. There are no extension cords to plug in, gas tanks to fill or switches to flip. Plus, portable generators—if misused—can cause hazards such as carbon monoxide poisoning from toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or fire.

However, in the past, some have found the cost of automatic stationary generator systems to be prohibitive. The good news, according to Jake Thomas of Generac Power Systems, is that all that is changing. There are now automatic standby systems available at nearly the same price as a portable generator.

Said Thomas, "Our new 7-kilowatt [kW] CorePower System consists of a generator and transfer switch conveniently packaged together at a price point significantly less than any other automatic standby generator and switch combination on the market-for as little as $1,799. Its compact design is engineered for easy maintenance and serviceability and is ideal when space is at a premium."

Automatic standby generators operate on natural gas or liquid propane vapor, eliminating the fuel storage, spillage, spoilage or odor concerns that are common with gasoline or diesel models. Because of their favorable emissions profile, gaseous-fueled generators, such as the new Generac CorePower System, are becoming increasingly popular as an environmentally conscious solution for backup power needs.

For those who want to go even greener, Generac's new EcoGen generator is the first automatic standby generator designed and warranted for off-grid use when used in an alternative energy system. Whether one is living off grid by choice or as a requirement, EcoGen is considered an affordable, reliable, propane-fueled alternative to traditional standby and portable generators.

Generac introduced the first gaseous-fueled automatic home standby system in 1989 and has been the leader in standby power ever since with its popular Guardian Series line.

For more information, visit www.Generac.com or call (888) GENERAC.


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Protecting Your Home

(NAPSI)—Men and women may worry more about different home-security issues, but there's one thing both can agree on: Nagging doubts about whether they did or didn't take the proper precautions before leaving can kill a vacation or evening out.

That explains why national family safety expert Alison Rhodes—whose TV appearances on the likes of "The Today Show" have earned her the title The Safety Mom—now suggests in-stalling a new system she says "gives you the freedom to control your home at your convenience."

Along with the traditional benefit of an alarm system, ADT Pulse home monitoring system allows users to video-monitor everything from visitors to package deliveries to children arriving home safely from school—all from a laptop or smart phone. Beyond that (way beyond that, in fact), not only can doors be remotely unlocked and relocked, but thermostats and lights can likewise be adjusted to save as much as 30 percent on utility bills.

Which feature is most appealing may be gender-dependent. A recent Harris Interactive survey found men more concerned over whether they locked the front door, as opposed to women's focus on whether appliances were turned off.

For more info, visit www.findyourpulse.com.

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Great Reasons And Ways To Green Your Home

(NAPSI)—Whether or not global warming is one of your top concerns, some of the latest reasons for greening your home may inspire you to design with more eco-friendly materials in mind.

With more than 85 percent of Rent.com survey respondents preferring to live in an eco-friendly space, green design is conscientious, economical and:

Stylish: Green doesn't have to mean boring.

"Whether in traditional, contemporary or transitional spaces, green design reflects not only practicality and versatility, but beauty in its materials, making it the perfect choice for today's interiors," said Candice Olson, host of HGTV's "Divine Design" and "Candice Tells All."

In the search for sustainable materials, more homeowners are choosing materials such as cork. The natural, reusable and recyclable material is durable, warm, resilient, insulating, hypoallergenic and comfortable. It also offers an eco-chic design aesthetic.

"Cork flooring is the ultimate choice for style-savvy consumers because of its exquisite design possibilities, durability, reliability and eco-friendly features," said Olson. "Using user-friendly websites like www.realcorkfloors.com can make choosing the right design fun and frustration-free."

Cork flooring can be used in living rooms, kitchens, family or entertainment rooms, bedrooms and basements. It's 100 percent renewable, since harvesting the outer bark of the cork oak tree never results in a single tree being cut down. According to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), cork oak forests support one of the highest levels of biodiversity among forest habitats.

Helps to preserve our heritage: Why buy new furniture when you can buy history?

According to Nigel Worboys of Antiques Are Green, buying antiques reduces landfill, carbon emissions and consumption of new goods from abroad, while helping to preserve our heritage for future generations.

Can save you money: Lots of it, in fact.

The federal Energy Star tax credit for 2011 is 30 percent of the cost-up to $1,500-for the following items: biomass stoves, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning (HVAC), roofs (metal and asphalt), water heaters (nonsolar), windows and doors.


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Don't Let Pests Get Cozy In Your Home

(NAPSI)-During the winter months, it's nice to have a cozy, warm place to come home to-but not if you're sharing it with pests. Just like people, pests seek shelter from the cold weather and your home may seem like just the place to spend the winter.

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), rodents alone invade an estimated 21 million homes in the U.S. each winter. Mice and rats can spread diseases like salmonella and hantavirus when they contaminate food. Rodents can also bring other pests like fleas, ticks and lice indoors and can also cause serious structural damage to a home by chewing through wood and electrical wiring.

Other cold-weather squatters include ants, spiders and cockroaches. More than a nuisance, these household pests can trigger allergies and asthma attacks, spread disease, transmit bacteria, contaminate food and, in some cases, bite.

Pests can hitch a ride into your home on items brought indoors, such as firewood and foliage, as well as on family pets. They also gain entry through small cracks and crevices in a home's exterior.

"Pests including cockroaches, ants, spiders and especially rodents are common home invaders in the winter," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "An infestation by these pests can cause serious health and property issues if not properly dealt with in a timely manner. However, homeowners can help prevent infestations by taking a proactive approach."

Luckily, there are many effective pest-proofing measures homeowners can use to discourage these unwanted guests from moving indoors for the winter. The NPMA recommends that homeowners:

• Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home.

• Store items that are kept in garages, basements and attics in plastic, sealed containers rather than cardboard boxes to prevent rodents from nesting inside.

• Keep branches and shrubbery trimmed away from the home.

• Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and five feet off the ground.

• Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens.

• Screen vents and openings to chimneys.

• Store food in airtight containers and dispose garbage regularly.

• If you suspect an infestation, contact your local pest professional.

To learn more about winter pest-proofing or to find a pest professional in your area, visit www.pestworld.org.



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