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How Smart is your Home?

One of the big, emerging trends in remodeling is smarter, less costly automated controls. It is becoming more and more affordable to control your home's systems - temperature, security, electronics, lighting and more - through a single device, even from an iPhone, iPad or iPod. The average family has more than 80 different devices that can now be controlled with a single system, making it much easier for homeowners to manage things around the house, even when they aren't there. Even cable companies are now offering these services so check around and compare prices. Outdoor living areas and screened porches continue to be a smart trend because they allow homeowners to add more livable space outdoors with the feeling and function of an indoor room. Some of these outdoor living areas are equipped with kitchens, televisions and audio systems, fire pits and fireplaces. Newer amenities include hybrid grills that permit cooking with both gas and wood or charcoal and prefabricated kitchens that are extremely cost effective. Expanding outward from a living room or family room, some outdoor living spaces are designed to be closed in when desired and are an exciting and in-demand addition to a home's original footprint. High-efficiency glass windows and doors make them energy-smart and seamless with indoor rooms. Screened porches have also gained in popularity with the addition of more indoor accoutrements like fireplaces, making them livable nearly year-round. With more and more families opting for "staycations," converting existing space into a media room is also a smart and popular trend in remodeling. In addition to installing multi-media systems, these rooms incorporate comfortable theatre-style seating, tables and specially designed lighting. Currently, the trend is toward a homier appearance, rather than a media room that resembles a theatre. Either way, the room is devoted to state-of-the-art media options and entertainment for the family. With homes continuing to be scaled back and many baby boomers now moving into condos, more and more furniture and furnishings are being designed with an eye toward multiple function capabilities. Ottomans that can be used for storage as well as seating, couches that convert to beds; there are even coffee tables that can rise up for dining. If you are working to maximize a small space, you might consider hiring a lighting professional. The right lighting can actually make a room look larger. It may not come as a surprise that updated, reimagined kitchens and baths remain at the top of the list for most homeowners contemplating a remodel. A well-designed kitchen remodel can drastically increase usable space to accommodate cooking, eating, socializing, doing homework or paying bills in addition to adding exciting new features, like under-counter drawer refrigerators. For the bath, Universal Design features facilitate aging- in-place without looking institutional. Grab bars that masquerade as towel bars, wider hallways to accommodate walkers or wheelchairs and zero threshold showers add safety and security without sacrificing style.
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