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Deck design 101

Tips for planning a perfect outdoor oasis.

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Timing can be everything, especially when it comes to planning an outdoor living space. By getting a jump-start on planning, you can afford yourself time to complete the process with maximum creativity and minimal stress.

Try these expert tips and tricks of the trade to help make your dream deck a reality.

Lay a Solid Foundation

Don’t skimp on the substructure. Often overlooked, the substructure can have tremendous impact on performance and appearance. For maximum strength and stability, opt for steel framing over wood in order to achieve a consistently flat decking surface. Wooden substructures can split, warp and shift over time, leading to an uneven surface in the deck boards. Dimensionally stable steel offers durability benefits over wood, plus greater design flexibility, sustainability, safety and fire resistance.

Get the Right Tools

In addition to magazines, TV shows and social platforms offer outdoor living ideas and inspiration. There are also a number of online tools designed to help guide you through the planning process which can help anyone at the outset of their deck building adventures. It provides a user-friendly way to experiment with various deck configurations and design combinations. In three simple steps, the tool can help you choose the right materials for your project and design a customized outdoor living space before ever raising a hammer.

Choose the Right Materials

When selecting materials, invest in decking that can hold up against the harshest weather and messiest cookouts. High-performance, low-maintenance composite decking offers superior durability and long-lasting looks. It can also outperform both wood and PVC alternatives over time. With a wood deck, the cost of regular sanding, staining and painting compound considerably over time. Over the life of a composite deck, the reduced maintenance costs of simple soap and water cleanings can add up to a greater return on investment – not to mention the value of all the time spent enjoying your deck rather than maintaining it.

Add Safety and Style with Railings

Railings can be one of the most visible parts of any deck so it should be considered at the same time as the deck boards. A good rule of thumb is to use the “three C’s,” which are: coordinate, contrast, customize. For example, crisp white posts and black aluminum balusters coordinate beautifully with gray deck boards, delivering an elegant look and feel. For a beachy vibe, opt for a contrasting look with all-white railings. Or go completely custom with sleek, black aluminum railings to create a space that’s both modern and inviting.

Incorporate Personal Touches with Accessories

Have fun exploring the many design elements that are available for customizing your deck. Things like built-in seating, planters and storage, as well as add-ons such as a pergola or outdoor furniture, which can add comfort, character and convenience to your outdoor living space. Further personalize your space with a variety of deck and landscape lighting fixtures. Set up path lights to brighten walkways and use spotlights to showcase trees and architectural features. Easy to install and energy efficient lighting can help keep your outdoor enjoyment going long after the sun goes down.

Designing your outdoor space

Before any work can get done on the deck of your dreams, designing comes first. It’s important to have a plan in mind before diving in so that you have a vision of what you want your deck to become.

For example, you might envision your deck as a spacious place to host family and friends with room to mingle, while others may prefer a small, quiet space for reading a book or enjoying the peace of the outdoors. Different sizes, shapes, colors and other factors can all have an outsized impact on the final look of your deck, so take all factors into account before getting started.

Try these starting points for the ultimate deck design:

Choose a Deck Plan

For a space that defies pre-made plans, you can also opt to create a custom deck plan to fit the layout of your home.

Choose Your Color

The right decking color can enhance your yard’s scenery, complement your home or make your deck stand out. Match your surroundings with natural tones, blend in with your home’s exterior by matching the trim or consider bold colors like a spicy red for a deck color that pops.

Frame Your Space

The right railings can pair with your decking to safely frame your space, enhance your view and open even more design possibilities. Based on your decking color, the experts at Trex can help make it easier by offering designer- curated decking and railing duos. You can also customize your railing, making the design your own from start to finish.

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For epilepsy, yoga may be good for your mind

People who did yoga were more than four times as likely to have more than a 50% reduction in their seizure frequency after six months than the people who did sham yoga.

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For people with epilepsy, doing yoga may help reduce feelings of stigma about the disease along with reducing seizure frequency and anxiety, according to new research published in the November 8, 2023, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“People with epilepsy often face stigma that can cause them to feel different than others due to their own health condition and that can have a significant impact on their quality of life,” said study author Manjari Tripathi, MD, DM, of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. “This stigma can affect a person’s life in many ways including treatment, emergency department visits and poor mental health. Our study showed that doing yoga can alleviate the burden of epilepsy and improve the overall quality of life by reducing this perceived stigma.” 

For the study, researchers looked at people with epilepsy with an average age of 30 in India.

Researchers measured stigma based on participants’ answers to questions such as: “Do you feel other people discriminate against you?” “Do you feel you cannot contribute anything in society?” and “Do you feel different from other people?”

Researchers then identified 160 people who met the criteria for experiencing stigma. Participants had an average of one seizure per week and on average took at least two anti-seizure medications.

Researchers then randomly assigned participants to receive yoga therapy or sham yoga therapy. Yoga therapy included exercises in loosening muscles, breathing, meditation and positive affirmations. Sham yoga consisted of exercises that mimic the same yoga exercises, but participants were not given instructions on two key components of yoga believed to induce a relaxation response: slow and synchronized breathing, and attention to the body movements and sensations during practice.

Each group received seven supervised group sessions of 45 to 60 minutes over three months. Participants were also asked to practice sessions at home at least five times a week for 30 minutes. They tracked seizures and yoga sessions in a journal. After the three months of therapy, participants were followed for another three months.

Researchers found when compared to people who did sham yoga, people who did yoga were more likely to reduce their perceived stigma of the disease. People who did yoga had an average score of seven at the start of the study and an average score of four at the end of the study, while people who did sham yoga had an increase from an average score of six at the start of the study to an average score of seven at the end.

Researchers also found that people who did yoga were more than four times as likely to have more than a 50% reduction in their seizure frequency after six months than the people who did sham yoga.

In addition, people who did yoga were more than seven times more likely to no longer have seizures than those who did sham yoga.

There was also a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms for people who did yoga versus people who did not. They saw improvements in quality of life measures and mindfulness.

“These study findings elevate the need to consider alternative therapies and activities for people with epilepsy facing stigma,” said Tripathi. “Yoga may not only help reduce stigma, but also improve quality of life and mindfulness. Plus, yoga can be easily prerecorded and shared with patients online using minimal resources and costs.”

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Eating a vegan diet could reduce grocery bill 16%, saving over $500 a year – study

Total food costs decreased in the vegan group by 16%, or $1.51 per day, compared with no significant change in the control group. This decrease was mainly attributable to savings on meat, -$1.77 per day, and dairy, -$0.74 per day. Changes in purchases of other food groups (e.g., eggs and added fats) also contributed to the observed savings.

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Food costs decrease 16% on a low-fat vegan diet, a savings of more than $500 a year, compared to a diet that includes meat, dairy, and other animal products, according to a new analysis from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine published in JAMA Network Open.

“We knew that a vegan diet significantly reduces your risk of conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity—and now we have proof that opting for beans instead of beef will also lead to significant savings on your grocery bill,” says study co-author Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The research is an analysis of a Physicians Committee study in which participants were randomly assigned to a vegan group or control group. The vegan group was asked to follow a low-fat vegan diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, while the control group was requested to make no diet changes. Calorie intake and food costs were not limited for either group.

For the food cost assessment, the participants’ dietary records were linked to food price data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Thrifty Food Plan, 2021.

Total food costs decreased in the vegan group by 16%, or $1.51 per day, compared with no significant change in the control group. This decrease was mainly attributable to savings on meat, -$1.77 per day, and dairy, -$0.74 per day. Changes in purchases of other food groups (e.g., eggs and added fats) also contributed to the observed savings.

These savings outweighed the increased spending on vegetables, +$1.03 per day; fruits, +$0.40 per day; legumes, +$0.30 per day; whole grains, +$0.30 per day, and meat and dairy alternatives.

The findings support previous research showing that a plant-based diet provides more cost savings than one that includes animal products.

In addition to the cost savings, the study found that a low-fat vegan diet resulted in weight loss and improved body composition and insulin sensitivity in overweight adults.

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Thinking of getting your own condo? Prep these 5 things before you do

To help millennials kickstart their homebuying journey, RLC Residences shares a few things that aspiring homeowners should consider.

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Millennials have been observed to search for condominiums online, which has been attributed to them entering their prime years of home buying and wanting to live near where they work. However, moving into a new home is a big step that requires advanced preparation logistically, financially, and emotionally.

“Finding your first home can be daunting. There should be no risk of regrets. This is why we have been extremely thoughtful in designing Sierra Valley Gardens such that it caters to modern needs and aspirations – from installing upgraded smart home facilities, a WFH nook in our units, to providing abundant green spaces and a multitude of amenities for young professionals to enjoy,” saysRLC Residences’ Senior Director, Marketing Head and Chief Integration Officer Karen Cesario.

To help millennials kickstart their homebuying journey, RLC Residences shares a few things that aspiring homeowners should consider:

#1. Scheduling the move-out date

Moving out is not easy and it can take a long time to ensure that the new place is clean and ready for occupancy, packing belongings, buying new furniture and appliances, and securing permits and documents.

Buyers of the newly launched fourth building of Sierra Valley Gardens in Cainta, Rizal still have a lot of time to plan their moving out process as the target turnover date is still on 2028. This also means that they have time to learn more adulting stuff like cooking, doing laundry, and budgeting before doing the big move.

#2. Emotionally preparing your family

Traditionally, Filipino families are very close to each other. There is a need to emotionally prepare yourself, your parents, and siblings when deciding to leave the family home. Do allot an ample time to share and explain your big move to your family.

A way to make ‘the talk’ lighter is to assure them that you will still visit often and they, too, can come to your place anytime. For future residents of Sierra Valley Gardens, family time can mean taking a dip at the lap pool, playing basketball at the Multi-purpose court or game room, or simply catching up at the property’s cozy lounge area in the 3-level Clubhouse.

#3. Building a budget

An important ingredient in solo living is budgeting. This makes sure that homeowners are not spending more than they’re earning so they can stay on top of daily and monthly expenses.

In terms of monthly amortizations, Sierra Valley Gardens has flexible payment schemes so millennials can pay with ease. For the new fourth building, RLC Residences is also offering a 5% launch discount so future homeowners can buy their dream home.

#4. Establishing eating habits

A benefit of living with the family is that eating is easier. It’s either they are served meals or ingredients are readily available. Moving out means crafting your own menu, learning recipes, and visiting the grocery to buy ingredients and other essentials.

Located within a destination estate, Sierra Valley Gardens has easy access to the upcoming mall and to now open retail stores and restaurants within the area. Also, future residents will find living here comfortable given its direct access to Ortigas Ave. Extension should they need to go outside the estate.

#5. Keeping an administration and maintenance directory

It’s important to have a directory of service providers like hospitals and police and fire stations in case of emergencies. Condominium dwellers are also advised to have a directory of administration and maintenance offices.

Lucky for the future residents of Sierra Valley Gardens, an Audio/Video intercom is provided that helps residents reach reception in case of emergencies. This is one of the many smart home features the property offers to its future homeowners.

“Moving out, especially for young Filipinos, is not an easy undertaking. It takes a lot of guts and planning to push it through. That is why the decision to do so needs to be a smart move,” shares Cesario.

For millennials thinking of making their smart move in the East with Sierra Valley Gardens, they may connect with a Property Specialist or visit rlcresidences.com to know more.

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