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On-trend home design

If a home makeover is on your horizon, it’s the perfect time to take note of design trends that may help shape your project. Today’s hottest looks leave plenty of room for personal interpretation, so it’s easier than ever to incorporate the latest looks for a home that seamlessly blends your personality with on-trend decor and design elements.

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If a home makeover is on your horizon, it’s the perfect time to take note of design trends that may help shape your project. Today’s hottest looks leave plenty of room for personal interpretation, so it’s easier than ever to incorporate the latest looks for a home that seamlessly blends your personality with on-trend decor and design elements.

interior design

Eye-catching detail

Understated elegance, a look that many designers have favored in the past, is losing ground to more prominent design features that make no bones about attracting attention. Colorful woodwork in the kitchen, vibrant patterns such as marble countertops, jewel-toned textiles and bold details like nail-head patterns on furnishings are all evidence of a bolder style. The trick is to blend elements carefully and avoid competing pieces that create more of a mish-mash than a stylish statement.

Bright colors once reserved for subtle accessorizing are now fair game for larger palettes – even walls. Many experts agree: among this season’s top picks are shades of green, ranging from soft, subtle tones to vibrant, luxurious hues. Similarly, much as the clothing fashion world has embraced the idea of combining patterns for a cohesive look, the same applies to home decor. Far from looking disjointed, this approach can actually make for an on-point style statement.

The “fifth wall”

The least noticed aspect in every room – the ceiling – can actually be more than a surface for tired old ceiling fans. Recognizing this under-utilized element as an unexpected design space with a direct connection to the great wide open, some designers are exploring ways to extend design to that “fifth wall.”

The ceiling represents an untapped design opportunity with the power to completely transform spaces from top to bottom. Incorporating the fifth wall into your design allows you to set your sights higher than the average wall. Current interior design trends show an increased use of vibrant colors, creative wallpapers and even wood cladding on ceilings, aiming to make a statement that places the fifth wall at the center of a room’s overall decor.

Another must-have for a stunning fifth wall design is skylights, which provide a connection to nature, whether it’s a view of the sky on a sunny day, treetops, a passing rain storm or a starry night sky. Skylights provide balanced, natural light that can make colors appear truer while enhancing interior decor. In addition, strategically introducing natural light from above can free up wall space for cabinetry or artwork and make small rooms feel larger.

“Skylights bring much more than natural light into a space. They give occupants the feeling of being outdoors with elements like a sky view, gentle breezes and the smell of fresh air,” said Ross Vandermark, national product manager for Velux America. “By fully incorporating the fifth wall into a room’s decor, homeowners can create beautifully designed rooms that engage all of the senses.”

Beyond the aesthetic benefits, special features can enhance the practical use of skylights. For example, for added flare and light control, homeowners can add blinds to Velux Skylights, choosing from more than 100 colors and styles for a pop of color on the ceiling that echoes accent colors below. Many models also offer remote control operation for convenience in raising and lowering the blinds and even opening skylights to let in some fresh air.

A fresh way to shine

When it comes to metallic design elements, the ultra-sleek and modern look of stainless steel and brushed nickel is becoming quickly outdated. The warmth that bronze and brass bring to the overall aesthetic makes these popular choices in the kitchen and bathroom alike. For the latest take on this look, avoid blingy, shiny finishes and instead opt for a softer brushed look.

Considering shine from another perspective, lighting is an area where homeowners can make easy upgrades for a trendy new look. Forget bulky overhead lighting and instead give your room a boost with a series of funky task lights. Skip traditional bases and look for fun shapes and colors that lend some visual interest to the space.

Texture, texture, texture

With everything from wallpaper to linens to artwork, texture brings added dimensions to the room. As with color and patterns, don’t be afraid to mix and match for a unique look that blends different tactile elements for a space that is as pleasing to the fingertips as it is to the eye.

If you’re not sure where to begin, start with textiles such as the window treatments or bedding. Look for options that take texture beyond a traditional cotton weave and integrate different materials or construction for a distinct look and feel. More daring choices include furnishings, such as a satiny armchair or a velvet-covered settee.

Smart enhancements

No modern home makeover is complete without the consideration of technology. Smart features and devices bring added enjoyment and convenience to nearly every aspect of modern living. Be sure to consider which electronic features can be integrated into your smart home network, so once the renovating is done you can simply flip a switch and sit back to enjoy the stunning results of your effort.

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NewsMakers

5 Tips when buying life insurance for the first time

A knowledgeable and professional insurance agent can offer trusted guidance when it comes to finding the right life insurance protection at the right price.

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Photo by Vlad Deep from Unsplash.com

Major life changes like getting married, starting a family or buying a house are often when people start thinking about buying life insurance. Now, more than ever, people are more concerned with their financial security. Buying a life policy can be a process that sounds intimidating or confusing – but it’s also very important.

During this Life Insurance Awareness Month, Erie Insurance shares five points to discuss with your agent when buying life insurance for the first time.

  1. Understand who (or what) you are protecting. While anyone experiencing a significant life event like getting married or starting a family often recognizes the need for life insurance, others may not realize they could benefit from it as well. For instance, stay-at-home parents and student loan cosigners could have a definite need for life insurance.
  2. Only buy the life insurance plan you can afford. Many people are surprised at how much life insurance they really need to protect the people and things they love most – but they are also surprised at how affordable it can be. If you cannot find a policy that fits in your budget, it’s a mistake to forgo any coverage at all. Something is definitely better than nothing.
  3. Think through your beneficiaries. A life insurance beneficiary is the person or entity you name in your life policy to receive funds in the event of your passing. Your beneficiary can be a person, business, trust, charity or even your church. And you can have more than one. It’s important to make sure you think through who your beneficiaries are and if any proceeds meant to benefit a minor should be held in a trust.
  4. Buy from a financially sound company. You want the backing of a financially strong insurer if you or someone you love needs to call on the life insurance policy. A.M. Best, the largest and longest-established company devoted to issuing in-depth reports and financial strength ratings about insurance organizations, gave Erie Family Life Insurance Company a rating of A (Excellent).
  5. Consider current and future needs. Don’t just consider your current lifestyle, keep in mind your future needs and what those could include for your spouse, children or business (think college expenses, weddings, etc.). By taking in these considerations today, you’re investing in the security of your future. Life insurance is less expensive than most people think—and that’s especially true when you’re younger. 

A knowledgeable and professional insurance agent can offer trusted guidance when it comes to finding the right life insurance protection at the right price. Life insurance with Erie Family Life offers you the right coverage with flexible options, helping you to build a policy now that is adaptable later.

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NewsMakers

Online menus should put healthy food first

Women who see healthy food at the top of an online menu are 30 to 40 percent more likely to order it, a Flinders University study has found, with the authors saying menu placement could play a role in encouraging healthier eating.

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Photo by Drahomír Posteby-Mach from Unsplash.com

Women who see healthy food at the top of an online menu are 30 to 40 percent more likely to order it, a Flinders University study has found, with the authors saying menu placement could play a role in encouraging healthier eating.

Published in the journal Appetite and led by Flinders University PhD Candidate Indah Gynell, the team investigated where on a menu healthy items should be placed to best encourage people to choose them.

“Previous research has explored menu placement before, but the studies were inconsistent, with some finding placing food items at the top and bottom of a menu increased their popularity, while others suggested that the middle is best,” said Ms Gynell from Flinders’ College of Education, Psychology and Social Work.

“In our study we compared three locations on both printed and online menus, with online being an important addition in the age of food ordering platforms, such as UberEats and Menulog, especially during the pandemic.”

The researchers created menus containing eight unhealthy items and four healthy items, arranged in three rows of four on the physical printed menu and in one column of 12 on the digital menu. In one study, the physical menu was tested on 172 female participants, while in the second study, the digital menu was tested on 182 female participants.

Female participants were chosen as previous research has found that dieting behaviours – likely to impact menu choice – are consistently more prevalent in women.

Participants then chose an item from one of the experimental menus before completing a psychological test that identified their ‘dietary restraint status’; that is whether or not they were actively choosing to restrict their eating habits for the purpose of health or weight loss.

“We found that neither the order of food items, nor participants’ dietary restraint status, impacted whether or not healthy food was chosen in the physical menus,” says Ms Gynell.

“However, for the online menus, we found that participants who saw healthy items at the top of an online menu were 30-40% more likely to choose a healthy item than those who viewed them further down the menu.”

The authors say the finding is important because if added up over time, consistent healthy choices could result in general health benefits at a population level, highlighting why such an intervention could be worth implementing.

“Diet-related illnesses and disease are more common now than ever before, and with a rise in online food ordering it’s important we uncover cost-effective and simple public health initiatives,” says Ms Gynell.

“Changing the order of a menu, which doesn’t require the addition or removal of items, is unlikely to impact profits as consumers are guided towards healthier options without being discouraged from purchasing altogether.

“This means it’s more likely to be accepted by food purveyors and, despite being a somewhat simple solution, has the potential to shape real-world healthy eating interventions.”

The effect of item placement on snack food choices from physical and online menus by Indah Gynell, Eva Kemps, Ivanka Prichard and Marika Tiggemann is published in the journal Appetite.

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NewsMakers

Serving larger portions of veggies may increase young kids’ veggie consumption

The researchers found that while the larger portions of vegetables were associated with greater intake, the addition of butter and salt was not. The children also reported liking both versions — seasoned and unseasoned — about the same. About 76% of kids rated the vegetables as “yummy” or “just ok.”

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Photo by Nadine Primeau from Unsplash.com

It can be difficult to get young kids to eat enough vegetables, but a new Penn State study found that simply adding more veggies to their plates resulted in children consuming more vegetables at the meal.

The researchers found that when they doubled the amount of corn and broccoli served at a meal — from 60 to 120 grams — the children ate 68% more of the veggies, or an additional 21 grams. Seasoning the vegetables with butter and salt, however, did not affect consumption.

The daily recommended amount of vegetables for kids is about 1.5 cups a day, according to the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans as set by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.

“The increase we observed is equal to about one third of a serving or 12% of the daily recommended intake for young children,” said Hanim Diktas, graduate student in nutritional sciences. “Using this strategy may be useful to parents, caregivers and teachers who are trying to encourage kids to eat the recommended amount of vegetables throughout the day.”

Barbara Rolls, Helen A. Guthrie Chair and director of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior at Penn State, said the findings — recently published in the journal Appetite — support the MyPlate guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which recommends meals high in fruits and vegetables.

“It’s important to serve your kids a lot of vegetables, but it’s also important to serve them ones they like because they have to compete with the other foods on the plate,” Rolls said. “Parents can ease into this by gradually exposing kids to new vegetables, cooking them in a way their child enjoys, and experimenting with different flavors and seasonings as you familiarize them.”

According to the researchers, the majority of children in the U.S. don’t eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables, which could possibly be explained by children having a low preference for them. And while serving larger portions has been found to increase the amount of food children eat — called the “portion size effect” — kids tend to eat smaller amounts of vegetables in response to bigger portions compared to other foods.

For this study, the researchers were curious if increasing just the amount of vegetables while keeping the portions of other foods the same would help increase veggie consumption in kids. They also wanted to experiment with whether adding light butter and salt to the vegetables would increase their palatability and also affect consumption.

For the study, the researchers recruited 67 children between the ages of three and five. Once a week for four weeks, the participants were served lunch with one of four different preparations of vegetables: a regular-sized serving of plain corn and broccoli, a regular-sized serving with added butter and salt, a doubled serving of plain corn and broccoli, and a doubled serving with added butter and salt.

During each meal, the vegetables were served alongside fish sticks, rice, applesauce and milk. Foods were weighed before and after the meal to measure consumption.

“We chose foods that were generally well-liked but also not the kids’ favorite foods,” Rolls said. “If you offer vegetables alongside, say, chicken nuggets you might be disappointed. Food pairings are something you need to be conscious of, because how palpable the vegetables are compared to the other foods on the plate is going to affect the response to portion size. You need to make sure your vegetables taste pretty good compared to the other foods.”

After analyzing the results, the researchers found that while the larger portions of vegetables were associated with greater intake, the addition of butter and salt was not. The children also reported liking both versions — seasoned and unseasoned — about the same. About 76% of kids rated the vegetables as “yummy” or “just ok.”

“We were surprised that the butter and salt weren’t needed to improve intake, but the vegetables we served were corn and broccoli, which may have been already familiar to and well-liked by the kids,” Diktas said. “So for less familiar vegetables, it’s possible some extra flavoring might help to increase intake.”

Diktas said that while serving larger portions may increase vegetable consumption, it also has the potential to increase waste if kids don’t eat all of the food that is served.

“We’re working on additional research that looks into substituting vegetables for other food instead of just adding more vegetables,” Diktas said. “In the future, we may be able to give recommendations about portion size and substituting vegetables for other foods, so we can both limit waste and promote veggie intake in children.”

Liane Roe, research nutritionist; Kathleen Keller, associate professor of nutritional sciences; and Christine Sanchez, lab manager at the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior, also participated in this work.

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