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‘Safecation’ tips for a summer vacation at home

This summer will be undeniably different than previous ones, but taking that time off is as important as ever.

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Photo by @kirillz from Unsplash.com

With summer on the horizon, people have begun thinking about vacation plans. And many are trying to figure out how it’s all going to work this year, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend so much of life.

This summer will be undeniably different than previous ones, but taking that time off is as important as ever, says J. Gerald Suarez, professor of the practice in systems thinking and design at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

“COVID-19 has melted our concept of normalcy and turned our traditional vacations and leisure activities into a high-risk proposition,” says Suarez. “Seeking a ‘safecation’ begins with our desire to reinvigorate our spirit and recharge our soul, and this can happen anywhere we are.”

The emotional toll of the pandemic and the mix of powerful emotions it is triggering – such as fear, guilt, worry caused by the loss of life, financial vulnerability and job insecurity – are like a psychological Molotov cocktail, Suarez says. Add to these worries the responsibility of homeschooling their children, daily house tasks, adapting to new technologies and the demands of virtual work, and it can get to be a bit much.

All of these factors play into why taking advantage of that time off is so necessary, Suarez says. “We’ve lost our sense of stability, and the demarcations between home life and work life are blurred,” says Suarez. “We’ve been working in overdrive with no transitions and decompression time from work to our home.”

Pandemic-era vacations won’t be like the ones we are used to, Suarez says. But the reasons why vacations are important and the benefits they offer remain unchanged.

Flatten the curve, not your dreams. Indulging your fear initiates a cycle of unproductive worry. Worry exists in our imagination through images and narratives of something going wrong, says Suarez. We can channel that energy and gain a sense of control if we change the images to desired positive outcomes. Planning a vacation gives us permission to dream, and its details give us a sense of control and something to look forward to with anticipation and excitement.

Put yourself on digital quarantine. Disengage from stressful activities and place your needs at the top of your list of priorities, Suarez says. Reduce the overstimulation and bombardment of information brought to us by social media. Disconnect from technology and reconnect with yourself.

View the world through the eyes of a traveler.
Recalibrate your perspective and appreciate the moment with mindfulness. Traveling forces us to see differences among things that are similar or familiar. We can accomplish the same by looking at our surroundings through the eyes of a traveler, Suarez says. Changing your patterns and performing your routine in a different room in the house can help in creating a modified experience in your habitual setting. These simple tasks may stimulate and invigorate you in unexpected ways, he says.

Creating a modified vacation experience must be done with a sense of optimism, embracing the possibilities of your surroundings and most importantly trusting your resiliency to adapt and derive joy from it. Here are some first steps Suarez recommends to move in that direction:

  • Explore nature
  • Read books not related to work
  • Take on new physical fitness challenges
  • Rearrange the furniture in your house, give it a new look
  • Engage the family in fun and interactive activities

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Home Care

Bathroom features that take smart living to a whole new level

No luxurious home upgrade is complete without the enhancements of modern technology. High-tech and intelligent devices lend ease to everyday activities and enrich your ability to enjoy the comforts of home.

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No luxurious home upgrade is complete without the enhancements of modern technology. High-tech and intelligent devices lend ease to everyday activities and enrich your ability to enjoy the comforts of home. With new products joining this category at an exponential pace, there’s a way to boost the smart function of every room, even the bathroom.

Climate controls

Environmental elements like lighting and temperature are among the first signals your brain processes when you enter a new space. Aligning those nuances with your comfort and preferences is the ultimate expression of personalization. Motion or voice control sensors make it possible to bring lights to life with next to no effort, while a smart thermostat with differentiated climate zones can adjust to meet your needs throughout the day, perhaps kicking up a few degrees to prevent a chill when you emerge from a steamy shower.

Uncommon commodes

There truly is no limit to the home features that can work harder, faster and smarter – even when it comes to the toilet. If the notion of an intelligent toilet seems extreme to your senses, you may not be alone.

“When (people) hear the word bidet, most have an outdated picture in their minds of a standalone fixture, but in fact, the functionality is now built into a toilet or attachable seats, and they are simple to use. Once you try one, you won’t be able to live without it,” said Shane Allis, marketing director of Kohler Sanitary Products. “From intelligent toilets to cleansing seats that attach to existing toilets, modern day bidets are for consumers who are looking for an upgrade to their toilet routine.”

In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Kohler, about two-thirds of people would choose a toilet that would give them a cleaner, fresher feeling, and 3 in 5 think washing with water would give them a cleaner feel than toilet paper alone.

An overall fresher feeling and features like a deodorizer, night light and heated seat have strong appeal, according to the same survey. From personal cleansing to an LED nightlight to hands-free opening, closing and flushing – all of which are easy to control on a touchscreen LCD remote control – the toilet brings unexpected options to your bathroom.

Explore the available models and learn more about intelligent toilets at Kohler.com/IntelligentToilets.

Shower with power

Whether it’s a playlist that energizes you for the day or soothing sounds to center you before an important meeting, you can give new meaning to singing in the rain with a showerhead that includes a built-in wireless, removable speaker that you can sync to your smartphone music library.

When you take your shower digital, you can actually bring water, steam, music and light together into one sensory experience. Beyond that, it’s even possible to configure your shower to cycle through spa programs that target different areas of your body with varied water sprays and temperatures.

Hydrotherapy haven

A jetted tub is just the beginning when it comes to creating a spa-like atmosphere. Today’s options let you trick out your tub with everything from bubbles and heat to sound and color. Advanced hydrotherapy options use air or sound to massage, soothe, invigorate or relax your body and your mind – all controlled at the touch of a button. Don’t forget the heated back to keep you warm even longer.

Perfect privacy

If you’re blessed with a stunning view out the bathroom window or if you simply prefer the aura of natural light, you may be reluctant to hide behind heavy window treatments. Yet again, technology offers the solution. Shades you can power with a remote control and even film coverings that convert from transparent to opaque with the touch of a button can give you the freedom to embrace your privacy or celebrate the sun’s rays.

Tech-sessories

The big features may deliver the wow factor, but little touches can add up for a big impact as well. Mirrors that recognize your face and voice to deliver customized media, such as news and music, can also be programmed to alter the temperature and lighting while you conduct your toiletry business. Other accessories to round out your high-tech renovation include devices such as smart scales that integrate with other devices to maximize your health and wellness routine.

With these tech upgrades and more, you can turn an ordinary bathroom into an entirely new, refreshing experience.

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Home Care

Ideas for an on-trend bathroom

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Bringing an outdated bathroom into the now is a sure way to infuse value and personal enjoyment into your home.

Whether you’re tearing down and starting fresh or simply looking to infuse some new life with a few key elements, these ideas can give you the inspiration you need to transform a tired toilet into a modern marvel.

Make a singular statement

For a bolder look, the best approach may actually be quite simple. Use a single material throughout the room for big impact. For example, run the same tile you select for the floor up the walls, across the vanity, around the shower and up to the ceiling. It’s a dramatic approach, but with the right color and pattern, it can work, especially with a pale or neutral tone. The same concept applies to other materials, such as plaster or concrete, which can create a uniform look that makes a statement.

Try a timeless tub

Freestanding tubs were once associated with older, outdated homes, but like many things in design, these stand-alone vessels are once more back in vogue. Today’s freestanding tubs offer tons of style to fit nearly any design motif. If the claw-foot style of yesteryear is your thing, there are plenty of contemporary takes on the look for an updated, traditional bathroom. There are also a wide range of sleek styles that look nothing like the classic version for a completely fresh, sophisticated bath. Give your tub extra star power by setting it against a backdrop of tile or reclaimed wood, and punch up the style with standout fixtures to make your tub a truly unique feature of the bathroom.

Float your vanity

Take a look at today’s trending bathroom designs and you’ll see floating vanities cover the pages of most design magazines and articles. Floating vanities, also known as wall-mounted vanities, mount directly to the wall, providing more floor space and creating a streamlined look.

By mounting the vanity to a wall, the space is broadened, naturally making the bathroom look and feel larger. Additionally, the wall mount allows homeowners to customize the space in terms of countertop height and comfort.

Although the aesthetic benefits often come at the cost of limited under-sink storage space, this potential pitfall can be overcome with a customizable U-shaped drawer option that allows functional drawers to be placed within the wall-mounted cabinetry.

Infuse unexpected color

If you think of bathroom fixtures as purely functional, think again. Not only can they add a stylish focal point to your tub (and shower and sink, for that matter), the ultra-practical fixtures can actually be a source of color. Bold brass and gold tones are in style, or for something completely different, explore a new look like solid black fixtures that pop against several different textures and surfaces.

Introduce ample lighting

Sub-optimal lighting can hamper the ambiance of smaller spaces like bathrooms. If the space has a window, ditch any coverings that restrict the natural light and instead rely on textured glass windows that provide privacy while allowing light to shine freely. Another option is a skylight, which is surprisingly easy to add. If access to the roofline is an issue, consider one (or even a couple) tunnel skylights. Also give care to selecting the right fixtures for the space. Not only should they coordinate well with the overall decor, they should provide plenty of task and ambient lighting to make the room both useful and inviting.

Trick Your Way to a Bigger Bathroom

When knocking down walls to create more space isn’t an option, there are still plenty of ways you can maximize a small bathroom space to make it look and feel larger than it really is.

Opt for monochromatic cabinetry. Whether you buy new or paint existing cabinets, make them blend in monochromatically in the lightest shade possible. White and light colors reflect light, making the room seem brighter and more spacious. To maximize the illusion, extend the monochromatic scheme throughout the space, including floor tiles, wall paint, ceilings and even the decorations.

Place cabinets strategically. Think of the spaces in your bathroom that you don’t usually use, such as the area above the doorway. Especially if you have high ceilings, you can install decorative storage shelves to house items you don’t need in everyday reach like bathtub salts, scrubs and more. You can also use the shelves for storing extra toilet paper and cleaners to free up valuable storage space below the sink.

Maximize vertical space. Consider extending cabinetry up to the ceiling. Adding color at a vertical height can cause the eye to go up and therefore enlarge the bathroom space and feel. It is also a wise use of unused space rather than borrowing from limited floor space, which can make the space feel cramped.

Consider open storage. Open storage shelves trick the mind because the airy openness can give the illusion of taking less space than enclosed storage. However, be mindful of over-filling shelves, which can create a cluttered look. Instead use the open space as an opportunity to feature artwork or other accents that add life to the room.

For more information, visit wellborn.com.

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Home Care

DIY ideas to increase your home’s value

If you’re considering upgrades to your home, consider these DIY ideas.

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Photo by ian dooley from Unsplash.com

Now as much as ever, your home may be a sanctuary for all kinds of expression, from thinking and dreaming to working and playing. Over the past year, homeowners began to consider the intersection of function and design in new ways.

Weekend warriors are dedicating themselves to creating more organized living spaces and making their homes better places for learning, working and living. If you’re considering upgrades to your home, consider these DIY ideas from the experts at Royal Building Products that can increase beauty and resale value.

Home Office: Spending more time at home may mean storage space is at a premium, especially if you’re relying on a makeshift home office. You can add a high-impact and functional element to your office with a built-in bookcase or workstation. Consider your materials carefully since they have a big impact on your final results. For example, a versatile alternative to wood is synthetic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) trim, which you don’t need to sand or prime before painting, ultimately saving time, energy and money. While PVC is slightly more expensive than some wood options, it also requires less maintenance long-term.

Bathroom: By updating worn-out items, modernizing fixtures and creating a more functional space, you can expect to recoup up to 50% of a bathroom’s remodel cost, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. If you’re considering an on-trend look like shiplap, a practical solution like Royal prefinished PVC Shiplap can help create a clean, comfortable space. It’s waterproof, mold resistant, flexible and works well in spaces with many slants and angles. Plus, it’s lightweight and easy to install.

Entryway: A home’s foyer offers the first impression of its interior, teasing the personality of architecture and decor found with each step deeper inside. Whether bold and dramatic, tranquil and serene, or something in-between, the entryway often sets the tone for a home’s ambience. Details like decorative molding and lattice trim can create a striking entryway for almost any home style.

Exterior: Whether you’re sprucing up an outdoor living space or simply want to boost curb appeal, subtle enhancements can make a big impact. For example, board and batten shutters offer an attractive, low-fuss way to highlight your home’s windows. Painting the front door is another low-cost way to freshen up your exterior. Or invite a touch of nature by adding flower boxes to your front porch or windows.

Select a Trim Style to Match Your Home Style

The right style of trim can transform a room into a whole new space. A good rule of thumb is to keep the style of trim consistent with your home style and from room to room.

Craftsman: The craftsman home style pairs well with simple, tailored and purposeful doors and minimally ornamented window casings while white, light beige and cream-colored crown moulding can create roomier spaces.

Colonial: This home style’s rustic simplicity and rich detail call for interior trim that lends a touch of stately courtliness. Choose multi-piece trim and wider baseboards, wainscoting and crown moulding to adorn family room floors, walls and ceilings.

Cape Cod: This practical and quaintly unassuming design can be accented by subtle interior trim such as transom windows and sidelights that surround multi-paneled entry doors, casings for double-hung windows, picture rails and frame walls.

Modern: The clean expansiveness of this home style lends itself to unadorned window and door casings as well as baseboards. You can go minimalist and use trim merely to protect walls and floors. Alternatively, you could rely on trim to create an appealing contrast with the wall colors.

Ranch: Open, informal and inviting, this style needs trim work that flows from room to room. Many styles work, from simple baseboards to more formal trimmed windows and cabinetry in the kitchen, fireplace mantels in the family room and passageway casings.

Find more creative inspiration, tools, tips and practical steps for every level of DIY-er at buildroyaldiy.com.

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