Monday, December 15, 2014

Lowe's Uses Vine and Instagram to Showcase DIY

In addition to a new set of Vine videos, the home improvement chain is using Instagram videos as trailers for its DIY projects that are popular posts on its Pinterest page.

Lowe’s has launched a video marketing campaign, using social media to teach consumers how to do home improvement projects.

With BBDO New York, Lowe’s used Vine to showcase the projects – a shelf made of pipes, a backyard fire pit, and a tile backsplash for the kitchen – from start to finish, with detailed how-to steps. With two taps at a time, users can pause on each frame, lingering on each instruction for as long as they need.

The campaign also uses Instagram, whereby videos are made with the Hyperlapse app that allows users to make time-lapse videos. These serve more as trailers for some of the home improvement brand’s more popular Pinterest projects, such as under-bed drawers, a lattice picture display, and the aforementioned pipe shelf.

Using video, the goal is to inspire people in a way that a static image couldn't by showing them the project from start to end, says Bob Estrada, senior vice president at BBDO New York.

"I think when you see [the project] in six seconds, you see that it's achievable and it demystifies it a bit," Estrada says. "Seeing someone else enjoying the final version of the project in their home may bring people closer to action and spur someone to do the project themselves."

Estrada thinks social media is a fun way to engage consumers - Lowe's is extremely popular on Pinterest, with nearly 3.5 million followers - but for Kate Ryan, vice president of integrated communications firm Diffusion, using these video platforms is also a smart way to engage the coveted Millennial demographic, in particular.

"Lowe's use of Vine and Instagram is a smart move in reaching today's younger consumers with notoriously small attention spans," Ryan says. "Millennials love bite-sized content, but to truly engage them long-term, marketers need to take them seriously and develop content that's authentic to the way they live their lives."

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

8 Tools to Help You Manage Projects at Work and at Home

Post-its. Whiteboards. Hand-written to-do lists.

Keeping projects organized, whether at home or in the office, used to require a whole lot of ink. In today's world of digital, however, staying on top of your work is more "swipe" and less "write." A constantly regenerating crop of apps and programs has emerged to help keep you organized.

Below is a list of eight project management hacks, both for the home and for the workplace; absolutely no BICs or Uniballs required.


Image: Flickr, Cory M Grenier
  • Podio: Whether you're a freelancer, small business owner or corporate manager, Podio lets you view all of your tasks in one place. The software, which runs on desktop, mobile and tablet, allows users to create workspaces where they can mark off completed tasks, assign projects, share files and even auto-generate comments.Additionally, Podio handles CRM, sales leads and recruiting — saving small businesses time and precious seed money. Wish Podio could do more? The software has a drag-and-drop development tool that even non-programmers can master.
  • Asana: Asana is a technological godsend for those who dread rummaging through a cluttered inbox. The app eliminates excessive back-and-forth emails, allowing team members and managers to create project cards, update assignments on-the-fly and communicate inside the program — without sending superfluous emails and IMs for "status updates."
    Asana works especially well for companies with loose structures and minimal red tape
    Asana works especially well for companies with loose structures and minimal red tape; users are able to freely establish sub-projects within larger assignments, and post updates without altering the card or getting manager approval. Users can also structure Asana tasks by date, or make them dependent upon the completion of other assignments.
  • Planet Soho: Planet Soho aims to be a Jack-of-all-Trades tool for small business owners and freelancers, though its core competency lies in accounting and invoicing. To make sure that small enterprises don't dedicate outside resources to filing and sending, Planet Soho can draft and auto-send online invoices. The company will also send paper invoices for you if that's the method you prefer. Planet Soho's software also features project management, inventory control, CRM and email and calendar functions. For managers, Planet Soho features budget-setting and task-assignment functions, like other popular task management tools.
  • Flow: If you feel overwhelmed by multi-faceted task-management programs that seemingly let you do anything under the sun and prefer a simple interface, check out Flow. The software allows managers to assign, organize and prioritize tasks while also controlling who can see what. That means managers can give outside contractors access to a team's Flow while also controlling what they can see. For a more hands-off experience, Flow is able to send notifications of upcoming tasks and set repeating tasks.


Image: Flickr, Flattop341
  • HomeRoutines: Homemakers know all too well that the best laid plans most often go awry. A manageable to-do list? Sounds nice in theory, but when mini-crises loom around every bend (especially when you have a toddler), a parent can easily lose track of what needs to be done, parlaying a half-complete to-do list into an insurmountable task sheet.
    HomeRoutines, a mobile app, helps you stay on task without having to make dozens of notes
    HomeRoutines, a mobile app, helps you stay on task without having to make dozens of notes that could get lost. The app lets users set daily and weekly checklists that can be repeated, so if they want to clean the bathroom and closets again in two weeks, HomeRoutines will present them with the same to-do list when the time comes. Users can select a daily focus (e.g., restock fridge) or plan ahead, like assigning a different cleaning zone for each week of a month.
  • Houzz: Have a home improvement to-do list? Normally, you'd have to jump around to multiple sites and professional recommendation services like Angie's List. Houzz, on the other hand, is a one-stop-shop for home and office design ideas — it houses thousands of articles and photographs that could be the inspiration for your next professional or DIY project — and the professionals who can pull off the job. If you see a bathroom design that you like, for example, Houzz can help you find and vet a nearby remodeling specialist.
  • Lift: Don't confuse Lyft, a ride-sharing service doing battle with Uber, with Lift, a mobile and desktop app that lets users set, track and complete goals. It doesn't matter whether your goal (a.k.a. the "lift") is small — let's say taking more vitamins — or large, like running a marathon or decluttering your entire home;
    Lift is there to record your progress and keep you on track with "momentum" graphs and "check-ins"
    Lift is there to record your progress and keep you on track with "momentum" graphs and "check-ins" to celebrate your perseverance.The most powerful and unique part of Lift is its community aspect. The app allows you to connect with its entire community to cheer each other on. Try inviting a few friends or colleagues onto Lift to create a more personal enclave of reinforcement within the larger community.
  • Snapguide: Are there a few home improvement or beautification projects you'd like to undertake, but worry you don't have the wherewithal or financial resources to complete? Snapguide is a handy mobile and desktop DIY guide to a smattering of projects that you probably thought were impossible without professional help. Snapguide users are encouraged to carouse the site for tips and how-tos, and even create their own content with photos and videos of their projects.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Five Remodeling Ideas for Your Living Room

A living room is the hub of a home, and host to celebrations, family gatherings and movie marathons. According to the Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value report, a midrange family room addition costs $80,765 and you can recoup 68.8% of the cost during resale. Use these tips as inspiration to create a more functional living room, while adding value to your home.


Incorporate a home office area

Designate an area for a multipurpose office space that everyone in the family can use. If your desk space and family computer are in plain sight, they are likely to get more use than when located in a separate home office.

Extend your space outdoors

Add a multi-season sunroom directly off your living room to enjoy year-round. Work closely with your builder to mimic your home's original style and structure so the new addition feels like a seamless extension of your house. The additional square footage will also add to your home's value.

Update your windows

Replacing windows can be expensive, but installing energy-efficient windows will cut down on your current energy bills over the course of time. If you have active kids or live in an area prone to severe weather, consider impact-resistant windows. These will help protect against damage to the house and could reduce home insurance premiums.

Add customized storage

Finding a discreet place for media systems, personal items and extra storage can be difficult. Custom built-ins will showcase your belongings and keep your main living space organized. Add recessed lighting inside the shelves for a streamlined way to highlight your favorite personal items and books.

Manage your home technology from a mobile device

Install a budget-friendly speaker system that you can control from your mobile device. You can also manage lighting, heating and cooling systems and surround sound on any mobile device using home automation technology.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Renovation Solutions: Tips for energy efficient homes in winter

It is that time of year again: time to start heating the house. Many of us hold out as long as possible, but the old “put on a sweater” or “grab a blanket” routine will only last a few more weeks at most! Our lovely fall weather can’t last forever.

Many people, especially homeowners living in older homes with outdated heating systems or poor insulation, find there is something to be desired when the heat kicks on.

Inefficient heating systems struggle on two levels. First, they don’t do a very good job keeping the house steadily warm and second, they cost more to run. A forced-air furnace or a boiler can be replaced without remodeling your home. However, during a major remodeling project, the mechanical equipment can be relocated as well as replaced, and the ductwork can also be reconfigured to add more ceiling height to some areas.

If you are adding square footage during a remodel, this will change the requirements of the heating system. Heating systems are designed based on the size of the house. A loose rule of thumb is that one forced-air furnace generally handles about 2,000 square feet. If you are expanding beyond that, a second unit may be required.

One of the most important parts of the heating system in a house actually has nothing to do with the mechanical heating unit. It's the insulation found in the home.

In a new home, insulation is added in the walls, attic/roof, under concrete slabs and in crawl spaces. Older homes were built with far less (or no) thought as to how to insulate these areas, so part of every remodeling project should be to update the overall energy efficiency of your home as much as possible.

Insulation is rated in R-values. R-value is the measurement that tells you how well your insulation will resist heat flow or heat transfer. The higher the R-value, the better the efficiency. The government’s energy conservation recommendations for R-values depends on climate and varies by ZIP code.

For most of Utah, the ceiling is recommended to have an R-value of 38, the mass wall R-value should be 19 and the floor R-value should be 30. Washington County, with its warmer climate, requires less insulation, with a required ceiling R-value of 30, mass wall R-value of 8 and floor R-value of 19. Up north in the Cache County, the numbers are slightly higher to combat the colder winters, with the recommended ceiling R-value of 49, mass wall R-value of 19 and floor R-value of 30.

Adding insulation to an existing house can be a do-it-yourself project for the ambitious homeowner or you can hire a professional insulation contractor. Either way, the first step is determining the extent of the existing insulation — not an easy proposition. If you have a brick home built before about 1950, there is essentially no insulation in your walls. Houses from the 1950s and '60s have minimal insulation. In the 1970s, efficiency became more important, though the technology of insulation has obviously improved over the last 40-some years.

Adding insulation to the older masonry home has to be done by adding rigid insulation to the exterior and resurfacing the house with another exterior material, such as stucco or cement fiber board; on the interior, you essentially need to build an new stud wall, add insulation and add new gypsum board (sheet rock).

For a wood-frame house, blowing insulation into an existing stud wall can be done by cutting small holes in between each stud. If you go to the extent of removing the interior sheet rock to add more or new insulation, the well-known pink fiberglass blankets are still available, but other options are being used more now — blown-in cellulose and sprayed-on foam are two of the most common.
While each type of insulation has its own pros and cons, the quality of the installation of the material is critical in the overall efficiency of the project.

Adding weather stripping around doors and windows is another way to keep heat from escaping during the winter. Just make sure as you make your home more air-tight and more energy efficient that you always address indoor air quality, too. Less air exchanges (of indoor air for fresh outdoor air) means a more efficient house, but may it may also risk compromising indoor air quality. You may need to add a unit called a heat recovery ventilator to pull more fresh air into your home as the exterior envelope gets tighter.

Older, inefficient windows are not much more than holes in your outside walls. Even the best windows have a much lower R-value than the surrounding walls, but double-paned insulated units which are properly installed and flashed will make a significant impact on your energy bill.
You have several window choices in terms of materials for the window frames, namely wood, vinyl or fiberglass. In addition to being maintenance free, there are many styles of windows from which to choose; these should obviously be coordinated with the style of your home.

Part of the charm of older homes is often found in their windows. For instance, many homes built in the first part of the 20th century have windows made of wood and leaded glass. These are high maintenance units that could hardly be less energy efficient, but they surely look terrific. One of our clients with fabulous original windows went to great lengths to preserve the look of the front of the house. With the help of a local company, the client actually sandwiched her existing leaded windows into a new window unit which preserved the look and updated the efficiency of the windows. This is a much better-looking and more efficient option than the outdated approach of adding storm windows when winter approaches.

Taking advantage of some or all of these updates will make winter more comfortable this year and your energy bill more affordable. Once you know the cost of one or more of these updates and the potential monthly energy savings, you can calculate a return-on-investment schedule to know when your break-even point will be. You can contribute to the health of the planet and make the approach of winter a much more pleasant thought by upgrading the energy efficiency of your home.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

William Shatner does Home Renovation

William Shatner stars in home-renovation show, how to use wood pallets safely and do you need replacement windows? 

shatner.jpgWilliam Shatner and his wife Elizabeth star in the DIY Network's newest celebrity home renovation series, "The Shatner Project."  
SHATNER RENOVATES HOME: Pop culture icon William Shatner is the star of the DIY Network's newest celebrity home renovation series, "The Shatner Project." The series, which

premieres on Thursday, Oct. 23, shows how Shatner copes as project manager of his own home remodeling.

Shatner and his wife Elizabeth renovate their 1970s-style California home, including turning the front patio area into the perfect place for big family parties, and remodeling the media room.

If you've used wood pallets for DIY projects, what are your best tips? Share in the comments.
The premiere episode features the Shatners, with the help of a designer and a construction crew, swinging sledgehammers to help demolish old cabinets, countertops and tile in their kitchen.
"The Shatner Project" premieres at 10 p.m.

USING WOOD PALLETS SAFELY:  Using wood pallets for DIY projects is popular right now because woodworkers like the rustic look of pallets, and usually they can be obtained for free. But there are risks, says Elmer's Glue, which makes wood glues.

Many pallets are treated with toxic chemicals, such as pesticides and fungicides. Pallets that were used to transport vegetables may carry germs; pallets that were stored outdoors could be infested with mold or insects. Here are some tips for using pallets safely from Elmer's, which makes wood glues:
 Determine if the pallet was chemically treated. Pallets that are used domestically are generally heat-treated or kiln dried and are the safest to use. Most international pallets are treated with chemicals. Do not use pallets stamped with MG for any projects or as firewood. Avoid colored pallets; they are frequently used to carry chemicals.

 If it looks as if chemicals leaked or spilled onto a pallet, choose another one. Don't use pallets stored outdoors for indoor d├ęcor items.

 Prep your pallet by scrubbing it with bleach and warm water outdoors. Allow it to dry completely.
Always wear gloves, dust masks and safety glasses while sanding pallet wood. Never use repurposed pallet wood in projects involving food, children's toys or children's furniture.

If you're not sure if a recycled pallet is safe to use, research local companies or Internet sources that sell new ones.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Jennie Garth's Four Easy Tips to Decorate Your Home

PHOTO: Jennie Garth attends Watch What Happens Live, June 28, 2014.
Actress Jennie Garth is best known for having starred in the iconic “Beverly Hills, 902010,” but now she’s taking on home improvement. 

In “The Jennie Garth Project,” a series on HGTV, viewers follow along as the 42-year-old actress purchases a dated Hollywood Hills home and renovates it for herself and her three children.

 Garth appeared on “Good Morning America” on Thursday to share the knowledge she’s gained while remodeling her home. 

Here are some of her suggestions for sprucing up a home: 

Jennie’s Tips
1. Barn Doors. Interior barn doors add privacy without taking up floor space. They’re easy to install and can be done in just one weekend. You can use recycled or new doors to suit your budget, and you can choose traditional, rustic or contemporary hardware finishes to complement your style. You can chose either a single door that slides from one side to the other; a bi-parting door, consisting of two doors that meet in the middle; or a bypassing door, in which two doors are mounted inside a frame and slide one behind the other. 

2. DIY Medicine Cabinet. Medicine cabinets are a great way to solve storage situations in the bathroom, and they are easily installed, simple do-it-yourself projects. Choose a medicine cabinet that stands out in the same way that a piece of art does – especially if you consider adding a fun graphic pattern to the cabinet. Adding wallpaper inside a medicine cabinet also adds character and style. Check flea markets and garage sales for old medicine cabinets and spruce them up, then install them to enhance your space with vintage charm. You can also buy new medicine cabinets at a local home improvement or bath and bed specialty stores. 

3. Tile, tile, tile. Adding a glass tile backsplash to your bathroom is easier than you think, and it provides a way to bring contemporary class to any bathroom remodeling project. Consider using a laser level to save time on large tile projects, and, to personalize your project, add a tile border to complete the look. You can also revamp your existing tiles with tile paint and a grout pen. 

4. Custom Artwork. Create meaningful artwork that reflects your personality and life, and make sure to get your family involved so they can put their stamp on the space as well. Creating your own artwork is much cheaper than purchasing works from a gallery. Another idea is to get out some of your children’s old artwork, copy and enlarge it, and then frame it or decoupage it onto a canvas and display it in your home. 

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Survive A Kitchen Remodel

15 tips on surviving a kitchen renovation

A kitchen remodel can be one of the most rewarding home improvement projects and also the most frustrating to endure.

Tearing out the heart of your home requires a plan for how to survive the weeks to months of construction ahead.

If your project is a basic tear out, plan on four to six weeks without much access to the kitchen, but if you're doing a significant renovation, expect at least three months of disorder.

Beyond the decision-making and budget-making are things many people don't prepare for: The overwhelming number of decisions required and eventual decision fatigue, hitting the wall on prepackaged or carryout meals and the emotional upheaval that comes with having the central part of your home upended for weeks.

You need a plan of how you will deal with the life details as well as choosing countertops, paint, cabinets, flooring, tile and so forth.

Here are best tips on how to survive.
1. Set up a separate, temporary kitchen.
If at all possible, move your current refrigerator to another room in the house, where you can still access it. Otherwise, get a small college fridge to keep the essentials. A spare microwave is also a critical appliance.
Be creative with small plug-in appliances such as a coffee maker or an electric skillet, which can be used to make anything from pancakes to Hamburger Helper on it, said Kim Feld, a kitchen designer with National Kitchen & Bath.
Consider getting a two-burner hot plate.
If most of your trash and recycling was collected in the kitchen, move temporary garbage cans to a place you can tolerate them. And be prepared to take out the trash more frequently.
2. Find a place in your home to eat.
Consider the family room, where you can set up the fridge and microwave.
3. Realize you'll have to wash dishes in the bathroom.
Try to keep a sink hooked up on your main level during construction.
4. Add the cost of eating out into the renovation budget.
Figure out how much your family typically spends on a meal eaten outside the house. Multiply this by the number of meals in a day and weeks the project may last. It's best to have a rotation in mind of reliable carryout and prepackaged microwavable meals.
5. Prepare for noise and dust.
"It is messy. It is disruptive, and it can get expensive. There is no way around that," Feld said.
Jon Kay, a manager at Signature Kitchen & Bath, said to expect day-to-day interruption. "Plan on there being a mess every day."
6. Consider your pets.
If you can ask a friend to take them, or have them kenneled, that might be best. If not, give them extra attention, as the off-limits room and noise will disturb them, too.
7. Get a sketch or design plans beforehand.
"Think about how the kitchen is going to work from a function level," Kathy Israel, owner of Accents on Cabinets, said. Also, think about where all your current kitchen items and appliances will fit into the new kitchen.
It's best to include a professional in this sketching stage so they can let you know potential pitfalls.
8. Also consider hiring a designer.
Designers can be hired by the hour to help guide choices. This can save money and regret down the line.
9. Hire a general contractor carefully.
A good relationship with the general contractor is crucial, Mike Beck at Beck/Allen Cabinetry, said.
This will be the point person you are spending the most time with, so find out about how often he plans to communicate with you. Will he text or email photos if you are out of town? How quickly will he return phone calls? The worst kitchen nightmares are those that involve a contractor who disappears or won't return calls.
In remodeling, there are probably 50 things that can go wrong, and if you have a good contractor, you may only know about two or three of them.
10. Be prepared for days when you don't see any progress.
Every decision in a construction project involves a timeline. So, there will be days of waiting — waiting for the countertops to be measured or waiting for the backsplash to arrive.
11. Order as much as possible before the job starts.
Don't start a project until all the decisions are finalized. As projects wear on, people tend to be stressed and don't have time to pick out details such as hardware quickly, which can slow down the entire project.
12. Expect some delays and cost overruns.
When you get the estimates, it's wise to add 20 percent to that number and ask yourself if you could still live with that number. If you don't have that cushion, think twice about proceeding.
13. Don't sweat the small stuff.
"Trust the people you've hired," said Jenny Rausch, president of Karr Bick Kitchen & Bath. Ask their opinions. Don't second-guess yourself. Don't agonize over the smallest details like hardware and countertop edges.
Keep a sense of perspective. Homeowners can get hyperfocused and paralyzed by decisions on the smallest details. Can you really remember what the hardware and edges in your friends' kitchens look like?
14. Get out of the house altogether.
If you can afford it, renting a short-term, furnished space is ideal.
15. Keep a sense of humor.

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