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Tips for getting your guest room ready

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: December 5, 2014
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Getting ready for holiday guests? Check out these tips for making your guest room welcoming, courtesy of furniture company Somerton Dwelling:

-- Leave a bottle or decanter of water on the night stand for slaking nighttime thirst.

-- Supply extra blankets to keep guests warm.

-- Empty top drawers in a dresser to give guests room for their clothing.

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Marsala is Pantone's Color of the Year

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: December 4, 2014
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Man, I love it when I’m ahead of the curve.

Pantone has just announced that its 2015 Color of the Year is Marsala, an earthy red with a tinge of brown – exactly the color I have on the walls of the library in my house.

(Don’t be too impressed. We put shelves in an unused living room. Voila. Library.)

Pantone is marketing Marsala as a great color for kitchens and dining rooms, which stands to reason: Red stimulates our appetites. But this red is also subdued and sophisticated, making it a great choice as an accent color in other rooms.

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Last-minute Thanksgiving centerpiece ideas

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: November 26, 2014
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Yikes! Did you forget about the Thanksgiving centerpiece?

Whip one up in no time with these suggestions from the home and garden social network Hometalk.

-- Forage in your yard. Natural elements such as fall leaves, pine cones, branches and even small logs can be centerpiece elements. Add a few gourds or small pumpkins, some Indian corn and a few candles, and you’re done.

-- Decorate with antiques. Grandma’s silver tray or a pretty old pitcher could be the base of a stunning arrangement. Work in some small heirlooms for added interest.

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Christmas lights go wireless

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: November 24, 2014
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This is just the thing to warm my geeky little heart.

Inventors Chris Higgins and Hardeep Johar have developed wireless LED Christmas tree lights and mounted a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to produce their lighting system, called Aura. The lights look and hang like traditional glass globe ornaments, but each contains a little circuit board that makes the ornament light up when it gets close to a power ring hidden in the tree.

The power ring plugs into a wall outlet and creates a magnetic field that transfers energy to the ornaments. The ring comes in a Wi-Fi version that lets you schedule and control your lights with your smart phone.

The ornaments come in crackled glass, frosted glass and – for nerds like me -- clear glass, which lets you see the little circuit board inside. They’re available with either white or multicolor lights.

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Smart home technology for the DIYer

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: November 21, 2014

Now this is really smart home technology -- or perhap I should say home technology for the really smart.

Check out this DIY wakeup system from the folks who make littleBits electronic modules. Not sure I want all those cables and gadgets in my house, but I have to admire the inventiveness.

Want to try it yourself? LittleBits are sold at Radio Shack.

 

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'Rehab Addict' shows featuring LeBron James premiere Thursday

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: November 19, 2014
'Rehab Addict'

UPDATE: I've gotten confirmation that HGTV has changed its schedule for the Rehab Addict episodes featuring LeBron James. Six episodes will focus on the project and will air at these times: 9 p.m. Nov. 20, Dec. 4, Dec. 11 and Dec. 18, plus back-to-back episides at 9 and 9:30 p.m. Jan. 1.

 

Tomorrow night, HGTV airs the first of five – or is it six? – episodes of Rehab Addict featuring last August’s home renovation in Akron by LeBron James and an army of volunteers.

There’s some confusion about the number of episodes, but more on that later. One thing we do know for sure: The first episode airs at 9 p.m. Thursday on HGTV.

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New bulb technology comes to light

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: October 27, 2014
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I’m intrigued by a new light bulb technology that’s come onto the scene.

It involves induction technology, which uses a magnetic field to generate light -- not a filament, like an incandescent bulb, or an electrode, like an LED bulb. You might be familiar with the use of induction technology for cooking.

Finally Light Bulb Co. has introduced light bulbs using the technology. The company says the bulbs deliver the glow of traditional incandescent bulbs, but with greater energy efficiency and a significantly longer life.

So far the company is making only one model, an 800-lumen bulb that produces about the same amount of light as an old-fashioned 60-watt bulb. That’s OK for ambient lighting, but not bright enough for reading or other tasks. The bulb uses 14.5 watts of electricity, which puts it in the same energy-efficiency ballpark as compact fluorescent and LED bulbs.

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Easy bathroom mirror update

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: October 24, 2014
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Lots of us are stuck with big, plain bathroom mirrors. 

Luckily, updating them isn't difficult.

The makers of Elmer's Pro Bond Advanced adhesive offer instructions for creating this mirror frame, designed by Erin Hankins of the blog HowToNestForLess.com. All it takes is some wood trim, adhesive and Elmer's Clamp Tape, plus caulk for the seams, putty for the nail holes and some paint.

It's a project you can easily knock out in a few hours, and it will give your bathroom a more up-to-date look. 

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Peek inside Michael Symon's kitchen

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: October 23, 2014
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Want to see where Michael Symon performs his culinary magic when he's at home?

Food Network Magazine features the Cleveland chef's kitchen renovation in its November issue.

Symon and his wife, Liz, bought a century-old Tudor in Cleveland and embarked on a makeover that created a 700-square-foot kitchen and entertainment space. They redid the tiny, monochromatic kitchen and turned a room that had been used for prayer and meditation into a wine alcove that can hold 850 bottles.

You can see before and after pictures on the Food Network website. 

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Rebate finder locates Energy Star deals

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: October 22, 2014

The EPA's new rebate finder makes it easier to find deals on energy-saving products.

The site allows you to search for rebates available on Energy Star residential appliances, building products, electronics, heating and cooling equipment, lighting, fans, office equipment, water heaters and pool pumps. It can also help businesses find deals on commercial equipment including appliances and food service items.

You plug in your ZIP code when you search, so you find only rebates available in your area.

It's worth a quick check before you buy.

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