An office is a place where ideas are created; problems are resolved and a hub of many activities. Therefore, an office ought to be a suitable and work-friendly place. One of the ways to achieve it is identifying a favourable office design. Here are some of the top designs for the year 2018.
A biophilic design entails including the natural environment in the office. Green roofing, water features, nature-based wall office partitions and other options. Scientifically, a biophilic design has proven to enhance both physical and mental health. People connect well with nature. As a result, it inspires creativity and innovation.
Space is a challenge for some companies, but this year, employers are embracing new solutions. A new design of utilizing alternative space will resolve the issue of limited space. For example, private rooms could be used for individual work. Similarly, collaborative areas can also be comfortable places for meetings. Alternative space will decrease office costs in states. For example, an affordable office space in North Carolina will be available to companies and individual businesses.
Years ago, the open office design was established. Companies will increase the usage of open office design to curb space limitation. It utilizes unused space and increases communal areas. Employees will no longer be secluded in their traditional workspaces. They will be comfortable working in lounge pieces. Privacy will still be achieved by using panels and pods. Sometimes employees need to hide for concentration.
Change in the business environment is inevitable. Due to this fact, companies will introduce offices with dynamic design. This design offers continuous change when needed. The office space can be transformed according to the present need. For example, it can be changed into a meeting or conference room. This design welcomes innovation and creativity. Employees can implement their ideas as they wish.
Homestyle Comfort Design
Employers have understood that employees are most productive if the working environment is favorable. This design adopts a homely atmosphere for employees as they work. The design includes facilities such as fireplaces, showers, food places, etc. This design shows how employers value the well being of their employees.
Designing Using Cement
Offices designed with cement will increase in 2018. Cement is becoming popular in construction than in the previous years. Cement designs in offices are more appealing and give the office a permanent look. Due to it permanent nature,cement use may not give many opportunities of modification in case of future changes.
Employers are encouraging their employees to contribute on how offices can improve their productivity. Some offices will begin to introduce relaxation places, allowing employees to bring personal items that will increase their satisfaction and happiness in the workplace. At the same time, each employee must respect the other colleague’s space.
Gone are the days where offices were just poorly planned places with dull environments. The year 2018 will bring new ideas of how to design pleasant offices that motivate employees and increase their productivity. They will also be sustainable and environmentally friendly.
5 Best Smart Home Devices for Condo Living in 2019
Smart home devices aren’t just for traditional single-family homes. If you live in an apartment or condo, you, too, can enjoy the benefits of smart home gadgets, whether you rent or own. The devices and systems you’ll need may be slightly different if you share walls with your neighbors, and if you rent your home, you may want to stick to devices that don’t require permanent renovations.
Fortunately, there are plenty of smart home devices on the market that are perfectly suitable for condo, townhouse, and apartment dwellers. From security devices to entertainment, here are some of the best smart home devices for condo living this year.
1) Smart Speakers
Smart speaker devices, like the Amazon Echo Spot, are perfect for condo living. The small, second-generation device fits anywhere in your home, and allows you to listen to music or audio books, look up lyrics, keep up with news reports and weather forecasts, put together shopping lists, and do all the other things that you can do with a smart home device.
Of course, the Echo Spot isn’t the only option; there are plenty of other options available, such as Alexa and Google Home. These devices let you control all or most of your other smart home devices, and they don’t require any complicated installation.
2) Smart Plugs
Got a lot of dumb appliances sitting around that you’d like to smarten up? Smart plugs could be the answer. Turn all of your devices into smart home devices with a few smart plugs.
Smart plugs like the iDevices Switch allow you to control and monitor electronics, lamps, and anything else you can plug in without the need for a central hub. You can simply use your Android or Apple device to schedule turning electronics on and off or monitor energy usage from an appliance.
If you have an Alexa, the iDevices Switch works with that, too. Just as with the smart home devices discussed above, installation is a snap – just plug the smart switch into a wall.
3) Smart Lights
Smart lights are an easy way to change the atmosphere of your space without investing a lot of sweat equity in the process. The Phillips Hue smart light starter kit lets you choose from more than 16 million colors using Siri to change the color of your lighting whenever you ask.
You can warm up the feel of a room with a warm, yellow light, or cool things down with blue light. Hosting an ugly sweater Christmas party? Switch to festive red and green. You can even use the color adjustment to change the shade of your walls and put off painting a little longer.
Smart lights are one of the most useful smart home devices for homeowners of every stripe, because they’re easy to install and fulfill so many functions. You can use an app to build light schedules that deter burglars while you’re out of town, ease you awake in the morning with sunny brilliance, and help you fall asleep at night with a soothing, dim ambiance.
4) Water Leak Detectors
If you live in a condo or apartment with downstairs neighbors, a water leak can be even more of a disaster than if you live in a house, because multiple households can experience property damage as a result.
A device such as the Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Water Leak and Freeze Detector can let you know if something devastating is happening with your plumbing or appliances before the water starts pouring through your floor and onto your downstairs neighbor. It’s easy to install, doesn’t require a special hub, and can detect leaks within a 150-foot radius.
5) Indoor Security Cameras
One of the benefits of living in an apartment or condo is increased security, especially if you have a doorman or a code for entry. Indoor security cameras can extend that security beyond your front door, allowing you to monitor and record goings-on in your home from afar via an app.
Even if you’re not particularly concerned about break-ins, an indoor security camera or pet cam can help you keep tabs on the fur babies while you’re at work or out of town – you’ll know whether or not the pet sitter came by, that’s for sure.
Many cameras include speakers that allow you to communicate with your pets and/or burglars, for extra fun. We recommend the Logitech Circle 2, an indoor/outdoor camera that can be mounted directly to an outlet, for maximum ease of installation and a wire-free experience.
Condo living can be better with the right smart home devices. These gadgets can make your home more comfortable, more secure, and just plain more fun. Don’t take our word for it – try some of them yourself!
Kitchen Upgrade: 7 Countertop Trends to Consider
According to a survey, 98% of Americans prefer to cook at home. Not only is home cooking fun, but it also ensures you are eating healthier.
Having an attractive, clean and welcoming kitchen is a vital part of your home, cooking experience, and eating experience.
So if it is time to refresh your kitchen then check out these kitchen countertop trends.
7 Kitchen Countertop Trends You Need to Consider
Want to renovate your kitchen to make it look new and fresh? Or are looking to change your kitchen to help sell your home? These latest kitchen countertop trends will help transform your kitchen in no time.
Looking for a reliable alternative to granite? Quartz countertops might be just what you need. Granite countertops are great and loved by many, but quartz can offer something that granite can’t.
Quartz is non-porous which means that it doesn’t stain as easily as granite, and it is the most hygienic options available. Another benefit of a quartz top is that it doesn’t have to be resealed, so it will save you money in the long run!
Similar to granite countertops, quartz countertops are strong, sturdy, and durable, which is why they are one of the most popular kitchen countertops.
You can get quartz countertops in a whole range of styles and finishes. Most popular quartz countertop colors include matte and the natural stone finish is favored by many homeowners.
2. Neutral Tones and White
For a clear, crisp, and contemporary kitchen feel and finish, you need to consider pairing neutral tones with white countertops.
Soft neutral tones in the kitchen help to make the space feel more welcoming. So opt for a grey, white, or a beige tone for your kitchen. To achieve this you could paint your kitchen in neutral tones and have fresh white countertops.
Alternatively, you could choose a beige kitchen countertop and complete your kitchen with clean white utensils or a white feature wall.
White is a great color that helps to make a space look more contemporary and it can also make a smaller kitchen appear larger.
Top tip for neutral tones and whites: make use of the natural light in your kitchen to make the space feel larger and airier.
3. Dark Countertops
Are you looking for a sophisticated and elegant finish for your kitchen? Then you need to look into the darker kitchen counter trends.
Choose countertops colors such as black, dark grey, or charcoal, for a trendy kitchen that is warm and sophisticated.
If you are worried about having a dark kitchen that isn’t inviting, then try contrasting your dark countertops with lighter floors and cabinets. This is an effective way to keep your kitchen warm.
4. Honed or Polished?
Countertop trends come and go and the question that has been around for a while now is: Do I choose a honed or polished countertop?
If you are looking for a countertop that isn’t shiny and doesn’t reveal any scratch marks, then you need to get a honed finish kitchen countertop. Honed finishes work well with marble countertops and offer a super smooth surface.
In more recent years, leather finish countertops have become very popular. These kitchen countertops offer a soft sheen that is less glossy than a polished top.
Just like a polished countertop, the leather finish works best with natural stone tops. An additional bonus of the leather finish is that it hides fingerprints and water spots.
Both honed and polished countertops offer a different experience, look, and feel. It just depends on what you want!
5. Veining and Patterned Countertops
Latest kitchen countertops trends have seen a rise in the popularity of veining and patterned tops. They offer a little more character and can help your kitchen look more unique.
Natural stone slabs of marble and granite come with veins so these authentically designed patterns can help to make your kitchen look natural. There are many different designs and patterns that you can choose from.
Select a veiny or patterned countertop finish that matches your kitchen’s floor, cabinets, walls, and/or backsplash.
6. Kitchen Islands
If you want to transform your kitchen with the latest countertop trends, then why not update your kitchen island?
Waterfall kitchen islands are currently very popular because they help to streamline your kitchen design.
Match your dark countertops with a dark island, to make your kitchen look super sophisticated. Or break through the conventional design elements and add a dark island to the middle of your neutral and white toned kitchen. This contrast will reveal your unique and strong personality.
7. Quirky Designs
Experiment with your kitchen and find a quirky design that works for you. Pair a textured and patterned countertop with brightly colored cabinets. Or add a sleek leathered kitchen countertop with quirky lightbulbs and feature drawer knobs.
Your sink is an essential part of your kitchen, so add a deep farmhouse sink and pair it with a marble honed countertop. The possibilities are endless!
If you’re still looking for more inspiration, here are a few examples of the best kitchen counter trends for 2019.
Choose a Kitchen Countertop That is Right For You
There are many different kitchen countertop trends that you can consider when you want to update your kitchen.
When choosing a kitchen countertop, make sure it complements your kitchen and creates a warm and inviting space. After all, your kitchen is the heart of your home.
Looking to transform your kitchen with strong and sturdy granite? Then check out our article on the advantages of granite countertops for your kitchen now.
Decorating Your First Home
If you are buying your first home, you will be excited about decorating it! Here are some trends to consider…
This is the perfect trend for any first-time home buyer looking to add the wow factor to their home. These walls add a depth of beauty and character to any space. The added dimension creates a level of intrigue which cannot be emulated by another other paint, wallpaper or wall design.
From walls laced in crystals to hand painted wallpaper to textured grass wallpaper; there is an option to suit all tastes and all rooms. In fact, there is even a woman who used 30,000 bottle caps in eye-catching geometric patterns when embellishing the exterior of her home – it doesn’t get much more creative and ambitious than that!
Pop of Pastel
This is a trend that has found its place in the kitchen of homeowners all over the country. It is quite a common occurrence for the kitchen to be a place where neutral colours are the norm. However, you need to remember that this is a room where you get to cook up a storm every evening. It should be a place filled with inspiration and creativity. And what generates these core qualities? Colour!
Turn your kitchen dresser or display cabinet into a pastel masterpiece. By adding highlights of candy pink, sherbet lemon or mint green you create decor that is good enough to eat. Your kitchen will be a place you enjoy being in and dare we say it; cooking may become your favourite hobby.
This is a bold trend which makes a great statement. Whether you opt for full coverage or an accent wall is entirely up to you. Nevertheless, if you truly want to do this trend justice then it is all about vibrant and vivid colours. This can look great in children’s bedrooms and home offices whereby energy and creativity is the norm.
However, if you do want to use geometric wallpaper in your living area or bedroom, then you may want to go for a more subtle design. After all, these are rooms of relaxation, and bright colours can make it difficult to unwind. Opt for a neutral shade and a colourful hue; such as cream and turquoise.
This colour looks beautiful painted on the walls of living room and dining room areas in the home. It creates an imperial look; one that generates the perfect balance between tradition and elegance. This may be a simple trend to implement; after all you are only dealing with one colour of paint. When emulating this trend you should play to its strengths. Finish off the room with stunning dark wood furniture and unique antique pieces.
And last but not least, luxurious metallic wallpapers are another must-have trend. Brass and copper have already proved their worth throughout the year, and this is a unique and beautiful way of incorporating these shades into your home. Not only does metallic wallpaper look fantastic, but it has a lot to offer a room in other ways as well. During the day it brings a much-needed dosage of light to any space, whilst in the evening it can create a warm and romantic vibe.
7 Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
With climate change forefront of many people’s thoughts, mindful citizens are constantly looking for ways in which they can help ease their carbon footprint and live more sustainably.
One of the many ways this can be done is by curbing energy consumption. Some people may think that an energy efficient house is too expensive to maintain but the reality is that living efficiently does not necessarily mean letting go of the comforts that you’ve become accustomed to, it just means some smart adjustments need to be made.
The largest consumption of household energy is from heating and cooling devices depending on the season. Making slight adjustments to your house can make a big difference in the amount of energy these devices consume.
1. Natural ventilation
Make use of natural breezes by creating airflow with strategically placed windows which will decrease the need to use air conditioners in summer. Invite the outside in, and open up windows while you’re home and let air flow through naturally.
2. Replace old windows and frames
Older windows may be charming and lend itself to a certain aesthetic but if they’re not maintained and rickety, they can be a source of energy loss. By replacing those aluminum frames with vinyl frames and double pane windows you will save a lot of money over time because they seal tighter. A tighter seal will prevent cold or hot air from escaping your home thus resulting in less energy consumption by the heating or cooling system.
Planting trees will not only add curb appeal but it will also help cool your house down in summer and blocks the wind in winter. Trees will provide shade that prevents concrete surfaces from absorbing so much heat. You’ll get less heat coming off of the ground at night and the result is a cooler house that lessens the need for the use of a cooling system.
4. Incorporate Zoning
The smaller the space that needs to be heated or cooled, the less energy is used. Open plan spaces take longer to reach a set temperature, and use more energy than a smaller space that can be closed up. Making zones in the house that can be closed off while using an air conditioner will mean the air heats or cools faster. Make sure that doors and windows are closed and that there aren’t too many cavities where air can slip through.
5. Solar Panels
Solar energy panels may appear to be an expensive option at first glance. But the units are durable and won’t need to be replaced for a long time. You will also be saving more money on electricity bills over time making it a valuable investment.
Solar panels use natural light resources from the sun to create energy. Solar thermal collectors use energy from the sun to heat water in the water heating system. Ultimately, they’re an efficient, money saving option for any household.
6. Energy efficient lighting
Replace light fixtures in the home with energy saving lights. Switch out incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs. This is because fluorescent light bulbs use less energy and last longer. You can also use modern dimmers which cut the energy supply on and off rapidly and decreases the amount of energy that reaches the lightbulb. This makes the bulb last longer and cuts down on the amount of energy the light would normally use.
7. Be Mindful of Energy Usage
A large amount of energy usage can be cut down by just changing certain behaviors and being aware of how much energy we use. Only switch on lights in rooms that are occupied, and remember to switch them off when you leave. Unplug electronic devices that are not being used as they use energy even if they aren’t turned on.
When it is time to replace your appliance, buy ones that have an energy saving label on them. They have been certified to use less energy than older ones you may already have in your home. They may be expensive but you will see the difference when the energy bill comes.
An energy efficient house is not only good for the environment but it’s also easy on your pocket in the long run. You might take on some big expenses to begin with, but in the long run it saves you as well as the environment.
10 Simple Ways To Save Water
Whilst we’ve all been a little distracted by politics over the past 12 months, one thing that does seem to be on everyone’s lips is the environment-namely, how to protect it with eco-friendly practices.
Sir David Attenborough, the highly-respected naturalist, recently stated that “climate change is our greatest threat” and “could lead to the collapse of civilisation”. Such statements shouldn’t be taken lightly and, over the past 12 months, we have seen a real shift change in attitudes towards single-use plastic packaging.
Another area in which we can all do our bit is conserving water. It’s our most precious natural resource and is in scarce supply around the world. However, with water bills proving expensive for many UK families, you can also save plenty of cash by following some simple tips and tricks.
Limit your flushing
The average person in the UK flushes a toilet around 5 times every day, which, with a population in excess of 60 million, is a heck of a lot of water usage. In many countries, where water is deemed more precious, you’ll often hear the phrase “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”. And, this is certainly a motto you can live by in your own home.
Fit a modern dual flush toilet
Back in the dim, distant past, some toilets had huge capacity flushes, up to 12 litres, which certainly weren’t efficient in their use of water. Thankfully, modern toilets now, mostly, come with a dual mechanism, which allows you to choose a shorter or longer flush, depending on what is required. When buying a new toilet, look out for WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) approval, as this will ensure it is efficient.
Showering instead of bathing
Whilst many of us love a nice hot bath in which to relax and unwind, a shower is a far eco-friendlier option, using around 40% less water. Many of us already choose a shower over a bath, as part of our early morning routine, however, if you really love your bath, try limiting it to just once a week, as a little treat.
Turn off your taps
This is one of those simple home water-saving tips that is incredibly effective. Many of us, absent-mindedly, leave our tap running when brushing teeth, shaving or simply admiring ourselves in the mirror. By being mindful and turning off the tap, we could potentially save up to 350 litres per person per week.
Choose an efficient bath
Most modern baths are made from acrylic, and there’s a good reason for this. As well as costing less to make (keeping prices low), they are also incredibly strong, durable, scratch-resistant and, crucially, keep your bath water warmer for longer. This will help stop you from constantly topping it up with hot water.
Address drips and leaks immediately
With the busy lives we lead, sometimes it can prove difficult fixing those minor faults around the home. However, a dripping tap could be losing you money in the long run, wasting a potential 90 litres per week. A new tap really doesn’t cost a lot and can be fitted in next to no time. Look for quality taps which come with ceramic disc cartridges, as they are more
hardwearing than traditional washers.
Turn the pressure down
Whilst you may enjoy being blasted off your feet by your morning shower, a powerful torrent will use plenty of water. With recent innovations, you can now purchase mixer showers which come with a flow limiter, allowing you to still enjoy a great showering experience, yet using less water. If you are looking to buy an electric shower, look out for models which come
with an eco mode. It essentially does the same thing.
Limit the time in your shower
If you’re buying a new shower, why not consider a digital or smart shower. They may cost a bit more but are designed to use water more efficiently, saving you money in the long run. Many such showers feature a time duration, where the shower will stop after a set number of minutes. This is a great option, especially where your children tend to stay in the shower for what seems like hours!
Use a water butt
If you have a garden and enjoy a spot of gardening, a water butt is a great way to save on money. Collecting rain water, you can use it to fill up a water can, instead of using a hose.
Save in your workplace
Whilst the eco movement can begin at home, it should continue in your workplace too. Why not see how much your business can save on water bills
How To Reduce Costs By Cutting Power Usage In The Home
Getting ahead financially is not just about increasing your income. Reducing costs and expenditure also plays a vital part and a good place to get started is reducing your electricity bill.
With our increased use of technology, in kitchen appliances and for our personal use, the average home is increasing their electricity consumption and it’s predicted to increase further, so assessing what and where the power is being used in the home is great place to start – to reduce costs.
Once you know your power usage switching to solar could be a great option to reduce your reliance on the national grid.
To kick start the process of making your home more energy efficient, the first step is to get in a qualified electrician to do a wiring and points health check, especially if you’ve got an older home. Like all things, there are ongoing improvements in electrical wiring and infrastructure and having the latest in your home reducing leaking power and save you money.
Average Electricity Usage
Take a look round your home with the following guide and you’ll be able to start calculating where your electricity is being used and how much you are actually using.
Of course the exact amount of electricity you use will depend on the number of electrical appliances you have and how much they are on.
The above guide will give you some average usage figures but it is a good idea to look at the power label on your appliance. This will confirm how much power your appliance draws. You’ll then be able to calculate how long you have it on and how much electric any specific appliance uses every year.
Electric Saving Tips
You can reduce your electricity usage with some very simple steps:
Turn Lights Off
The most obvious way to save money is not to use an appliance unless you need to. This means turning off lights and other equipment when you are not using it. You may be surprised at how much difference this makes.
A charger that is plugged in but not charging will still draw electricity; this is simply a waste. When you’ve finished charging anything unplug the appliance and the charger. Think, computers, devices like tablets, mobile phones in the bedrooms.
You’ve probably become accustomed to switching your television and other appliances off with a remote. Unfortunately this leaves them in a standby mode where they will still draw power.
Shut them off at the mains, or better still unplug them. This will make a difference to your annual consumption.
Energy Saving Bulbs
A standard light bulb uses 100 watts of power but an LED bulb will draw just 20 or 30 watts while giving you the same level of light. That is a big difference, especially when you multiply it by the number of bulbs in your home. Plus consider solar powered lighting.
Finally as mentioned earlier it is worth considering adding your own solar panels for all power usage. Every bit of electricity your home generates is a reduction in the cost of your energy bill; even if it’s not a reduction in your actual energy usage. Let’s face it with the rise of electric- everything from your garden appliances, and cars, reducing power usage drastically in the future is probably unrealistic but where we get the power from, now that is likely to be more in our control.
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