Have you ever wanted to unlock your door with a fingerprint? Control the indoor and outdoor lights with your phone? You can do those things and more with a smart home. We show you how to get a home with connected technology and remote-operated devices that are designed to improve and simplify your life. We sift through the many options, including smart appliances, new apps, and smartphone and tablet innovation, and only bring you those that can make your life better. We give you tips and tricks for navigating the new home technologies and help you with buying decisions.See More
Add warmth to your home with a well-designed fireplace.
The space above the fireplace is becoming popular for flat-panel TVs. Before mounting a TV above your mantel, however, make sure the wall temperature doesn't exceed 90 degrees when the fire is lit. The space behind the mounting area should be hollow to accommodate necessary wiring.
The mantel and surrounding wall are integral to your fireplace design. Make a statement with a stone surround or exposed-brick chimney. Consider the style of your home when choosing materials. Cut stone or brick complements a formal space, while river rock or stacked stone is good for a more relaxed room.
Bedrooms are a popular place to add a second fireplace. If your bedroom is on the upper level, you can add a fireplace directly above an existing one. Connect it to the same chimney to cut installation costs.
Wood-burning fireplaces aren't very energy efficient. Get the most out of your existing fireplace by installing an insert. You can keep the original structure and vent through the chimney. Inserts can burn wood, gas, or wood pellets, and they have an insulated glass door that prevents hot air from escaping up the chimney.
Let a crackling fire warm a chilly basement. A prefabricated gas fireplace is the most efficient option and doesn't need a chimney. A direct-vent unit can easily be installed on an exterior wall with a short section of pipe to release exhaust fumes and get fresh air. Hire a professional to connect it to a gas line and an electrical circuit.
Make sure your fireplace is well lit even when a fire isn't burning. A recessed downlight on the ceiling should be 18 inches from the wall, and sconces should be no more than 6 inches from the outer edge of the mantel and at least 12 inches above the mantel.