Inside the Innovation House

We pulled out all the stops to bring the latest home tech features to our Innovation Home. See the 16 coolest things from the home and be amazed by how smart one home can be.

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Bathroom Countertop Ideas

Good-looking countertops -- whether made of marble, limestone, or concrete -- create high-functioning bathrooms that spill over with style. These popular countertop materials are sure to inspire a bathroom remodel.

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Find Your Dream Backyard

Whether you dream of sunning by a state-of-the-art pool or strolling through a simple cottage garden, there's an outdoor oasis with your name written all over it. Take this quiz to find out where you really belong.

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DIY Patio Ideas

Want to boost the beauty and usefulness of your outdoor spaces? Put one of these inspiring DIY patio ideas to work in your landscape.

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Easy Fireplace Upgrades

Does your fireplace need a facelift? Check out these 20 ideas for updating your fireplace with easy-to-apply embellishments and simple-to-make constructions.

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8 Cutting-Edge Exterior Features

The wow-factor of the Innovation Home starts with great curb appeal. See the eight things that make the home's exterior stand out.

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Budget Curb Appeal

Be the best home on the block for less. These budget curb appeal updates will show you how.

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Deck Plans

This comprehensive deck building checklist, with planning-stage questions and deck materials list, will get your project on the right footing.

Spare yourself some hassle and headache, as well as last-minute deck building budget busters, by going over this project checklist of essentials. Though it won't cover everything needed for special upgrades, such as a fireplace or full outdoor kitchen, checking your plans against these points should keep your deck building project on the right track.


  • Does the deck comply with area building codes?
  • Is there plenty of space for planned outdoor activities?
  • Is there enough space for amenities and furnishings, such as patio tables and chairs, and for the people who will use them?
  • Will traffic flow easily between the house and the deck?
  • Is it easy to access the yard from the deck?
  • Are individual spaces for specific uses designated on a large deck?
  • Will the deck work well visually with the house?
  • Will at least a portion of the deck be shaded, if desired, during peak use times?
  • If privacy is a concern, are privacy screens planned?
  • Does the deck include storage elements, such as built-ins or access doors?
  • Do you have detailed plans of the final deck design?
  • If you plan to work with contractors, builders, and other professionals, have you reviewed and signed contracts specifying all work, materials, and responsibilities?
  • For more information go to Build a Deck.


  • Does your project list include all project components that follow?
  • Have you budgeted for all the project components?


  • Substructure (ledgers, joists, posts, beams)
  • Railings (rail posts, balusters, top rails)
  • Stairway parts (stringers, risers, treads)
  • Decking


  • Post anchors
  • Joist hangers
  • Bolts
  • Screws
  • Nails


  • Stain
  • Sealer
  • Paint

Other Deck Materials:

  • Alternate materials planned for decking and railings
  • Skirting
  • Fill for under deck, such as weed-blocking landscape fabric and river rock


  • Site clearing and prep
  • Digging footings
  • Pouring footings
  • Constructing substructure
  • Installing decking
  • Building stairs
  • Installing railings
  • Finishing deck

Special Features

  • Do the final deck plans account for any special features, such as an outdoor kitchen, spa, or gazebo?
  • Will structural elements adequately support heavy features, such as a spa?
  • If plans include adding a special feature later, will proper prep work-such as roughing in utilities-be done during initial construction prep work?

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