Smarter Living column
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Printed from the CharloƩe Observer - www.CharloƩ
Posted: Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013
Tips for modernizing your home and your rouƟne
By Michael J. Solender
Here’s the challenge: Pick at least one room in your
home, and think of a way to make it do more for you.
Give yourself points for ideas that add comfort,
convenience, fun or the cool factor.
UpdaƟng one room will surely inspire you to refresh and
modernize your home and your rouƟne in other ways,
big or small. No excuses, because we’re giving you a
head start right here.
Pick any one of these home upgrades, and you may find
yourself wondering why you didn’t do it sooner.
The Modern Sprout Windowsill Planter Box is for those
who want to enhance the spaces inside the home
naturally with small houseplants, kitchen herbs, veggies
and all manner of decoraƟve planƟngs. The hydroponic
planter also is designed to make year-round growing
easier on a tabletop, windowsill or other well-lit area.
The soilless planter has a 3/4-gallon reservoir that only
needs refilling every 2 to 3 weeks for most plants. The
hydroponic system provides nutrients that your plants
will need to thrive – as well as solar light with some
models. The box’s exterior is weathered wood or
chalkboard. $129-$249 at
Rethink, refresh, update
• Make a plan. Look carefully at your daily
rouƟne and decide what slows you down or
taps out your inner gladiator. Figure out what
would work beƩer and go aŌer it.
• An aƩempt at a fresh start – even in one
room – has to begin with geƫng rid of things
that perform poorly or don’t work at all. Toss
the radio with the broken clock and the lamp
that never was bright enough.
• Technology is oŌen available to add
convenience and efficiency to rouƟne tasks.
Take advantage of it when it makes sense.
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PIXI Flatlight luminaire from PIXI LighƟng is an energyefficient LED light source for the space under the kitchen
cabinets or other areas of the home. They come in a
variety of sizes and are expected to use 80 percent less
energy than standard incandescent bulbs. Do the
plug-and-mount installaƟon yourself, or bring in an
electrician for a quick job. Available at,
starƟng at $80.
The new Brondell H2O+ Cypress Countertop Water
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FiltraƟon System takes tap water through three separate
filters and delivers your drink without a storage tank or
complex setup. Triple filtering reduces industrial
chemicals, pesƟcides, herbicides, volaƟle organic
compounds, microorganisms, and bad tastes and odors.
A screw-on aƩachment connects the unit to a faucet.
$180 at Home Depot, Overstock and Newegg.
Honeywell’s EnergySmart Infrared Heater uses
technology that produces heat quickly and ulƟmately
puts out 5,200 BTUs without burning oxygen or humidity.
That means the air won’t feel dry. There are two heat
modes and a programmable thermostat for steady
comfort. The unit also has programmable on/off seƫngs
for energy savings. It shuts off automaƟcally if
accidentally Ɵpped over. Six separate quartz elements
are designed to give even heat distribuƟon. The digital
interface and controls are on top. $150 at
Technogel Sleeping Pillows are covered with up to 1 inch
of gel that gives a cooling sensaƟon. The pillows are
designed to deliver support with less pressure on the
neck and shoulders. Prices start at $169. Several sizes are
available at and at Relax
the Back stores.
Singing in the shower? It’s expected with Kohler’s Moxie
Showerhead with Wireless Speakers. It syncs to a
mobile device using Bluetooth to play tunes, podcasts
and other content. Available at for $149.
When the doorbell rings, DoorBot streams live video to a
smartphone or tablet using your home’s Wi-Fi network.
The audio/video components allow you to see and speak
with the guests. BaƩery operates for up to one year
without addiƟonal charge. Add-ons allow for keyless
entry for children or guests with your OK. Available at
Staples, Amazon and for $199, or
$349 with Lockitron add-on.
SmartCode by Kwikset features a twist on keyless entry,
allowing for the assignment of temporary pass codes
that are good for one-Ɵme or repeat use. Assign codes to
family members and guests and remotely monitor their
entries and exits using the system’s reports. Children no
longer require keys, which can get lost. Codes can also be
Ɵed into home automaƟon systems to automaƟcally
switch on lights and turn off security systems upon entry.
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$99 to $199, depending on system access features, at
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