8 Easy Home Improvements to Make This Year

Ready for a fresh start in 2017? Your home is, too. You want home upgrades that are not only eye-catching, but are also long-term investments that can make you more connected, organized, efficient and safe. This may seem like a tall order, but it doesn’t have to be. These eight home upgrades top the list of must-haves for their simplicity, innovation and utility.
Home Automation Upgrades
Voice-Controlled Smart Hub
Our lives are revolving more around our gadgets, and our homes are beginning to as well. When you bring a smart hub into your home, you’ll wonder how you functioned without it. Such an artificial intelligence gadget can be the central feature to your home, allowing you to digitally control all of your smart home devices from one hub. Their features go beyond home automation skills — smart hubs like Google Home can share local weather, narrate books, read daily headlines, set alarms and play music, all hands-free.

Some of these hubs are even voice-activated, like Amazon Echo , making them among the most popular devices of the year.
Smart Thermostat
Thanks to regular software upgrades, smart thermostats are solid smart home investments. They are regularly updated, so you don’t have to worry about them falling behind your other devices. Besides allowing you to remotely control them from an app, smart thermostats have auto-scheduling features that you set based on the times of day you like your home cool or warm.
Smart thermostats also have humidity sensors that can help make your living space more comfortable. One of the coolest features of smart thermostats like Nest is their ability to detect when you leave the premises and when you return home, adjusting the temperature accordingly.
Security and Safety Upgrades
Home Security Camera
Home security has never been more flexible or simple, thanks to the development of so many high-tech home security cameras. From indoor cameras with two-way audio that connects you with loved ones or pets while you’re away — like the Nest Cam — to outdoor cameras with motion-sensing night vision that help protect your home from criminals — like the Amcrest Qcam — today’s security cameras offer a plethora of cool features.
This may seem like an expensive upgrade, but many indoor and outdoor security cameras can cost less than $200. And, while you can always call a professional, you can also save money by installing a DIY security camera on your own.
Motion-Sensing Lights
Arguably one of the easiest home security upgrades, motion-sensing lights are a major crime deterrent. They not only help you save on your energy bill, but they also light the places where a stranger could lurk around your home.
If you’re concerned about being robbed, this upgrade is the way to go. Motion-detecting lights are a security feature that burglars hate . Install one over your porch, driveway or other entrance point.
Green Living Upgrades
Natural Features
Organic inspiration will continue to influence designs this year, so you can expect to see more furniture built with natural materials , like stone coffee tables and wooden chairs.
One of the easiest ways to bring the outdoors inside is to decorate with some potted plants. Whether your lack of a green thumb scares you or you want a plant with a long shelf life, check out some of the most durable houseplants , like a ficus, a snake plant or an asparagus fern.
Smart Sprinklers
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average U.S. family uses 320 gallons of water per day, and 30% of that is outdoors. In warmer climates like the Southwest, that number jumps to 60%. Outdated automated sprinkler systems are a big part of the problem because they can turn on during rainstorms and tend to drench sidewalks and driveways.
Smart sprinklers are good for your wallet and Mother Earth. They are Wi-Fi connected so you can control them remotely from an app no matter where you are. These sprinklers are also extremely efficient because they activate based on satellite weather data, not just how you program them.
Design Upgrades
Wallpaper Accents
Accent walls add drama and flair to boring spaces, and patterned wallpaper is making a comeback. Trulia says that oversized florals, paisley, and abstract prints in darker hues are especially popular.
These wallpaper prints make a big impact, especially in small spaces like bathrooms. And if you’re nervous about the long-term commitment or the difficulty of placing wallpaper, temporary wallpaper is incredibly easy to install and remove.
Jewel Tones
Decorate with some richly colored flair this year; jewel tones are in. Colors we see in nature, like emerald, amethyst, turquoise, and pastel pinks and greens, are the ones to use. They pop and “transform a room into a sumptuous refuge or a light-filled bijou box,” says Architectural Digest .
You don’t have to completely redecorate, either. You can easily add jewel colors to your decor with throw pillows, curtains, blankets, bookshelves and accent walls.
There’s a lot to look forward to with home design in the new year. These functional and stylish upgrades are home improvements you want to move to the top of your 2017 to-do list.
What are some ways you plan on incorporating new technology or design in your home this year? Let us know in the comments below!
Sage Singleton is a home and community safety expert for SafeWise . She has written for a variety of audiences ranging from government sites to lifestyle magazines. In her free time, she enjoys wedding planning, traveling and learning French.  
The post 8 Easy Home Improvements to Make This Year appeared first on ZING Blog by Quicken Loans .

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