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6 Things Professional Burglars Don’t Want You to Know

Even though a burglary occurs every 20 seconds in the U.S., you can still protect yourself without installing top-dollar security features.

Home burglary generally has a pattern; criminals are looking for an easy target they can rob fast. Learn from the pros. Here are six tips from career burglars you can use to defend your home and prevent break-ins.

1. Nighttime Burglaries Aren’t the Best Time

Burglars like to break in to homes during daytime hours—the last thing criminals want is to encounter someone at home. Weekdays are ideal for thieves, since weekend schedules are too unpredictable. Between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. are the most popular times because there’s a high chance people will be away at work or school.

While it’s tempting to post about your vacation to your social media feed, wait to share those trip photos and exotic location check-ins until you’re back home. Criminals scout public social media accounts like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Foursquare to find victims.

Locating someone’s home address using basic information from their social media profile is surprisingly easy. In one survey of convicted burglars, more than 10 percent say they used social media to determine who was out of town. The same survey found one burglar stole over $250,000 in electronics and jewelry from 33 women he saw in public—he used GPS data embedded in photos they posted online to find their homes.

Even if all your accounts are private, that old friend from high school or new neighbor down the street could be a potential criminal. Never post what times you’re not home or how long you’ll be out.

2. They Know When You’re Not Home—Thanks to Social Media

While it’s tempting to post about your vacation to your social media feed, wait to share those trip photos and exotic location check-ins until you’re back home. Criminals scout public social media accounts like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Foursquare to find victims.

Locating someone’s home address using basic information from their social media profile is surprisingly easy. In one survey of convicted burglars, more than 10 percent say they used social media to determine who was out of town. The same survey found one burglar stole over $250,000 in electronics and jewelry from 33 women he saw in public—he used GPS data embedded in photos they posted online to find their homes.

Even if all your accounts are private, that old friend from high school or new neighbor down the street could be a potential criminal. Never post what times you’re not home or how long you’ll be out.

3. They Don’t Like Your Security Practices

Burglars want nothing to do with alarm systems (whether they’re from the best home security companies or not). Homes without a security system are almost 300 percent more likely to be targeted for a break-in.  If you do install an alarm system, make sure you guard it with a strong code. Don’t use your house number or birthday, and clean any dirt or grease off your keypad so a burglar won’t guess your code based off the numbers you’ve hit the most. Unlocked windows, unused deadbolts, poorly lit homes, and residences without security systems are prime targets for burglars, so make sure you are using the security features you already have.

Also, tricks that make it look like you’re home really work, professional burglars reveal. Burglars run from properties that look like people are inside. Motion sensor lights, bright flood lights, and timed lights are inexpensive security features for a home’s exterior that scare criminals away. TVs or radios left on, as well as cars parked in the driveway, make burglars nervous that someone is home.

4. Great Targets Advertise Their Weapon Supply

If you’re a proud gun owner, that won’t scare away burglars—it entices them. A gun is stolen roughly every two minutes in the U.S., so homeowners should be sure to always lock up their guns. NRA bumper stickers on a car or Smith & Wesson signs on a house advertises that there are lots of guns to steal.

5. Shrubs and Architecture Make Great Hiding Spots

Tall bushes are favorites of burglars since they offer an obstructed view from the street and an easy way to hide from neighbors. Keep shrubs and large landscaping features trimmed. If you want big plants by your windows, choose something thorny that will detract a burglar, like roses or cacti.

Think twice about large architecture features, too, like fences, half walls, and big fountains. Thieves are searching for crimes of opportunity, and such decor elements give a burglar more time to hide and plot their method of entry. The best defense is a clear view of your front porch.

trimming bushes

Credit: gifbin

6. Valuables in the Open Help Them Decide on a Target

Keep your expensive items out of sight. You’re making it too easy for a burglar by advertising the type of valuables they can steal. Don’t leave a new MacBook in front of your first-floor kitchen window, iPads on your living room ottoman, or even a nice car in a garage window with a clear sight line to the street. Key hooks—especially with labels for each key—need to be concealed out of view from windows, too.

“A burglar appreciates such kindness, but you will find it expensive when you have to replace all the locks after a break-in,” says Mike Fraser, former professional burglar and host of the BBC show Beat the Burglar.


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Beige Is Back: Designers Share 10 Beautiful Warm Paint Colors

In recent years, the color gray soared in popularity while warm neutrals like beige got a bad rap. Beige, which often has been preceded by the word “boring,” deserves better, and it’s making a comeback. At recent design shows such as Maison & ObjetHigh Point Market and the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, earthy and warm neutral tones like beige, khaki, tan and greige (a mix of warm gray and beige) were paired with trends such as nature-inspired looks and designs that promote wellness.

Designers have always known that the right shade of beige can embrace you like a warm and calming hug. Here, several of them share 10 of their favorite warm neutral paint colors, which you can see in the accompanying room photos.

Cottage Home Company

Accessible Beige, Sherwin-Williams

There really couldn’t be a better paint name to kick off this story. Accessible Beige sounds so democratic — a beige for everyone.

“This has been a go-to for designers for the past five years or so,” says Bill Petkoski, owner of home-building company Cottage Home. “It’s soft, it goes with everything and it is the perfect shade of beige without being boring or blah.”

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Emily Griffin Design

Drop Cloth, Farrow & Ball

“My favorite beige these days is Farrow & Ball’s Drop Cloth,” says interior designer Emily Griffin, who designed this cozy Toronto kitchen. “It’s a great neutral and pairs beautifully with rich colors like green, blue or magenta. It is a pretty clean and simple beige that resembles a painter’s drop cloth. We did the upper cabinets in this color as opposed to doing them white. The contrast is less severe and more interesting, in my opinion.”

To complement the cabinet color, Griffin used a creamy off-white on the walls: Farrow & Ball’s Pointing.

Karen Korn Interiors

Photo by Karen Palmer Photography

Kilim Beige, Sherwin-Williams

Trends come and go, but St. Louis interior designer Karen Korn’s love for Sherwin-Williams’ Kilim Beige has never waned. “It is a soft neutral with earthy tendencies,” she says. “I believe gray is on the way out and we are all craving more steady and grounding colors.”

She finds that the warm neutral works well with a wide range of colors. “Kilim Beige is the perfect companion moving into the future … instead of pairing it with the reds and greens of the past, we can pair it with the blues and greens that we are seeing today, so it feels fresh and current.”

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FINNE Architects

Pashmina, Benjamin Moore

This modern home designed by architect Nils Finne has many large windows that provide panoramic views of Washington state’s Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains. The house also features thoughtful wood architectural details throughout and lots of wood furniture. “In this house, we found that Pashmina had a chameleon-like ability to take on different subtle colors in each space,” Finne says. “We liked the subtle color differences … and of course, Pashmina is warm and inviting.”

The chameleon-like quality of this sandy hue allows it to work well with a wide range of browns as well as grays.

Cardel Homes

Seashell, Cloverdale Paints

Calgary’s chilly winters inspired the use of warm neutrals in this home. Designer Kristina Hutchins chose Seashell by Cloverdale Paints to create cozy dining room comfort that’s downright hygge. “This color was chosen to enhance the two-tone kitchen, which created a warm tone to the home. The paint enhanced this feeling,” she says.

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Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architects

Platinum, Pratt & Lambert

Architect Dan Nelson finds that Pratt & Lambert’s Platinum helps highlight the architectural features of the homes he designs while also providing a backdrop that complements spectacular Pacific Northwest views. “To help warm up our modern houses, we use wood and earth tones like Platinum on the walls,” he says. “Many of our houses are known for being ‘warm modern’ and this color helps to achieve that goal.”

Shannon Ggem Design

Stone Hearth, Benjamin Moore

Just because beige is in doesn’t mean you have to throw out all the gray. Mixing gray and greige hues with beige can result in an inviting and calming color palette. One of Los Angeles interior designer Shannon Ggem’s current favorite beiges is Stone Hearth by Benjamin Moore, and she finds it works well with a range of gray tones.

“It’s so restful and grounded. In this serene master bedroom, we paired it with silvery grays for a ‘Siamese cat palette’ and a classic accent of emerald green,” Ggem says. “Peaceful neutrals in combination with the organic linens, natural wools and cottons used here can support client wellness practices that make their everyday life better — color selection is important.”

Snowden Builders LLC

Revere Pewter, Benjamin Moore

In this Grand Rapids, Michigan, living room, Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, a true greige, creates a cozy ambiance. “It’s a simple color but it makes the space very inviting,” Ashley Wiborn of Snowden Builders says. “It is comforting, soft and subtle while still being neutral. Here it complements the features of the home, such as the beautiful fireplace.”

Kathy Corbet Interiors

Worldly Gray, Sherwin-Williams

And Richmond, Virginia, interior designer Kathy Corbet brings up an important point: Gray is still popular with many homeowners. “Richmond is still very much on the gray trend,” she says. “Because I know it is on its way out, I have been encouraging clients to use Worldly Gray. It does read more beige but works really well with gray tones. I call it a very warm gray.”

Kathy Corbet Interiors

Natural Linen, Sherwin-Williams

For a less greige beige, Corbet recommends another favorite of hers, Sherwin-Williams’ Natural Linen. Here you can see how well the color works with warm, spicy tones while keeping things light.

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Is It a Trend or a Fad? How to Know the Difference When Updating Your Home

When fixing up your home, especially if you’re doing so to get it in shape to put it on the market, you want to make sure it looks updated. And that means including current trends. But there’s a fine line between trends and fads.

In a macro sense, “A fad is a short-lived phenomenon, fading in a relatively brief period,” said Social Standards. “When the fad runs its course, you can expect to see a marked decrease in social conversations, a rise in negative conversations, and low user retention levels. By comparison, a trend has a much longer lifespan and is far more sustainable as a market force than a fad. Trends indicate long-term market influence, an increase in positive social conversations, and a high user retention rate.”

As it relates to design, a fad can turn into a trend. But it’s hard to know when that will happen. And if your goal is to attract a wide range of buyers to your home, it may be best to steer clear of design choices that are too new, too edgy, and, especially, too pricey. “Usually fads are things everyone is talking about,” said Cedar Hill Farmhouse. “They get super hot real fast, and fizzle away just as fast. I think of shag carpet as an example of a fad. And this was an expensive fad! Most people can’t afford to make a mistake on that scale.”

How can you tell between a fad and a trend?

Take the barn door. It started out looking like a fad, merged into a trend, and then became so oversaturated (Try finding a flip or renovation on HGTV that didn’t have one over the last couple of years!) that people became tired of them.

If you’re making changes to your home with the intent of selling, knowing the difference between fads and trends can help inform your design choices.

Paint color

Gray has been the color du’jour for, well, more than a jour. If your home needs a fresh coat before you list it, a neutral is the way to go. You just want to make sure you don’t go overboard.

“Gray floors, gray walls, gray kitchen cabinets! Treating gray as a neutral is something that’s starting to feel predictable, Samira Tapia, a Los Angeles-based Realtor with Compass, told Apartment Therapy.  “I specifically have buyers asking me not to send them any all-gray listings.”

You also want to be careful about going too bold. You may love blood red or a shade of yellow that’s brighter than the sun, but unusual or unpredictable shades may make your home memorable for the wrong reason.


“Thanks to Instagram and Pinterest, busy, bold wallpaper is back in a big way,” said HomeLight. “Online searches for ‘bold print wallpaper’ have increased by 401% in the past year. But here’s the thing about wallpaper, don’t add it to your home. ‘It can add visual clutter,’ Janice Rosenberg, a top performing real estate agent in Raleigh, NC, told them. “Buyers are doing their searches on the Internet, and they’re looking at the photos and when they see wallpaper that they don’t like in their minds, they’re thinking it’s going to cost a lot of money and time to get rid of it.”


If you are replacing your flooring prior to listing your home, think carefully about what to use. Hardwood can actually help you sell your home, and for a higher price than other materials, but you still won’t get every dollar you spend back in most cases. Before you commit to spending thousands of dollars, it’s a good idea to consult your real estate agent. An experienced agent should be able to guide you to the best options for your flooring and then counsel you on the best colors, plank width, and brands of you do choose to add hardwood.

Kitchen finishes

Watch HGTV for more than a few minutes these days and you’re probably going to see some fancy gold or brass finishes in the kitchen, and possibly the bathrooms as well. We’re filing this under “fad,” because, even though this type of finish has grown in popularity, you’re still unlikely to find them in the majority of homes—especially in more suburban areas. If you live in a hip city with a large, design-savvy millennial buyer base, going with the latest finishes could be a good move. For everyone else, sticking to finishes with more widespread appeal is smart.

Kitchen shelving is another important feature to consider. In recent years, open shelving has become quite popular on design shows. But, in real life, it can lack function and create clutter—especially when there is too much of it. “Open shelving looks great when done right, but too many open shelves can look unorganized,” said Family Handyman. “Stick to a couple well-organized open shelves mixed in with cabinets.


Outside of finishes, it’s important to consider the main features of your bathroom. Are you fixing up an outdated space? You might be seeing a number of owners renovating their master bathrooms to include a large walk-in shower, which requires them to ditch the bath. Is this a fad or a trend? Either way, it can be a move that hurts the home’s value.

Consider your potential buyer before making such a drastic change. If there are a lot of young families in the neighborhood and that’s your target buyer, removing the tub in the master bath may end up costing you a sale.


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How Pricing Your Home Right Makes a Big Difference

How Pricing Your Home Right Makes a Big Difference

Even though there’s a big buyer demand for homes in today’s low inventory market, it doesn’t mean you should price your home as high as the sky when you’re ready to sell. Here’s why making sure you price it right is key to driving the best price for the sale.

If you’ve ever watched the show “The Price Is Right,” you know the only way to win the game is to be the one to correctly guess the price of the item up for bid without going over. That means your guess must be just slightly under the retail price.

When it comes to pricing your home, setting it at or slightly below market value will increase the visibility of your listing and drive more buyers your way. This strategy actually increases the number of buyers who will see your home in their search process. Why? When potential buyers look at your listing and see a great price for a fantastic home, they’re probably going to want to take a closer look. This means more buyers are going to be excited about your house, potentially creating a feeding frenzy.

When this happens, you’re more likely to set up a scenario with multiple offers, potential bidding wars, and the ability to drive a higher final sale price. At the end of the day, even when inventory is tight, pricing it right – or pricing it to sell immediately – makes a big difference.

Here’s the other thing: homeowners who make the mistake of overpricing their homes will eventually have to lower the prices anyway after they sit on the market for an extended period of time. This leaves buyers wondering if the price drops were caused by something wrong with these homes when in reality, nothing was wrong, the initial prices were just too high.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your home this year, make sure you contact me so I can help you properly price your home and maximize demand from the start.  Let my 40+ years as a Realtor be the decisive edge that you need. Experience matters!  Expect the Best!  David


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Top 10 Most Expensive Mistakes You’re Making on Your Home

Homes cost a lot of money to maintain. But are you spending extra money unnecessarily on upkeep? Here are the 10 most expensive mistakes you could be making in your home.

1. Using Traditional Light bulbs

If you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, you could be throwing a lot of money away every month on inflated electric bills. Over its life span, an incandescent bulb can use $180 worth of electricity. A CFL will only use $41 worth of electricity over the same time period. Even better is the LED bulb, which only uses $30 per bulb. Think what replacing every light bulb in your home could do to your home’s bottom line.

2. Ignoring a Leaky Faucet

A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, which is enough water to take more than 180 showers. Some of us live in areas where water is plentiful, but for those of us in areas plagued with drought, this could be costing you a fortune. Fix or replace your leaky faucet and save a ton on your water bill.

3. Using the Wrong Air Filter Size

We all sometimes forget to change out the air filters for our HVAC systems or accidentally buy the wrong size. But using the wrong filter or a dirty filter can increase your power bill and cause expensive problems for your furnace down the road. Use the correct filters for your system, and set a reminder to change them after the recommended amount of time. You won’t regret it.

4. Not Customizing Temperature

Invest in a customizable thermostat. If you’re away at the office all day, you can program your heater to shift down a few degrees while you’re gone and then shift back up shortly before you return home. Heating or cooling an empty home wastes a lot of money in energy costs.

5. Not Adjusting Air Vents Properly

Is one room in your home hot, while the others are cold? Oftentimes homeowners will crank up the air conditioning in the whole house to combat hot temperatures in one area. Instead, adjust air vents to direct the flow of air more evenly throughout your entire home. Professionals will come regulate this to ensure that your entire home is receiving the same amount of air conditioning or heating.

6. Over Watering Lawn

Many homeowners have their sprinkler systems programmed to come on in the early morning hours for optimum lawn health. This can become a problem, however, if you’re never around to see what you’re actually watering. A broken sprinkler head could be causing a fountain, or the trajectory of your sprinkler may be directed at a fence instead of your lawn. Periodically run your sprinklers during the day so you can see how they are performing when you’re not around.

7. Water Heater Temperature Set Too High

Unless you have a tankless water heater, your water heater is keeping the water in its tank hot 24/7. If you don’t keep an eye on the temperature as each season changes, you may be paying too much to heat your water. Decrease the temperature in the summer, and bump it back up when winter comes.

8. Leaky Windows and Doors

Leaky windows and doors are great places for cold, winter winds to enter your home. Many homeowners simply ignore them and crank up their heaters. Caulk leaky windows and put rubber seal around doors to keep winter winds out and warmth in.

9. Paying a Handyman

Don’t pay a handyman for a job that is simple enough to do yourself. If you’re unsure of how to do something, look up video tutorials online. Doing simple tasks yourself can save you a lot of money.

10. Ignoring Curled Shingles

It may be easy to ignore problems on your roof, but it will only lead to bigger problems later. If you see any possible issues with your roof, repair them as soon as possible, as this will save you significant costs later.

Use these 10 tips to cut maintenance costs on your home today.


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Speed Along the Real Estate Transaction with a Pre-Listing Home Inspection

Speed Along the Real Estate Transaction with a Pre-Listing Home Inspection

Arguably one of the more significant steps of the home-buying process is the home inspection. Done properly, the home inspection allows buyers to gain a clear understanding of the property they are about to purchase as well as provide sellers the knowledge of what can (or should) be improved at their home.

As the real estate market becomes increasingly competitive and consumer confidence rises, buyers and sellers are more motivated to seek opportunities to close deals efficiently. That’s why real estate professionals often suggest a pre-listing home inspection — an inspection prior to putting the home on the market. Pre-listing inspections provide an added benefit for the buyer, seller and real estate agent, and often allows sales transaction to be completed more quickly.

Here are some key points to remember for your pre-listing inspection:

Involve your Real Estate Agent

When it comes to real estate, agents are pros and they play a key role in moving the home buying transaction along. During a pre-listing inspection, agents know what questions to ask the inspector to be sure they fully understand any issues, and to alleviate client concerns. Good real estate agents take the time to work with their clients post-inspection to go over the inspection report. Their goal is to make sure buyers and sellers fully understand the findings of the inspection report.

Build Trust with the Buyer

For homebuyers, a pre-listing inspection builds confidence. It allows buyers to immediately know all the under-the-surface details within the home. If there are parts of the home that need fixing, the seller’s repairs can increase the asking price or be touted in the listing description to help a home stand out. Where repair issues are identified but not repaired, credibility through disclosure is gained and the issue is factored into the pricing upfront. In each case, sellers who disclose the condition of a home upfront gain the trust and faith in a buyer during the initial stages of their purchasing decision.

Spotlight Your Home

A pre-listing home inspection report is a great marketing tool for sellers and agents because it clearly points out the best features of the property. Any recent home renovations will be noted and stand out to buyers. These updates can offer both aesthetic and mechanical value with items such as new flooring, new appliances or a new furnace or air conditioning unit. A home buyer likes to see updates have been made to the home as they are often costly — and it reassures them the home is properly maintained. This assurance will help to accelerate the transaction.

Planning Can Save Time and Money

For the seller, a pre-listing home inspection allows for time to make repairs before putting the house on the market. They can then make these repairs on their own budget and timeline rather than having to pay for a buyer’s contractor to quickly complete the work.

Remember, the goal of a home inspection is to provide a true reflection of the issues concerning the home and offer a non-alarmist, practical solution. Leveraging the knowledge and experience of professionals ensures important things aren’t missed, reports are received in a timely fashion and all parties are enabled to move the home smoothly and successfully through the real estate transaction.



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Are Colorful Kitchen Appliances the Next Big Trend?

Move over, black, white and stainless steel — appliances in a variety of bright colors are starting to sizzle

White and gray may be holding steady as the most popular colors for kitchens, but I’m noticing a definite uptick in interest in adding touches of more vibrant hues into the mix. One way homeowners are seeking to introduce color is through appliances in unexpected shades, such as magenta, lime green and coral.
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It’s a Whole New Zestimate as Zillow Announces $1 Million Winners – Or Is It?

Is Zillow’s Zestimate about to get better? It depends on how you define “better.” First, some background:

We have written extensively about Zillow’s proprietary home valuation tool, which, according to the company, “is calculated from public and user-submitted data, taking into account special features, location, and market conditions.” Buyers and sellers love to hate the tool—or just plain hate it depending on their circumstances (and their understanding of how far off Zestimates typically are).

Forbes commented last year that, “Online home value estimators are far better than they were a few years ago but they aren’t comparable to value estimates made by professional appraisers. They’re great data points for home sellers to have as long as they realize that online home value estimates are just ballpark estimates.”

Zillow says their current median error rate on pricing accuracy is 4.5%—more in places like Seattle, where Zillow is headquartered and where the error rate is up to 4.7%, “which amounts to $35,000 on the median home,” said the Seattle Times. Still, some remain incredulous. The Balance recently took a look at four real-world sales in central California to draw comparisons with their Zestimate:

• One property in Midtown Sacramento had a Zestimate of $380,733 and “sold at $349,000, after almost 6 months on the market, with plenty of exposure. In this case, the Zillow estimate was about 9 percent too high.”
• The second was a custom waterfront property in Sacramento with a Zestimate of $983,097 that sold for $1,085,000, 10 percent above Zillow’s number. “If the sellers had relied on the Zillow estimate, they would have lost more than $100,000, which is no small change.”
• House No. 3 was near the University of California, Davis. “Zillow valued that home at $1,230,563, but it sold for $1,495,000. That Zestimate was more than 20 percent too low.
• The fourth home, in Elk Grove sold for $565,500, 16 percent more than its Zillow estimate of $488,711.

$1 million on the line

To address discrepancies in home values and improve upon their algorithm, Zillow launched a contest two years ago that attracted data scientists from around the world.
They just announced the winners; Team ChaNJestimate, comprised of Moroccan Chahhou Mohamed, American Jordan Meyer, and Canadian Nima Shahbazi will split the prize money.

But, before you get too excited, consider this: “On average, Zillow said, the Zestimate is $10,000 off the actual sale price for a median-priced home of about $223,900, and the information gleaned from the Zillow prize winnings could shave $1,300 off that discrepancy,” said MarketWatch. “It also moves the Zestimate’s national median error rate below 4%.”

So, if the current Zestimate really is at 4.5%, we’re not looking at a ton of improvement. It begs the questions: Was it worth the million? Will we really get beneath 4%? Would that be an acceptable error rate if we did?


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How High-Tech Paint Gives You a Competitive Edge

More often than not, a remodeling project includes a fresh coat of paint. However, not all paint is created equal, and that can affect your work. “Professionals should be comfortable and confident in making a [paint] recommendation,” says Glenn Cooper, the vice president of product development at Benjamin Moore. Below, he shares how innovations in paint produce better results and provide peace of mind.
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How to Properly Light Your Kitchen Counters

Like a canvas is to an artist, so a countertop is to the home chef. It’s a workspace that requires proper lighting to create a safe, functional and comfortable environment. If you’re remodeling your kitchen or just looking for a quick update, working with your home professional to place lights in the proper location will make your kitchen work better for you while adding beauty to the heart of your home.