Set It & Forget It: The Latest in Smart Home Technology

From the shiny sedan that uses cameras and sensors to keep you safe on the road to the connected home that allows you to control the lights and thermostat via an app, technology has positively impacted numerous aspects of daily life. Home security has likewise improved, and now that smart tech starts at the front door. Here’s how Schlage® is making security easier and more convenient than ever with a streamlined collection of smart locks.


Schlage Sense™ Smart Deadbolt

Home security smart lock Schlage SmartSense Connected Deadbolt Aged Bronze
The Schlage Sense™ Smart Deadbolt makes daily life easier and more convenient. Enter an access code on the touchscreen to unlock the door instead of searching your pockets for keys. Share access with trusted friends and family with just a few taps — no more keeping track of spare keys. The battery-operated lock is easy to install: all you need is a screwdriver and just 30 minutes. No hardwiring is required, so the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt can still accept access codes on the touchscreen even during a power outage. Plus, a built-in alarm technology senses potential door attacks. And when new features are introduced, there’s no need to buy a new lock—simply update it through the Schlage Sense app.

For a fully-connected experience, add the Schlage Sense Wi-Fi Adapter to your home and you can lock and unlock your Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt from anywhere. Just use the free Schlage Sense app, which is compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones. Pairing the lock with your smartphone over Bluetooth® is as easy as pairing your phone with your car, and the free Schlage Sense app makes setting up and using the lock as simple as checking email.

The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt works with Apple Home Kit, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.



Schlage Connect™ Touchscreen

Pair the Schlage Connect™ Touchscreen deadbolt with your home automation or alarm system and stay connected from anywhere. The Schlage Connect Touchscreen deadbolt with alarm functionality is easily customized to fit your security needs.

Choose from one of three alerts:

  • Activity alert: Remote notification to know when someone goes in or out.
  • Tamper alert: Safeguard an entry door to prevent lock tampering with notifications of when the door knob/lever is being disturbed.
  • Forced entry alert: Hear instant notification when significant force pushes against the door, to protect against break-ins.

Schlage Connect features an anti-pick shield that protects against lock tampering, and the strong motorized bolt locks and unlocks automatically when a user code is entered. With a 30-user code capacity, family and close friends, your pet sitter, repairman or housekeeper can have their own customized code, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing who has access to your home.

The Schlage Connect Touchscreen deadbolt works with Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Iris by Lowe’s®, Nexia™ and Amazon Alexa.


Schlage® Connected Keypads

If you’re interested in dipping your toes into the smart lock waters, Schlage’s connected keypads are a great place to begin. The connected keypad employs Z-Wave®, a wireless technology that allows you to control the keypad deadbolt lock from anywhere using your smartphone. Connected keypads allow you to store up to 19 access codes, so everyone who needs access to your home can have their own — no more hidden spare keys! The easy-to-install connected keypad will fit in seamlessly with your current smart home system, but you can also use your phone to control your door while you’re away.

The Schlage Connected Keypad is compatible with Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Iris by Lowe’s®, Nexia™ and Amazon Alexa.

Whether you’re looking for steel, fiberglass or custom wood, JELD-WEN exterior doors are secure and stylish.

Vacation Home Updates

As the popularity of vacation rentals continues to rise — Airbnb boasts more than 24,000 listings in the United States alone — people are investing in their own home away from home. And because you can’t stay at your getaway all year long, renting that beach house, ski slope-adjacent condo, or quiet mountaintop cabin is a logical, economical choice for many vacation-home owners.



Grand Opening, Grand Closing

Whether it’s your first season or your 20th, a well-maintained vacation home shouldn’t take more than a day to get in shape, assuming no major repairs are needed. Home Logic offers a great checklist to guide you through opening and closing your home.

If your rental is convenient to your residence, maintenance will be less of an issue. Likewise for performing host duties for guests. But if your property is too far away, hiring a caretaker whom you trust will be essential. The Vacation Rental Management Association offers a seemingly endless supply of resources for property managers and owners alike, from industry trends to business best practices, and is the perfect place to begin your search for a caretaker to manage your property.

Second only to location, amenities can make or break a vacation rental’s comfort and, therefore, its popularity. Here are a few must-haves that will make your cozy condo rival that four-star resort at the other end of the beach.


Kitchen + Utility

Since you likely won’t be offering room service to guests, a kitchen or kitchenette stocked with the essentials will make their stay a bit more homey. Here are seven must-haves for a great little kitchen.


(Clockwise from top left) Mix and match thrift shop dishware finds, or stock up on a set or two when you see them on sale. Choose shatterproof melamine or Corelle® and eliminate worry about broken dishes. Stock up on cooking essentials such as a good set of pots and pans, utensils, spices and other dry ingredients. A high-tech countertop microwave is a do-it-all requirement, especially if other kitchen resources are limited. A stacking washer and dryer set is great for guests and even better for you. Basic utility items such as a broom, dust bin, trash bags and cleaning supplies (include everything you would want on-hand when you reset the home between guests). Set up a coffee and tea bar with a simple Keurig® and all the usual accoutrements. Space-saving seating like a dinette set with benches or a built-in banquette is a perfect multi-use addition.


Living Room

Imagine you’ve just arrived at your beachside bungalow. The forecast was great … until it wasn’t! There’s always the possibility that foul weather will keep your guests stuck inside for a day. A well-appointed living room is an ideal way to save the day.


Begin with comfy furniture such as a space-maximizing sectional or sleeper sofa in a durable, easy-to-clean fabric. Add ample lighting with lamps and overhead fixtures, and complete your seating area with a sizable coffee table or side tables. Entertainment options are more affordable than ever; a connected entertainment hub is a priceless amenity for guests, bad weather or not. Start with strong Wi-Fi and a charging station for phones and other devices (bonus points for supplying extra cords). Add a flat-screen TV with entertainment apps like Netflix or an Apple TV, a PlayStation® that doubles as a DVD player, and maybe even an old-school Nintendo®! And for a little analog entertainment, stock a bookcase with games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Connect Four, as well as a few card games. And, of course, no well-stocked bookcase is complete without books.


Bedroom & Bathroom

When it comes to the guest bed and bath, consider one word: Overstocked. Whether guests are staying a couple of days or a couple of weeks, having a linen closet that rivals a small Bed, Bath & Beyond is certain to make life easier. Be sure to have at least one extra set of sheets for each bed in the home, as well as a few bonus blankets and pillows. In the bath, provide plenty of hand towels and washcloths, and have two bath towels per guest per day on hand. If storage is limited, make sure guests know how to contact you in advance for additional linens.

For additional amenities, take a cue from the best hotel you’ve ever stayed in. An empty closet stocked with hangers, an iron and ironing board, and a luggage rack make the packing and unpacking part of the trip so much easier. Offer travel-size sets of toiletry must-haves like soap, lotion, facial cleanser, shampoo and conditioner.

Renovation Project Transforms Warehouse Into Family Dream Home (Part 2)

Home renovation and remodeling projects can be difficult in general, but the results are almost always worth the struggle. The Our Little Warehome renovation project was definitely on another level in terms of both process and results.

For those of you who followed along with the Branch family, you will recall the incredible transformation that happened during the renovation series. (For those of you who have not yet watched the series or read our previous blog on it, go check it out. We promise you this project is nothing short of amazing.)

You will also recall the sometimes daunting, always exciting construction process the family went through to build their beautiful downtown home from a broken-down warehouse. The Branches’ creativity and vision when it came to this project has been extremely inspirational. But of course, there was a lot of thought and decision-making going on behind the scenes of the remodel, so we sat down with Allan Branch to hear his insights on what this renovation experience was like for him and his family.

Here’s a reminder of the absolutely unbelievable transformation that unfolded by the end of the series.

What was your favorite part of the project?

The planning stage was really great. There was so much initial excitement from Anna, myself, and the kids: it was all dreams and ideas. Also, releasing the videos has been a lot of fun, but I’d have to say my favorite part of the project was definitely moving into the project at the end!

What was the hardest part that left you really boggled?

The hardest part definitely came with finishing the project. In the beginning, there were these big tasks like demolition, but as the project got closer to being finished there were so many little details that had to be handled. There were like 5,000 tiny details to handle. It got pretty overwhelming in the end.

There were also so many decisions to be made as we got closer to finishing the project, and there were so many things to choose from. For example, even when we had decided on our JELD-WEN Custom Wood windows, there were so many stain and treatment options. It was awesome to have those choices, but it also got very overwhelming since we had so many decisions to make.

What was the greatest lesson you learned?

Nothing is as good or bad as it seems, and that is just a great life lesson in general. There are things that would happen, like a tradesman didn’t show up, or something like that, and in the moment it’s stressful, but then you begin to realize that these things are not a big deal in the grand scheme of your life. Separating yourself from the stress, and realizing it is not as important as it may seem in the moment. I think I am better at handling stress now, haha.

What advice would you give someone who is ready to do something like this or embark on a new home project?

You are the author of your life story. I feel like I am driving my life forward through projects and things like this, and I would encourage people to embark on adventure. Whether it is building a new home or renovating your current home, just go for it with reckless abandon.

Looking forward, what’s your next project? (Because we know you have one!)

My wife and I have purchased five buildings in our downtown, and we are going to open at least one brewery in the next two years. We are currently filing paperwork to get permits. We are also building apartments and want to incubate small businesses in our downtown. My background is in software, and I wouldn’t say I am leaving software but certainly “branching out” (pun intended) into real estate. So now, we are going to learn about running a brewery and making it profitable. It’s all very fun and exciting.

What made you decide to remodel an old warehouse, rather than just purchasing an empty lot of land or existing home?

When I found this building on the MLS—which is where the real estate agents post listings—I thought it was typical stick and board construction. But then I saw it was brick on the inside, which really excited me. There were some things I just really loved about the building: I love that it is a weird shape, and I love that it is brick. There is a certain charm of an old building, and I think this building fit our style as a family more than other homes we had seen.

The beautiful thing about buying historic buildings in downtowns is that you become a part of the story of the building. This original building here was first a church in the early 1900s, then it was a school. After that, they took that building up and Ford Motor Company bought the land and turned it into an auto garage. After that, it became a piano repair place, then a storage space for an appliance store across the street, and now it is our home. Maybe one day people will add us to the story of this building. I think that is really beautiful, being able to be a part of the story. That is something I didn’t realize until about a year ago, and now I am hoping that one day someone will be telling our story.

What were some design elements that were important to you as you created the house?

We wanted this building to look like it had been here for a long time. Every design element we picked, we kept that in mind.

We didn’t want a new-looking set of windows on an old building. The wonderful thing about the JELD-WEN windows we picked is their wood casings, which you really don’t see that often. And they also have this beautiful copper on the outside. Copper is just such a timeless material that you also don’t see much in residential. So I really feel like these windows are throwbacks to a different time, and although they kind of feel old, they have this new technology, which is really amazing.

We wanted to make sure we kept a historic charm to the house. We wanted to refresh it, but we didn’t want to throw a modern building on top of a historic building. People will walk in and be like, “Well, what did you guys add?” It’s like, everything! But we wanted the space to feel like we didn’t have to do much to it, like it had been here for 50 or 100 years when in reality everything was pretty much new besides the brick.

What were some unexpected experiences that came from this project?

I know a lot more about home construction now. I also learned a lot about how to manage because this was a very quick project, we did it in around 10 months, and usually a project like this would have taken around two to three years. But because of the video project aspect, we pushed everyone and were scheduling everyone really quickly. I think I would be able to help a general contractor manage a project now, and I can definitely handle stress a lot better now.

Despite the project being overall a pretty predictable process, there were definitely some unexpected surprises we found while building. However, when it came to this stuff we learned to just roll with the punches. There are lots of little things in an old, historic building like that that you run into. For example, we found a 5,000-pound car jack in the floor that we needed a crane to pull out. We ended up having to cut a part of the roof out for the crane to get into the building.

How was it working as a family team on this home? Do you feel it brought you all closer together?

My kids are 11 and 9, and are home-schooled, so we have always been super close to them. I want my kids to have a unique childhood and be ready for anything as an adult. I think even as children they experienced some of the stress from the video project, and they watched as Anna and I handled the stress and worked together as a team.

I do want my children to be entrepreneurial and learn from their experiences. And that’s how I grew up, doing odd stuff with my parents and their businesses. I want my children to have that odd life. As homeschoolers we are not looking for a better education, but rather a different education for our children—and that is experiences, and doing things like maybe even shooting a show. So as a family I think it was a huge success, because it gave them opportunity to see how to handle stress and try new ideas.

Cool to the Touch: Light-Colored Exterior Door Inspiration

Keep your entryway climate under control with a smart combination of door materials and paint colors

Baby, it’s hot outside. You’ve likely checked most of the boxes on the to-do list of keeping your home cool and comfortable on the inside: Energy-efficient windows, as well as blinds and window coverings; a well-maintained air conditioning system and duct work; and if you’re lucky, a few well-placed trees that impart plenty of shade. And while your doors aren’t left open to “air condition the neighborhood,” you might be surprised how much your exterior doors can impact the inside of your home.


According to the US Department of Energy, dark, dull colors can absorb 70 to 90 percent of the sun’s radiant energy, which can then be transferred into the home (and can also affect how quickly the door’s exterior weathers). Alternately, light-colored paint can help reflect the sun’s heat away from the home. But homeowners need not be resistant to light-colored exterior doors—because “light” doesn’t have to translate to “white.”


The kind of door can also have an impact on whether guests will be greeted by an overheated entryway. Wood doors are beautiful and will keep the inside of your home cool, but their material and finish are susceptible to the elements and do best with plenty of coverage. For best results, always pair a wood exterior door with a significant overhang. This protects the door and its finish, adds cooling shade, and helps keep inclement weather outside the home.


Fiberglass doors are built to consistently withstand the rigors of any climate—hot or cold, wet or dry. Shown here, a Smooth-Pro™ Fiberglass Craftsman door from the Statement™ Collection is prefinished in Stone and features a direct glaze insert. Fiberglass doors are also available stained or primed and ready to paint.


Steel offers strength and durability and is a good choice for most climates. While a steel door can become hot to the touch—as a general rule of thumb, you should be able to comfortably place your hand on the door for 30 seconds—choosing a light-colored  exterior door finish will help reflect the sun’s light and slow down the buildup of heat. JELD-WEN® steel doors are available prefinished or primed and ready to paint.

Pick a Paint

Choosing the right paint is essential to a beautiful, long-lasting, light-colored exterior door. More brands are developing paints specially formulated for front doors that are quick drying and protect against the elements.

Sherwin-Williams has two offerings, SnapDry™ and SuperPaint®. SnapDry™ Semi-Gloss Door and Trim Paint dries in as little as one hour, and a door can be closed without sticking. SnapDry™ is resistant to dirt and fingerprints, UV and weathering. SuperPaint® Exterior Acrylic Latex promises to deliver outstanding performance and protection against the elements. The formula goes on smooth, resists fading and peeling, and is dirt- and mildew-resistant. And thanks to its advanced acrylic resin technology, you’ll enjoy outstanding adhesion and color retention.

From Benjamin Moore, the Aura® Grand Entrance® line offers excellent color retention and is available in any color, in either a high gloss or satin finish. Behr’s Premium Plus Ultra is an exterior satin enamel that imparts a pearl-like finish, and Clark + Kensington’s exterior Paint + Primer in One is ready for a second coat in just one to two hours.


There’s a JELD-WEN exterior door for every home style—start here for inspiration.

What’s Cooking in the High-Tech Kitchen?

From hands-free faucets to WiFi-enabled refrigerators, the latest technology has upped the ante when it comes to the high-tech kitchen. Ahead, some of the most innovative appliances that do everything from letting you watch your soufflé bake from the inside of the oven to watching a how-to recipe video while you try your hand at crafting the perfect béarnaise sauce.


Building upon the innovation of the Family Hub refrigerator, Samsung’s Chef Collection brings thoughtful technology to a pro-level suite of built-in cooktops, ranges, wall ovens, hoods, dishwashers and refrigerators. The Chef Collection line brings many innovative features to the built-in category, including View Inside cameras, which lets users see inside their refrigerator from anywhere, and induction cooktops with Virtual Flame technology, which gives the visual of gas cooking. Bluetooth capabilities allow the ventilation hoods to adjust fan settings based on the amount of heat coming from the cooktop below. WiFi connectivity gives the home chef seamless control and monitoring of the cooking process via smartphone.


Energy efficient and easy to install, the Eco-Lucent LED lighting system from Federal Brace has color-changing lights that are perfect for under-cabinet task lighting. The system consists of an aluminum channel that houses the LED light strip with a frosted cover, and is easily installed with 3M strips. An infrared remote provides complete control over the system, from selecting the colors—there are 16 to choose from—to adjusting the light variations.


Kohler’s Sensate touchless faucet offers a hands-free experience for a cleaner, more hygienic kitchen environment. Sensate’s intuitive Response® technology is ready to follow your move: a wave of a hand—or an object such as a pan or utensil—turns it on or off. The Sweep® spray creates a wide, strong blade of water for superior cleaning, while Kohler’s new docking system, DockNetik, secures the pull-down spray head to the spout magnetically.


Interactivity and sharing life’s moments are just two uncommon advantages of GE’s over-the-range kitchen hub. This 27-inch smart screen can communicate with other connected appliances including GE-brand washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, wall ovens and, of course, ranges. Scheduled for release later this year, the kitchen hub will feature live video chat functionality with multiple camera angles, a cooktop-facing camera and ample task lighting (hello, amazing Instagram photos), access to family calendars and schedules, and endless recipes and cooking resources. Over-the-air updates keep the kitchen hub current and in tune with the latest features.


Hey, June! The world’s only intelligent convection oven, June boasts Adaptive Cook Presets, an internal camera and Food ID technology that promise to cook your food perfectly every time. With the ability to convection bake, broil, roast, slow cook, toast, air fry, dehydrate, keep warm and reheat, June can cook anything. And with June’s mobile app, you can control your oven from anywhere, watch your food being cooked and be notified when your meal is ready. The app also features easy to follow, step-by-step video recipes.

Safety First: Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

The Atlantic hurricane season is here, officially open for business from June 1 to November 30. And according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center, this season is expected to be near or above normal. Despite the sheer power of hurricanes, you don’t have to feel vulnerable during the season, or year-round. Arm yourself with some basic information and a solid plan before the possibility of a hurricane arises in your area.

Satellite Image of 2017 Hurricanes Katia, Maria and JoseHurricanes Katia, Irma and Jose. September 2017. Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens and Jesse Allen, using VIIRS day-night band data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership and Terra MODIS data from the Land Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE)

Hurricanes, sometimes referred to as tropical cyclones, are massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes. The strength of a hurricane is based upon its maximum sustained winds.

Tropical Depression: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 38 mph or less.

Tropical Storm: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph.

Hurricane: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher.

Major Hurricane: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 111 mph or higher, corresponding to a Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

The aftermath of Hurricane Camille. Biloxi, Mississippi, August 17, 1969. Camille was one of only three Category 5 hurricanes to ever make landfall in the United States. Image credit: NOAA.

Know the difference between a hurricane “watch” and “warning.” According to the National Weather Service, a hurricane watch means that there’s no hurricane yet, but weather conditions could cause one. Experts will announce a hurricane watch 48 hours before they think dangerous winds will begin. A hurricane warning is more serious. It means a hurricane has already started or is just about to start. For a deep dive into more specific advisories, watches and warnings, or to learn more about hurricane season in general, check out the National Weather Service’s Hurricane Center.

Aerial image of New Orleans' Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area, causing levies to break and flood some of the city's poorest neighborhoods.Aerial image of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area, causing levies to break and flood some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Image credit: NOAA

Even if there’s no imminent risk of a hurricane, there are steps you can take now to ensure you, your family and your home stay safe. Visit for up-to-date information, checklists and downloadable resources, like this 12-page FEMA eBook, How to Prepare for a Hurricane.

Originally built in the mid 1800s, the New Canal Lighthouse in New Orleans was heavily damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. As part of JELD-WEN’s Reliable Lighthouse Restoration Initiative, the lighthouse was outfitted with aluminum-clad Custom™ Wood windows made with superior rot-resistant AuraLast® Wood and ImpactGard™ glass.

Doors and windows are the most vulnerable area of a home during a hurricane, particularly the glass. Just one broken window can affect a home’s structural integrity. Windows and patio doors with ImpactGard® protection are designed to resist impacts so even if the glass cracks, the fragments will adhere to the interlayer, ensuring the shards remain within the frame. ImpactGard® protection also meets the nation’s toughest building codes. These codes specify that windows must withstand a nine-pound 2×4 traveling at 50 feet per second (34 miles per hour).

JELD-WEN put ImpactGard™ glass to the ultimate test as part of the Reliable Lighthouse Restoration Initiative. Since 2005, JELD-WEN has provided windows outfitted with AuraLast® Wood and energy-efficient or impact-rated glass to lighthouse restoration projects. The Custom™ Wood windows and custom-designed wood or fiberglass doors are designed to preserve each lighthouse’s historic aesthetic. The combination of AuraLast® Wood and ImpactGard™ glass can help ensure that windows in coastal settings will not only look good, but will also stand up to harsh climates. Now that’s what we call peace of mind year-round, not just hurricane season.