KITCHENS

Top trends for your kitchen

Here are three top trends from this year’s KBIS kitchen expo.

* Unique backsplashes. The tile backsplash still has plenty of staying power, but the latest trends are upping the wow factor of this kitchen mainstay. From mirrored glass and backlit onyx to decorative sculptures, the kitchen backsplash is becoming the statement piece of any kitchen.

* Design elements everywhere. Designers from one side of KBIS to the other were showcasing lavish kitchens complemented with unique patterns, angles and texture choices.

* Appliances that can do it all. As home chefs have become much more refined, the need for kitchen appliances capable of delivering to these expectations has increased, according to LG. There now even are built-in sous vide ranges.

TIP OF THE WEEK

3 things to look for in your new kitchen sink

Here are three tips to choose the perfect kitchen sink, according to Sterling.

* An apron-front sink offers a sleek way to showcase the beauty of your new addition.

* Other farmhouse sink features, like a deep basin, offer a more functional space for those big cleanup jobs, including oversized pans and grilling grates.

* Look for a material with real staying power as far as looks and durability, like stainless steel.

MAINTENANCE

Tips for protecting your home this season and beyond

While the winter can be a challenge, these steps could ease home maintenance burdens all year-round.

1. Consider new windows: According to Mark Montgomery, vice president of marketing for Ply Gem Windows, “Manufacturers have made significant technology advancements over the years. Thermal performance of windows can now achieve performance well beyond building code and Energy Star levels, significantly increasing energy efficiency.”

2. Seal up any leaks: The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that reducing drafts could save homeowners from 10 to 20 percent on their annual energy costs.

3. Think about adding insulation: Insulated vinyl siding reduces air leakage by providing continuous insulation along the exterior and covering wall studs that are left exposed by traditional wall coverage.

4. Keep your gutters clean: If melting ice is unable to drain due to buildup, it could seep into your home. An effective gutter system can prevent damage throughout the year.

BATHROOMS

Clean your bathroom faster with these tech tools

A recent study by Kohler determined 42 percent of consumers see cleaning the toilet is one of their most disliked chores. If you’re among the naysayers, consider how the following inventions might help:

* Powerful battery-operated rotating brush scrubbers can now do the heavy lifting in scrubbing soap scum off your shower walls, sinks and grout; some even fit onto a normal household drill.

* Sanitize your bathroom floors, counters, tub and shower enclosures without chemicals via one of the efficient handheld steam cleaners now available.

* Dirty floors? The new robots can wet mop or sweep away such grime.