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”How we tested DIY home automated systems For each new DIY security system, we test in two areas: user experience and ease of installation. These help build a picture of a system's effectiveness and how it affects you. For user experience tests, we see what each system and its companion smartphone app can do. In our experience, the best DIY home security systems have many ways to arm and disarm so you don't always need your smartphone. They also let you use a keypad or key fob to accomplish the same goal. We look at activity feeds and the organization of the mobile app to see what information an app gives you when an alarm goes off and if the alert gives you instant info. The top performers in this test were abode and Scout Alarm, with Nest Secure and SimpliSafe tying for third place. During installation tests, we make sure the manual or mobile app can get you through the setup process without contacting the company. We also look at whether the equipment in each system's starter kit requires additional tools such as screwdrivers and batteries. Finally, we time how long it takes to set up each component. We found Scout Alarm, SimpliSafe and abode easier to set up than most other DIY security systems.

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A fireplace instantly infuses character and charm into any room and gives the space its personality. A formal living room fireplace lets us know it’s a more mature space to relax or retire to on special occasions. The more rustic stacked stone fireplace in the family room calls for everyone to kick back, relax and nestle in for a casual family gathering. The dining room fireplace my personal favorite invites your friends and family to linger around the dining table for evenings filled with great food and even better conversation. If your fireplace is centrally located within a wall and is flanked by windows or bookcases that are the same dimensions on each side, then you’re dealing with a more traditional space and personality – which speaks to a more traditional furniture placement. Pairs are important here.