Simplicity. Transparency. Honesty.
Skip the gimmicks and get facts, expert opinions, and product tests.
There’s a better way to research products for home — and we’re here to help you find it.
Welcome to Modern Castle.
What We Do
We review the cool and essential stuff you need for home. We research, test, and review the products that are featured on our website.
The Modern Castle team has been testing and reviewing products together since 2014.
It is our goal to publish the most useful, interesting, and beautiful reviews to help our readers discover, research, and select the products that best help them create the home of their dreams.
What products do we test?
Currently, our product reviews include five main categories:
We’re always adding new product reviews and product categories. If you have a specific product you think we should investigate please let us know here.
Who We Are.
I’m Derek Hales, Founder, and Editor-in-Chief around here. After business school and spending 4 years in corporate America, I decided it was time for a change.
So I launched my first consumer education website and hired the best people I know to help me run it, my sister, Kayla, and cousin, Chris.
We take our reviews seriously and do our best to always find ways to improve (both new content and existing reviews). But, we’re not perfect. If you have suggestions or things you think we could do better please send us your feedback.
Meet the Team.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
My name is Derek Hales. I’m responsible for overseeing everything on Modern Castle, making sure our review process is always being improved, and researching new products to test and analyze.
I have a passion for creating extraordinary reviews, videos, and visuals to help my readers find exactly what they need.
Reviewer & Designer
Kayla is my sister and heads up design for Modern Castle. In addition to reviewing products, she also helps to ensure that all of our visuals look beautiful, creating the best possible experience for our readers.
Kayla has a Master’s Degree in Architecture & Product Design, which provides her with a unique perspective on how product design impacts performance.
How We Make Money
Modern Castle is a business. In order to pay for our operational expenses and allow the Modern Castle team to earn a living Modern Castle uses referral links.
When you use our links to purchase a product or service Modern Castle may earn a referral commission.
These referral links don’t cost you anything extra.
They simply tell the respective company that you came from ModernCastle.com. These referral links financially support Modern Castle and also allow us to avoid using intrusive or annoying advertisements.
Our referral links may influence the products we review and write about (in addition to where those products appear on Modern Castle). However, our referral links do not affect our scores or recommendations, which are based on our research, tests, and analysis.
Companies don’t pay us to review their products and they cannot pay us to rank or score them highly.
In addition, we may use ads on some pages and on our YouTube channel, but we make an effort to make them as non-annoying as possible.
How We Review
We research and test products. Then we publish our findings in reviews, comparisons, best of guides, videos, and more.
Our process to sniff out the best products for today’s modern home includes four critical steps:
The majority of the products we test go through this same process. It is in-depth, rigorous, and we try our best to test products the same way they would be used in a home. To do this, we test them at our home testing lab and within our homes for day-to-day use.
#1 Research the category.
Before diving into any product for review, we start with research on what is already on the market. We look at different sources to try and understand essential product information before diving into a test.
- What do companies say is their best product?
- What do other consumers say is the best?
We consider features, specs, usability, maintenance, and other factors to determine which products ultimately come to the Modern Castle for a test drive.
#2 Receive the product.
Once we’ve selected which products are ready for a Modern Castle review, we order the product. We order our products in the exact same way that you would order a product. Go to the website, enter our information, wait for that tan package to arrive at your door.
What about free products?
In some cases, we will accept product samples from a manufacturer or retailer. However, these free samples don’t earn them any extra points. You can see the free products we’ve received down below.
#3 Put it to the test.
The exact details of our Modern Castle tests may vary by product type, but each product is compared across similar testing criteria within each product type. To decide how we test, we think as any consumer would.
What do we look at during testing?
- What was the product designed to do?
- How well does it do that particular job?
- Does it have any other features that help to increase the overall value?
We document the results of each test with real data to show how it performs across the variety of tests we do. The overall product score is based on the results of the tests and product analysis.
#4 The final review.
The final review is written up after the series of tests and analysis are complete. All of our final reviews include a broad-spectrum look at product performance as well as the small details and specifications. Each of these factors can play a roll in whether or not a user chooses to ultimately purchase a product.
We definitely have our opinion on how good a particular product is. However, everyone’s needs and desires are different. We try help arm you with enough information, pros, and cons, to determine if the product can meet your specific requirements.
Sometimes what’s great for one person isn’t so great for another.
Some products that we review go through our pre-test review process. For these products, we complete in-depth research, but don’t personally test the product.
We do pre-test reviews for products that are one or more of the following:
- Not as in high demand from our readers
- Substantially similar to other products we’ve tested
- We feel we could review through research alone
- We want to get some initial thoughts on, but fully test later
To review these products, we rely on manufacturer specifications (and comparing them to similar products and products we’ve tested) as well as looking at third-party reviews and information.
Areas where we notice consistencies in quality, craftsmanship, or design are noted in our final review as potential issues.
How We Score
We take scoring and rating products seriously. We are always striving to improve our scoring processes and methodologies so we can deliver the most accurate and helpful reviews possible.
Our scoring system is a universal system and it applies to all products on Modern Castle. We rate based on 5 factors that we think best capture the essence of a product’s overall performance.
Our 5 Scoring Factors
- Design – how does the design, features, and specs impact overall usability and performance?
- Performance – how well does the product do what it has been designed to do?
- Quality – are the materials, construction, and assembly good? Are there longevity issues?
- Usability – how easy is the product to use?
- Value – how does the product’s design, performance, quality, and usability compare to its price? Is it worth the cost?
Each above factor is worth 20% of the total score.
Our 5 factors are scored on a 100% scale.
- 95-100% (exceptional) – This is the top-tier. Products that score here can be considered exceptional.
- 90-94% (good) – Products that score here can be considered good.
- 85-89% (okay) – Products that score here can be considered okay.
- 80-84% (poor) – Products that score here can be considered poor.
- <80% (failing) – Products that score here can be considered failing.
All scores are color coded (see above) to help make it more immediately clear on their respective performance. The more green, the better they are! The more red, the worse they are.
Updating Our Scores
As we test and score more products we often find that our previous reviews need to be updated.
- Sometimes we test a product and realize it’s way better than a previous product we tested. So we may need to update that old product’s score to maintain a scoring and recommendation system that makes sense across all of the reviews (especially within that category)
- On the other hand, sometimes we test a product and it’s significantly worse than a previous similar product we tested. It may be appropriate to simply give that product a worse score and move on. However, sometimes it makes more sense to update our other reviews and improve their relative score.
In both cases, it’s our objective to update and maintain the scores on all of our reviews so that they are consistent with our opinions on what products are best.
If we do make scoring updates to a page we usually will add a section at the bottom of that page explaining why the score changed, whether it went up / down, and what the original score was.
Scoring Systems Tracker
1.0 Scoring System, August 2018 to Present – During the first 2 weeks of August 2018, we made scoring changes to virtually every product on Modern Castle. We made these changes as part of our 1.0 scoring system roll out. This scoring system replaced our 0.9 legacy scoring system. This scoring system is designed to be more intuitive to understand and offer additional clarity on product performance differences.
0.9 Scoring System, October 2017 to July 2018 – This was our legacy scoring system. It was based on a similar 100% scale, however, the scoring factors varied from product to product. As a result, we found it to be more complex to maintain and more confusing for users.
Referral Links & Relationships
The following table has a list of referral relationships ModernCastle.com has with the companies we review and write about.
In addition, we’ve listed products we received for free.
|Company||Referral Links?||Sent Us Free Products?|
|Airocide||Yes||Yes (sent us Airocide APS200)|
|Amarey||Yes||Yes (sent us Amarey A800 & A900)|
|Arhaus||Yes||Yes (sent us Kipton sofa)|
|Arkii||Yes||Yes (sent us handheld vacuum)|
|BenQ||Yes||Yes (sent us bluetooth speaker)|
|Bestek||Yes||Yes (sent us blender)|
|Black & Decker||Yes||No|
|Buff / Microfiber Wholesale||Yes||No|
|COSORI||Yes||Yes (sent us air fryer)|
|Coredy||Yes||Yes (sent us 2 robot vacuums)|
|Dibea||Yes||Yes (sent us a stick vacuum)|
|Elechomes||Yes||Yes (sent us air purifier & humidifier)|
|EnviroKlenz||Yes||Yes (sent us air purifier, but did require we send it back after our review)|
|Gearbest.com||Yes||Yes (sent us Roidmi F8)|
|GeekBuying.om||Yes||Yes (sent us Xiaowa Lite, Makibes G03)|
|HOBOT||Yes||Yes (sent us HOBOT 198, 298, & Legee 668)|
|iRobot||Yes||Yes (sent us Roomba e5 x 2)|
|iTeknic||Yes||Yes (sent us ear buds & headphones)|
|iTvanilia||Yes||Yes (sent us air purifier)|
|Jimmy||Yes||Yes (sent us JV51 vacuum)|
|Joybird||No||Yes (sent us a sofa)|
|Keepow||Yes||Yes (sent us Dyson dock)|
|Lanmu||Yes||Yes (sent us Dyson dock)|
|Lefant||Yes||Yes (sent us T700)|
|Levoit||Yes||Yes (sent us 1 humidifier and 3 air purifiers)|
|LIFX||Yes||Yes (sent us LIFX Beam Kit x 2)|
|Light N' Easy||Yes||No|
|Meross||Yes||Yes (sent us smart plug)|
|NNEWVANTE||Yes||Yes (sent us a bamboo sofa table)|
|Novete||Yes||Yes (sent us a handheld vacuum)|
|PUPPYOO||Yes||Yes (sent us a stick vacuum)|
|Rabbit Air||Yes||Yes (sent us MinusA2 & BioGS 2.0)|
|Renpho||Yes||Yes (sent us an air purifier)|
|Rejuvenate||Yes||Yes (sent us mop)|
|Roborock||Yes||Yes (sent us S5, S6, E2)|
|Santevia||Yes||Yes (sent us pitcher filter)|
|Siliware||Yes||Yes (sent us a Dyson dock)|
|Tenergy||Yes||Yes (sent us robot vacuum, heater, thermometer, ear buds, air purifier, & kettle)|
|Tineco||Yes||Yes (sent us vacuum)|
|Tuft & Paw||Yes||Yes (sent us cat furniture)|
|Vstarcam||Yes||Yes (sent us a dash cam)|
We periodically update the above table, but we might miss a particular product / company or they may be slated for an upcoming update. If you want to know if we have an affiliate relationship and / or received a free product from any company please email us here.
We participate in a variety of referral link programs. Some programs are with eCommerce platforms (like Amazon), some are through a 3rd party network (like ShareASale), and some are direct with the product manufacturer.
In many cases, there are different referral programs available that sell the same product. We choose our referral links based on a combination of where our audience most wants to purchase a product from and on the commission rate.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Still Have Questions?
If you still have questions on the way Modern Castle operates or want to submit requests for new products to review, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
We are excited and willing to help you find the best products for your home. Let’s get started right away.