Coolest home upgrades, from

It’s go big or go home with televisions these days – but when you bring one of these drive-in movie-sized screens home, it can often wreck the design of the room. When a guest walks in, they won’t say, “Wow, what a nice house,” but rather, “Wow, what a big TV you have!”

Well now, you can have it all – a big screen and big style. Designers are increasingly choosing to hide gigantic televisions in the wall and cover them with a mirror or artwork so when they’re not in use, you don’t even know they’re there!

When it’s above the fireplace, it can be a framed mirror or piece of art. In the photo at left, this Samsung 37-inch LCD is mounted in the closet behind the mirror, hidden by a removable panel in the closet.

You probably want a pro to do this – TVs require proper ventilation.


Fountains aren’t new and fire pits aren’t new but put them together – maybe even add some LED lighting – and shazam! Welcome to the future.

A water feature with fire shooting out of the middle can instantly remind you of that Hawaiian vacation (maybe pump some hula music into the outdoor speakers) or just ensure that you not only keep up with the Joneses but knock their socks off when they come over for a barbeque.

They can be rectangular trough-like structures with broken glass in the middle where the fire shoots out, or circular like this one in the picture at left. They can be freestanding, attached to a pool or create a big ridge of fire in a stoned wall. Have a seat because you can control it all by remote control!


No, we’re not talking about the kind you put next to the pool so the kids can wash off the sand, dirt or chlorine.

These are luxurious showers, usually off of the master bath, made of high-end stone and other natural materials, with lush foliage that create your own personal Eden.

You’ll already find this type of outdoor shower in resorts in Bali, Fiji and the Caribbean, but now, homeowners are bringing the resort home.

“It’s a very sexy thing,” said Walid Wahab, president of Wahab Construction in south Florida. “It’s your private shower — you can get completely naked and take a shower outside in your private garden.”

Wahab said the construction is getting very creative – things like a shower head coming out of a tree.


Japan’s super high-tech toilets have spawned an international craze – not only do tourists visit them as a destination when they’re in Japan but many people want to bring them back home.

Toto is one of the companies that’s tried to get out front of that, offering products like the WashletS400 that has auto flushing, automatic lid closing (that will end many a family battle!), a bidet and a warm-air dryer. But wait, don’t answer yet – you also get a wall-mounted control panel and remote.

Some models even feature seat warmers and in-bowl lighting, which says, “Yeah, that’s just how I roll.”


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