There are many exciting options for smartening up your home: plasma TVs, "invisible" speakers, security cameras that plug into the Internet and touchscreens that operate everything including the kitchen sink are just a few of the cool products that can easily capture a homeowner's fancy. But the key is to select items that will suit your lifestyle and fit into your family's routines. Remember, as long as the electronics you choose enhance the comfort, convenience and enjoyment of your home, you can't go wrong.
THE MASTER BATHROOM
Lighting, music, video and soft lighting are luxuries your bathroom deserves. Today, a bubble bath is not the only form of relaxation you can pursue in your master bathroom. 'Invisible' music systems, flat-screen TVs, electronically controlled showers, whirlpool tubs, and elegant, restful lighting can turn the bathroom into a luxurious, spa-like retreat. You can watch TV while you soak or listen to the news as you brush your teeth.
And don't worry about exposing electronic amenities such as these to water. Almost every manufacturer offers a line of products that are completely safe to use in the bathroom.
Singing near the drain
Most people have sung in the shower. It's no wonder speakers have become such a popular bathroom amenity. The best place to put your bathroom speakers is either in the ceiling or in the wall. Most manufacturers make models that can withstand the humidity of a steaming bathroom, and some even offer ones that can be mounted within the tiles of a typical shower stall. The CD player, radio tuner and other audio equipment should stay right in the family room where they belong. A music distribution system can feed the tunes directly to the bathroom speakers. If you'd like to be able to control the music from the bathroom, be sure to have a keypad installed. Have your installer mount the keypad near the entrance to the room so that you can kick-start the music the second you walk in.
Spa baths have become entertainment wonderlands, fitted with speakers, big-screen TVs and coloured lights. Many now come with built-in controls or a waterproof handheld remote.
When your bathroom is outfitted with a high-tech bathtub and shower, you might never want to leave the space. In the morning, however, most people simply don't have the time for a good, long soak. If haste is important to your morning ritual, a TV near the mirror, good lighting and a telephone can all be helpful tools.
A flat-panel TV is a smart choice because it takes up absolutely no counter space. Ask your installer to mount it to a wall where you can easily see it, so that you can catch the weather and news whilst shaving or applying make-up. You might even consider placing the TV behind the mirror. The mirror must be made of two-way glass for this option to work. When you turn on the TV (a standard remote control works), the image appears through the glass. When it's off, all you see is the mirror. Be sure to place speakers in the ceiling above the mirror, so that you can clearly hear the TV.
Good lighting is critical in any master bathroom. You might prefer how your bathroom looks when the lights are dim, but getting ready for work in this light might be cause for regret later on in the day.
A lighting control system can help you achieve any look you want, including something that suits your entertainment systems and is also that's practical for grooming needs.
For a space with tile or marble flooring, installing a radiant floor-heating system is a classy and comfortable touch. With the floors exposed during construction, you'll have the liberty of laying down any type of under-floor heating system you like.
As you dry off, you can use the bathroom telephone to call the office or wake up the rest of the family. A multi-line, multi-extension telephone system lets every telephone in the house function like an intercom. Plus, if an incoming telephone line is being used by someone in your household, you can use the bathroom telephone to select an open line so you can make those important business calls before you leave for work.
Trip to the Loo
One of the worst things about visiting the bathroom in the middle of the night is being blinded by bright lights. Using a dimmer switch instead of a toggle switch is one way to bring the lights down to an eye-friendly level. Unfortunately, when you're half asleep, using a dimmer can be downright difficult. It's so much easier to press a button as you stumble into the bathroom that brightens just a few of the lights to help you find your way to the sink or toilet. Specify back-lit buttons on the keypad so you can read them in the dark.