HOM BRIEFS Forget the towels

So how do you jazz up a bathroom? Whimsical pictures? Pretty towels? You're not even close. The latest trend is high-tech equipment, The Wall Street Journal says.

Manufacturers are promoting everything from television screens that float in the mirror to bathtubs that use lights to turn the water the color of your choice.

Interbath Co. sells an electronic shower that remembers water temperature and pressure for each family member. VIOlight markets a $49.95 toothbrush holder that claims to kill germs. And in the future expect to see a bathroom cabinet that reminds you to take pills. Most of these gadgets do not come cheap. The shower runs from $4,500 to $12,000.

Kohler, which makes plumbing products, has introduced a $3,000 "hat box toilet" that runs on electricity. The television mirror can cost $3,000 to $5,000.

Another downside is that architects and contractors are challenged to accommodate all the wires, motors and speakers that come with the new technology.


New way to display your plasma TV

The most challenging thing about new-technology television may be where to put it. Designers are responding by trying new, creative displays of plasma TVs. In this case, the wall was recessed symmetrically around the TV to make a frame, in essence. Above the TV is a leaded-glass transom window for a focal point. Below is a built-in cabinet to house the accompanying audio-visual equipment. Note that the wiring must be buried in the wall from the TV down to the components, so that the clean, free-hanging effect is not ruined by power cords.

Garden footwear

Garden boots, or what the British and the fashion crowd call wellies (named after Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington), have been around since the 19th century, but it took a couple of hundred years for their stylish update and hard-to-miss comeback.

The current craze may have started on the catwalk courtesy of designers Emilio Pucci, Burberry and Marc Jacobs, but the garden set has been in on the gig for decades. Thanks to these luxury brands, though, the boots are now as fashionable as they are functional.

Garden boots are the perfect accessory when planting flowers, washing the car or managing the mud because of their waterproof material and easy cleanup. They're comfortable, too, with cozy cotton lining and soft rubber soles help keep feet warm and cushioned during unpleasant conditions including bad weather and the ever-unpleasant squat when pruning the roses or washing Fido.

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