Good looks or good sense? home designs that don't make you choose - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Good looks or good sense? home designs that don't make you choose

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(BPT) - Ever purchased a great-looking faucet only to find you can’t easily turn it on with one hand? Or discovered that you can’t stand to sit for more than a few minutes on that new sofa that looked so great in the showroom? If so, you have experienced comfort and practicality sacrificed on the altar of aesthetics.

Increasingly savvy consumers aren’t satisfied with the idea they must choose between practicality and good looks, and their rejection of the notion is fueling one of the hottest new design trends. Smart manufacturers are responding, creating innovations that are driven by how people truly use products, and not just by how those products look.

The marriage of ergonomics and beautiful design has a place in every room of the house. If you are looking to incorporate this sensible trend into your home, here are some ideas to get you started:

Beautiful bathrooms

Many people consider their bathroom a place of relaxation and look for products with timeless styling, superior performance and inclusive design. Water conservation is an increasingly key concern, but it’s important to know that high-efficiency products don’t have to lack aesthetic and functional grace.

TOTO’s Neorest 700H toilet perfectly melds efficient practicality with good looks, underscoring the manufacturer’s commitment to improving people’s lives, which it calls People-First Innovation. A dual-flush system uses just a single gallon of water for a full flush and eight-tenths of a gallon for lighter flushes – making the toilet super-efficient and planet-friendly. The 700H does not skimp on beauty either, with an elegant, clean, simple and timeless appearance inspired by long-view trends in architecture and global design.

Ease of use is vital in a bathroom faucet, leading many people to prefer lever handles over knobs. While levers can often have an industrial look, new options such as TOTO’s Connelly Lavatory Faucet blend the simplicity of a lever with sophisticated design. WaterSense labeled, it consumes a responsible 1.5 gallons per minute without sacrificing performance and is available in polished chrome, polished nickel and brushed nickel. Visit www.totousa.com to learn more.

High-functioning kitchens

The heart of any home, the kitchen is another room that cries out for a perfect blend of attractive style and sensible practicality.

While today’s appliances use sleek style to complement a variety of decorating themes, the emphasis on functionality is apparent in improved energy-efficiency and must-have features like dual cooling systems, full-width pantry drawers, and multiple freezer drawers. Dual cooling systems keep the air in the freezer separate from the air circulating in the refrigerator portion of the unit. Full-width pantry drawers provide ample room for storage of entire deli trays, boxed pizza or oversize platters.

As one of the largest design surfaces in a kitchen, countertops must do double-duty as a design feature and functional workspace. Beautiful countertop options, like granite or solid surface countertops made from a blend of acrylic and polyester, provide durability and enduring beauty.

Livable living rooms

Two ambiance-boosting popular living room features – fireplaces and entertainment systems – have also trended toward efficiency, usability and beauty. For creating an inviting atmosphere, it is hard to beat the appeal of a fireplace. Wood-burning fireplaces are notoriously inefficient and messy, while early gas models were only marginally more efficient and lacked the glow of a natural wood fire. Modern fuel-efficient fireplaces provide the best of both worlds, using a variety of innovations. For example, shallow fire boxes reflect more heat into a room, and EPA-rated fireplaces draw outside air into the fireplace to fuel combustion.

Home entertainment systems that feature big-screen TVs and surround-sound speakers can use a significant amount of energy too. Fortunately, it is possible to put together a more energy-efficient, beautiful system if you choose options like power-sipping LED TVs, energy-efficient speakers or even a system that monitors power usage.

A trend that looks like it’s here to stay, home designs that emphasize usability as much as beauty promise to have timeless appeal.

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