Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 23, 2013

Home decor with built-in technology

by KIM COOK Associated Press
Kokomo Tribune

---- — It’s one thing to have a beautiful, comfy bed. But what if it also included a TV screen, game console and dimmable, color-changing lights?

Or say you’ve got just enough room in your apartment for a credenza or speakers, but not both. How about one piece that includes both — and a whole media system?

The integration of technology into home décor has come a long way since clunky TV screens peered out of armoires and media cabinets; today’s super-thin screens can come embedded in the bathroom mirror or attached to the wall like pieces of art.

The “wallpaper” mode on Sharp’s new, high-definition Aquos TV lets you display photos, paintings or other images as wall art when you aren’t watching television. You can set a clock for display times, and the light level is reduced to get rid of glare. (www.sharpusa.com)

Samsung’s four-door fridge has a Wi-Fi enabled screen that you can load with photos, news, calendar, notepad and recipes. (www.samsung.com)

Want to stay on top of the morning news? Seura’s TV screens embed in the bathroom vanity mirror. Robern’s embed in the medicine cabinet. (www.seura.com ; www.robern.com)

TV manufacturers are moving into OLED — organic light emitting diode — technology, which can be linked to computers and other tech devices. It’s thin as a pencil and able to be curved. (www.lg.com)

As for sound systems, Symbol Audio of Nyack, N.Y., has a New Audio Desk that incorporates high-quality speakers into a slim writing desk crafted from maple, walnut, oak or cherry.

Baby boomers may remember the family’s old hi-fi system. While iPhones and iPads can now hold the equivalent of hundreds of Mitch Miller albums, there are still those among us who like the mid-century chic of a retro-styled system. Symbol Audio pays homage to the hi-fi with the Modern Record Console, a walnut cabinet outfitted with a hand-built turntable, amplifier and built-in wireless router.

“The act of removing an album from its sleeve, cleaning and placing it on the turntable is interactive and physical. There is an undeniable charm to vinyl that’s more than just a fascination with the past,” said Blake Tovin, Symbol’s founder. (www.symbolaudio.com)

Designer Chris Cushingham of Brooklyn, N.Y., crafts his own version of the hi-fi console out of walnut and corrugated cardboard. He’ll also make you a custom one using your record player, audio gear and LP collection. (www.cushdesignstudio.com)

Bloomfield, Ct.-based Salamander Designs conceals high-performance loudspeakers in elegant cabinetry. The Chicago model is clad in striated black oak, evoking the prairie grass of the Midwest. There are versions in walnut, American cherry and high-gloss white lacquer. (www.salamanderdesigns.com)

Italian designer Edoardo Carlino’s spacy-looking Hi Can canopy bed incorporates a theater screen, integrated PC and game consoles, and built-in lights to create a self-contained bedroom/playroom. (www.hi-can.com)

Replace ceiling, floor or table lamps with IAV Lightspeaker’s wireless fixtures and run your music through them. You get lighting, surround sound and no expensive wiring to deal with. For rentals and vacation homes, there’s an outdoor version built into a faux rock you could put on a patio. (www.iavlightspeaker.com)

Kohler’s Moxie showerhead has a Bluetooth speaker attachment so you can sync radio or playlists for bathing music. Disengage the speaker and carry it to another room, or the beach. Colors include white, cherry red, navy and chartreuse. (www.uskohler.com)

Ready for entertaining? Just hit “party” on Lutron’s new Homeworks system. It sets the mood of a room with spotlights, dimmable overheads, music and thermostat settings. The company offers customized lighting options for a variety of moods and rooms. (www.lutron.com)

If you’d just like to disguise outlet and vent covers, check out Trufig’s marble, wallpaper, wood or concrete flush-mounted options, which make the connection disappear into the wall. (www.trufig.com)