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Home Improvement Guide 2007
First things first
Before launching into any home improvement project you should carefully consider your motivations and goals.
First things first
What's hot: High-tech with soft touch
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Kitchen upgrades
Kitchens have long been the family gathering spot, and home renovations continue to reflect this trend with added features to keep people entertained and content. Televisions and computers -- with waterproof, wireless keyboards -- are being integrated into cabinetry and freezer doors.

Wilson says many homeowners are hoping to achieve a seamless look to their appliances by matching the materials in appliances and cabinetry. "Refrigerators and dishwashers have interchangeable panels that can be used to hide appliances and make them blend into the kitchen," she says. That olive green fridge that used to seem adorably retro? Now it just seems old.

Along those same lines, Phillips says people have shown more interest in integrating appliances that used to sit on the countertop. "People are building things like high-end coffeemakers into the cabinetry," he says. "It's a luxury item that has become more affordable."

Spa baths
Remodelers are eager to bring the spa experience home, says Phillips, and that doesn't just mean enormous tubs. "We're seeing whirlpool tubs with added aromatherapy" components, he says. Speakers are often integrated into designs so homeowners can put on a soothing tune while they soak. Some even go so far as to add mood lights -- large, color-changing LED light panels that cycle through a full spectrum of colors.

Another popular upgrade is a flat-screen television placed behind a two-way mirror; people only see an image when it's turned on.

Upgrading laundry rooms
Once sequestered to the corner of the basement, laundry rooms are moving up -- they're often found on the same level as bedrooms. That's partly because washers and dryers are a lot quieter than in years past, and partly because they're more attractive, too. As a result, homeowners are paying more attention to the looks of these spaces.

Wilson says homeowners are considering a wide array of options to outfit their laundry spaces: "People have hanging racks, folding areas, appliances that let them dry clean their own clothes, and machines that let them steam their own clothes," she says. "It's a much more luxurious space."

Warming trends
The cool, sleek look of modern design is making way for a warmer, more inviting look, says Phillips. "Stark and sterile is out," he says. "We're seeing people who want to have welcoming and comfortable spaces. They don't want to feel like they're in a museum." Golden hues are growing in popularity, and the brightest colors are taking a back seat to more muted, natural colors and tones.

Of course, the key to a great home renovation is making sure it fits your needs -- a souped-up space is only worthwhile if you'll use it.

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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