I. The Little Ticket Items Can Be the Most Fun
The live interaction is one of the show’s best features. Our favorite was Louis who was demonstrating the Sweepa rubber broom with physical contortions and good humor that would have done Steve Martin proud. We would have surfed right by the product if we had seen it on TV but live and in person it spoke to us. We walked away with a pair of Sweepas. We put them to the test at home and they really do work. One unique feature of the handheld brush is the electro static action from the natural rubber bristles. It really works wonders on both errant pet hair and lint. They’re located in the 100/200 aisle to the left of the main entrance, not far from the free Elan frozen yogurt stand.
Here is a close up on the Sweepa’s rubber bristles and you’ll note the handy squeegee blade at the top:
A close second on the small ticket items are the Dryer Magic balls. As we noted in our review of sports performance wear, fabric softeners have a tendency to compromise a shirt’s wicking properties. The synthetic fibers get coated with petroleum derivatives from the softener sheets used in dryers. Enter a non-chemical alternative. DryerMagic balls get thrown in the dryer and the manufacturer claims their kinetic action works as well or better than chemical softeners. We’ll put them to the test and let you know.
II. The Medium Ticket Range: What’s Old is New
A little larger and a little more expensive (that would be $1,200-3,000), are the fold up wall beds. In the old days they were known as Murphy Beds and I haven’t seen one since I was visiting my grandmother in Athens, Georgia. The great feature of these beds is that the single, double or queen size mattress folds up to stand vertically against a room’s sidewall. Folding it up or down is relatively easy due to the spring-loaded mechanisms in the units. With the bed folded up you can use that spare room as an office or den. Then easily convert it into a guest bedroom when friends or family visit. A queen size unit can fold against the wall into a space of about 16-20 inches deep by 62” wide and 86” tall. When folded up the large double doors look like an armoire for one of the Boston Celtics.
Boston Wall Beds and Furniture (booth 626) and Closet Classics (booth 368) are both at the show to provide homeowners with ways to make the most of their space. These units are relatively inexpensive when faced in wood grained laminates and more expensive, but very attractive, in natural wood stained to highlight the wood grain.
If you want to look at how a prosaic building material is morphing into something new and intriguing see Form and Function’s (booth 360) poured concrete forms. The ribbon double sink uses concrete, stainless steel and glass to create a functional showstopper. The concrete counters and tabletops are impressive as well.
III. Big Ticket Iron: If SUVs Are Out Is High Efficiency Heating In?
Last weekend we arrived just before New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi showed up to sign autographs. The line formed quickly and the shorter autograph seekers hiked up on Dad’s shoulders to make sure Tedy was indeed in the house.
He was and fans, unlike opposing quarterbacks, were delighted to get up close and personal with him.
Feeling charged up ourselves we went looking for some big-ticket home goods. Our attention focused on hydronic home heating options: Hot water boilers and radiant heating systems. The rocketing cost of heating fuel is making homeowners look at the efficiencies these options offer. Yet many contractors and heating firms are pushing outmoded heating systems in much the same way domestic car manufacturers were late to the game with fuel-efficient engines.
It’s an opportunity for consumers to take the initiative. We’ll testify that sublimating the urge for high horsepower autos into home heating can be fun. The electronics in a state of the art self-modulating boiler rival the chipsets and multi valves of an elite auto. Impress your macho friends when you extol the virtues of a Viessmann boiler’s titanium heat exchanger. Remember when small roadster convertibles made you rethink what driving was about? Look at a wall-hung boiler the size of a large suitcase and see if some of the same synapses don’t fire.
Want a better fit and finish than fin-tubed baseboard radiators? Check out the sleek designs of Runtal radiators. Its worth a look and this show is the place to talk directly with the experts. We recommend visiting with the folks at RST Inc, New England Hydronic Heating (booth 918 and www.rstreps.com ) for a good overview of the merits of moist heat. Runtal of North America (booth 723) also has some displays of their modern hot water radiators (booth 723). In that same area you can view numerous displays that show more efficient heating technologies are available to soften the blow of soaring heating oil and natural gas prices.
But if you want it all, the SUV’s are here. I stopped in to chat with the GMC big rig rep at the show. Nice fellow and he said no he wasn’t pushing the Denali as a modular house on wheels.
Look he told me, you want to haul away a teak lawn table and super size stainless steel grill you need some cargo space. Point taken. We talked a little more and he did share that he was noticing some difference between Boston and the Midwest. He was in Cleveland with the Home Show last week and on a peak day there were 1600 written inquiries on the SUVs. Detroit iron maintains it magnetic attraction in the heartland.
Here in New England the SUV request forms have topped out around 100-200/day. The laws of conservation predict that interest is going somewhere. The rumor is that some Patriots are heavy into radiant flooring and maybe even solar. Unfortunately Tedy Bruschi got away before we could get a confirmation. Stay tuned as Rainy Day revs up some of the latest heating technology to see how a house can become a lean, mean heating machine. We’ll be exploring these in depth as we launch an in-home test bed renovation project.