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What are furniture and interior designers up to and what can you expect to see in stores a few months from now? That's what we set out to find. This week: Fridges with built-in TVs, drapes for the Sex and the City fan and top-shelf tilies.

More than ever, kitchens are the gathering place of American homes, so now manufacturers are designing televisions and computers especially for that room.

New LG Fridge

Sharp Electronics says nearly 70% of buyers of its 13-inch flat-panel Aquos TV put them in the kitchen; about a third hang them under a cabinet where they can be folded up out of sight. The TVs, $699 with the matching hanging bracket, are popular because they're sleek-looking space-savers.

"They were designed with home d©cor in mind," says Tony Favia of Sharp.

But for a real space-saver, there's the TV Refrigerator by LG Electronics, coming in May, which has a cable-ready television on the door. Only $3,000. Or you can spend $8,000 and get the company's Internet Refrigerator. Samsung also has an Internet fridge for the same high price.

But maybe the solution is a super-duper combo, such as the Icebox, which mounts under a cabinet and includes a computer, television, DVD and CD players. It can do such things as control the garage door. Thousands have been sold, at $2,300 each.

"The kitchen is a multitasking environment," where people download recipes while their kids play computer games, says Russ Whitman of Icebox. "Instead of leaving the kitchen and booting up the computer, you can do it all right there."

If the shoe fits...

Women do love their shoes, but do they really want them on their drapes? Apparently, yes, says Andrew Martin, the high-end fabric house with stores in London and New York.

In homage to the just-ended, shoe-obsessed Sex and the City, the firm created a new fabric patterned with sexy, strappy high-heeled shoes and intended for pillows, drapes and upholstery.

"It's a lot of fun," and it's high-stepping fast off the shelves, especially after Traditional Home spotlighted it in the March issue, says Chris Aliverto, manager of the New York showroom.

The "Footloose" fabric, which comes in pink, blue and beige, is a big step up from the usual kitschy shoe stuff, especially in price: It sells for $99 a yard. Still, if you cover an 18-inch-square pillow, that would cost ... well, a lot less than a pair of Manolo Blahniks.

Jewel-like glass tile makes 'pretty glamorous' splash

Mankind has been making glass for about 5,500 years, so its use in the home is hardly new. What is new is glass tile in bathrooms and kitchens in place of ceramic tile, adding new possibilities for color and cutting-edge design.

"It can be pretty glamorous," says Tom Meehan, owner of Cape Cod Tileworks and author of a recent how-to-install article in Fine Homebuilding magazine. He says his glass-tile sales have doubled every year in recent years. "A lot of high-end homes are doing it."

People like glass tiles for "their beauty, the gemlike qualities that add sparkle and excitement," says John Marckx of Oceanside Glasstile in San Diego county, the largest producer of handmade glass tiles.

Glass tile isn't fragile, but it does require special installation. And it's pricey, from $16 a square foot up to $100 per square foot.

But "if you're spending $5,000 to $10,000 on a bathroom, adding glass liners to a backsplash is not going to hurt your budget," Marckx says.

From USA Today

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