Sometimes we get our hands on a product that turns out to be more fun than we could have ever imagined. Such is the case with the iChime ($90). This customizable doorbell can be set to play any of the 50 or so included songs/sounds (everything from holiday music to a dog barking) or one of 6 custom recordings that you can change anytime. You can add custom sounds/songs with the built-in microphone or use the audio input jack to connect your iPod or PC. It's an easy two-wire replacement of your existing doorbell, and works with lighted and non-lighted buttons. You can also order an auxiliary speaker ($25) to hook up outside your door so guests can clearly hear your custom doorbell. The first two custom choices loaded onto our iChime? "The Imperial March" and "We'll do it live!"
Brighten up your dwelling and save some energy at the same time with Solatube ($TBD). Like a skylight you can use anywhere, the Solatube system captures the sun's natural light and sends it down a highly reflective tube into your living area. Since it draws no power, it also helps lower your energy costs, making your home more eco-friendly. The perfect way to celebrate Earth Day.
Thinking of building a yourself an outdoor man room or office? Skip the normal, bland pre-fab game and check out the Kithaus K3 (starts at $29,500). This modern building uses a proprietary clamping system to make installation quick, easy, and virtually waste-free. All of the lightweight, anodized aluminum pieces are pre-cut and drilled in Southern California and shipped to you for on-site assembly, which takes only a few days. As a bonus, the Kithaus is built with eco-friendly materials, and you can order one complete with decks, canopies, and louvers for under $45,000; solar and furnished packages are also available. It's the ultimate adult treehouse.
If you're searching for a more unique base for your outdoor walkway than the average masonry at your local Home Depot, look no further than these Gameboy Bricks ($46/each). These bricks are made from original, brick-like Gameboy units, giving your front or backyard retro gaming cred that can only come from merging centuries-old building techniques with decade-old tech. Tetris not included. [via]
Looking for a tasteful mat that can withstand serious punishment? Look no further than the Chilewich Bound Mat ($375-$600). The Sandy Chilewich-designed floor coverings are made from her company's pliant, proprietary vinyl called plynyl, which allows the mats to be soft, washable and stain resistant, impervious to spills and suitable to virtually any space.
Meet the Roomba for your grass. The Husqvarna Automower ($TBA) is an automatic, battery-powered mower that can take care of your lawn all by itself, using hidden wires to stay on track. The 19-pound mower is also relatively quiet, operating at 63 dB, compared to 95-100 dB gas mowers, and since it runs on batteries, it generates zero emissions. An eco-friendly robotic lawnmower? We're in.
Bring some nautical flair to your modern decor with this Stelton Ship's Lamp ($600). The 17-inch lamp features a one-liter reservoir that can hold enough oil for 18 hours of light, an adjustable shade and wick for various lighting effects, and smokeless and odorless oils that make this an item that can provide light indoors or out.
Bring some plant life into your home, 50's-style with the Bullet Planter ($155-$165). While the origins of this terrific retro design are unclear, the compression-molded fiberglass planters look great, and work just as well holding ice and drinks as they do holding dirt and plants.
It started with a simple problem: the sun moves, but umbrellas don't. The Tucci Razor Shade ($1500) is designed with 360-degrees of motion to make sure you always have the most possible shade. Built with tough industrial-strength materials, the shade employs a concrete-filled base, marine anodized aluminum alloy, and UV-stabilized thermo-polymer to provide you with stylish shade year after year.
Spruce up the backyard with an ultra-luxe Take Away Bird Feeder ($55). Your fine feathered friends will thank you as they peck away in style while kicking it in a ball design made from mouth-blown glass. The award-winning design was created by Eva Solo.
There are plenty of in-home bars that are less expensive that this, but if you hit the bottle as often as we do, you'll know its worth it. The Portable Quench Bar Q01 ($7400) combines upscale looks with features like a glass-fronted bottle cooler, sink, drip tray, a bottle rail that can hold 6-7 bottles, a foot rail, and hidden castors. The UV luminous acrylic front panels seal the deal, giving the bar a fantastic look after dark. [Thanks, Matt]
Rid your home of plain, unsightly smoke detectors by replacing them with this Jacob Jensen Smoke Detector ($55). In addition to its striking design, the detector is an ionizing smoke detector, letting it respond quickly to fast growing and particularly hot fires. It also features the standard low-battery warning, a test button, and a mounting plate for easy battery replacement.