The Hottest Home-Improvement Technologies and Trends editors name some of the coolest, most innovative home improvement products out there.
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Photo By: Sean Vinyl Gardner

Photo By: Sean Vinyl Gardner

Photo By: Jim Rohman

Photo By: Sean Vinyl Gardner

Swarovski Crystal Fireplace

Fire meets ice in this beautiful, limited-edition gas fireplace. It is lined with a bed of precision-cut crystals. Image courtesy of Napoleon Fireplaces.

Solar Shutters

These multipurpose plantation shutters block the sun and gather its energy at the same time. The photovoltaic panels on the louvers feed energy into a small inverter that plugs directly into an outlet, which returns power back into your electrical system. The shutters can produce about 500 watts per hour, enough to power TVs, computers and small appliances. Image courtesy of  Plug 'n Save Energy Products

Not Your Mother's Laminate Countertop

Yes, that kitchen island is covered in a laminate — not real stone. The high-end, lifelike look of granite, marble or petrified wood is becoming more readily available and is still very affordable.
Image courtesy of  Formica

LED Lighting

More affordable pricing is helping this eco-friendly, energy efficient technology become more mainstream. LED (light-emitting diode) lighting is now available in ventilation fans, in-cabinet light strips and high-end fixtures. LED bulbs last longer than compact fluorescents, are mercury-free and stay cool to the touch.
Image courtesy of Matrix Lighting

A Screen Door for the Garage

If you use your garage for more than car storage, a giant screen door might be just your thing. The garage screen door has its own track system so it does not interfere with the operation of the existing garage door. It also has a small door within the screen so the entire unit does not need to be retracted to go in and out.   Image courtesy of  Breezy Living

Solar Hot-Water Heater

With a 30-percent tax credit available until 2016, and the fact that traditional hot-water heaters can take up the bulk of a utility bill, solar hot-water heaters are bound to grow in popularity. Solar-heated water tanks provide the equivalent to a standard water heater, but if needed, electric, natural gas or propane backup systems are available. Image courtesy of  Velux

A 50-Year Roof

In a world where everything is becoming disposable, it's nice to see a product that is increasing its lifespan through technology. New roofing tiles are being made from composite materials, polymer plastics and even recycled rubber tires (pictured are polymer). They look like traditional cedar shake and slate roof tiles, but they'll last a whole lot longer. Image courtesy of  DaVinci Roofscapes

Cutting Corners in a Good Way

This kitchen cabinet design eliminates wasted corner space. The indent has three full-extension drawers, plus it allows a little extra standing room in a multi-chef kitchen. On each side of the corner is a three-tiered pullout shelf with a 45-degree cabinet face. Image courtesy of  Merillat

Easy-Peasy DIY Staircase

Modular kits like this can make a staircase install a snap for the average DIYer. The metal stringers and wood treads are all predrilled, so the outcome will be completely uniform. The modern, open style without risers is perfect for basement remodels and urban dwellings. Image courtesy of  Ascendings

Real Wood

It's wonderful there are now so many building materials made from composites and alternative resources, but sometimes it is nice to have the real thing. This beautiful heart-pine floor is a great example. Pine flooring is often salvaged, and what isn't is grown in sustainable forests. Either way, it is an earth-friendly product. Image courtesy of  Authentic Pine Floors

A Motorized Storage Solution

Having a hard time finding shoes in your closet or cans in your pantry? This motorized Ferris wheel of storage may be your answer. Hooked up to a wireless remote, this system makes it easy to find what you need without having to reach up or in. It can be installed in a closet or cabinet as shallow as 18 inches or as deep as 29 inches. Image courtesy of Storage Motion.

Fill 'er Up

The estimates vary on how soon electric vehicles will dominate the road. But whenever that day comes, we'll be ready. Residential car-charging units are on the market today. This wall-mounted model just needs a dedicated 220 line to start charging, and it works on hybrid and electric vehicles.

Before and After: A Garage Door Makeover

An old garage door can be made new again with a glue-on urethane and resin plank kit. Here, a plain white door is made to look like a high-end carriage-style door. Image courtesy of Garage Door Refacing.

Triple Fuel Furnace

This hybrid hottie can heat your home using wood, oil or electric. It switches on automatically; if it runs out of wood, one of the other fuels will kick in on the fly. Image courtesy of Napoleon Fireplaces.

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