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Home & Living

4 Genius Gadgets In British Homes That Americans Should Borrow

Turns out the average British home is hiding some incredibly brilliant inventions -- and Americans should seriously consider poaching them for their own abodes.

In the video above from Anglophenia, a British guide shows us around her home, highlighting all of the magical gadgets along the way. To be fair, you won't find these inventions in every U.K. household, and it's certainly possible you'll see them in some American ones. But by and large, it looks like we've got some design tips to learn from the Brits.

  1. In many U.K. homes, the washing machine is in the kitchen, and converts into a dryer with the twist of a knob. This eliminates the need to unload and re-load wet clothes, plus you can do laundry and cook dinner in the same room, at the same time. (Oh, and it's a major space saver.)


  • There are rarely electric sockets in UK bathrooms (the "bathroom" is the room with the actual bath; the room with the toilet is called the "loo"). Instead of regular sockets, you'll find a special socket just for electric razors. We've got to admit, that safety precaution is pretty smart.
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  • There are usually separate hot and cold water taps in the restroom sink. No guessing what temperature your sink is going to spit out: This way, you always know exactly what you're going to get. (Just be careful you don't get scalded.)
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  • And in many U.K. homes, you can turn electrical sockets on and off with the flip of a switch. That would make it very, very easy to totally unplug from TVs, phones and laptops all at once. (And it would make for an extra layer of security in baby-proofing.)
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    Have A Lightbulb Moment (Or Several)
    Pendant lights are like statement jewelry for the home; they're meant to be stunning, yet with standard bulbs, they can be blinding at certain angles. Chrome-dipped bulbs reflect light back into the fixture, creating a softer glow, Cupcakes and Cashmere at Home author Emily Schuman told us via email. They tend to be about 40 watts, so you may want to add a floor lamp near reading areas.
    Line It Up
    Bright trim makes a room seem crisper, cleaner and more "finished," but too much contrast between the trim and wall color can make the space seem smaller than it is. Schuman recommends choosing a trim paint that's 25 percent lighter than the walls, creating a pulled-together look that doesn't sacrifice your sense of spaciousness. (She also relies on an art gallery trick for keeping the trim bright: A little Fantastik on a paper towel makes it easy to erase scuffmarks.) Photo: Reprinted with permission fromCupcakes & Cashmere at Homeby Emily Schuman, ABRAMS, Spring 2015
    Get Your Greens In
    Interior designers have long argued that a room is never complete without a plant, but what do you do if you just don't have the floor (or counter space) for it? Try a pair of hanging planters, suggests Schuman, who prefers succulents, which don't need to be watered as often as other varieties. Photo: Reprinted with permission fromCupcakes & Cashmere at Homeby Emily Schuman, ABRAMS, Spring 2015
    Add This to Your Ready-for-Bed Routine
    Fluffy white bath towels are an easy way to give even the tiniest bathroom a spa-like vibe -- but only if they're not mascara-smudged and foundation-smeared. That's why Schuman keeps a black washcloth with her beauty products. You could store it on a hook in the undersink cabinet, so it's out of sight but always within arm's reach. Photo: Reprinted with permission fromCupcakes & Cashmere at Homeby Emily Schuman, ABRAMS, Spring 2015
    Use This Simple Formula for a Great First Impression
    When it comes to decorating your entryway, less is more, Schuman writes. All you really need is a place to hang your keys, like a hook or small tray; a light so you never feel like you're entering a cave; a mirror to reflect that light; and a chair so you have a place to sit as you take your shoes on and off. If you want to include a console table, stick to one that's 12 inches wide. It's large enough for your key tray, yet not so wide that you're edging around it to get through the door. The one thing to avoid? A bowl for emptying your pockets -- it will soon overflow with crumpled receipts and other odds and ends, and nobody wants to be welcomed home with a pile of clutter. Photo: Reprinted with permission fromCupcakes & Cashmere at Homeby Emily Schuman, ABRAMS, Spring 2015
    Trade in Your Old Whiteboard...
    ...For a sheet of Plexiglass and wet-erase markers. That way you won't have to deal with dry-erase marker dust coating everything, Schuman writes in her book, and it looks less Office Space-y than the cubicle staple. (Schuman bought hers through Decently Exposed.)
    Style Your Coffee Table WithoutOvercrowding It
    No matter your tastes, there are a few essentials that always look good on a coffee table tray: a stack of three books -- or two stacks of two, arranged side by side -- a small vase of flowers, candles, a box of matches and an interesting trinket (Schuman's is a small elephant statue a friend gave her after visiting India). Emily Schuman is the author ofCupcakes & Cashmere at Home(ABRAMS), out this May.Photo: Reprinted with permission fromCupcakes & Cashmere at Homeby Emily Schuman, ABRAMS, Spring 2015