Home must-haves

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The control for an electric mattress pad.(Sheryl Jean)
Staying at several Airbnb accommodations on a recent visit to New Zealand let me peek inside people’s homes. And I liked what I saw.

I visited in what was one of the country’s wettest springs on record. That meant lots of cold, damp weather. New Zealanders are like thrifty New Englanders and use heat sparingly.

I couldn’t help but notice some items of coziness and convenience — some may say necessity — and design features that would work well in U.S. homes. Here are five of my favorites:

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All I want for Christmas is a heated towel rack. (Sheryl Jean)
Electric mattress pad: It’s like being immersed in a warm bath while sleeping. New Zealanders call it an electric blanket, but it’s a mattress pad. I don’t care what you call it; it’s just about the greatest home product ever. The heating filaments woven into the fabric kept me quite warm on the stormiest of nights. Nearly every New Zealand lodging had one. The Internet tells me you can buy it here.

Heated towel rack: Heated towel racks have been around forever, so I don’t understood why they aren’t more popular in the United States. Can one say not say enough about wrapping yourself in a warm cocoon as you step out of the shower onto a cold tile floor?

Electric kettle: It’s not a new product, nor was it new to me. I saw my first electric kettle about 20 years ago in England. I have an electric kettle in my own kitchen, but I swear the New Zealand ones not only heated water faster, but to a higher temperature. I’m sure it’s because the country supplies electricity at twice our voltage.

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These two window shades can be moved separately.(Sheryl Jean)
Stainless-steel sink and counter top: I really liked a one-piece, seamless stainless-steel sink and counter that was in the kitchen of a small cabin. It looks nice, lasts a long time and is easy to clean: You just swipe everything into the sink. After a bit of research, I found that you can get this here.

Double window shades: This is one of those simple inventions that make a big difference. Each window has two shades — a light-filtering shade and a black-out one — that can be raised and lowered separately.

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