Today's Hottest Trends: According to Merilee

Flat screen televisions: Have them in every room. They are expected and save space. Bays can be less than 12 feet because there is no need for a bulky armoire opposite the bed or sofa.

Luxury linens: Designer-name, high-thread-count sheets, down comforters and pillows, pillow top mattresses, upholstered headboards, silk and cashmere throws. Guests have them at home and they won't settle for less on vacation.

Gourmet kitchens: Thanks to cable television and super-star chefs, cooking has become a hugely popular leisure time activity. Cabinet and appliance brand names have become status symbols today similar to luxury cars. Must-haves include stainless steel appliances, built-in cappuccino machines, stone counter tops, glass mosaic walls and unmatched upper and lower cabinets, and banquette seating.

Spa showers: Environment showers have multiple showerheads for two, large central rain showerheads, steams, or designed without doors.

Spa-style bathroom vanities: Water cascades from brushed nickel wall-mounted faucets into bowls made of art glass or china that sit above the counter of a free-standing piece of furniture that stores and displays rolled bath towels.

Closets: Closets should be located whenever possible in a bathroom/dressing room area, with drawers included. This frees up bedroom walls for art and furnishings.

Wall beds in the parlors: Sleeper sofas are almost always problematic. Wall beds can be concealed into the millwork. The parlor guest also has a standard nine-inch mattress for a comfortable sleep.

Regional art: Art and artifacts should reflect the culture of the location and give the property its sense of place.

Wall sconce lighting: Keep the surfaces empty. These fixtures can be as beautiful as table lamps but offer high tech lighting solutions. Think wall jewelry.

Merilee Elliott is president of Merilee Elliott Interiors, celebrating 25 years of service to the hospitality industry. She's provided designs for projects by some of the nation's leading hotel companies and luxury condo hotel developers. Her firm was the first in the country to specialize in design for timeshare and vacation ownership resorts. The Chicago-based firm is located inside the Merchandise Mart, offering Elliott a first-hand look at the latest products and trends.

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