Here are a few more splurgeworthy items I forgot to mention in my previous post. These aren't central to my own experience, but if these make your daily life more enjoyable, they're worth their price. Just make sure to do your research — online and locally — to get the best deal:
1. HDTV. I don't watch much TV, but my husband loves watching sports, movies, The Daily Show and South Park on our Samsung LCD. I know that normal people, in normal-sized houses, think it's ridiculous that we feel our 32" screen is huge and splendid. But it's the biggest TV that fits in our bedroom. Its bright, ultra-sharp picture delights and impresses us after 3 years.
2. Sound system. This is on my wish list; I'm musically deprived. My dad is a stereo maniac. He hid more than a dozen top-quality speakers and woofers into the walls of the man-cave he built in our basement. He loves pipe-organ music, and could rattle not only our walls, but those of our next-door neighbors. He also hooked up his speakers to his Allen theatre organ, and played in the style of the great baseball organists of years ago. Loudly. It may be that I'm partially deaf from him blasting "Blue Moon" and "Sweet Georgia Brown" at all hours during my childhood (he certainly is), but for whatever reason, puny speakers never satisfy me. Unfortunately, that's all that fits in this tiny apartment. Those Bose and Tivoli units aren't worth their high price. I'm waiting for a truly fantastic compact system that can handle both CDs and an iPod. In the meantime, I almost never play music because it sounds so lousy on our mini JVC system or through my iPod earbuds. I crave a woofer.
3. Coffee makers. I don't drink the stuff, but sometimes I wish I did, just so I could park a shiny Italian espresso maker on my tiny kitchen counter. It makes sense to invest in a fancy machine if coffee is a key ritual element of your day. If it keeps you out of Starbucks, it should pay for itself quickly. You'll be drinking better coffee for less money, and you'll make your guests happy, too.