I returned from Costa Rica this morning and was immediately struck by the dry air in New England. My skin felt tight and the air felt less than easy to inhale. When I returned home I turned my humidifier to 'full blast' in my bedroom. Mine is not much to look at but it sure does work well, so it got me thinking, are there well designed units out there? Why yes, yes of course! This Hinoki Wooden Humidifier available at Jmarket is a low tech pleasure for the eyes and looks more like a puzzle you want to get your hands on. According to the their site, it releases water into the air five times faster than a bowl of water and the best part is that you don't have to clean it or change any filters. The downside is that it is self regulating.
Shaped like a teardrop, this budget friendly, cool-mist humidifier is available at Target and can mist up to 300 square feet.
The Humio is very related in form, but has the option of being all white for purists or disco ball themed at night for those with a wild streak. This ultrasonic model delivers a finer mist than the previous mentioned, cool-mist model but is recommended for only 100 square feet of space.
These modern, colorful Ichirin humidifiers are discreetly sized. It is not clear if they are battery powered or plug in, but they will certainly pass for a nice vase on any table or shelf from a distance.
Made by the same company in Japan and available in two sizes these look more like paper and bamboo lamps found in tropical climates.
Plus Minus Zero Can always be counted on for beautiful, functional design. These particular objects are like fine Japanese pottery and I imagine (though I have never used one) that they are quiet as quiet can be.
Staying with high fashion, the Allanoid Humidifer designed by Minwoo Lee is the sexiest humidifier I have ever laid eyes on. Unfortunately this model is not yet on the market, but if you like it as much as I do, bookmark it and check back later for pricing and availability.
Going back to basics, this German Pool model is sleek and well proportioned. It offers cool mist with one button operation, and dim, ambient night lighting as an added bonus.
The Air O Swiss claims to be as easy to use as watering a plant and offers ultra quiet operation for spaces up to 430 square feet.
Going back to basics, this lovely 'ship-shape in Bristol fashion' wooden humidifer offers beauty and simplicity.
A final note on cleaning: Cool-mist and ultrasonic humidifiers require frequent cleaning so that they do not emit germs into the air. To do so, simply use vinegar, a tiny drop of bleach, or a few drops of tea tree oil and brush the water canister (if reachable) and let sit up to an hour and a half before rinsing well. Filters should also be cleaned in this way. Warm-mist humidifiers boil the water, thus killing any germs before being released back into the air, but should be cleaned in this way less frequently.