WHEN IT comes to radiators you're either an exhibitionist or you're not. The basic design of this heating staple has remained virtually unchanged over the years, but with all the styles, colours and sizes now on the market, you can choose radiators that will demand attention, or fade into the background.

The eye-catching "Hot Springs" radiator from Bisque, inspired by a ring binder, is a continuous steel-tube coil. Made in England, it is one of the Millennium Products selected to be on display in the Millennium Dome, available in three sizes - 0.6m, 1.2m and 1.8m - and 15 colours. Prices start at pounds 350 for the smallest size in white. The design of Bisque's round and chunky "Flowform" radiator is based on traditional industrial heating- elements. Stacked circular fins maximise the surface area of the radiator, while ensuring a compact shape overall - perfect for keeping your feet warm. These are available in four lengths from 0.5m to 2m (from pounds 139).

Another new model that is sure to become a design classic is Bisque's "Cobratherm" towel radiator. A single tube snakes asymmetrically up the wall, ending in a clever ball finial, perfect for hanging a bathrobe on to warm (from pounds 387). It can be supplied in white, chrome or 1,600 other colours - the entire Dulux range, in fact. It is also available in an electric-only version - useful if you don't have a central heating system.

Faral Radiators' designs are more utilitarian than Bisque's, but extremely practical. Its aluminium radiators are made in sections 80mm wide, allowing incredible flexibility in size.

But, if you're seeking a radiator that will blend seamlessly into its surroundings, then the Hudevad catalogue is inspiring. Flicking through the sleek pages, it feels like playing "hunt the radiator" among the photos of minimalist interiors. To ensure a perfect match with your paintwork, the Hudevad steel radiators are available in any colour produced by a paint manufacturer, or alternatively, ready primed so that you can decorate the radiator in situ.

The simple, flat-fronted "Plan" design cunningly provides high heat levels from a narrow body and is available in eight heights, eight depths and 215 lengths, which can be straight, curved or angled (from pounds 52). Even more discreet, "Symphony" (four heights, 144 lengths, from pounds 43) and "P5" (five heights, 144 lengths, from pounds 32) radiators can be fitted horizontally or vertically, and can be supplied with pegs or rails for hanging up towels to dry. A bonus of Hudevad's sleek styling is that these radiators are extremely easy to clean. In a child's room, the robust Low Surface Temperature (LST) flat panel radiators (eight heights, 340 lengths, two depths, from pounds 120 for the outer case) are ideal, as no part of their surface will exceed 43C.

To replace or reinstate period radiators, "Liberty" column radiators from MHS Radiators are ideal. Cast in original, intricate, Victorian scrolled relief patterns, and supplied in an authentic gunmetal primer finish (from pounds 220), they are compatible with both old and new heating systems. Alternatively, architectural salvage yards are a good source of reclaimed original cast-iron radiators; but make sure you remember to get them pressure tested before fitting them.

Clyde Combustion's tubular steel and cast-iron radiators and towel rails are classics that have stood the test of time. For their FKR and Windsor radiators a site-painting service is available, but three other styles are available in 33 colours. The "Doric" radiator (from pounds 145) is the perfect choice for simplicity. There are only 10 sizes, and you can have any colour - as long as it's white.

Diona Gregory

Bisque, 244 Belsize Road, London NW6 4BT, 0171-328 2225 (for nationwide stockists call 01225 469244); Clyde Combustions, Cox Lane, Chessington, Surrey KT9 1SL (0181-391 2020); Faral Radiators, Tropical House, Charlwoods Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 2HJ (01342 305420); Hudevad Britain, Bridge House, Bridge Street, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey KT12 1AL (01932 247 835); MHS Radiators, 35 Nobel Square, Burnt Mills Industrial Estate, Basildon, Essex SS13 1LT (01268 591 010)