New Products for Kitchen and Bath - Continued
Look at the ceiling and backsplash in the average kitchen. Drawing a blank? Consider dressing up these areas with AA-Abbingdon'sembossed tin panels, just like in the old days. A quick peek at the installation manual suggests they're fairly simple to install.
Another way to spiff up a backsplash: quilted stainless steel panels from Star Stainless Design. Talk about easy: These babies transform a kitchen's entire look with peel-and-stick efficiency.
In the replacement category, American Standard'sLakeland single-bowl sink fits in a standard 22-by-33-inch double-basin cutout and can be adapted to occasional dual-bowl function with its drop-in basin.
Showing up in bathrooms is a material we tend to associate with kitchens: stainless steel. Neo-Metro's single-piece Ebb Basin is made of 16-gauge stainless and features an inward-sloping surface that conceals the drain. It comes with a satin or mirror finish.
There are several systems out there that allow you to undermount a sink in a tile or laminate countertop. Solid-surface Counter-Sealrings are made to match specific sink models. The ring is factory-set into exterior-grade plywood and then incorporated into your countertop substrate to achieve a waterproof transition between the counter surface and the cutout edge.
The future of undercabinet lighting looks bright indeed, if and when the prices come down. LED fixtures last a long, long time and save a lot of dough compared with other lighting technologies — but a $2,500 price tag for illuminating the average kitchen doesn't strike me as exactly mainstream. Still, Cyberlux has a recessed LED ceiling fixture in the works that sounds promising.
And, since few would argue that electrical outlets enhance a backsplash's appearance, Task Lighting's new Angle Power Strip may be just the ticket for those countertop appliance applications.
One final point on the topic of lighting: Broan has done something rather remarkable about hard-to-hide bathroom exhaust with its line of Decorative Fan/Lights, which come in traditional drop and contemporary recessed styles.
Showers, Tubs, and Spas
Over the past few years, as bathrooms have expanded in size, function, and luxury, modular plug-and-play-type tub and shower spas have proliferated. Conversion panels make existing showers easy to upgrade, and full-blown enclosed tub/shower units with all the bells and whistles — massage jets, steam ports, radios, lighting, overhead and hand-held showerheads — come preplumbed and configured, making installation barely more complicated than it is for a conventional unit. Such is the case, certainly, with Hali'ssteam shower.
Also making life easier for everyone — and in keeping with the tenets of universal design — Hansgrohe'sPharo Lift Showerpanel is height-adjustable within an 8-inch range, thereby accommodating bathers of varying sizes and ranges of motion.
Folks looking to reduce their daily dose of chlorine might want to consider one of Sprite'sfiltering showerheads. Cartridge life ranges from three months to one year with normal use.
But for sheer good looks, Jaclo'sCubix collection hits the jackpot. These fixtures offer an angular, minimalist alternative to the industry's fixation on cylindrical, curvy fittings.
Everyone loves a shower, but nobody loves cleaning it. Putting the job off, of course, only makes it worse. Intelligent Consumer Products' battery-operated Shower-Shower powers and scours for hours while you go smell the flowers. Basically, it deposits a cleaning mist on surrounding walls, replacing the manual pump-spray bottle of common chemical shower cleaner.
Not everything at the show aimed for that elusive cutting edge. With its warm wood tones and old-timey washtub shape, Azura'sCedar Bathtub stood out like a Beverly Hillbilly in a crowd of Trekkies. The vessel comes in round and oval shapes and with its own set of matching stairs.
The humble toilet is undeniably a good thing. Can it be improved upon? Toto'sAquia and Kohler'sPurist Hatbox both say "Yes."
Oh, and if you felt forgotten as a kid, that's because Gerber hadn't yet come up with the child-size PeeWee collection. Toilet training is no longer a stretch but an experience in personal affirmation.
Show attendees swarmed the New Products Pavilion to vote for their floor favorites. Engineered Glass Products'Thermique heated glass towel warmer snagged first place for best new bath product.
I liked the Stor-ganize By-pass Shower Door shown at Sterling's booth, which tucks five or six dishwasher-safe adjustable shelves into a stationary panel alongside the sliding doors. Such clever use of hitherto unexploited space in a small bathroom really takes the prize.
Television itself may idle along in the off-season with reruns, but these kitchen-and-bath manufacturers never give it a rest. A number of companies have seized on the idea of updating their products by incorporating a TV. And so we have a fridge with one built right into the door (LG); a waterproof TV that doubles as the control interface for a tankless water heater (Rinnai); and a television screen that magically appears through the glass of a two-way bathroom mirror (Seura).
Yet another approach to shoehorning that all-important telly into the kitchen — without intruding on work space — comes from Sharp, whose articulating mounting arm allows its 13- or 15-inch Aquos Liquid Crystal TV to hang under a 12-inch-deep wall cabinet, rotate for the best viewing angle, and then fold away inconspicuously.