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
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
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
The humble toilet is undeniably a good thing. Can it be
improved upon? Toto'sAquia and
Kohler'sPurist Hatbox both say
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
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
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