When times get tough, think kitchens and baths. That’s what many builders and remodelers are doing, and that’s why JLC decided to visit the latest Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, held this April in Chicago. The annual event — which is owned by the National Kitchen & Bath Association — drew 32,000 attendees and featured 550 exhibitors, from solo entrepreneurs displaying single prototypes to mega manufacturers showcasing soft-close cabinets, vitamin-saving ovens, automatic bath fans, chic surfaces, and much more. The biggest surprise? The show offered a wealth of practical solutions for builders and remodelers, including hardware and fixtures that are easier to install than their predecessors, quick cabinet upgrades, and toilets for tight spaces. On the following pages are some of our favorite products, with some fancier items thrown in for good measure.

Kohler’s new PureFlo universal cable drains have a flexible neck that should make them easy to install regardless of the bath-wall slope. They come with a 30- or 45-inch cable to accommodate bathtubs 14 to 26 inches deep, and accept seven different trim kits offering either rotary-turn or push-button actuation and a variety of styles and...

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