10 Innovative Problem Solvers for the Kitchen
Save time, money, and frustration with these smart new appliances and fixtures
The average American spends more than an hour and a half a day on household activities, including food preparation and cleanup and other chores, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so why not make life easier? Streamlining your kitchen routine can free you up to do other things, like trimming down that ever-growing DIY to-do list. We've compiled a list of handy problem-solvers, from a range that boils water in 8 minutes to a laundry-center organization system, that are sure to make things simpler.
Problem: Spotty and crusted silverware
Solution: A dishwasher that pays special attention to cutlery
Maytag Jetclean dishwashers now offer a Silverware Blast feature that ensures sparkling utensils after each wash, eliminating the need to rewash or prewash knives, forks, and spoons. Four jets spray high-pressured water targeted at the utensil basket and can be adjusted to handle light or tough stains. In addition, the washers offer a SteamClean feature, which focuses on glassware.
Dishwashers with this feature range from $599 to $1,049, Maytag
Problem: Electric stoves don't get hot enough to whip up a quick meal
Solution: An electric stovetop with a dedicated super-heated burner
The new FTQ387 range from Samsung has a special element that can boil a pot of water nearly 6 minutes faster than traditional 6- or 9-inch electric burners. Available in stainless steel, the range also has a SteamQuick cycle that cleans its 5.9-cubic-foot oven in just 20 minutes.
From about $899 to $1,299, Samsung
Problem: Having to fiddle with oven controls
Solution: Touch-screen control
From smart phones to airport kiosks, the touch screen is everywhere these days, so it makes sense someone would eventually bring it to the complicated task of cooking. This Jenn-Air wall oven features a 7-inch glass screen that allows you to touch anywhere to control the appliance and access recipes with color images. The photos show you not only how something should look when perfectly cooked but also where to insert the temperature probe.
From about $1,899 to $4,999, Jenn-Air
Problem: Unsightly scratches, stains, and marks on a stone or metal sink
Solution: A tough sink that can take a beating
BLANCO's Silgranit II sinks are made of 80 percent natural granite and 20 percent acrylic resin with ceramic components that make them virtually unscratchable and easier to clean. The sinks are heat-resistant to over 536 degrees and can withstand the impact of dropped plates and pots. A scratch from a fork or heavy pan simply wipes away, as do stains from hair dye, beet juice, and tea.
About $350 to $1,500 depending on size and shape, BLANCO
Problem: A few crumbs always find their way to the floor when wiped off a table
Solution: An easy way to sweep spills into a central vacuum system
The DrawerVac, an accessory designed to work with any central vac system, allows you to clean off counters easily. Just wipe dirt, bread crumbs, or any other mess into a pullout tray and the debris will be suctioned away (the vacuum activates when you open the drawer). Works under a cabinet or inside a drawer in the kitchen, bath, laundry room, or workshop.
Prices vary, DrawerVac
Problem: Having to seal granite countertops every few years
Solution: Built-in stain protection
Granite countertops are popular because they are durable and attractive but only if you remember to seal them to prevent staining. Innovative Stone's Everlife polished granite countertops go through the company's PermaShield process, which provides 15-year guaranteed stain resistance without affecting the stone's color or texture and eliminating the need for periodic sealing.
From about $55 to $100 per sq. ft., Everlife
Problem: Chaos in the laundry room
Solution: Making sure everything has a place
Getting your clothes clean can sometimes be, well, messy. The Hafele Omni Trak organization system ensures all of the things you need to do the laundry—from detergent to the iron to dryer sheets—are stored neatly away. After the aluminum wall track is installed, it can be customized with a range of accessories, including a paper towel dispenser, single hooks, hand tool hooks, plastic bins, baskets, and more that can be positioned according to convenience. Cover Caps hold the hooks steady on the track when items are lifted off.
About $376, Hafele
Problem: Food-covered hands constantly dirtying up the faucet
Solution: A wireless hands-free faucet control
When you're up to your elbows in cookie dough or marinara sauce this little guy will be your best friend. With a light touch of the elbow or tap of the foot, the Wi-Touch wireless controller turns a faucet on and off and can be installed anywhere within 3 feet of your sink. It comes with Velcro adhesive strips that can be adhered to any nonmetal surface and is powered by a lithium battery. The remote is 2 inches wide, 6 1/2 inches long, and 15/16 inches thick.
About $550, TOTO
Problem: Fussing with detergent and fabric softener slows you down
Solution: A washer with built-in dispensers
If figuring out complex washing cycles and detergent levels is akin to advanced calculus to you, this brainy pair may be a godsend. The GE Profile SmartDispense Frontload Laundry Pair take the guesswork out of laundry by storing and automatically dispensing detergent and fabric softener based on each load's size, soil level, water hardness, and fabric or cycle type.
About $1,200 for the washer, $599 for SmartDispense pedestal, and $1,099 for the matching dryer; GE