Best New Kitchen and Bath Products
The most interesting items we discovered at the International Builders' Show exclusively for kitchen and bath, without concern for budget
At this year's International Builders' Show, many manufacturers were pushing products designed to improve the busiest rooms in the house: the kitchen and bathroom. Some companies touted their cool technology, others their dramatic designs. A few managed to do both. Here are the most interesting items we discovered, without concern for budget.
Helia's undersink appliance instantly delivers filtered hot water (200 degrees F) or chilled water (40 degrees F) through a single faucet. Make a hot cup of tea or create a quick meal, or cool off in the summer with a refreshing drink. The 115-volt unit's whisper-quiet, ozone-friendly compressor produces 2.1 gallons per hour of hot water and 6.6 gallons per hour of cold water. Install it in a well-ventilated cabinet to avoid heat buildup.
About $1,600 (stainless-steel faucet and filtering system not included); Everpure
Whirlpool bathtubs are so 20th century. Kohler has taken the bathing experience to a new level with its soothing VibrAcoustic soaking tub. Calming vibrations of adjustable intensity emanate from the tub's cast-acrylic body into the water to create a relaxing effect. For a complete sonic experience, a headrest is positioned so that when the tub is full your ears are underwater. Colored lights at the bottom of the tub add to the peaceful mood. You may never want to get out.
About $5,400; Kohler
Jazz up your kitchen cabinets with these steel grill inserts, which turn plain, flat door panels into something unique. The company offers 12 standard designs, most of them based on old-world architectural styles, and 21 colors of powder-coated paints ranging from basic white to copper. All the inserts can be retrofitted to existing cabinet doors. Send in a custom pattern, and the company's CNC laser cutter can duplicate it.
From about $30 per square foot; SteelCrest
The tighter we seal our houses to reduce utility bills, the worse our air quality becomes. The WhisperComfort Spot Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) pulls stale air out of the house, just like a bathroom exhaust fan. At the same time, it pulls in fresh air from outside. A "capillary core" inside the unit warms and humidifies cold incoming air, so your heating bills and nasal passages don't take a hit in the winter. A sensor, programmed in accordance with the defining industry standard for indoor air-quality (ASHRAE 62.2), activates the ERV's quiet, efficient DC motor. Unlike expensive steamer-trunk-sized units that work only when connected to a forced-air system, the compact, microwave-sized WhisperComfort can be used with any kind of heating system. Panasonic recommends placing them in strategic locations around the house, particularly in moisture-heavy areas such as kitchens and baths.
About $609; Panasonic
Raw Urth's handcrafted range hoods have the rough industrial look of something salvaged from a 19th-century factory. Seams and rivets are left exposed. The hoods are made of recycled steel from melted-down cars and come in 10 styles and three beautifully oxidized patinas. Just the thing for a rustic cabin in the mountains.
Prices start at about $4,000; Raw Urth Designs
The Profile 30-inch Single-Double Wall Oven offers the convenience of two separate ovens that fit in the space of a single standard wall oven. GE managed this feat by placing touch controls in the upper oven's glass door, which also makes the outside easy to clean. (They're self-cleaning on the inside.) The ovens have 2.2 cubic feet of capacity above and 2.8 below, the latter large enough for the Thanksgiving turkey.
About $2,800; GE Appliances