New Kitchen and Bath Products
Here's the lowdown on the next, best things for your kitchen and bath: products developed with the simpler (easier!) life in mind
As This Old House editors pounded the aisles at the kitchen and bath show, we found plenty of evidence that manufacturers are on our wavelength—with time-saving innovations, like washing machines that automatically add detergent, ovens that warm up in seconds, and smart wood surfaces that never need maintenance. Not to mention problem-solving solutions, like finishes that keep stainless steel fingerprint-free and faucets that fold up out of the way. Such whiz-bang inventiveness does come at a price. But remember, today's breakthrough is tomorrow's standard fare. So read on for what's to come.
Soothing natural materials and earth tones turn the washroom into a sanctuary.
A polyurethane coating makes this handsome vessel sink of solid, sustainable bamboo impervious to water damage. About $500; Totally Bamboo
Naturalistic patterns carved by hand give these Robert Kuo marble tiles touchable texture. Subtle variations in color enhance their pale beauty. About $281 to $350 per square foot; Ann Sacks
"I love the look and feel of river-rock walls or floors in the bath, but they can cost a fortune. These cabinet knobs made from smooth beach pebbles are beautiful and budget-friendly."
—Colette Scanlon, Design Editor
About $14 each; Sea Stones
These smart products make some little everyday annoyances a thing of the past.
Caulk to Match Your Counters
"I hate when the bead of caulk between backsplash and countertop is so obvious it stands out.
Red Devil's clever caulk lets you mix any color latex paint that matches your counters with its quality sealer, then apply it in minutes. Genius!"
—Jennifer Brite, Associate Online Editor
About $5 per caulk tube, $30 for the applicator; Red Devil
Gleaming stainless steel looks great—as long as you're winning the constant battle against drips and smudges. A new appliance finish from Miele that adds an easy-to-clean glass overlay to the popular metal finish solves the problem neatly. LaPerla dishwasher, available in fall 2008. Starting at about $2,400; Miele
Want your kids to stop lollygagging in front of an open fridge door? A small trapdoor in GE's Profile refrigerator lets them grab frequently chugged milk and juice off the shelf—and helps keep the cold in while they're at it.
About $3,199; GE Appliances
A monthly rubdown with mineral oil is standard care for wood counters to prevent water damage. But you can order Grothouse's butcher block with a lifetime sealant that makes it easy to care for. Starting at about $75 per square foot; Grothouse Lumber Company
These high-tech products are meant to ease the daily routine—and look great doing it.
Sink and Prep Surface in One
Franke's new stainless-steel sinks come framed with a sleek-looking, easy-to-clean tempered-glass deck. A slightly grooved texture allows the bacteria-resistant surface to double as a cutting board. About $2,700; Franke
Kohler's Karbon Articulating kitchen faucet stole the show with its futuristic yet practical design. The multiple-hinge construction helps maneuver the faucet out of the way of large pots and makes cleaning easier. About $990 to $1,275; Kohler
Get dinner on the table quicker with a Dacor oven that preheats in 3 seconds flat. The secret: The interior's porcelain bottom is topped with a superconductive layer of glass. Renaissance oven with Rapid Heat Baking Technology, starting at about $2,295; Dacor
"When I do laundry I'm always doing other things, too, and I forget to add the fabric softener. So I love this system! It holds a big supply of detergent and softener and dispenses them automatically—even if I'm out of the room."
—Kelly Beamon, Senior Editor
GE Profile SmartDispense system, about $599 (washer, about $1,299); GE Appliances
Compressed garbage means fewer trips to the curb. Broan's freestanding Elite compactor squeezes
six 13-gallon bags into a single 18-inch-square cube and kills odors with a chlorine filter. The butcher-block top provides an extra work surface. About $999 and up; Broan