Our Favorite New Fixtures and Interior Products
More top picks from the 2011 NAHB International Builders' Show, from a vacuum-operated elevator to an instant fireplace
There were so many great ideas and products at this year's International Builder's Show, in Orlando, Florida, that we couldn't contain it within one gallery. Here, then, is our second installment, featuring everything from high-tech faucets to vacuum-operated residential elevators to brilliant new planing tools.
This silhouette came out last year, but now it's been loaded with remarkable technology that allows you to turn it on without ever touching the lever with your hands. You can tap anywhere on the faucet itself, as with Delta kitchen faucets introduced several years ago; but even more interesting, when you put a hand anywhere within 4 inches of the faucet, a kinetic sensor turns it on. It automatically shuts off two seconds after you move away.
Addison faucet, about $520 as shown, in a new color, champagne bronze.
Claimed to be the world's first residential system to strip out viruses, this commercial-grade filter installs under your sink and comes in handy during boiled water alerts. The contaminants it captures include bacteria, viruses, cysts, particulates, VOCs, and lead.
About $550 for the unit and about $250 for yearly replacement cartridges.
Forget the lazy Susan. This notched cabinet has three full-extension drawers flanked by two pull-out pantry racks to rescue trapped space where two countertops meet on an angle. It comes in Merillat Classic's full line of door styles and finishes.
Available beginning this summer (price not set).
Stemming from the universal design trend, this tub does away with the awkwardness of clambering in and out of the bathtub. Sit on the elevated bench, swing your feet into the drain trough, then lift up the wall. Once the wall locks in place, an air-filled gasket to seal in the water inflates automatically, and the tub is ready to fill. When you're finished, the tub drains in less than two minutes, after which you can lower the wall (sensors keep the wall from lowering with water in it). Integrated grab bars make it easy to get in and out.
Like those tubes for deposit canisters at your bank's drive-thru, this residential elevator uses suction rather than pulleys or pistons to raise and lower the car. The self-supporting aluminum-and-polycarbonate tube installs in two days with a minimal footprint—no shaft, pit, or machine room required—and the see-through tube makes an architectural statement. Best of all, if it fails, the car descends safely to the bottom as if on a cushion of air. Reaches up to 35 feet.
From $25,000 and up installed.
Swipe your hand across the top panel of this 30-inch wall oven and microwave combination and up pop the controls for two different cooking bays: an oven on the bottom and a microwave on the top. After you're done programming culinary perfection, the controls simply disappear. The microwave features 12 auto-cook options and three reheat options, and, unlike with most ovens, the racks don't squeak, thanks to the ball bearings they ride on.
Housed in an attractive, intuitive, 7-inch touch screen, this new thermostat connects wirelessly to your router and other wireless sensors. It controls up to 12 heating and cooling zones in your house, provides the weather forecast, and even does double duty as an electronic picture frame. Smartphone and computer applications are on the way, along with compatibility with Schlage LINK locks and lights, so this unit could serve as the control center for many of your home's systems, whether you're there or not.
From about $800
Rather than tasking your plumber with a laundry list of radiant-heating components, have him pick up this suitcase-size unit with everything built in: boiler, manifold, pump, expansion tank, pressure-relief valve, isolation valves, thermostat, and air vent. Mount it in the mechanical room, connect the tubing, thermostat, and electricity, and you're good to go.
Check with your HVAC contractor beginning in April for price and availability.
Marvin's reputable series of fiberglass windows adds a glass-reinforced composite round-top to the menu, meaning you don't have to mix and match from different materials to add curves to your plans.
From about $600
If the idea of a flexing pocket-door wall bothers you, consider this beefy new prefab frame with installed track, which is ready to install into a 2x6 rough opening. Wide steel studs prevent the covering drywall from flexing and can support a 300-pound door.
About $270, by special order from home centers or direct from Johnson's website.
Hewing to the regulations of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Borano uses Honduran mahogany selected from Central American forests to craft a series of remarkably beautiful—and impressively sturdy—doors. All the work is done by craftsman in Honduras who mix Old World methods, such as mortise-and-tenon joinery, with New World materials, like Franklin Advantage II Waterproof Catalyzed Glue on the joints. The stile-and-rail faces are covered with a ¼-inch overlay, and the doors themselves are 2¼ inches thick.
From $110 a square foot, not including shipping.
Fasten four separate pieces to the wall in a day and suddenly you have a fireplace surround that looks like carved marble or stone. It comes in nine profiles, from 42 to 52 inches wide.
From about $1,300, beginning this spring.
Floodlights with motion detectors are a staple of outdoor lights, but this is the first light that tracks whatever is creating the motion. An onboard motor swivels the light to keep intruders illuminated, and with the available video-camera attachment, you can automatically record any disturbance.
From about $80
Hammer tackers are nothing new, but Arrow managed to update this go-to tool by making it a bottom-loader that holds two full strips of staples and uses three sizes of them: ¼ inch, 5/16-inch, and ⅜ inch. An ergonomic soft rubber grip lets you work longer without rest.
Adding to the list of things we love about Scotland comes this new tool, now being imported to the U.S. It's a fresh concept in planning and sanding that uses a slotted metal planing drum to dial in cuts up to 0.08 inch and a sanding drum that takes off up to 0.02 inch—meaning you could sand off a layer of paint in one pass. The drum spins at 16,000 rpm, and its precision depth dial gives you the exact amount of material removed with each pass, so you don't have to rely on hand pressure to gauge depth. Comes with a dust bag and a vacuum attachment.
Finally, someone has combined an impact driver, drill, and screwdriver in a lightweight 12-volt package, so you can stop switching between your drill/driver and impact driver. Or at least stop stripping screws with your impact driver when you should be using your drill/driver. Officially available in April, it can be found at online tool purveyors now.
From the department of why-didn't-I-think-of-that comes this double-edge reciprocating saw blade. Its blunt nose allows you to plunge cut into a range of materials, including metal and wood. That means no more pilot/starter holes, no more bouncing blades, and no more flipping the saw around to cut in the other direction. The blades come in 6-, 8-, and 10-inch lengths, and a range of teeth-per-square-inch (tpi) ratings, from 7 to 14.
From about $6. Available beginning in April.