By Barbara Ballinger, Architecture Coach columnist
The increased use of digital applications to ensure consistency, safety, speed-cooking, and make bathing and kitchen work more enjoyable continued this year at the annual National Kitchen & Bath Association industry show.
Bathroom and kitchen products have gotten so smart, in fact, that home owners soon may have little to do but sit back while the power of water swooshing from a rainhead turns on its lights, or a laundry “cabinet” steams wet clothing dry while making it smell as fresh as the outdoors.
Here are other favorites seen at this year's show:
1. Aquatic’s tubs look inviting, and the 60-inch by 32-inch models that fit a standard-size alcove offer a plus -- they’re accessible and don’t convey an institutional aesthetic. The touch of a button causes a tempered, double-pane glass front to drop down. Other benefits: a 30-second quick drain, unobtrusive grab bars, and optional air jets.
2. Delta’s “Touch20” technology lets users tap a faucet to turn on water, thereby eliminating twisting a lever for those with arthritis or simply up to their elbows in flour or other cooking messes; it also times-out after a few minutes, so water stops flowing; good for conservation.
3. Moen’s “io” has added a hand-held spray for Roman-style tubs for home owners to use when bathing (or showering). The digital device allows users to pre-set favorite temperatures and flow rates, akin to having a personal butler. An optional remote control is available.
4. Lutron, known for providing the right amount of artificial light in a room through sleek switches and dimmers, now is helping home owners control natural light, too. With its drapery and Roman shade systems, home owners touch a button and window treatments in a choice of fabrics descend or rise. Wireless hand-held options are available.
5. Blum’s “Aventos” lift-up, lift system comes equipped with a button so bi-fold cabinet doors open and close without home owners having to reach up and lift, good for aging Boomers or anyone with physical disabilities or health challenges.
6. Most burners generate plenty of high heat, but keeping a flame at a low simmer is a tougher challenge. DCS Range’s models melt chocolate and other foods without burning them at a very low 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. BreezeDry’s recessed or freestanding eco-friendly clothes-dryer cabinet eliminates trips to a drycleaner, shrinkage, damage of delicates, and fading from sunlight if clothing is placed outdoors. Home owners hang or lay wet items inside the cabinet, choose whether they want to simulate outdoor or indoor air, push a button—and the system senses when drying is done. Favorite settings can be programmed, and less energy is used than with a standard dryer.