10 Must-Have Kitchen and Bath Solutions

10 Must-Have Kitchen and Bath Solutions

Here is a modern kitchen that has gone high tech.

No more avoiding it: Kitchens and baths have gone high-tech. The good news is that the technology is useful—to a degree—and is being built into appliances, water fixtures, under-cabinet lighting, electrical outlets, toilets. …Yes, toilets can get techy, too. There’s even an app for one.

Seriously, who wouldn’t like a touchless faucet? Or a water-saving shower that doesn’t feel like low-flow? Or a professional grill on the cooktop? Even if that may be a bit much, technology is providing convenience, efficiency and water-savings.

As they continue to hold value, kitchen and baths will stay red hot. It’s also where homeowners can show off with cool fixtures and functions, and go from the practical to the aspirational.

You gotta like where this is going.

Under-Cabinet Adorne

It’s not brand new, but behold the sheer functionality of Legrand’s Adorne Under-Cabinet Lighting with energy-efficient LEDs, USB ports, wireless Bluetooth-enabled speakers that stream music from mobile devices, and out-of the-way outlets that reduce cord clutter. There are even charging cradles to hold digital devices. Tucking it into the back counter cleverly conceals the techie stuff, but in an accessible way. Components like the LED puck lights are priced separately, but figure on about $85 per linear foot installed.

Convenient Charging and Humidity Control

Leviton USB Charging outletAdd to the countertop Leviton’s new USB charging outlets for the ever-popular smartphone kitchen dump-off. Leviton now has a convenient four-port USB wall-charger ($30) and a 20-amp version with two USB ports and an electrical socket ($25) for small kitchen appliances. In addition, Leviton has a Humidity Sensor and Fan Control ($40), with a digital sensor that detects excess humidity and automatically activates the ventilation fan to help reduce condensation. Adjustable settings for sensor sensitivity, humidity level and automatic time help reduce energy usage by automatically operating the fan only when needed. It meets California’s Title 24 requirement and CalGreen standards.

Steam and Convection

Bosch steam convection ovenSteam ovens, with convection? I barely understand what that means, but I’d love to say I have a steam convection oven. It sounds so with-it and efficient and healthy, even.

And it is healthy!  Bosch tells us its Benchmark Steam Convection Oven provides a healthy cooking option that preserves nutrients, flavors and colors in food and retains moisture for a variety of foods such as poultry, fish, breads and vegetables. Even better, steam convection prepares dishes moist on the inside and crisp on the outside. Yum. Steam, true convection and steam convection combination cooking options are available via the multicolor user interface. Just fill up a slide-out water tank for steam; no water lines are required. This baby’s aimed at the Mass Premium market with a $3,500 price tag. It can also be combined with a storage or warming drawer, and speed microwave ovens. We smell healthier dishes already.

Pro Grilling

Thermador Professional GrillYes, oh yes … nearly everyone at one time or another wants to sear meat professionally in their own kitchen, via a stovetop grill. The problem is cleaning those puppies. Thermador aims to change that unfortunate recipe with its Professional Grill on its Professional Rangetop, Pro Harmony and Pro Grand Ranges. The heating elements of the grill fit perfectly under the cast-iron grates to reduce flare-ups from grease, though you’ll also have to remember to change the lava rocks periodically.

The model we saw at the recent Builders’ Show was a Pro Grand Steam Range on steroids, with seven different cooking options including Thermador’s Star Burner with ExtraLow simmer feature and the 22,000 BTUs Power Burner; along with a built in Steam and Convection Oven, a warming drawer, a regular old convection oven, and a titanium griddle, plus Professional Grill, all for only $15,399. You know someone will want it.

Sensational Sweep

Kohler sensateWe love Kohler’s touchless Sensate kitchen faucets. Just wave your hand behind the faucet head and you get water without having to touch controls while prepping food. We especially love the AC-powered Sensate fixtures now that they can come with Sweep spray technology that forms a wide “blade of water.”

Sweep spray is being introduced on four existing Kohler faucets: Cruette, Bellera, and Simplice with a three-function sprayhead of Sweep, aerated stream and pause. The Sensate faucet has Sweep and aerated stream. The Sweep spray option will be available starting March 15.

We heard that Kohler also showed VibrAcoustics bathtubs that use sound waves for massage, and we’d like a test soak.

Low Flow Glow

Delta H20 KineticSaving water is good thing, but no one likes a low-flow shower that feels like a drip. Delta’s H2Okinetic technology meets low-flow WaterSense requirements of 1.5 to 2 gallons per minute (gpm), while making you feel drenched, thanks to internal system that sculpts the water into a wave pattern.

Now Delta has options that allow users to toggle between spray settings for a customized shower experience on 3- and 5-function H2Okinetic Raincan showerheads. The technology is also available on handshowers, body jets and sprays, as well as a variety of showerheads within existing bathroom collections such as the dual-stream In2ition (begins at $245).

Just a Sip

Moen Sip faucetPlace a glass beneath it and it fills up with tap water. Moen’s new Sip Beverage Faucets make it that easy, with sensors that detect the glass below. An optional filtration system provides separate cold, filtered drinking water at the sink. An Indicator light turns on as a reminder when it’s time to change the filter. High-arc, rotating spouts make filling large containers easy, and single-hole installation fits cleanly against countertops. Sips start at $260 and $485 with filtration.

We also have to give a shout-out to Moen’s ioDigital system that allows customized shower settings—yes, your personalized temperature and water settings—and its Eco-Performance setting that reduces water usage.

High-Tech Toilets

Who thought toilets could get so high-tech—and don’t you just love the look of the Toto Neorest? That throne cleans you and itself, and has dual-flush options of 1 or .8 gallons per flush (gpf). If Neorest is a little too hoity for your toity, look at Toto’s UltraMax II 1G with Double Cyclone Ultra High-Efficiency Flushing of 1 gpf and a nano-tech SanoGloss glaze that seals the porcelain with an ionized, super-slippery barrier that repels waste matter and bacteria. Sleek and scientific. Prices to come.


Euro Styling

Liebherr refrigeratorWe dig the Euro styling of Liebherr’s refrigerator and wine units, with Euro-style hinges that help push out the doors so you have to work less. They also auto-shut for those among us who can’t seem to handle that task. Easily removable glass shelves keep the fridge cooler, BioFresh compartments preserve food up to three times longer, and Fully Integrated models like the one shown consist of two freestanding refrigerator/freezers. The built-in 48-inch side-by-side SBS 246 has five separate temperature zones. Liebherr also has two-zone wine coolers with unvarnished racks and filters accessible from the front, even humidors.


Heats in 6 Minutes

Frigidaire Gallery Double Wall OvenIn a series of consumer studies on common kitchen frustrations Frigidaire found that 67 percent of consumers think their ovens take too long to preheat, and 40 percent are dissatisfied because their food doesn’t cook evenly. The new design of the Frigidaire Gallery Double Wall Oven eliminates these frustrations with a 6-minute Quick Pre-heat and True Convection feature.

Perhaps even better, a Smudge-Proof Stainless Steel exterior resists fingerprints and smudges for easy cleaning. It’s available now, starting at $2,699.

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