The Next Level
Cabinets, flooring and appliances in the kitchen, and vanities, tile, toilets and showers in the bath are all important design elements. But once their basic functional requirements are met, homeowners often look for extra features that elevate their spaces to ‘next-level’ design.
This philosophy seems evident when perusing KBDN’s most-asked-about-products list for 2017. The list – which ranks products that have appeared in the magazine throughout the course of the year by tallying the number of reader inquiries – reveals that products that help to elevate a space beyond the basic are particularly popular.
For example, toilets can be fairly straightforward…until you add self-cleaning features that promote the time-honored, ‘least favorite job’ to a virtually effortless task. The same idea correlates to showers. What can be a relatively mundane morning or before-bedtime ritual becomes a luxurious, spa-like experience with the addition of steam.
Designers continue to be interested in finding ways that improve cabinet interiors with products such as in-drawer charging solutions and organizational accessories that corral chaos and even take into consideration the family pet.
Wood and products inspired by wood, including countertops and floating shelves, add warmth and evoke a sense of history, while lighting continues to change the way people ‘see’ a space. Even details as seemingly minor as hinges won’t go unnoticed in ‘next-level’ designs.
To discover more ways designers are elevating spaces, check out KBDN’s ‘Top Products’ list as outlined below. ▪
Docking Drawer’s Blade series in-drawer charging outlet solution helps to battle cord clutter often associated with charging phones and tablets.
“People want technology close by but out of sight,” says Paul Hostelley, marketing and business manager. “With our in-drawer charging outlets you can open your drawer, grab your fully charged tech and leave the house. When you return, you can easily plug in your device so it’s ready for the next day. And this is all done while keeping cords organized in your drawer.”
The Blade series is the company’s newest evolution of in-drawer charging and powering outlets. It is designed to eliminate the need for shortening drawer space since it already fits into standard spaces. “We made the Blade series easier to use so it can be specified at any point in a project – the beginning, middle or end,” he continues. “If someone is working on a project and discovers our product halfway through the process, our outlet can still be installed. Before Blade, this could be done…but it was more difficult and expensive.”
Blade series charging outlets also feature built-in circuit breakers that prevent use of high-power devices such as hair dryers and curling irons. “The Blade series is designed to charge laptops, tablets and phones…devices that are under three amps,” Hostelley notes, adding that Docking Drawer also offers Blade series powering outlets for kitchen and bathroom accessories requiring up to 20 amps of current such as stand mixers and hair dryers.
The adorne Under-Cabinet Lighting system from Legrand is a designer and consumer favorite with its modularpower and lighting capabilities that elevate the functionality of the kitchen…without sacrificing style, says Amy Hahne, v.p., marketing, Legrand, NorthAmerica.
“Its ‘hidden from view’ location enables a seamless, uninterrupted backsplash design and helps eliminate countertop clutter, which is especially useful for today’s active households,” she continues.
Now available in white, the system can be customized based on users’ individual spaces and preferences by easily mixing and matching LED lighting and power outlets, docks for tablets and smartphones, and cables for recharging.
“No matter if a homeowner is entertaining during the holidays or preparing meals for family, the system allows them to manage and determine the mood,” says Hahne. “And with its simple configuration and installation, the adorne Under-Cabinet Lighting System is able to meet the demanding need for technology in the home’s most trafficked space…and gives homeowners all the power.”
Advancements being made in the delivery of steam into the shower, such as with MrSteam’s Linear SteamHead, mean that steam is no longer reserved for only luxurious and spacious high-end master bathrooms.
“People are looking for natural ways to take care of themselves and to stay healthy,” says Martha Orellana, v.p. of sales/marketing. “Steam has become popular as people have become more focused on their own health and wellness, as well as their own self-care. The list of wellness benefits associated with steam is extensive, including those related to breathing and joint concerns as well as skin care issues. People can also take advantage of aromatherapy by infusing steam with essential oils.”
MrSteam’s Linear SteamHead is designed with a minimalistic, unobtrusive appearance that delivers an even distribution of steam in an undulating ribbon replicating a reverse waterfall effect. It installs in the grout line flush with the shower tile, making it nearly invisible. A low-profile generator delivers steam through a series of baffles along the broad, flat opening of the steamhead for gentle and even dispersion at a low velocity and low noise level.
“It is no-profile, quiet and delivers even, billowy steam that fills the room,” concludes Orellana.
Floating shelves, such as those offered by Federal Brace, provide a lot of versatility for display and storage solutions that work in any room in the home, which increases demand, says Cathy Morgan, brand manager.
“That versatility works in every arena of the building industry, from new construction, remodel and commercial to weekend warrior,” she continues. “They are all looking for the floating shelf in every size, color and quantity.”
Additional influences driving the demand are social platforms such as Houzz and Pinterest, which showcase designer looks for everyone to see, she adds. “Federal Brace was slightly ahead of this trend in providing a solution for a heavier carry capacity for the floating shelf category as the varied uses were beginning to demand,” she states, noting the company offers shelves with a weight capacity of 100 lbs. to meet the usage demands of the market. “We have seen many companies over the last year join us in the product category.”
The company recently added a new finish and new sizes to its Floating Shelf System. The new unfinished maple shelf can be stained to match cabinetry or painted to match the room’s décor. Additionally, the brushed finish stainless steel shelving will now include a 40″ length, and the white wood grain veneer offering will include a full 72″ length.
“Wood brings warmth to a space, giving it a touch of nature,” says Andrea Flint, senior designer for Wilsonart International. “In our ever-busy world, it offers a sense of peace, calm and tranquility.”
In particular, weathered woods, such as those reflected in Wilsonart’s Artfully Repurposed Woods Collection, are especially popular. “People are drawn to weathered woodgrains because they offer a sense of history, a sense of story, helping to create an authenticity that is so desired,” Flint continues.
The Collection features 23 custom patterns that capture the spirit of America in high-performing, non-porous surfaces that can be used for horizontal and vertical applications.
“The design team traveled the country looking for unique woods representative of different areas,” she explains, noting discoveries ranged from a repurposed chestnut table top in Salem, MA, to weathered, lime-washed barns in the Heartland, to the Modern Marquetry embraced by artists echoing the Bohemian lifestyle and surf culture in Southern California, to name a few. “Designs lean heavily towards planed woods, which offer a celebration of history.
“A favorite of mine is the Antique Barrel design, which was inspired by discarded oak bourbon barrels,” she continues. “What I love about it is that it represents authenticity. It’s a story of the wood, of oak barrels used to house American-made bourbon for 12 years. I was able to portray that in a unique design that captures some of the history of America in a usable, attainable solution that can be shared.”
More so than ever before, the family pet is accepted and encouraged to live alongside its owner in today’s homes, says Cody Bradbury, president of Bradco Stainless Products. “We saw this trend growing in 2013 when we introduced our stainless pet feeding drawer inserts,” he adds, noting that the recent introduction of its Stainless Pet Food Storage Drawer builds on the company’s pet-centric offerings.
“We noticed the design process of a mudroom or laundry room was lacking a refined approach to the storage of kibble and pet treats,” he continues. “All too often, storage resorted to a plastic tub implemented well after the design and installation process.”
The Stainless Pet Food Storage Drawer is custom built to fit any timber or Euro-style drawer system. “Being made-to-measure gives the homeowner and designer flexibility to address the topic of organization and storage well after the room is in practical daily use,” he says.
The drawer features a removable sliding lid with integrated seals to help maintain freshness and control odor. A pet’s name or descriptive text can be engraved for a personalized touch. All products are crafted in the U.S. from U.S.-sourced materials.
The 4WTCD Series Tiered Combination Drawers from Rev-A-Shelf are wider combination drawers designed for 30″ and 36″ cabinets. A movable upper cutlery tray conceals a built-in knife organizer while adjacent compartments provide storage space. The pre-assembled drawer boxes can be ordered with or without Blumotion soft-close slides and lateral stabilizer bar.
“Rev-A-Shelf’s 4WTCD Tiered Combination Drawer is so popular because it maximizes your storage potential while organizing all your kitchen utensils in one drawer. With multiple sizes for face frame and full-access cabinetry, this drawer features two tiers of storage with a built-in knife organizer and our unique foil wrap insert.
Additionally, this unit is
fully assembled so you simply add your drawer front and you have a beautifully organized drawer,” says Shari McPeek, advertising and public relations manager at Rev-A-Shelf.
“Designers love the product because they fit face frame and full-access cabinets with larger cabinet openings. They maximize one’s storage potential with two tiers of storage, and since they come fully assembled, they simply add their drawer front and have a perfectly organized drawer that glides effortlessly on Blumotion soft-close slides,” McPeek concludes.
Edge-grain walnut at a bold 2.5″ thick from J. Aaron Wood Countertops works as a focal point in this kitchen as well as many others. “Wood countertops make a great counterpoint to stone and other solid surfaces in any kitchen,” says Debra Mata-Castro. “With the latest generation sealers, wood tops are virtually maintenance free. Plus, installing sinks and ranges is safe and simple.”
Custom options include different construction styles, edge profiles and surface textures. Extra options such as drain channels and knife slots add to their practicality.
Lots of species of hardwood are available, from North American domestics to exotic woods from all over the world, she adds, noting that choices range from hard maple to Zebra Wood.
“Walnut in particular, with its rich, yet neutral color, is one of the most popular species,” she says. “Done in edge grain, the look will be linear and contemporary while a wide plank style offers the face of wood with all the lovely grain patterns in a more traditional furniture feel. No two pieces are alike and the natural organic quality is a special touch in a room so often dominated by steel and stone,” she concludes.
“Cleaning the toilet is everyone’s least favorite job,” says James Walsh, v.p., chinaware and commercial products, LIXIL Americas. “In a bathroom that receives frequent use, such as a master bath, choosing a toilet that is designed to reduce cleaning and maintenance is always a smart choice. Time is a precious resource for modern families, so products that require less maintenance, such as a toilet that is effortless to clean, are gaining in popularity.”
The ActiClean self-cleaning toilet from American Standard provides a unique opportunity for designers to offer their clients a stylish and reliable toilet that cleans itself on demand, at an affordable price suited to almost any budget, he continues. “On the outside, the ActiClean toilet displays graceful, classic design details with all cleaning components discreetly hidden from view,” he notes.
It combines the power of VorMax flushing technology with a fully integrated self-cleaning system with cleaning solution. The user presses the button for the preferred cleaning cycle: a Quick Clean that takes one minute; or a Deep clean that offers an extended, 10-minute cleaning cycle. A flip-up door on the tank houses the control panel for the cleaning system. The bowl also features a CleanCurve Rim that omits the rim cavity and holes inside the bowl, and EverClean, a permanent finish that inhibits the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew on the surface.
Cabinet accessories have changed the way homeowners use their kitchens, with pullouts in a variety of forms, including the Easy Access Corner Pantry from Omega National Products, providing easy access to contents as well as more efficient space utilization.
“People used to accept getting down on their hands and knees to reach into cabinets,” says Mike Feusner, v.p., sales.
“But now manufacturers are rethinking cabinet interiors and are finding ways to make access easier.”
Such is the case with the Easy Access Corner Pantry, which incorporates a full-extension drawer into a corner cabinet that rotates 360 degrees. “It has the benefit of a drawer that pulls out, thereby giving easy access to contents, especially those in the middle,” he says.
Maple and birch construction with a catalyzed natural finish is blended with chrome railings that sit atop a 4-½” rim – which prevents contents from falling out – for a transitional and contemporary design style.
Available in single and double versions, each system features full-extension, 25″ deep drawers that have 90 lb. full-extension soft-close under-mount slides. The unit comes fully assembled, except for the bearing, and is designed to fit most 36″ base cabinets.
Trillium marks the first time Cosentino is using recycled materials in the manufacturing process of its Dekton line. Trillium resembles oxidized stainless steel, notes the company. The ultra-compact surface remains smooth to the touch and impervious to the elements, including scratches, stains, UV rays and temperature shock, the company adds.
The TempZone Shower Floor Heating Mat by WarmlyYours Radiant Heating ensures a warm floor during a shower. The Shower Floor Mats come in three different sizes, with a hole in the mat to accommodate the shower floor drain. Each mat is designed with a wire-free drain for fast and easy installation. TempZone floor warming systems are engineered with an insulated copper alloy resistance warming cable taped to a fiberglass mesh backing.
13. SPECIALTY SINK
Designed to enhance entertaining and function, Franke’s Chef Center sink features two anti-microbial compartments and a removable storage bin for collecting food scraps, chilling wine or storing kitchen tools. An array of custom accessories is also available, including Franke’s Roller Mat.
Drawer and cabinet interiors can be illuminated with Richelieu Hardware’s LED Leaf. The drawer version is mounted on a sliding mechanism, while the cabinet version is mounted directly on the cabinet top interior. Both are equipped with sensors that automatically turn lights on and off when the cabinet or drawer is opened or closed.
15. FLOATING SHELVES
The Industrial Collection by Designs of Distinction from Brown Wood Products includes hand-scraped shelves in multiple depths and widths designed to mimic reclaimed material. Shelving is available both unfinished and stained in three weathered finishes: Espresso, Chestnut and Grey.
16. FLOATING SHELVES
Bertch Cabinet Manufacturing offers a collection of floating wood shelves as a standard item in all of its Custom, Semi Custom, Stock and Bath programs. The shelves are available in all finishes. Floating shelves are being used in the kitchen as open storage, reducing the number of wall cabinets in designed spaces. The shelves are available in 24″, 30″, 36″, 42″ and 48″ lengths, 10″ depths and 2-½” thicknesses.
17. WOOD COUNTERTOPS
Wood countertops from Caron Industries are available in a wide range of species, and include salvaged and green choices. Live edges are available for a more rustic look. The Top Style Collection features laminated choices that provide the durability needed for the kitchen.
18. SPICE STORAGE
Dropout Cabinet Fixtures is now offering an optional EZ Install version of its patented Spice Rack filler cabinet. This new version comes fully assembled and mounted in a pre-finished maple housing, and can be integrated into either 39″ or 42″ upper cabinets.
19. POP-UP POWER
The PCS77 Pop-Up Kitchen Power from Doug Mockett & Co. features a grommet that is weather tight, GFCI protected and tamper resistant, with circuit breaker protection for in-use power safety. Users press to pop up when needed, then press down to hide away, where it ‘disappears’ nearly flush with the surface.
20. (TIE) DRAWER ORGANIZERS
Häfele’s Fineline Move is a system of trays, dividers, boxes, baskets and holders for wider and deeper kitchen cabinet drawers that keeps items in place. The modular system’s new Sky Cutlery Trays are customizable and are offered in Slate Gray or Textured White. They can be cut to fit as well as further segmented by optional dividers that snap into place.
20. (TIE) BUILT-IN PIZZA OVEN
The Built-in Artisan Fire Pizza Oven from Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet uses propane or natural gas to cook and heats up in approximately 20 minutes. Stone lined, the oven reaches temperatures of 800° F via two independent burners. The pizza oven can be installed into a wall or masonry structure.
20. (TIE) FLOOR WARMING MATS
EasyHeat Warm Tiles Elite floor warming mats, at less than ¹⁄8” thick, result in virtually no floor height buildup, notes the firm. The super-thin mats are available in both standard rectangular sizes ranging from six sq. ft. to 138 sq. ft., with a high output of 15W per square foot.
20. (TIE) FAUX BUTT HINGE
EuroButt II is a faux butt hinge for cabinets from EuroButt. It allows designers and cabinetmakers who use or want to use the concealed hinge to achieve the decorative traditional hinge look while retaining all of the high-tech adjustments, the firm notes.