By Barbara Ballinger, Architecture Coach columnist
Functionality is still a key driver when home owners spend thousands of dollars to build and remodel kitchens and bathrooms. But high performance shouldn’t exclude comfort — and fun. These products, which were highlighted at the 2010 annual National Kitchen & Bath Association show in Chicago, mesh function and comfort:
1. Warmly Yours adds the right amount of warmth just where it’s needed to make bathing, shaving, or applying make-up easier and more delightful, with radiant floor mats, towel warmers, and defoggable mirrors. Outdoors, sensors can detect wetness and cold to warm surfaces, whether a driveway, front walk, or patio.
2. Known for its dish drawers, Fisher & Paykel introduced an all-in-one “CoolDrawer” that makes gathering in the kitchen more enjoyable. The undercounter, variable-temperature drawer can be programmed to chill or freeze foods and store wine.
3. Glass works well as a countertop surface since it’s fashioned from recycled content, is low maintenance, nonporous, durable, and can be molded into curves or angles. But it also can be an artistic, fun surface to work on. ThinkGlass’ control panel allows the glass to change colors while also being illuminated.
4. Bathing hasn’t been just about getting clean since ancient times, but today’s tubs keep upping the ante on how relaxing the experience it can be. Kohler’s “Fountainhead VibrAcoustic” design features vibration, recorded sound tracks–though home owners can add their own music choices, chromatherapy, and different colors for the tub itself. Maax’s “Eterne” tub offers similar pleasures with aromatherapy, chromatherapy, a quiet pump, and optional back massage heater.
5. With new standards required to make showering more water efficient, Moen’s “Envi” rainhead satisfies the need; its 100 nozzles also make the experience more soothing. The head can also be adjusted so fewer nozzles provide a more concentrated spray.