Elegant Retreats

July 1, 2007
K/BIS retains its place as the beauty contest for the home-building and remodeling industry. By Robert P. Mader Of CONTRACTOR staff A couple decades ago when the Kohler Design Center opened in Kohler, Wis., Herbert Kohler gave a speech about "gracious living." That's the focus of the annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, held this year in Las Vegas the kitchen and bathroom, not as utilitarian spaces,

K/BIS retains its place as the beauty contest for the home-building and remodeling industry.

By Robert P. Mader

A couple decades ago when the Kohler Design Center opened in Kohler, Wis., Herbert Kohler gave a speech about "gracious living." That's the focus of the annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, held this year in Las Vegas — the kitchen and bathroom, not as utilitarian spaces, but as an elegant retreat or focal point of the home.

Kohler launched the next generation of its digital shower control system. The DTV began with water, but this enhanced edition adds music, ambient lighting, chromatherapy and steam, all operated by a digital interface. The high-fidelity SoundTile shower speakers are waterproof and designed to match the shape, profile and finish of Kohler's WaterTile body sprays and showerheads. With the new WaterTile Ambient Rain, the shower now incorporates changing light patterns. WaterTile Ambient Rain is a 21-by-21in. lighted square ceiling panel that includes four WaterTiles. The DTV II also works with a Kohler steam adapter kit that connects to the Kohler Fast Response steam generators.

Kohler maintains that with the advent of secondary prep sinks in kitchens, the main kitchen sink is used for heavy-duty cleanup work. One example is the new Carrizo cast-iron kitchen sink with a tiered design. The right side of the sink features a 9-in. basin with space for washing large pots and pans. The left side of the sink features a shallow basin, 4-1/2-in. deep so that the basin is elevated. The higher basin allows kitchenware to be positioned at a height that is easier for scrubbing.

Kohler announced that eight of its toilets will bear the EPA WaterSense label, including Kohler pressure-assisted 1.1-gpf toilets and Sterling dual-flush toilets. In addition, six new models of Kohler Comfort Height two-piece toilets representing four design styles

— Memoirs Classic, Memoirs Stately, Highline and Archer — can be adjusted to use 1.28 gpf.

Danze presented more style options for its Fairmont Collection for bathrooms, including a single-mount, single-control lavatory faucet, singlehandle vessel filler faucet and two wallmount faucets in a choice of single- or two-handle designs. In addition, a new single-mount single-control kitchen faucet with a brass vegetable spray and a smaller convenience sink faucet have been added to the Fairmont line. The firm showed a large South Sea bamboo-style deck-mount faucet displayed over a stone bowl. In addition, Danze displayed its 300 Series single-function showerheads and 400 Series showerheads with aerated, pulsing or drenching sprays.

Gerber Plumbing's three new lines of vitreous china bath suites combine style and high-powered toilets. The Allerton, Brianne and Picturesque suites include high-performance, gravity-fed toilets equipped with Gerber's HP2 or XP3 flushing technology and matching pedestal lavatories.

Delta Faucet expanded its Venetian Bronze finish to the Orleans Bath Series and the Leland pull-down kitchen faucet. Delta was the first faucet brand to bring a hand-crafted rubbed bronze finish into the mass market. Since its debut in 2001 on the Victorian Bath Collection, Venetian Bronze has gained immense popularity, the company says.

The Orleans Bath Series features a high-arc tubular design offering a larger spout and hub. The series includes several options to fit any sink style, including a two-handle center set with swivel spout, mini-widespread and widespread lavatory faucets. The series includes matching three- and four-hole Roman tub fixtures. Tub/ shower options allow for a consistent style throughout the bath.

Fastest growing faucets
As the fastest growing faucet category today, pull-down/pull-out kitchen faucets such as the Leland pull-down are in high demand, according to Delta. Featuring a high-arc spout and twofunction pull-down spray head that switches from stream to spray with a twist, the Leland kitchen faucet includes Delta's patented twist-and-lock docking mechanism, which holds the spray head firmly in place when not in use. Leland is offered with and without soap dispenser in Venetian Bronze, chrome and Brilliance stainless finishes.

Delta introduced the new Talbott single-handle kitchen faucet with a curved, elongated spout. Talbott is available in one-hole installation, twohole with side spray, three-hole without side spray or integrated deck with side spray and four-hole with side spray, in both chrome and Brilliance stainless.

Delta's Brizo fashion faucet brand debuted the Baliza, a new pull-out kitchen faucet, as well as both a wall-mount and a deckmount pot-filler faucet. These additions provide Brizo homeowners with high-end kitchen products. Baliza features the first four-function pull-out kitchen faucet from Brizo. It offers spray, stream, volume control and pause functionality. Baliza is the first pull-out or pull-down kitchen faucet to allow water volume to be controlled from the wand. Baliza is the first Brizo product to feature the (m)Lock exclusive magnetic docking system.

Moen expanded its offerings with new bronze finishes. Unlike brassylooking faucets, the new tones are muted brushed bronze and antique bronze. Brushed bronze on the Icon faucet collection is described as a warm finish. The Icon includes a singlehandle single-mount faucet. Antique bronze on the Kingsley collection is said to have a golden base with black undertones. Both the Icon and the Kingsley come in wall-mount styles.

The company introduced faucets in a finish called Hammered Nickel that's commonly used on hardware and lighting products. Moen showed two new pull-out kitchen faucets, the Divine and the Medora, and a Showhouse pot filler faucet in oil-rubbed bronze with dual shutoffs. The firm unveiled the Destiny powder room sensor faucet that produces a clear sheet of water.

Faster flushes
American Standard introduced the Champion 4 Flushing System, featuring a 4-in. opening between the tank and the bowl, pushing water into the bowl three times faster than the standard 2-in. flush valve and one-third faster than a 3-1/4-in. flush valve. Its wide-open, fully glazed trapway can move almost 70% more mass than a 2in. trapway, the company says.

FloWise, a toilet that reduces water usage by more than 20% without a dual flush, has now earned it the right to bear the new EPA WaterSense label. American Standard introduced three new FloWise showerheads that use only 1.5 gal. per minute or 40% less water than the current 2.5-gpm code requirement for showerheads.

Afwall FloWise and Madera FloWise 1.28-gpf commercial toilets consume 20% less water than the standard 1.6gpf. Available for use with both the toilets, the new Selectronic valve automatically compensates for fluctuations in water pressure.

Cadet 3 compact toilets fit elongated comfort into a round front space. The one- and two-piece compact toilets feature fired-in, permanent, antimicrobial EverClean surface.

Elkay's new-single bowl Mystic sink features a removable, heavy-duty, 12gauge stainless work surface shelf, which is suspended on three sides by a bi-level bowl created to receive the shelf without clips or stanchions. This Mystic's design allows homeowners to enjoy the large single-bowl style they desire, while the removable shelf provides an added work surface. This Elkay Mystic is made from 18-gauge steel and comes with an 8-in. deep bowl, which is an ergonomically friendly depth for a primary sink.

A new 87th Anniversary Edition Mystic sink features a "reverse tapered" design, which starts with a smaller open area around the rim of the sink bowl and expands outward to the sink's bottom. Elkay developed this Mystic by merging oval and elliptical shapes to create a new shape. The "reversed taper" bowl design offers increased capacity, while contributing to aesthetic interest of this contemporary style, according to Elkay, which also offers the merged oval and elliptical shaped bowl in a straight side walls version. The Anniversary Edition sink features ultra-thick 12-gauge stainless steel, even stronger than the 14gauge steel, which was the thickest the company had molded previously. The straight side walls version is made from 18-gauge steel. Both models come with Elkay's satin finish in their 8-in. deep bowl and feature a custom-cut, removable solid wood cutting board.

Jacuzzi showed its Refresh washing and drying bidet-style toilet seat, curved shower doors and a towel warming drawer. All the firm's spas and whirlpools now use a built-in water purification system.

TOTO launched a Washlet bidet seat marketing campaign that's sure to grab people's attention — photos of naked posteriors with happy faces drawn on them. Called "Clean is Happy," the campaign will be used in online advertising, public relations, a new Website, showroom displays and viral marketing activities. The campaign (CleanisHappy.com) will be used on billboards in New York and Los Angeles, although it probably wouldn't play in Peoria.

TOTO presented new square vessel lavatories in its Lexicon line and nine new high-efficiency toilets, including the Eco Nexus, Eco Supreme, Eco UltraMax and Eco Drake, which all use the firm's 1.28-gpf E-Max Flushing System.

Hansgrohe introduced its Metris and Talis lines. Talis is a minimalist line with 45-degree angled faucet spouts and simple stick handles. Metris is the upscale line, also minimalist and geometric but with rounded corners and full handles. Metris has a sensor lavatory faucet that can be powered with either batteries or AC power. Both lines come with a Raindance showerhead with air injection for a fuller-feeling shower spray. The company displayed its SideWay Showerpanel with flush body sprays, concealed track for the handshower hose and concealed shelves.

Bemis introduced the Xcite! toilet seat with an integrated hinge design that eliminates visible hardware, making it easier to clean. Because there's a continuous connection between the two mounting points, the seat is stable and wobble-free. The Xcite! hinge will be available on several models of round and elongated seats. Bemis presented the Easy 2 toilet seat with a slow-closing feature and a lift-off hinge so the seat can be removed for cleaning. To go along with the easy-cleaning feature, the firm has launched a nationwide search contest for the "Ultimate Busy Mom," with prizes such as maid service, handyman service and a personal chef.

Fizzy or flat water
Everpure, in addition to its line of undersink and whole-house filters, introduced the Helia combination hot and chilled water beverage appliance. It introduced what it's calling "the new bubbly," the Exubera combination chilled/carbonated water system that can dispense either flat or fizzy water for flavored sodas or mixed drinks. The Exubera can chill water to 40°F and produce 6.6 gal. per hour. The CO2 canister has an adjustable regulator. The Helia can dispense water chilled to 40° or heated to 200°, and it also has a 6.6gal.-per-hour capacity.

Everpure showed the HSD-440P Whole House Ultrafiltration System, a hollow-fiber multi-bore membrane technology that can filter out sub-micron particles and cysts. The HSD-440P removes more than 98% of .025 micron particles and more than 99.99% of .065 micron particles, while retaining the natural mineral content of the water. Its Electronic Metered Controller features diagnostic display.

Oceania introduced the Dignité walk-in/sit-down acrylic bathtub that's designed, the firm says, to help people live independently in their own homes. The tub has a slip-resistant solid-surface acrylic finish and measures 51-by30-by-36 in. Bathers sit on a contoured 15-1/4-in. high seat, seal the door and fill the tub. The Dignité Aeromassage offers up to 60 air jets positioned around the floor and the perimeter of the seat with an integrated heating element and an electronic control with three massage modes. The bath has a self-draining and drying system.

Thermique Technologies unveiled a towel warmer that uses electrically heated glass. A special coating on the glass allows electrical currents to circulate evenly across the surface of the glass. The Thermique heated-glass towel warmer looks like a pane of glass suspended vertically between two metal brackets. The brackets suspend the glass in space just a few inches from the wall. The wall-mount brackets will be available in five finishes: brushed nickel, chrome, oil-rubbed bronze, polished nickel and polished brass.

Zoeller Pump Co. introduced the Qwik Jon Ultima that allows for the quick and easy installation of a bathroom almost anywhere. The system can be installed either free standing or behind a wall. Model 202 comes complete with a rear flush toilet and a grinder pump tank, including a minigrinder pump.

Alsons Corp. introduced patented "fluidics" shower spray technology that delivers a reduced, water-saving flow while giving the user a good shower experience. The fluidics showerheads are available with a 1.85- or a 1.75-gpm spray and, for a 36% water savings over the standard 2.5-gpm, there is a 1.6-gpm spray. Also available is a two-spray unit that allows the user to switch between 1.85-gpm and 2.5 gpm with the turn of a lever.

Alsons unveiled two styles and a red color for its IN2ITION hand shower/ showerhead system. IN2ITION combines a hand-held shower with four or five spray settings, and a fixed showerhead with an extra wide spray. The two-in-one system gives consumers the option to use either the hand-held shower or showerhead separately or together.

Dornbracht has refined the details of its kitchen faucet offerings with new handle options, flanges, spray buttons and a spray rinse faucet that the firm says is on a more residential scale. The firm's bath modules feature square body sprays and a large waterfall shower that will be available in September. Dornbracht debuted a line called Elemental Spa where the faucets themselves are almost invisible, blending into the fixtures, but the internal channels in the brass create a water stream that sparkles.

Villeroy & Boch is offering suites for the first time in the United States. The company is calling it Euro style at an accessible price point. Elody is art deco, Twist is modern and urban, Sunberry is modern but it's the kind of family-friendly design one might see in the suburbs, and the Strada line is the most luxurious and Euro looking.

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