The year 2019 was a good one for innovation in the kitchen and bath categories, but in our opinion, these 12 products stood atop the heap.
In the grand scheme of things, kitchens and baths are typically the most dynamic building products categories. Change happens fast, trends come and go pretty quickly, and brands always seem to be cooking up something exciting in their research and development labs.
According to the latest bathroom trends report from the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), designers feel that the shower and vanity categories hold the most interesting new product options. Other respondents believe new offerings in showers and shower surrounds were some of the most interesting products on the market, while some say bathroom technology products held the greatest promise.
In showers, designers pointed out solid-surface walls, touch controls, curbless and no-door designs, wet rooms, and architectural shower doors as growing standouts in the category. For vanities, respondents were excited about floating cabinets; new finishes and colors; new materials such as MDF, recycled material, laminates; high-gloss looks; and open shelves.
For designers who are in interested in technology, new products include controls for lighting, music, water temperature, and leak detection; mirrors with built-in TV, lighting, and steam control, app-enabled control over radiant floors or digital shower valves; and color therapy for showers and bathtubs. In the kitchen, smart and connected appliances offer users more flexibility and continue to gain traction with buyers—especailly young ones.
This past year saw product introductions in all of these categories, as manufacturers sought to attract new, younger buyers with tech-enabled offerings; water-conserving innovations; and hip, stylish products that cater to modern tastes.
Manufacturers are wise to pivot toward modern and contemporary offerings. Overall, transitional and contemporary looks are expected to dominate kitchen and bath style in the coming years. Almost 90 percent of designers expect transitional style to remain popular, and 80 percent agree that contemporary will do the same.
Modern and tech-endabled products had strong showings in the industry this year, but they were not the only products that made our list. Other top products include options geared toward the remodeiling community, offerings that save time and money for builders, and others that simply offered cool designs.
Because we no longer have the print magazine, the editors decided to take a hard look at every product that ran on the website in 2019 and come up with a list of kitchen and bath introductions that met our criteria in a handful of areas. Does the product offer a fresh design? Does it make its category better? Is it innovative? Does is solve a problem? And does it offer an aesthetic or functional benefit to consumers or builders?
Here are 12 that we feel stood head and shoulders above the rest (in no particular order):
Richelieu, the specialty hardware manufacturer and distributor, introduced a new motorized cabinet storage system that lifts up to maximize storage and accessibility in the kitchen. The company says the Qanto Electric Lift-Up System adds functionality to usually difficult-to-access areas such as base corner cabinets in L-shaped and U-shaped kitchens and end cabinets of kitchen islands. It’s available for either island or corner installations, and consists of two trays that rise from inside the cabinet at the push of a button. The same button make the tray descend back inside the cabinet. Read the full story here.
Schluter-Systems says its brushed stainless steel shower shelves are fast and easy to install and bring a new design element to tiled showers. The shelves are made from 5/32-inch-thick stainless steel and require no special tools for installation. Instead, they fit neatly between rows of tile and do not require any materials or fasteners to penetrate the waterproofing membrane on the walls. They are available in five shapes and sizes. Read the full story here.
The Blade 3D-printed faucet from DXV won Best of Show at the 2019 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. While other 3D printed faucets have preserved the structure of conventional plumbing products, Blade features a pure design and unique user experience. The faucet senses the user’s presence and automatically turns on as the hands approach. Water is delivered around the edge of a circular opening in the spout surface, appearing in the shape of a vortex. Blade is printed in stainless steel and finished by hand.
High-end Chinese appliance brand Fotile says the EMG9030 is the industry’s first intelligent, self-adjusting range hood. Featuring an intelligent air management systerm, the hood automatically detects hazardous gas and initiates ventilation to start cleaning the air. The unit uses an airborne grease separation technique that achieves a 92 percent oil filtration rate and 98 percent airborne grease separation rate, the company claims. Operating at 48 decibels, the hood uses Silent Volute technology that ensures a smoother and faster airflow, while reducing the turbulence of air, the brand says. Read the full story here.
Shower drain manufacturer QuickDrain USA has introduced a new product that literally takes water removal behind the wall. The innovative linear shower drain has no decorative metal components. Instead, water exits the downward slope of the shower pan into a drain channel concealed behind the base of the wall. Nearly any tile can be installed in the drain’s magnetic vertical cover before it is attached to the shower wall, resulting in a fully integrated design. The product comes in three standard sizes: 48 inches, 72 inches, and 96 inches. Read the full story here.
Kitchen manufacturer Diamond Cabinets says its biometric-secured drawer is the first such product in the industry. Designed for storing valuable and sensitive items, the Biometric Drawer is a standard unit that has with an installed self-locking mechanism on the inside to keep everything from prescriptions and passports to jewelry and sweet treats safe from thieves or children. With no code required, the fingerprint reader can store up to 100 unique fingerprints, ensuring every household member can have access to the drawer. The drawer featuring Master Lock Biometric Technology is available on 18-, 21- and 24-inch-wide base drawer cabinets. Read the full story here.
Holland-based PITT Cooking has introduced to the U.S market a new multifunctional brass burner system that is integrated into the kitchen countertop. Unlike conventional burners that are integrated in a glass or stainless steel cooktop, the PITT Cooking burners and knobs are embedded directly into the countertop for a clean contemporary look. The manufacturer says the burner can easily and safely be combined with a wide variety of countertops whether you choose to use granite, quartz, marble, concrete, terrazzo, glass, ceramic, stone, Corian, or stainless steel. The combination burner allows users to cook on both low and high power that can be adjusted by one knob. The “professional brass burners offer 30% more power than traditional kitchen gas burners,” the company claims. Read the full story here.
MTI Baths new shower base allows remodelers to switch from a tub to a shower. The unit is a solution for people remodeling a bathroom but find the original drain pipe does not align where they need it. Baths with narrower bases than the desired shower pose a unique problem to remodelers, the company says: either it is offset or the pipes need to be rerouted. But with the new shower base design, it is possible to save the shower’s aesthetics without disturbing the old piping. The base’s main feature is a hidden drain system with a stainless steel cover that creates the visual of it being centered. Under the drain cover lies the original off-set drain in a recessed rectangle that still routes the water into the original drain pipes. Measuring 60 inches by 36 inches, the base is made from Lucite cross-linked cast acrylic. Read the full story here.
Moen has developed a garbage disposal equipped with movement-sensing technology to illuminate storage space under the kitchen sink. When the cupboard door is opened, a light activates to give users more visibility under the kitchen sink. It’s the first-ever motion-activated lighted garbage disposal, the company says. The EXL100c disposal offers six LED lights that activate when triggered by cabinet door movement. A 75-lumen output—comparable to the light provided by 75 birthday candles—illuminates the cupboard. Read the full story here.
Broan-NuTone says its SurfaceShield technology continuously cleans the air and prevents mold growth in the bathroom. The 80 CFM Roomside Fan with SurfaceShield combines LED technology for continuous disinfection. SurfaceShield helps homeowners combat mold, mildew, bacteria and other air pollutants by disinfecting the room’s surfaces and removing excess moisture and airborne impurities. Built into the SurfaceShield technology is a new class of continuous disinfection technology using Visible Light Disinfection technology from Vital Vio. The lights are deadly to bacteria, fungi and mold, but harmless to people, pets and plants. Read the full story here.
Though it’s not yet available in the U.S. market, Duravit's D1 is a cutting-edge electronic faucet with a flat, circular operating button and an integrated LED color ring. Designed by Matteo Thun and Antonio Rodriguez, the faucet is intuitively operated, the company says, the temperature display changes from light blue through to blue, then to orange and right up to red. Additional comfort-enhancing functions, such as water outlet, hygienic flush, thermal disinfection, and scald protection, can be configured individually. Read more here.
Tile and shower products manufacturer Schluter Systems has two products on our list this year. The Kerdi-Drain-H has a 2-inch horizontal outlet that makes it easy to relocate a drain for a shower. Designed for situations where relocating a drain can be challenging and potentially expensive—including slab-on-grade construction, basements, apartments—the horizontal outlet allows the drain to be connected to an existing drain pipe and P-trap away from the new drain location. Drain-H is similar to the company’s existing 2-inch drains except the outlet is horizontal instead of vertical. Read the full story.