High End Meets High Function

When discussing high-end kitchen and bath products, the words "luxury," "upscale" and "comfort" often come to mind. However, the terms "functionality" and "ease of use" are rarely part of the mix. Yet, in today's kitchen and bath market, luxury products are becoming more and more functional and easier to use, just as functional, easy-to-use products are becoming more luxurious.

Part of the functionality of today's kitchen and bath products has to do with meeting the needs of the aging population, as well as those with disabilities ' and doing it with style. Though the term "Universal Design" is self-explanatory, there are many who miss its true essence. While the phrase encompasses products that provide ease of use and more comfortable living for those who are elderly or physically challenged, it offers those same benefits to people of any age and ability.

And today's products do that in a more upscale fashion than ever before. Grab bars for the shower and tub come in a wide range of styles and finishes to help accessorize bathrooms. Frameless shower doors provide easy access while they show off intricate tile work. Handshowers feature easy grips and adjustable heights as they provide added flexibility, enhancing the ultimate shower experience. Kitchen cabinets offer the latest in slide-out and pull-down shelving for easy access and top-of-the-line organization. The list of options for aging in place stylishly ' or just streamlining everyday functions ' is endless.

While most consumers don't usually think about Universal Design until they are faced with health-related issues, the kitchen and bath industry is changing all of that through a host of products and services. Manufacturers are introducing convenience-oriented products that give consumers the ability to maintain their independence as they age.

Furthermore, dealers and designers are now educating consumers about the choices available, anticipating clients' long-term as well as current needs. Though 25% of residential remodelers polled in a survey conducted by the Remodelors Council of the National Association of Home Builders said that customers still hadn't heard of the concept of "aging in place," 61% said their company was involved in home modification related to aging in place, and 74% said they had seen an increase in aging-in-place work requests in the past five years.

On these three pages, K&BDN offers an overview of some of the myriad products currently available for those interested in designing upscale spaces that incorporate the concept of Universal Design.

1. Creative Specialties International offers the Dual Tub Grip, part of its Home Care line of bath safety products. The ADA-compliant Dual Tub Grip features a no-wobble-design, flat-textured grab areas for better gripping and two different heights for grasping, the company reports. The unit slides onto the tub wall and uses a bracing system that clamps into place with a locking lever.
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2. Kohler Co. now offers Tripoint technology on its touchless faucets. Tripoint determines the true distance between the sensor and the trigger object with a consistency similar to that of an auto-focus camera, keeping false activation to a minimum, the company reports. The lav faucet also features a high-temperature limit stop for safety and a temperature adjustment lever on the side of the faucet.
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3. The Real Solutions slide-out pot and pan caddy by Knape & Vogt has two roll-out shelves supported by precision ball-bearing slides that provide easy access to storage. Large shelves and side racks can hold a range of cookware and lids.
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4. This frameless glass shower door from Celesta provides easy access to the shower while aesthetically enhancing the view of the tile and shower area, the company notes. Because it is frameless, no metal boundary is needed.
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5. Diamond Spas fabricates the copper Eastwood bath that acts as a soaking bath and whirlpool tub. The bowed top ledge and platform bottom have both been hammered for a distressed look. The antiqued patina finish offers "Old World charm," the company adds.
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6. The Sensation handshower from Jaclo Industries offers three different settings ' massage, rain and spray ' that can be used alone or in five combinations. The rubberized grip allows the user to easily change spray functions, notes the firm. The handshower is shown here with a showerarm mount, which allows it to be used as either a showerhead or hand-held unit.
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7. Zephyr Ventilation offers the Tempest I hood, part of the Power Series line of ventilation hoods. Tempest I features Intelli-Sensor technology, which is a touchless control that includes self-sensing operation and a built-in room temperature sensor. The hood also encompasses five levels of auto speed selection and an active delay off feature, which enables the unit to automatically shut down after 15 minutes of inactivity.
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8. The Whirlpool High-Efficiency 24" Front-Load Pair can be installed side-by-side, stacked or undercounter for easy access and ease of use. Both units measure 23-3/8"Wx33-1/4"H; the washer is 23-1/8" deep while the dryer is 23-1/4" deep.
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9. Iridess, the doorless shower unit from Clarke Products, features smooth acrylic surfaces and a translucent curved exterior wall. Its large 56"x72" footprint allows ample room for a wide choice of wall, ceiling and hand-held showerheads and body sprays, the firm adds. The floor surface is textured to prevent slipping. The translucent wall is available in four colors, while the floor is offered in 16 shades.
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10. Lacava's collection of bath and shower products includes the Minimal series. Shown
is the the series' adjustable handshower, which provides flexibility and function for the user.
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11. Acryline USA offers 28 forms of massage in its soaking tubs and warm air system tubs to customize the bathing experience, the firm notes. Optional design features include chromatherapy and dome lighting, decorative grab bars in different finishes, finishes with or without integral illumination and a wide array of decorative finishes for control panels and warm air injectors.
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12. Eurorack towel warmers from Hinge-It Corp. feature patented serpentine designs. The unit provides easy slide on and off from open sides. The towel warmer are available in rack and spiral forms and floor, wall or towel bar mounts.
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13. The Grab Bar Collection from Watermark Designs includes grab bars in 12 sizes for a
customized fit, the firm notes. Available in four trims that match the firm's faucet collections,
the grab bars are also offered in 35 finishes, including satin copper, shown.
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