Top of the Line

Top of the Line

By John Filippelli

As in past years, the most-asked-about products' list is compiled by tallying readers' requests for information. This year 4,393 separate reader requests were noted a key indicator of the industry's continuing interest in innovative

And this year's Top 25 Most-Asked-About Products range from two-drawer dishwashers, ranges with a hidden microwave drawer and curvy kitchen sinks to wire cookware organizers and adjustable drawer organizers.

Personalization continued to be high on readers' wish list, as well, with this year's top products once again showing a demand for personalized touches. This was particularly evident in the form of decorative cabinet hardware that lends both beauty and sophistication to any kitchen and bath design, in styles that range from sleek and contemporary to Old World and traditional. In fact, hardware punctuated the list with an impressive 11 spots out of 25.

Function and style also converged in many products, as countertop and shower door materials are increasingly becoming another way to express personal style through a functional product. As a result, stainless steel and wood appeared to be new hot picks for countertops this year, and textured glass was a material du jour for both countertops and shower doors.

In addition, futuristic luxury weaved its way through the most in-demand products of 2004, as products such as a TV bath mirror and permanent recessed night lights that feature interchangeable color lenses captured both designers' eyes and imaginations.

In the end, each of these top products share a mix of style and function that gives consumers exactly what they desire: a unique, luxurious and personalized space in which to easily entertain or simply kick back and relax.

On this and the following four pages, Kitchen & Bath Design News offers a glimpse at the top 25 most-asked-about products of 2004, as decided by K&BDN's readership.

1. Cookware Organizer
The call for efficient, personalized spaces is all the rage right now, so it's no surprise that K&BDN's number-one most-asked-about product for 2004 fits the bill perfectly. Rev-A-Shelf, LLC's 5389 Series of Cookware Organizers is for base 24" and 36" cabinets. Model 5389-21CR has seven dividers for saucepans or lids and a basket space for storing large pots.

According to Rob Jenkins, director of marketing
for the Jeffersontown, KY-based firm: "People want a place to store their pots, pans, dinnerware and their trash, [so they are choosing] functional storage accessories. Also, people are not only willing to upgrade, but in this day and age they almost expect it."

2. Decorative Hardware
Donna Flack of Winston-Salem, NC-based Liberty Hardware Mfg Corp., believes the growing popularity of decorative hardware simply parallels another industry trend.

"The cabinet industry is currently adding corbels and accent decorative moldings," she notes. Therefore, the company has introduced the Carved Creations Collection, a line of decorative knobs that mesh with this trend, available in eight different detailed designs.

3. Wood Vanity
The ability to meet customer demand for a natural-looking, Old-World-style product simply means understanding people, says Paterson, NJ-based Empire Industries' president Jacob Goren. "We are basically a traditional country, and people seem to like the old look of wood," he says.
To that end, the company offers the Lido Collection of solid wood, hand-carved vanities. The vanities measure 36" and 48", and come with matching granite countertops available in three colors.

4. Two-Drawer Dishwasher
Strong reader response to KitchenAid's drawer dishwasher is a reflection of consumer's desire for more efficient work spaces, says Brian Maynard, director of integrated marketing and spokesperson for the Benton Harbor, MI-based firm.

"Consumers want to have their food preparation, food preservation and clean-up area where they want it, when they want it," he explains.
The drawer dishwasher features two drawers that pull out to reveal separate dishwashers capable of washing two loads simultaneously at completely different cycle settings.

5. Curvaceous Kitchen Sink
Steve Sorenson, director of marketing services for Oak Brook, IL-based Elkay, Mfg., believes that design professionals appreciate a good idea. That's why he says 'concept products,' such as his company's Mystic Sink, have grown to become the focal point of the kitchen
"[With concept products], people start to think about how it fits into their lifestyle or simplifies their everyday tasks," he says.
The four-foot-long, curved sink features the faucet and drain positioned at opposite ends, with water cascading throughout the tapered preparation/work area.

6. Leather Cabinet Handles
Tapping into consumer's willingness to try different materials, Turnstyle Designs Ltd. offers a selection of leather cabinet handles and knobs, which are hand-stitched by master harness makers.

Stephen Roberts, managing director for the Devon, England-based firm, offers: "The leather range has really caught people's imagination, and I think people are familiar with leather as a material. And, it's something that is comfortable for them."

Even more importantly, he adds: "This type of product also enables top-end kitchen makers to differentiate themselves from the middle market and lower end of the market."

7. Glass Shower Doors
Creating products that inspire designers is the key role of manufacturers, says Robert Kessler, CEO of New York, NY-based CBD Glass Studio.
He explains: "People are looking for manufacturers that can translate their ideas into product." Thus, the firm offers glass shower doors in 15 styles, which include Sandstorm, Avalanche, Cobblestone, Scrolls, Hail and Mirage, among others. All shower doors are available in a standard 72" height and in standard widths of 24", 26" and 28".

8. Decorative Hardware
David Willison, president of Elizabethtown, PA-based Premier Hardware Designs, Inc., believes that a personalized space can be achieved easily with the right piece of hardware.

"Decorative hardware can put the finishing touch to cabinets and make it unique while adding something different to the cabinetry," he says.
With that in mind, the firm has developed a line of decorative hardware that comes in five finishes and includes a variety of knobs, pulls, appliance pulls and backsplash tiles.

9. Pewter Hardware
It has been said that, "If you build it, they will come." This especially true for decorative hardware.

So says Kathy Dustman, owner of Lake Geneva, WI-based Notting Hill Decorative Hardware: "Our experience shows that most designers have clients who are willing to pay top dollar for unique, visually stunning, high-quality hardware."

Strong response to the company's Florid Leaves Pewter Set, a collection of knobs and pulls available in a variety of finishes, reinforces this belief, she concludes.

10. Tankless Water Heaters
Comfort is the name of the game for tankless water heaters, says Rheem Water Heaters' specialty products sales manager, Tiffani Thompson.
"Tankless water heaters are a great option because they are space-saving and give consumers the peace of mind of continuous hot water which makes them energy efficient, as well," she offers.

Continuing that trend, the company offers two Pronto! tankless gas water heaters. The water heaters provide instantaneous hot water and save energy because there is no need to maintain a supply of hot water, Thompson concludes.

11. Cabinet Hardware
Get A Grip Fine Hardware's cabinet hardware created from anodized and powder-coated metals in combination with fused and cast glass has created a buzz for a simple reason, says owner Judy Collins.

"People are excited to find something colorful and different from other hardware in the United States," she says.
The line includes some 26 standard handles which are available in almost 900 colors.

12. (TIE) Knobs and Pulls
Solid Bronze Cabinet Knobs and Pulls from Rocky Mountain Hardware are designed for styles ranging from traditional to contemporary, and come in any one of the company's seven different patinas.

12. (TIE) TV Bath Mirror
Available as either a recessed or surface-mount configuration, Séura, Inc.'s television mirror incorporates an LCD screen into a bath mirror. The LCD screen is visible as a window within the mirror. When turned off, the LCD screen is completely hidden from view and shows only the mirror reflection. It comes in most common mirror sizes with a 13", 15" or 20" LCD screen. Custom mirror sizes can also be accommodated, the company adds.

13. Range with Microwave Drawer
The 30"-wide, electric, free-standing or slide-in Insight Range from Sharp Electronics Corp. combines a smooth glass ceramic cooktop, glass touch screen controls and a choice of either a conventional or convection oven with a microwave drawer. The drawer incorporates the company's sensor cooking technology, and it opens manually or automatically (on select models) with a touch of a control panel.

14. Hardware Collection
The Pillow knob and Pillow bin pull by MNG Designer Hardware, LLC are part of the company's Better Basics Collection of hardware. They are available in two finishes: brass antique and silver antique, according to the company.

15. Night Light
Starion, a line of permanent recessed night lights for automatic dusk-to-dawn accent, mood and safety illumination, is available from Briteland Industries Corp. The unit features an integral photocell, temper-proof construction and snap-on decorative faceplate. The Borealis model, shown here, features interchangeable color lenses for ambience, the company notes.

16. Stainless Steel Pulls
From Arthur Harris & Co. comes a variety of customized, stainless steel bar pulls and knobs that can be manufactured to fit custom-designed cabinetry or retrofit existing cabinets, according to the company.

17. Solid Brass Hardware
The Hamilton Decorative Collection offers a variety of solid brass pulls, knobs, bath accessories and registers all inspired by the American outdoors. Additionally, a brushed nickel collection has recently been introduced, the company notes.