11 trendy housewares from the International Builders Show

The latest and greatest in attractive, efficient home features

Building product manufacturers displayed some two dozen football fields worth of wares at the International Builders Show earlier this month in Orlando. Here, culled from the thousands of sinks, faucets, cabinets, toilets and numerous other product categories, are a dozen that caught the eye of this reporter.

If they catch on with builders, they could be available in new homes this spring or fall. Of course, current home owners don’t have to wait. If they want to do some remodeling, many of the latest and greatest are available right now.

Smart flooring

Sustainability is many things to many people. With Mohawk, people can walk (as opposed to talk) green with the company’s new RevWood hybrid laminate. The “floating floor” product is waterproof and, because it is practically indestructible, can be installed at any point during construction.

The system requires less adhesive and does not call for heat guns, seam tape or power stretchers. Mohawk, which owns the Pergo brand of laminate wood flooring, claims to be the largest recycler in the flooring business, turning billions of plastic bottles into carpeting.

“No Wiggle” Cabinet Pullout

Selected by This Old House magazine as one of the top new kitchen products, the “No-Wiggle” pull-out base cabinet from Hardware Resources keeps heavy loads of canned goods, jarred food and kitchen utensils, among other things, readily accessible.

A heavy duty top-mounting bracket and slides all but eliminate side-to-side movement and sag, while concealed Undermount slides make for silent and smooth operation. Since it was introduced, it has already become the company’s biggest seller.

The appliance superhero

Southern California kitchen manufacturer Thor, a first-time exhibitor, has come to market with a complete suite of professional style kitchen appliances, all for under $5,000.

The suite includes a 30-inch gas range, under-the-cabinet range hood, 36-inch French door refrigerator and 24-inch stainless steel dishwasher. The company also displayed a 48-inch pro-style gas range top for $1,399 — about half the price of competing products.

‘Vent’ if you like

New vent hood technology from Italian company Elica, a global leader in the sector, uses wireless sensors to constantly monitor cooking vapors and temperatures, and automatically adjusts to maintain optimal operation. The systems detects the temperature of the air and its moisture content, then adjusts the blower speed to achieve the best air quality. Available in 36 and 42-inch widths, the design fits just about any kitchen aesthetic.

With funding from Uncle Sam, Newport Partners and Broan-Nutone are in the development stage of a smart range hood that senses pollutants and automatically removes same. Most hoods on the market today are ineffective at their capture, and too noisy, the companies maintain. Their proposed unit will not only be quiet, it will be five-times more efficient than today’s Energy Star units and capture nearly 100 percent of the bad stuff. Target completion date in the fall of 2019. But it could be sooner.

Electric fireplaces

No propane or natural gas required. The new Touchstone Sideline Electric Fireplaces fit in any room as a simple in-wall insert. They are vent and maintenance fee and cool-to-the touch, so they are child and pet-friendly. The flame color, intensity and heat can by adjusted by remote control.

Another maker, Napoleon, displayed a linear, see-thru electric fireplace that can heat two rooms at different rates. Units heat up to 800 square feet, and have up to a 49-inch viewing area.

Soak it in

The Nebia Spa Shower envelops you in warm steam and spray. With 10 precision-tuned nozzles that atomize water, Nebia delivers millions of microdrops to hydrate your skin far better than ordinary showers. Crafted from anodized, rust-proof aluminum, the complete spa shower includes 25-inch adjustable height showerhead, magnetic hand wand, full self-installation kit and cleaning caps for easy maintenance. The shower will save you thousands of gallons of water a year, the company maintains.

Heads up

American Standard featured a seven-inch shower head that allow bathers to change the spray patterns with a control panel on the fixture’s outside ring. It also has a remote that can be mounted on any shower wall, especially helpful for people with height or mobility restrictions. Spray patterns include drench, jet, message and gentle, and it comes in both standard and low-flow models.

Intelligent Water

More than a trillion gallons of clean water is wasted in the United States annually because of leaks. But the Phyn Plus smart water monitoring system protects against leak damage with accuracy and reliability. Partners Phyn and Belkin have invested more than a decade of R&D in the product to monitor and measure tiny fluctuations in water pressure to detect and alert homeowners the moment a leak is identified, saving folks an average of $17,250 per loss per incident. Available for purchase starting late spring for $850 exclusively through the Uponor Pro Squad, a nationwide network of trained plumbers and water specialists.

Clean Water

No more need for bottled water. The Bluewater SuperOsmosis water purification system turns tap water into pure, clean, healthier  H2O, 24 hours day, as and when needed. It uses minimal energy and reduces the waste often associated with traditional reverse osmosis systems. Delivering up to 900 gallons daily, the compact unit is direct flow, and removes practically all known waterborne contaminants, including chemical substances, toxic metals and bacteria. Use for drinking, cooking and washing. Also can be connected to refrigerator ice makers and dishwashers for clean ice cubes and sparkling dishes and glassware.

Mirror, mirror …

Hafele’s new multi-dimensional bathroom mirror features integrated touch-keys that allow the mirror to switch from warm to cool lighting or aesthetically pleasing backlighting. Buttons also activate anti-fogging function to block condensation, And it has an integrated Bluetooth-enabled sound system. Said to be easy to install, the unit comes in three sizes.

Turn up the heat

Bosch’s new touchscreen thermostat automatically turns off and on when users leave or enter a room, saving energy and money. Connected Control can store up to four settings per unit, and connect to WiFi to control the thermostat from a smartphone or tablet. It is compatible with any dehumidifier, humidifier and most HVAC systems on the market, the manufacturer says.

Lew Sichelman’s weekly column, “The Housing Scene,” is syndicated to newspapers throughout the country.

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