Hot Design Trends for Kitchen & Bathrooms

Kohler Hydro rail demo.

Photos and Blog by Wendy Albee, Albee Interior Design

This past week I was in Chicago for my first visit to KBIS, the Kitchen & Bath industry’s main event to showcase innovation and product introductions. Candice Olson of HGTV fame was the keynote speaker. She said design trends are heading toward casualness that incorporate a sense of history and a mix of styles that include natural and rustic elements. After her presentation, the doors opened to the main floor of the show.

Walking the show floor and viewing the latest product introductions (some will be out later this year), there were several trends that stood out. The first was design features that improve functionality — part of the universal design movement.

My favorite introduction is the magnetic slide bar by Rohl. Instead of having to maneuver your shower head into different heights by loosening, tightening and adjusting, you simply slide the shower head up and down on a magnetic bar. So simple and so sleek.

Rohl magnetic shower bar

NEW SHOWER Toto, known for its toilets, is introducing a shower called the Neorest Shower Enclosure where the controls are conveniently on the outside and the interior of the shower. Many of their new products, including sinks, have LED lit power controls that indicate the temperature of the water with blue for cool and red for warm which is very intuitive. They are also expanding their product line with furniture, mirrors, and more toilets through a new partnership with Villeroy and Bosch.

WAVE TECHNOLOGY Moen is introducing Wave Technology in their Arbor line of faucets that can be turned on and off with the wave of your hand. And if you forget to wave it off, it will automatically turn off in 4 minutes. Also, if you put your hands or something under the faucet, it will turn on and immediately turn off when you remove it. This is a wonderful feature if your hands are dirty and you don’t want to contaminate your faucet.

COOL MEDICINE CABINET Robern, part of the Kohler family, has enhanced its line of medicine cabinets with a pull-up mirror called Uplift. The LED lit interior is equipped with plug-ins for everything from iPod to TV. You can even get one with a TV inside the mirror. Their new vanities come with an LED night light around the top perimeter of the cabinet that offers a very edgy look that is also extremely functional.

SMART SHOWERHEAD Kohler is introducing their Hydro Rail that takes plumbing 101 to the next step. Now it’s a snap to install a slide bar and showerhead or new shower system without opening up your wall to change the valve inside. It’s quite revolutionary and saves the homeowner on plumbing costs. For a video, click here.

NEW U-SOCKET Lastly, a company called FastMac was showcasing U-socket, their new outlet receptacle that includes two USB ports, allowing users to plug-in their coffee maker as well as iPads, cell phones or digital cameras. It’s designed to keep energy costs down as it automatically senses the required wattage and only outputs full power if something is connected to it. Once an item is fully charged, it automatically turns off.

Tomorrow: Energy Efficient Products to Watch For!

Learn more about our guest blog writer, Wendy Albee of Albee Interior Design at

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