Fire and Ice, Tub Gates, & More
At the recent Home Builder Show in Orlando many new product introductions seemed to contradict the current state of the economy. In fact, the power of invention seemed to be energized, as if companies have decided that now is the time to rethink for allure, efficiency, and flexibility. Here’s a quick round-up of appliances and fixtures that caught my attention.
The Solaris 36 MR from Heat & Glo is a see-through direct-vent gas fireplace. I saw it installed in Professional Builder magazine’s “Sea Breeze” Idea House, which was erected in the parking lot beside the convention center.
The two-sided fireplace is circular — it was set at eye level in a partition between the upstairs family room and sitting room.
It can have different surrounds and mounts to a typical 2 by 6 interior stud wall. The “razor burner” creates a single flame in a line across the face for a very sculptural effect. Fireplace as moongate? Washer-Dryer as art piece? The hottest new digital camera??!! It definitely “ignites conversation,” as the press material says. Perhaps something to consider for your media or play room — Fire it up when you want to watch a dvd of The Lord of the Rings to set an appropriate “Eye of Mordor” mood.
Or, for something colder, how about the new GE Monogram 30-Inch Fully Integrated Refrigerator.
Fully integrated here means that the refrigerator doors are equipped with an articulating hinge, “enabling them to be completely out of sight behind surrounding cabinetry.” There are three compartments: upper for fresh food; shallow middle drawer for frozen foods and ice; and a lower tall drawer with a uniquely flexible function: its temperature can be set from 5 degrees below zero to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, if you don’t need a lot of freezer space you can use the lower drawer as your mini-wine cellar. Ingenious — and a good solution for smaller kitchens. Glass doors are also available for top and bottom compartments.
GE was also demonstrating their “Home Energy Display” (part of their “Nucleus energy manager with Brillion technology”), which will be available later this year.
When connected to a smart meter it can show consumers how much energy they are using in real time. A very good idea.
For aging gracefully in place, Kohler is now offering its “Elevance Rising Wall Bath.” (The names of these new products are becoming more and more linguistically and subliminally inventive — “elevance” cleverly makes you think of elegance and lifting at the same time and yet is totally made-up and GE’s “Brillion technology” makes you think of “brilliant” without actually spelling it…).
The ADA-approved bath has a chair-height seat and a foot well. You sit on the seat and then swing your legs into the bath.
Squeaky floors are a common problem in new construction and so I was interested in attending the debut press conference on Paslode’s new TetraGrip fastening system.
It’s basically an 8-penny nail with a “barbed helix design.” It is driven with a spiral movement like a screw — with a special pneumatic nailer, also invented by Paslode.
According to Paslode the system has been tested on 200 new houses so far and there have been no call-backs to fix squeaky floors. Someday these hybrid nails might be just the thing to silence our own ancient and reverberating stair. Next week: more product and idea house reviews.