One of the strongest residential building and remodeling trends in recent years has been the growth of wellness design. That was evident at this year’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. The massive trade expo, combined since 2014 with the even larger International Builders’ Show into Design & Construction Week, was chock full of new product releases intended to enhance homeowners’ health and well-being.
While health and well-being are broad descriptions that can easily lend themselves to hyperbole and inflated “well-washing” claims, products that meet the criteria generally fit one or more of these five facets of wellness design. All were well-represented on the show floor.
Fitness and health
Products that help you prepare healthier foods like chef-style prep sinks and ranges or ovens with sous vide, steam or air fryer capabilities; that enhance your personal hygiene like bidet seats and toilets; and that that facilitate exercise-related recovery like steam showers, saunas and massaging showerheads would all fit this category.
Some notable 2020 KBIS releases included Signature Kitchen Suite’s new 36-inch Dual-Fuel Pro Range with steam assist and sous vide cooking features; Kohler’s new Touchless Toilet that reduces germ spread by reducing surface contact, and Hansgrohe’s Aquno kitchen faucet with two spray heads, including one for produce.
Safety and security
Safety and security go far beyond home alarm systems. They include aging in place features that make a space safer for seniors to live independently; improved kitchen and bathroom ventilation; leak detection, and data privacy tools.
Broan-NuTone’s SurfaceShield antibacterial fan that keeps your bathrooms cleaner and Uponor’s Phyn leak detection system for single family or multi-family residences definitely enhance safety. Evekare’s LED Nightlight Grab Bars also make bathroom use safer for seniors and mobility-challenged individuals. In the same category, Moen’s new grab bars showed that a space can be stylish in the popular brushed gold and matte black finishes while still being safe.
Accessibility becomes increasingly important as the Baby Boomer generation ages at home, but also as active, adventure sport-loving Millennials and Gen Z become homeowners. Features in cabinetry, fixtures and appliances that can be used by someone nursing an injury or someone with arthritis or Parkinson’s are increasingly in demand.
Some notable releases on the show floor this year included Elkay’s pro-style ADA Dual-depth Stainless Steel Farmhouse Sink. (These fixtures, also called chef sinks, fit into the health and fitness categories, too.)
GE brought French Door oven accessibility – popular with wheelchair users – from the premium Monogram brand to its more moderate Café line with its 30” Smart Built-In Convection French-Door Single Wall Oven.
Functionality includes features that make cooking, cleanup and hygiene easier for anyone to use. How does this relate to wellness design? If tasks involving your home features are easier and less time-consuming, they create less stress and more time for healthier, more enjoyable pursuits at home or outdoors.
Some functionality-enhancing products at KBIS this year included the award-winning U by Moen Smart Faucet with temperature adjusting, personalization and volume capabilities by voice control. With simple preset commands, you can tell it to refill your hydration bottle or child’s sippy cup.
Delta Faucet’s official launch of its sink-mounted Glass Rinser (previously shown in 2018 as an Indiegogo launch), makes cleaning those bottles and cups quicker, easier and potentially more thorough. The company’s pull-down Kayra series bathroom sink faucet makes hygiene and cleanup more convenient too.
One of the big trends on the show floor was detergent dispensing technology for clothes washers and dishwashers. GE, Miele and Whirlpool were all showing it off. This capability is particularly functional for clothes washers, where detergent quantities is too often guesswork. For those who work out daily, being able to effectively clean your yoga pants, bike shorts, hiking socks or sports bras without much thought (and preserving your gear longer) is definitely a wellness plus.
Comfort and joy
This is where emotional and physical wellness blend, and depends on your approach to both. Comfort includes details like towel warmers, radiant heating floors, circadian lighting, aromatherapy and chromatherapy features in your tub or shower. Joy means experiencing pleasure in your home, even when doing mundane tasks like laundry or reheating dinner. There’s definitely been an emphasis on making those more enjoyable with fun, luxurious and/or stylish details. You see it in the expansion of customization available to homeowners in creating faucets, fixtures and appliances that express their personality.
Customization was widely displayed on the show floor this year. Brizo and Rohl brought it to their bathroom faucets with a selection of handle types and finishes. Dacor brought it to appliance colors, and the Hammock Bath Company and Victoria + Albert brought it to tub exteriors. Moen’s aromatherapy-enhanced showerhead lets homeowners choose which scents appeal to them with interchangeable cartridges.
For Disney fans, Smeg’s new Mickey Mouse fridge motif will bring a smile and those with artistic talents will enjoy fully personalizing their vanities with Trueform Concrete’s ability to render their vision into a handsome reality.