Skip to content
April 8, 2011 / Robert Ross

needful things!*

Transluscent Concrete Panel

One of the advantages of my job is being exposed to hundreds of new and often innovative building products.  Of the hundreds of products I come across in my work, most can be consigned to 3 categories.   The first and by far the largest category contains those questionable creations that somehow found a market.  These tend to either be trendy items with a planned obsolescence or faux items cheaply constructed that try to mimic something much more long lasting. Plastic “wrought iron” fences or “glass” blocks come to mind here.

The second category  are those that manage to  intrigue. These are items that I like, but have not proven their reliability or are priced above their value.  TV mirrors are one of these items.  Another interesting product is translucent concrete.

And finally there are those few that leave a positive, covetous and indelible impression. In no particular order, here are my top ten!

1. Gaggenau 36″ Induction cooktop – Possibly the sleekest cooktop ever created. It cooks by heating the pot, not the room. Watch the video and weep!

Caesarstone Motivo Crocodile

2. CaesarstoneThe original quartz countertop material. A friend of mine introduced me to this product in the latter part of the last century!  Beautifully consistent and durable material with a terrific range of textures and colors ranging from white to black and including a strong red and lime green.  The newest additions to the line are embossed patterns – Crocodile in black and Lace in white. With a strong line of recycled product, Caesarstone is eco-friendly as well!

3. Artisan Luxury Lap Siding by the James Hardie Company- This fiber cement siding with a 30 year warranty has a deep reveal that produces strikingly sharp and clean shadowlines.  It can be used with or without corner boards. It combines the durability of the Hardie Plank siding with the visual depth of traditional wood. It’s inherent moisture and insect resistance make it a perfect material for the Southeast. I’ve used it on several projects with great results!

4. Integrity Windows and Doors A fiberglass and wood product developed by the Marvin window company, the Integrity product line provides an excellent alternative for clients wanting exterior durability, but unwilling to give up the beauty of a wood interior. With the recent addition of simulated divided lite grille options to the line, it truly represents a leap forward. Available in 5 standard exterior colors, the fiberglass exterior can be painted, overcoming a major limitation of all vinyl units. A true value!

5. Nana WallThis is one of those products in search of a project! It’s made it to preliminary design a few times, but doesn’t seem to survive past that point. I can’t think of a better way to join interior and exterior space than to totally eliminate the wall. This system is available in wood, aluminum and wood/clad versions. It is also available in folding or sliding versions.

Noble Linear Drain installation

6. Noble Linear Drain Unlike the folding wall, this has managed to make it into my projects a couple of times now. It allows for a simple single slope to the shower floor. This means you are no longer locked into a 4×4 or less tile on the shower floor! It’s location to the edge of the shower provides for a clean, single slope installation with no pooling. Locate it under a floating bench and the installation becomes invisible. Several stainless steel grate options are available.

7. Nu-Heat Radiant Floor Some of the finest luxuries remain out of sight. There is nothing worse than walking onto a cold tile floor in the middle of a winter night. A radiant floor is a relatively inexpensive upgrade. Manufactured in a mat that is installed below the finish flooring, the Nu-Heat system provides the luxury of warm floors in less than 1/8″ thickness. It has become a standard in my specs.

8. Stealth Acoustics Invisible Speakers- Another of the totally “out of sight” items on my list are totally concealed speakers by Stealth Acoustics. Designed to disappear into an installation, they solve a common problem by seamlessly integrating whole house audio and surround sound into your home. No more swiss cheese ceilings!

Grafik Eye Control Panel

9. Lutron Grafik Eye QS light control- I actually implemented a previous version of this at home. It controls all of the lighting in my living room from a single location. In this incarnation, Lutron has taken a great product and made it even better. Not only does it provide control for lighting, including Cree LED LR4 and LR6 downlights, but it also integrates controls for blinds and shades allowing  the system to self adjust light levels based on available daylight.

Thermador Refrigeration Tower

10. Thermador Refrigeration TowersWhen discussing kitchen design a major portion of the conversation centers on appliances. I have a strong preference that appliances not overwhelm the design. These refrigeration/freezer/wine cooler towers from Thermador fit the bill. You can get what you need where you need it. A freezer does not always need to be next to, above or under the refrigerator.  With refrigeration available in 24 and 30″ widths, freezer towers in 18, 24, and 30″ widths, and wine coolers in 18 and 24″ widths, the needs of almost any family can be accommodated. Definitely a high end item, these units can be totally integrated into a design.

Feel free to add your own candidate for this list in the comments section!

*apologies to Stephen King


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: