This Old House
The TOH Top 100: Best New Home Products 2011
The editors of This Old House hunted high and low to find this year's best products for homeowners and DIYers
The Best New Home Products of 2011
How great would it be if someone invented a bath fan that stays on until the humidity's gone? Someone did, as you'll see on slide 17. And wouldn't it be nice if someone could make energy-efficient CFLs more attractive? Check out slides 85 and 86. While we're at it, shouldn't there be a friendlier way to select moldings for your walls? We refer you to slide 46. Okay, but what about stone veneer that requires no mortar to install? It's here too—along with many other not-so-humble products for your abode. One hundred, to be exact, many of them surprises, all of them terrific in their own way. TOH editors hunted high and low to find them because we know that people who love old houses also appreciate new ways to fix them up. Which is to say, in the following pages, we hope you'll find as much inspiration for next year's project calendar as we do.
Kitchen: Rock-Solid Surface
We all want granite countertops—until that first glass of malbec topples. Lovely stone, but so much TLC! That's why we're so impressed that these dead ringers give you the look without the hassle. For instance, the lightly stippled surface of Formica's new Faux Granite Laminate ($16-$19 per square foot; formica.com) catches light like the real thing
Kitchen: Fast Clean Up
Not to be outdone, Silestone's easy-to-clean Galactic Series ($54-$82 per square foot; silestoneusa.com) features six earthy options that hold up to wear and tear without needing to be sealed.
Kitchen: Periscope Faucet
Now there's no need to finagle your way into a trade-only showroom to score a height-adjustable kitchen faucet—Lowe's will do. Meet the first off-the-shelf kitchen faucet whose spout telescopes to three different heights: 8 inches for splash-free rinsing; or up to 11 inches to fill deep pots.
Elevate EXT Pull-down Kitchen Faucet, by Pfister;$198; lowes.com
Kitchen: Prismatic Pendant
Forget plain glass globes. We're ready to go classy over the sink or kitchen island with a set of these striking fixtures that update 19th-century Holophane-style glass by capping it with a gleaming metal hemisphere.
Winfield pendant light, by Hudson Valley Lighting. From $299; hudsonvalleylighting.com
Kitchen: Bubbles on Demand
We didn't know SodaStream could get any better, but it has. Now, patented chip technology lets you dial in your desired level of carbonation.
Fizz Soda Starter Kit, by SodaStream USA; $170; sodastreamusa.co
Kitchen: Pro Cooktop
Here's to true innovation: an entire suite of pro-style stainless-steel appliances (oven, stove, microwave, dishwasher) for under $8,000. The marquee player, a 30-inch continuous-grate gas cooktop, has a go-to burner that can crank out 18,000 BTUs or settle into a gentle simmer.
Distinctive Series, by Dacor; $1,049; dacor.com
Kitchen: Get This Now
This fire-slayer doesn't blast, it blankets. Train it on a stovetop grease fire, and it swallows flames with a nontoxic powder that's technically edible (we'll take their word for it). Small enough to stash undercounter and light enough to wield one-handed, it's a no-brainer.
Kitchen Fire Extinguisher, by Kidde; $20; kidde.com
Kitchen: Pasta Enabler
The luminous finish on this solid brass spigot captured our attention not only for its rose-gold gorgeousness. It reflects a new electroplating color finish developed by Premier Copper, which offers a lifetime warranty to go along with claims that it's as durable and tarnish-resistant as chrome. Two handles let you choose how to control the flow, if not your enthusiasm.
Wall-Mounted Pot Filler, by Tru Faucets; $399; trufaucets.com
Kitchen: Easy on the Eyes, Too
A spongy mat is one of those things you don't miss until you're standing to peel a bushelful of green chilies. Hide its homeliness with a patterned polyester sleeve that can go straight in the laundry.
Seasons Removable Mat Covers, by WellnessMats. $40 for the cover; $120 for mats; wellnessmats.com
Kitchen: Deep Breather
That fancy new prosumer range deserves—demands, actually—ventilation just as powerful. This breakthrough model's DC motor sips 75 percent less energy than its AC equivalent, making far less racket, yet moves 715 cfm of air, so nobody has to know about that shrimp flambé experiment.
Venezia Vent Hood, by Zephyr; from $1,200; zephyronline.com