Aug 6 | Posted by Barry Cohen

Every now and then I find that I just can’t resist checking out what’s new in home building and design, and I am never disappointed.  Manufacturers involved with every home product or construction material must have a team of the brightest and most innovative minds dedicated to discovering the next new trend.  As always, there are those ideas that you really want and those that are so-so.

An idea that is really catching on is “handle-less” everything which is all part and parcel of the decluttered, clean and contemporary look that has been around for at least a decade.  Eliminating pulls from kitchen cabinetry is nothing new, but manufacturers have gone a step further with the insertion of motorized doors that work with a simple tap or by using a remote control. German manufacturer Bauformat has gone to the next level and inserted a sensor into their cabinets so you can open and close kitchen cupboards with a wave of your hand, in fact one wave will fully open the door while two small waves will only open them half way.

The high-end appliance company Miele is ahead of the competition with its patented “Knock2Open” technology.  The standard lever mechanism has been eliminated and instead you simply have to knock twice and the door swings fully open.  The unit has a super sleek look as Miele has put all the control buttons on the inside of the door completely out of sight.  You can also program the door to partially open by itself at the end of the wash cycle to help dry your dishes.  You will still have to close the door manually, but the technology for that can’t be far off.

The kitchen sink hasn’t even been left out of this hand-free trend – although kitchen faucets still have visible handles, a number of companies have included “advanced ready sensors” in their taps that can identify when you put an object like a pot or even your hand under the spout, and will run water for as long as the object is there.

If you are one of those couples with a noticeable height differential this product will peak your interest.  A butcher-block island countertop with an electronic lift that provides a multi-level workspace at the touch of a button providing surfaces that start lower than a regular tabletop and go as high as 42 inches ensuring that you can both be comfortable chopping vegetables during meal prep.

Kohler has designed the “PureFresh Toilet” which boasts a carbon filter for neutralizing odours that works alongside an integrated fan that directs filtered air over a scent pack located within the system.

Electronics also go to a new level with high tech countertops featuring embedded wireless chargers located within the countertop material, putting an end to tangled wires taking up space.

Smart ceiling fans turn on and off automatically when you enter or leave the room adjusting the blade speed according to room temperature and can even “learn” your comfort preferences and tailor fan speeds accordingly.

This gadget won the Overall Best in Show award from the National Association of Home Builders at the most recent Las Vegas Home Design Show.   It looks like an ordinary electrical cover plate, but is actually an LED nightlight with built-in sensors that turn it on in the dark and off in the light.

Lastly I just have to mention the Top Brewer coffeemaker that has revolutionized the cumbersome countertop coffeepot.   This java machine fits under your countertop with only the sleek stainless steel tap visible and it’s entirely controlled by your smart phone.  The machine features the world’s smallest milk-foamer and completely cleans itself after every brew.  This little gizmo doesn’t come cheap however and will set you back about $11 K!

What will they think of next?