WALK RIGHT IN: The Finestra bath is a departure from the maker's usual fare: Instead of climbing over, users simply walk right in. It is available with whirlpool jets or an air model, a combination of both, or as a traditional soaking tub. An electronic touchpad, chromatherapy lights, and heating come standard. It measures 60 inches long and 30 or 35 inches from front to back. Jacuzzi. 800-288-4002. www.jacuzzi.com.
WALK RIGHT IN: The Finestra bath is a departure from the maker's usual fare: Instead of climbing over, users simply walk right in. It is available with whirlpool jets or an air model, a combination of both, or as a traditional soaking tub. An electronic touchpad, chromatherapy lights, and heating come standard. It measures 60 inches long and 30 or 35 inches from front to back. Jacuzzi. 800-288-4002. www.jacuzzi.com.
SEAT WARMER: Bidets are not that popular in this country, but manufacturers believe these retrofitted seats might be. The C3 with bidet functionality has heated seats and personal cleansing wands crafted out of antimicrobial material. Two models are available: the series 100 with a side control and the 200 with a remote control. Kohler. 920-457-4441. www.kohler.com.
SEAT WARMER: Bidets are not that popular in this country, but manufacturers believe these retrofitted seats might be. The C3 with bidet functionality has heated seats and personal cleansing wands crafted out of antimicrobial material. Two models are available: the series 100 with a side control and the 200 with a remote control. Kohler. 920-457-4441. www.kohler.com.
SOUND OFF: Stereo H2O is an invisible audio system built into a tub. The system consists of an acoustic transducer that is applied to the bath's shell so the entire tub unit becomes a soundboard. It can be specified on most of the company's tubs, including the Antigua freestanding unit shown here. MTI Whirlpools. 800-783-8827. www.mtiwhirlpools.com.
SOUND OFF: Stereo H2O is an invisible audio system built into a tub. The system consists of an acoustic transducer that is applied to the bath's shell so the entire tub unit becomes a soundboard. It can be specified on most of the company's tubs, including the Antigua freestanding unit shown here. MTI Whirlpools. 800-783-8827. www.mtiwhirlpools.com.

Despite the housing slowdown, size, features, and high-end products in the bath (and the kitchen) are still important to consumers, reports the American Institute of Architects. This means that you can't skimp on the swank.

Conventional wisdom would tell you that in a tight market you should include less-expensive products in the two most important rooms. But consumers still want the coolest bath stuff, and manufacturers are listening.

Phil Weeks, president of West Palm Beach, Fla.–based Jacuzzi Whirlpool Bath, says the manufacturer will be mixing cool design with practicality in its products as part of an ongoing effort to keep up with changing market demands. “Increasingly, we're finding that homeowners want quick and easy fixes that transform baths into practical, accessible sanctuaries,” he says.

The International Builders' Show this past February saw a number of product introductions that should make consumers take notice. Jacuzzi, for its part, unveiled the eye-catching Finestra bath that allows users to simply walk right in. The bath is available in several configurations including air jets or a traditional soaker and comes with an electronic touchpad, chromatherapy lights, and inline heating.

Not to be outdone, MTI Whirlpools in Sugar Hill, Ga., unveiled its Stereo H2O, an invisible audio system that delivers music through the tub. The key to the system is an acoustic transducer that is applied to the bath's shell, transforming the entire unit into a sound board.

Of course, not all new bath products are about the “wow” factor. Some, such as Broan's Ultra Silent humidity-sensing bath fans, serve a beneficial function. The fans detect a rapid rise in humidity, activate automatically, and turn off when the job is completed. This is an important function, as manufacturers say most homeowners turn off bath fans too soon after a shower to be effective.

For more product information, visit ebuild, Hanley Wood's interactive product catalog, at www.builderonline.com or www.ebuild.com.