Catering to Frugal Fatigue

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    The Finish GE’s Slate finish has a warm matte texture that resists fingerprints and is easy to clean, according to the manufacturer. Inspired by the appearance of stone, the company launched the premium finish as an alternative to stainless steel.  The appliances’ handles and knobs are finished with brushed metal. It’s available in a full suite of GE appliances. GE.
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    The Crowning Jewel In new homes, lighting leads the fashion trend. “Customers are willing to take chances with transitional [lighting],” according to Ferguson Enterprises’ Rose. A main fixture with bold geometry and natural elements makes a strong statement. The Escala pendant from Kichler Lighting delivers all of the above. Kichler.  
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    The Splurge Kohler’s Escale freestanding bubble massage bath embraces bathers with a cushion of bubbles released through 360 degrees of staggered air jets with 18 levels of customizable intensity. The 6-foot-long contemporary hydrotherapy piece includes a purge feature to remove residual water, and a smooth interior surface for easy cleaning. Kohler.
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    The Ambience Keeler light-integrated trim combines decorative hardware tiles, LED technology, and traditional trims to produce unique accent lighting. The modular system has myriad applications, from crown moldings and backsplashes to stair railings and baseboards. Keeler

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    The Surprise Rev-A-Shelf’s pull-down shelving system is a chrome-plated two-tier shelf that brings hard-to-reach items closer within reach. The gas-assisted lifting/lowering mechanism provides sleek stability, and the arms lock in the down position. It’s available for 24-inch and 26-inch wall cabinets. Rev-A-Shelf.

Call it deliberate optimism. That's one way to look at the quiet improvement in consumer sentiment that is accompanying the housing recovery, especially when it comes to kitchen and bath products.

“People are tired of minding tight budgets,” said David Lingafelter, president of Moen, during  the  Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in New Orleans recently. “They are now spending out of choice, not just necessity."

In terms of the kitchen and bath, new-home buyers are spending differently. More than half of smartphone users research prices as they shop, and 25% look up product reviews before they purchase. “People are now more careful,” Lingafelter notes. “It’s the age of why versus why not.”

But there’s a gold lining in these evolved shoppers. According to a survey by Deloitte, consumers who use more than one channel before making a purchase spend 80% more per transaction than those who shop in only one store.

So how are these deliberate spenders doling out their dollars? Lingafelter’s team sees budgets going toward products that make the most out of small spaces. They expect products to deliver surprise, efficiency, and a “cool” factor.

Other splurges go toward the “jewelry of the home,” as Sam Rose, director of showrooms at Newport News, Va.–based Ferguson Enterprises, calls the big-ticket items that are starting to move again. A freestanding master bathtub, mid-to-premium kitchen appliances, fashion-forward lighting fixtures, and a kitchen faucet with a wow design all meet the needs of discerning buyers.