Product introductions reveal so much more than an individual manufacturer's agenda. Reading between the lines or, rather, across the lines can help you ascertain design directions and get a handle on the consumer interests and lifestyle needs they are intended to satisfy.

The kitchen remains the social center of the home and continues to top the remodeling wish list of many homeowners. The new kitchen products developed this year mirror the demand for flexibility and multitasking. Appliance manufacturers, for example, are introducing more modular options that allow smaller units to be custom positioned into activity centers.

The trend of the bath to be a spa-like, calming haven that goes beyond serving grooming and hygiene needs continues to gain strength with homeowners. New products are following suit, with an increase in Asian-styled elements made of durable woods, and versatile tub and shower systems that de-stress while they cleanse.

In this issue, we've expanded our coverage of kitchen and bath products to include some sneak peeks at new market entries debuting in April at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show in Chicago. As you scan the products in our pages or when you attend a trade show exhibition, take the “big picture” view and read between the lines, so you can anticipate your clients' needs and how to meet them in the coming year. Wanda Jankowski