Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Design Inspiration - faucets and bath fixtures

I've been wanting to do a post on our faucets and bath fixtures for quite sometime now, so here it goes!

In thinking about how we wanted our house to look, a few terms kept coming to mind: coastal, crisp, clean, old world, bungalow, turn of the century.  When it came to executing this sort of feel, I felt overwhelmed.  First I visited my local big box stores, where I realized that there are just a small amount of faucets and fixtures available in the flesh, many of which are specifically made for said big box store.  Then I started browsing the high end places - the stores where you're immediately offered sparkling water and a fresh baked cookie upon arrival (yes, please!). 

Here's what I learned:
  1. The big box stores aren't great for finding the faucet that you're going to love.  If you're doing a quick remodel and need a run of the mill faucet, that's your place!  But if you're looking to find something special, something that suits a certain look (see my description above), then you probably won't find it at the big box stores.
  2. The fancy stores are great for things like a bottle of Pellegrino and a cookie, but more importantly, this is where you'll get to touch the faucets and see how they function.  Fancy showrooms are a great place to see whether or not you like the feel of a particular faucet, whether or not it extends far enough over the sink (a huge pet peeve of mine, when it doesn't), how the handles turn, what the sidespray feels like when you pull it out and retract it.  Don't be surprised it the staff at the fancy showrooms try to up sell you into the latest and greatest model of kitchen faucet - but remember: in the end, it's your house, and you have to love the way that it looks, feels and functions.
  3. After visiting the big box stores and the swanky showrooms, start to cruise around online and compare prices.  Does one store have a slightly higher price, but offer free shipping?  That may indeed be a better deal.  Remember to consider your plumber's discount as well.  It's also important to remember that if your plumber purchase the fixture, it may carry a higher level of warranty than if you went and purchased it yourself.  In the end, we had our plumber buy all of our fixtures, because he was able to secure a better price. 
So let's take a look at each fixture that we selected, and I'll tell you a bit about why I love them.  If you're wondering, all of the fixtures in our house are polished chrome.


I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I'm obsessed with this faucet.  I stumbled across this one at one of the local swanky showrooms and almost dropped my fresh baked cookie.  This faucet embodied what I wanted in our kitchen: crisp, clean, old world.  It also met my requirements of having a high arc, putting the water into the center of the sink, and it included a sidespray.  This beauty didn't come cheap, with an approximate retail value of $1,100.  Before you drop your own cookie and spill your Pellegrino, let me talk you down from the ledge.  How many times a day do you use your kitchen faucet?  How long do you plan to live in your home with your current kitchen faucet?  Is it worth it to spend the money on something you'll use every single day, knowing that you'll absolutely love it every time you wash that dirty dish or wash your hands...?  Obviously you know how I answered that question. 
Rohl Bridge Faucet U.4719L from the Perrin & Rowe series


Since we were able to afford the installation of a prep sink in the island, I had to get creative on picking a fixture after spending such a huge wad of cash on the kitchen faucet.  My husband and I both love to cook, and there were many moments in our old home where we were fighting for access to the kitchen sink. Putting in a prep sink allows us both to be in the kitchen, preparing food at the same time. As corny as it sounds, I envisioned myself washing off fresh produce for a salad, or rinsing berries in a small colander while he clogged the main sink with dirty dishes from a pork roast or mashed potatoes.

I wanted something that also had a high arc and a pullout spray, but had a similar handle style as the Rohl Perrin & Rowe bridge faucet.    I searched high and low, looking for a Kohler fixture, since that's the brand we stuck with for our other fixtures.  In the end, nothing that Kohler had to offer jumped out at me, and I settled on this Moen beauty instead.  You'll notice that the handle is actually quite similar to the bridge faucet and it has the built in pull out faucet.  I was able to nicely balance out our spending on this one, with an approximate retail value of $180.

Moen Brantford 7815C  prep sink faucet

Mud Room & Laundry Room

Both the mud and laundry rooms are a place where utility trumps beauty.  In order to stay within our faucet/fixture budget, I wanted to pick something simple, functional and of a decent quality that would withstand the next few years of dirty hands and big projects.  Here's the Kohler Coralais fixture that I picked for the mud and laundry rooms, with the approximate retail value at $155.  It's a single controlled with pull out spray faucet - simple, yet perfect!
Kohler Coralais K-15160 mud & laundry room faucet
Powder Room & Master Bath

Remember the fancy showrooms that I was telling you about?  While browsing the endless selection of high end faucets, I stumbled upon this Kohler beauty.  I was a little nervous to take the plunge on this sort of fixture, because most bathroom faucets are typically widespread with a handle on each side of the spout.  I liked that this fixture looked like an old world piece, complete with the "H" and "C" on the ceramic handles, but I just wasn't sure if I was going to love it over the long term.  We happened to attend a wedding where the women's restroom had this very fixture in the bathroom.  Not only did it look magnificent, but it also functioned beautifully - it was then that I committed to using this one in both the powder room and the master vanity.  If you've ever felt the heft of this faucet, you'll agree that it's a steal at $143.
Kohler Bancroft K-10580-4P monoblock faucet with white ceramic handles
Master Bath Tub

The master bath is one of my favorite rooms in the house.  It's all of the things that we had wanted: crisp, clean, coastal, relaxing, light and bright.  Since we decided to go with the Kohler Bancroft monoblock faucet on the dual vanity, we decided to use the coordinating fixture on the master bath.  I think the most common question that I get when telling people about the master bathroom is: "Did you put in a jacuzzi tub?"  The answer: nope. 

When we selected the bells and whistles in our last house, we decided to spring for a jacuzzi tub.  I can honestly say that it wasn't that great, and I'm a little embarrassed to say that I hardly ever used the jets at all (this coming from someone who would take a long soak almost every single night).  Since the space in our old home was somewhat limited, we ended up with a rectangular bathtub in the master.  The jets just happened to be positioned right on the hips, thighs and the bottom of the feet, which never felt like it was the relaxing experience that it was supposed to be. 

This time around, we ended up opting out of a jetted tub and decided to put some money towards a hand held shower.  If you've ever tried to wash your hair under the tub faucet, you'll know that it can often lead to a bumped head.  Enter the hand held shower: the remedy to my hair washing woes.  While the shower itself is about $89, you'll need to budget in a few extra dollars for the coordinating hose and the appropriate pieces that mount the handheld shower on the tub deck.
Kohler Bancroft K-1059 handshower
 The tub faucet looks identical to the Kohler Bancroft widespread lavatory faucet:
Kohler Bancroft K-T10592-4P double handle Roman tub with white ceramic handles
Master Bath Shower

Our master bath shower has not one, but two showerheads.  The first showerhead is a rainshower, by Kohler.  After a business trip to Europe, my husband decided that no shower is complete without a rainshower.  Since we are building this house from the ground up and had the chance to put in the appropriate plumbing, we figured "Why not?"  I'm not sure if I've ever showered under a rainhead fixture, but my husband assures me that I'll love it - and as someone who decompresses after a long day in the bath/shower, I think I probably will like it!  Approximate retail value is: $254.  Remember: you'll need to allow for the extension piece in your plumbing budget, which lets the showerhead drop down from the ceiling.

Kohler 8 inch K-13692 rainhead shower
When we first began the process of building our house, I Googled something along the lines of "building a house best showers" and ended up on A House by the Park.  While I've never met the author of this gem of a blog, I know that he too lives in Seattle and his testimony of the Kohler Flipside totally sold me on this piece.  We'll have this one mounted on a bar on the side of the shower, making our second shower adjustable in height and detachable.  It retails for about $74, plus the cost of the shower hose and shower bar. 

A tip: our plumber installed a diverter valve above the temperature controls.  This allows us to use one or both of the showerheads at the same time.
Kohler Flipside detachable showerhead

Kohler flipside - adjustable with just a finger!

Guest Bath

Following suit with the other Kohler fixtures throughout the house, this one is the widespread version of the monoblock faucet.  This one is slightly more expensive, coming in at $260.  Since we have 2 sinks in the guest bath, it was somewhat of a splurge.
Kohler Bancroft K-10577-4P widespread lavatory faucet with white ceramic handles


  1. Amazing website! Your style is so contemporary in comparison with many other writers. Thank you for writing when you have the opportunity to, I will be sure to save your Bathtub Taps !

  2. Hello, and thanks for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed our faucet selections. So far we're really pleased with all of the pieces we installed.