Finding the right bathroom faucet is easier said than done.
“Very often, there’s no middle ground between ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’” said Frances Merrill, the founder of Reath Design, in Los Angeles. Many fixtures seem yawningly old-fashioned, she noted, while others are too futuristically modern.
For those looking for something in between, however, there is good news: The current trend is toward faucets with simplified, classic shapes and a subtle industrial look.
Another promising development: The recent craze for brass taps has helped break chrome’s headlock on bathroom hardware.
“It really opened people up to looking at different finish options,” Ms. Merrill said, from unconventional metal colors like copper, titanium and matte black to handles in contrasting materials like crystal and stone. “It’s now a place where you can dig in and find some fun things.”
But regardless of your preferred style and finish, make sure you do some hands-on research.
“I try to get people to touch” before buying, Ms. Merrill said. “Because it’s something that you’re going to be handling every day.”
Is it better to have a wall- or vanity-mounted faucet? Wall-mounted faucets look clean and maximize counter space, but they require some advance planning, Ms. Merrill said, as rough-in valves must be installed in the wall and holes often need to be cut in tile or stone.
Do you want a one-, two- or three-hole fixture? Some faucets are a singular unit with an integrated control for temperature and volume, while others have separate taps. The choice depends largely on your desired look and how much space is available.
Do you prefer a finish that ages? Unlacquered brass and some antiqued, copper and bronze finishes will develop a patina with use — or what Ms. Merrill called a “living finish” — while others, like chrome, will continue to look new.
Single-handle faucet in chrome or titanium finish
From $530 at Kohler: 800-456-4537 or kohler.com
Faucet with knurled handles, available in a variety of finishes
From about $494 at DecorPlanet: 800-504-9974 or decorplanet.com
Three-hole faucet with cross handles
From $709 at Waterworks: 800-899-6757 or waterworks.com
Lefroy Brooks wall-mounted faucet with lever handles
$825 at Restoration Hardware: 800-762-1005 or restorationhardware.com