Fixtures: Hot and Cold Running Style

Whatever your faucet fancy, from Old World to contemporary, there is a fixture for you.

This isn't your grandfather's faucet anymore. Or is it? Judging from the wide array of models on display in plumbing showrooms, this question is difficult to answer.

"We're seeing a lot of interest in contemporary pieces," says Jeff Settle, owner of Settco Decorative Plumbing and Hardware in Fresno, Calif. "But there's also a trend toward the traditional."

Contemporary faucets for kitchens or bathrooms feature sleek, streamlined styling; it's a dramatic departure from the function over form of grandpa's day. Many of today's models look like they belong on a spaceship. They exude convenience and efficiency, and they emit the sparkle of polished chrome and stainless steel.

But not everyone wants futuristic Star Trek; they prefer traveling back in time — a visual refuge in their home from the hectic world outside. They want faucets that look old-fashioned. "What's old is new again," says Randy Whitworth, manager of the Lange Plumbing Supply showroom in Tulare, Calif. "We're seeing a lot of interest in faucets with the brushed nickel or pewter look."

Finishes like pewter and weathered copper not only look old, they are better at hiding water spots and fingerprints than shiny finishes. They also match cabinet and door handles more easily.

Faucet design enhances this "old" look. Some modern faucet spouts look like old-fashioned spigots. Others have ornate lines reminiscent of plumbing fixtures from the early 20th century. You can even find faucets with spouts made to look like old-fashioned hand pumps.

Jeff Settle says the biggest technological advance in modern faucets is the quarter-turn ceramic-disk valve. Turning the handle moves the holes in both disks into alignment, allowing water to flow.

Unlike compression valves, which use rubber washers, sleeve-cartridge valves and ball valves, the ceramic-disk design is slower to wear out. "Manufacturers (of high quality faucets) offer lifetime warranties on mechanical parts and the finish," says Jeff. "If something goes wrong with the disks, they'll replace them free of charge."

Jeff says modern faucets are available in 30 finishes. More than 20 major foreign and American manufacturers have created hundreds of designs to meet virtually every decorating need. "If you want a faucet with a 24-karat gold swan for a spout, you can find it," he says.

Most high-quality faucets cost $200 to $1,200, says Jeff, although there are faucets available for substantially less than $200 and for substantially more than $1,200. The more expensive the finish material and the more labor required in manufacturing, the more expensive the faucet. A 24-karat gold fixture can cost more than $2,000.

Less expensive faucets don't last as long and usually are regarded as "disposable." Among this group, plastic models are the cheapest and least durable. Faucets with solid brass fittings last longest, while brass or chrome-plated models offer middle-of-the-road life expectancy.

Today's high-quality faucets are designed to last a lifetime, Jeff says. "They're pretty maintenance-free. Just clean them with a damp, soft cloth and they'll last forever."

Keep Reading

Next Up

Euro-style Personal Hygiene With the Bidet

The bidet: What is this mysterious French lavatory fixture, and will it ever find a place in American bathrooms?

Popular Kitchen Sink Styles

From vessels to troughs, today's kitchen sink trends merge functionality with style, making them the focal point for food preparation.

Bathroom Fixture Options

Today's bathroom sink and faucet choices go far beyond the options homeowners once had. Here's a look at bath fixtures to consider when planning your remodeling project.

Another Cold Winter Blast: Are You (and Your Pipes) Ready?

Are you ready for another tough winter? Make sure you are with these winter maintenance tips for your home.

The Art of Refinishing Bathroom Fixtures

Fixing up your old bathroom fixtures can cost hundreds less than full-out replacing them, whether you do it yourself or hire a pro.

Bold New Fixtures on a Budget

Replacing tired old fixtures is the fastest way to give your bath a bold, new look on a budget.

Kitchen Styles: Which One Is Right For You?

Which kitchen style is ideal for you? Traditional or luxurious? Perhaps spicy and daring? Read on and find out your personal style.

Style Your Kitchen with the Latest in Tile

From glass to metal to faux hardwood, we profile the latest styles in tile.

The Most Popular Front Door Styles and Designs

Make a statement with a door that fits your personal style and the exterior of your home.

Updating Your Kitchen for Pro-Style Equipment

While most prosumer kitchen appliances don't require restaurant-level power sources and ventilation, you may need to make a few adaptations to your kitchen space.

On TV

Docked Out

7:30am | 6:30c

Rescue My Renovation

8:30am | 7:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Tiny Luxury

8pm | 7c

Tiny Luxury

8:30pm | 7:30c

Tiny Luxury

9pm | 8c

Tiny Luxury

9:30pm | 8:30c

Tiny Luxury

10pm | 9c

Tiny Luxury

10:30pm | 9:30c

Tiny Luxury

11pm | 10c

Tiny Luxury

11:30pm | 10:30c

Tiny Luxury

12am | 11c

Tiny Luxury

12:30am | 11:30c

Tiny Luxury

1am | 12c

Tiny Luxury

1:30am | 12:30c

Tiny Luxury

2am | 1c

Tiny Luxury

2:30am | 1:30c

Tiny Luxury

3am | 2c

Tiny Luxury

3:30am | 2:30c

Elbow Room

4:30am | 3:30c

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Consult Our A-Z Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths.  

How-To Advice and Videos

Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more.

Watch DIY Downloads Now

Watch DIY Network LIVE

Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online.