Kitchen Faucet TrendsWhen it comes to faucets, shoppers suddenly seem to have a choice of everything, well, for the kitchen sink. "There's been an explosion of kitchen faucet offerings, with all kinds of new styles, features and finishes," says Susan Serra, a New York City-area certified kitchen designer who tracks faucet trends on her blog, The Kitchen Designer, www.thekitchendesigner.org.
How has the faucet evolved from a common necessity into a high-art fixture with space-age engineering? Designers and marketers point out the kitchen is the center — and the showplace — of the home. Walls are coming down to make way for more open-plan living, and entertaining is centered in the kitchen by design rather than by accident. "We're so busy, and cooking is something we can share with friends and family," explains Richard Landon, a certified master kitchen and bath designer in Bellevue, Wash. What's more, "The kitchen is becoming the cooking room, dining room and living room in one, and you want the nicest fixtures in the room where you spend the most time."
The hottest trends include the rise of modern, minimalist designs and utilitarian-chic faucets worthy of professional kitchens. On the flipside, there's a renewed interest in classically cool models as well as rustic, farmhouse-style faucets. Making the array of choices even more confounding, the newest faucets feature better functionality, more novel shapes and a broader assortment of finishes than ever before.
Confused? Don't be. We've got the latest kitchen faucet trends on tap, plus tips to help you zero in on the styles, finishes and features that will work best for you.
Sleek, Streamlined SimplicityToday's contemporary faucets have forms pared down to their basic essence. "Minimalism is the new buzzword — it's all about simple lines, chrome and stainless finishes, and a sleek look," says 30-year industry veteran Christine Dillon, the kitchen category manager at Home Decor Products, which operates www.homeclick.com and nine other home improvement websites.
Think sculptural silhouettes, single handles and a noted absence of extraneous ornamentation — which might make these faucets look a bit severe if they weren't so gorgeously rendered. Modern fixtures also emphasize ergonomics with simple, intuitive functionality and convenient placement of controls. Finally, the smooth, often seamless surfaces of these faucets make cleaning them a snap.
Downside: What's cutting edge today won't always be in vogue. Plus, the futuristic style of these faucets may not mesh in a more traditional setting (unless you're consciously going for an eclectic look, which designers say is increasingly popular).
Photo: Trevi Cross by www.brizo.com/wps/portal/brizo/
Industrical ChicThink you've wandered into a restaurant-supply warehouse instead of your local home center? You haven't — you've simply stumbled upon one of the biggest trends in kitchen faucets: "profi" style.
These faucets give serious home chefs (and those who pretend to be) the industrial look of a professional kitchen and the hardworking features of a commercial-style faucet. These tall faucets (most are over two feet) add "high" drama to the kitchen. "It's a very sexy look," says Susan Serra, a New York City-area certified kitchen designer. The substantial size of these faucets also helps balance the six-burner ranges and double-door fridges in our increasingly expansive kitchens.
"A profi faucet is really versatile — it's terrific for cleaning, and you can bring the nozzle wherever you need it," Serra says. That includes using it to fill a nearby coffeemaker or pots on an adjacent cooktop, to water plants on the kitchen windowsill and even to reach more than one basin in a multi-sink work area.
Downside: The sheer size of these faucets can overpower a smaller kitchen. And — let's be honest — if you're likely to use your new profi only to rinse the plates on which you ate reheated takeout, investing in one is probably overkill. Finally, since the look is so trendy, "it may date itself in a few short years," says Serra.
Photo: Arezzo by www.elkayusa.com
Return of the ClassicsDesigners say they're seeing increased enthusiasm for classic and even retro fixtures, which are usually produced in polished nickel and chrome, or softer brushed finishes. "People want fresh ways of evoking comfortable memories," says Richard Landon, a certified master kitchen and bath designer in Bellevue, Wash.
Hence the return of vintage-style wall-mounts and bridge faucets, which harken back to a time when life — and plumbing — was simpler. The popularity of under-mounted sinks, and sinks without integrated faucet platforms, has also given homeowners freedom to experiment with bridge faucets and wall-mount designs, which make cleaning the sink and countertop easier and fit in well with a streamlined look. There's nothing old-fashioned about today's traditional faucets when it comes to functionality, though. These are retro styles with contemporary convenience, including pull-out nozzles and single-handle options.
Downside: Some of the more ornate styles can be a hassle to clean. Plus, if you're not totally committed to a retro look, you may be happier with a transitional-style faucet — one with a traditional form crafted from industrial materials like stainless steel, or with the simple form of a more modern faucet but rendered with warmer materials and hints of period detail. "Transitional faucets speak the language of both traditional and contemporary," explains Susan Serra, a New York City-area certified kitchen designer. "It's a 'fresh traditional' or 'soft contemporary' look."
Photo: Hampton Bridge by www.graff-faucets.com
Old World WarmthEqually at home in a Tuscan villa or a country farmhouse (or a home striving for the ambiance of either), these fixtures have rustic bodies with an authentic, handcrafted look. It's a variation on the vintage look, but also ties into the current green movement with its reverence for natural materials and warm wood tones.
Rustic fixtures are typically rendered in dark, timeworn finishes like oil-rubbed bronze, weathered pewter, wrought iron or antique copper. "'Living' finishes that patina over time are increasingly popular," says Richard. "People are embracing oxidation — it's warm and natural and more organic in terms of how a product wears." Also driving the Old World trend: The increasing availability of farmhouse and apron-style sinks, as well as sinks crafted from stone and copper, which call for more substantial, rough-hewn faucets in deeper tones.
Downside: The darker finishes and more rustic style of these faucets work best with coordinating hardware and natural materials like stone and stained wood, so you'll probably want to replace cabinet knobs and light fixtures to match — and you may be tempted to re-do your whole kitchen in a more rustic style.
Photo: Victorian by www.deltafaucet.com
The Shape of ThingsThe most cutting-edge faucets are downright architectural, with a dramatic geometry: Severe right angles keep L-shaped faucets looking sharp. U-shaped spouts form squared-off arcs. Metal pipes assume rectilinear shapes. Heads and handles sit square and squat. And cylindrical styles celebrate the shape of the circle, right down to the round knob spindles. These novel shapes are "part of the whole modern thing," says Richard. "Plus, people are just looking for more variation and individuality in their fixtures." It's faucet as conversation piece.
Photo: Lot by www.dornbracht.com/en/
Form Meets FunctionWhen it comes to functionality, the trendiest word in faucets today is "touchless." These new hands-free faucets turn on and off with a tap, or simply by placing your hands under the spout or moving them away. (Kohler's Wellspring uses the same technology as auto-focus cameras, which measures the distance between your hand and the faucet .) Not only do these models save water by automatically switching off the flow when you turn away from the tap, they're more sanitary as well. "Bacteria, salmonella and E. coli really can be an issue with food preparation, so if you're washing a raw chicken it's helpful not to have to touch the faucet knobs," says Susan.
Though pull-out spray nozzles have been standard for several years now, newer faucets feature flexible pull-down spray heads that are integrated into the main faucet (instead of a side sprayer that requires a separate hole to be drilled in the sink or countertop). Buttons or toggles on the nozzle itself allow you to switch between stream, vegetable spray, needle spray, pause and other water patterns with the touch of a finger. Swivel joints at the end of spray heads let you direct the water flow without having to pull out and hold the nozzle. And magnetic locking mechanisms allow you to lock the spray head back in its dock with a quick snap.
Other new and novel faucet features: LED-lit nozzles to assist with getting that late-night glass of water. Integrated water filtration that lets you pour your drinking water straight from the tap (some models even have indicator lights right on the faucet to alert you when the filter needs changing). Elegantly slim, ergonomic joystick-style levers — which have steadily replaced clunky dual-handled models — that simplify water delivery and that may even swivel from one side of the base to another to accommodate both right- and left-handed users. Folding spouts that can be positioned out of the way when they're not in use. Temperature and volume controls at the end of the faucet rather than the base.
Downside: The more technology, parts and fancy features in a faucet, the more likely it is that something will eventually break — and the greater the need for regular maintenance (like changing the battery packs on touchless faucets) to prevent problems. "Whoever thought we'd have a battery powered faucet?" asks Richard.
Photo: Bridge by www.waterdecor.com
Fabulous New (and New-Again) FinishesSoft, matte finishes like stainless steel and brushed or satin chrome are the gold standard in today's kitchens — they look great in just about every style, coordinate easily with au courant stainless appliances and stone countertops, and have the added bonus of camouflaging fingerprints and water spots. But highly reflective finishes like chrome and polished nickel are making a comeback thanks to the rise of both modern and retro-style faucets, and Richard predicts that they'll continue to gain ground as touchless technology becomes more widespread (thus no worries about fingerprints on that pristine metal). "As forms in the kitchen become more varied, colors and finishes become more varied as well."
Bronze is another finish in strong demand right now: "It's the standard for a warm look in the kitchen," says Susan. In addition to the popular oil-rubbed bronze, newer variations include antique bronze, brazen bronze, olive bronze, mahogany bronze, Venetian bronze and antiqued copper. Distressed, dark gray finishes like pewter, antique nickel and gunmetal are emerging as well, and look elegantly antiquated on vintage and Old World fixtures.
And as it is across the home-decor landscape, "Black is very hot in kitchens right now," Susan says. "There's a simplicity and elegance to it." Noirish faucet finishes include optik black, black nickel and black satin. On the glitzier end of the spectrum, subdued gold-toned finishes like brushed bronze, satin gold and antique brushed brass are carving out a niche, bringing a bit of subtle bling to the kitchen and serving as updated alternatives to the shiny brass fixtures of yesteryear.
Photo: Faucet Finishes by www.kohler.com
The Price of StyleThough a decent, good-looking faucet can be had for a few hundred dollars, it's not unusual for some of the newer and more innovative models — especially those from European manufacturers — to come with price tags that are as eye-popping as the faucets' designs. Indeed, a top-of-the-line kitchen faucet can easily set you back more than $1,000 — and a few even surpass the $2,000 mark. If that seems hard to swallow, consider this: "I use a set of guidelines with my clients called the Decisions Triangle, which consists of quality, concept and cost," says Richard. "If you want quality and good design, you'll have to pay."
Price points will eventually come down as more affordable brands produce knockoffs of the most popular high-end showroom models. "But the quality won't be the same," warns Home Decor Products' Christine Dillon. Pricier fixtures typically have ceramic disk valves, braided metal supply lines and solid brass or stainless steel construction — which means there's nothing to break or replace. "These faucets will literally last a lifetime," Dillon says.
Funny thing is, though — with the next faucet trends right around the corner, you may not need them to.
Photo: Pot Filler by www.blancoamerica.com/home.php