Choosing Bathroom Fixtures

Get tips on how to pick the right sink, shower, tub and toilet for your remodel
Streamlined Fixtures

Streamlined Fixtures

Design by Christopher Grubb

Design by Christopher Grubb

By: Kristen Hampshire

Plumbing fixtures are the main event in the bathroom: toilet, sink, shower and tub. In each of these categories, you can splurge and take the bathroom (and your budget) to resort proportions. Or you can stay within a slim budget and choose value-engineered fixtures that will get the job done.

The best way to begin selecting these essentials is to visit a bathroom showroom where you can see and try—and ask questions. Your designer will guide you through the selection process and make recommendations, as will a professional in a plumbing showroom who is well-versed in the latest technologies. If you can dream it, you can have it—televisions in the shower, gas fireplaces built into tub walls, therapeutic lights that cause water to change colors.

Revisit that priority list as you make fixture selections, and also consider the practical: do you like faucets with separate knobs for hot and cold water or a single hand control?

Bathroom Fixture Styles and Trends

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Wall-Mount Showerhead

Basic but highly functional, wall-mount showerheads are available in many styles and finishes. New low-flow showerheads, such as the Envi Eco-Performance showerhead from Moen, use less water while maintaining a powerful spray. Image courtesy of Moen

Hand-Held Showerhead

Hand-held showerheads feature a single head sprayer attached to a flexible hose, good for washing hair and those hard-to-reach places. Hand-held showerheads are particularly useful for those with limited mobility. Image courtesy of Moen

Photo By: Moen

Rain Showerhead

More and more homeowners are splurging on luxury shower fixtures for the bathroom. Often mounted on the ceiling, rain showerheads provide the sensation of bathing in a waterfall or soothing rain shower. Image courtesy of Kohler

Photo By: Kohler

Body Sprayers

Body sprayers, which are integrated into the shower wall and can be adjusted to massage the body or produce a relaxing mist, add another layer of luxury to the shower experience. Image courtesy of Moen

Photo By: Moen

Body Sprayers and Rain Head

Kohler shower sprays and rain head fixture were installed by licensed contractor Matt Muenster, as seen on DIY Network's Bath Crashers

Photo By: Stephany Wieland

Dual-Head Shower System

A chrome-finish shower system with both traditional and handheld shower heads offers maximum function. 

Modern Handheld Shower Head

This sleek handheld showerhead is adjustable and convenient.

Photo By: Eric Perry ©2014, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Three Showerheads

Two fixed bronze showerheads and one hand-held nozzle accommodates up to two people at the same time in this shower covered in tumbled tile.

Drop-In Sink

The easiest type of bathroom sink to install, drop-in or self-rimming sinks are mounted above the counter. This tried-and-true style is available in a wide range of shapes and materials. Image courtesy of Gerber

Photo By: studio

Undermount Sink

Installed beneath the countertop, undermount sinks are growing in popularly because they're easy to clean and offer a sleek appearance. Undermount sinks work well with countertops made of stone and solid surface materials. Image courtesy of Kohler

Vessel Sink

Vessel sinks, or decorative bowls that sit on top of the counter, make a statement in the bathroom. These elegant sinks come in a variety of eye-catching materials, including glass, stone and vitreous china, such as this patterned sink from Kohler's Caravan collection.

Photo By: Kohler

Pedestal Sink

Pedestal-style sinks save space in the bathroom and offer timeless appeal. Their bowls are available in oblong, rectangular or traditional oval shapes. Image courtesy of Porcher

Wall-Hung Sink

Wall-hung sinks are similar to pedestal sinks, without the pedestal. They’re mounted directly to wall surfaces and have a contemporary look. The open space underneath a wall-hung sink is ideal for those in wheelchairs. Image courtesy of Delta Faucets

Photo By: Kohler

New-Fangled Faucets

Today's faucets are available in a wide range of styles, from timeless and traditional to sleek and modern, such as this faucet from Delta's Vero collection. New faucets are also more water efficient than previous models and can come with highly functional features, such as integrated ceramic disks within the fixture that help grind away buildup that causes leaks.

Photo By: Delta

High-Tech Faucet Features

Thanks to advancements in technology, homeowners can now equip their bathrooms with bacteria-killing faucets, motion-activated faucets and laminar flow faucets, which create a solid-looking stream that doesn't splash. This electronic touchless faucet by Kohler features Tripoint technology that is more accurate than infrared sensors.

Pressure-Balancing

The Kohler pressure-balancing shower faucet in polished chrome is powered by a single lever handle.

Wall-Mount Faucet

On the style front, faucets can be fastened on the lavatory deck, integrated or even mounted on the wall. Wall-mount faucets have gained popularity along with freestanding or vessel-type sinks that require longer spouts that extend well over the top of the bowl. Image courtesy of Native Trails

Photo By: Native Trails

Dual-Flush Toilet

Today's water-efficient toilets, such as the Saile elongated one-piece toilet by Kohler, encourage "conscious flushing" by requiring you to select either a low-water (0.8 to 1.2 gpf) flush for liquid waste or a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste.

One-Piece Toilet

One-piece toilets eliminate the seam between tank and bowl. The result is a sleek design with no crevices to trap dirt. One-piece toilets tend to be more expensive than comparable two-piece models. Image courtesy of INAX

Taller Toilet

Taller toilets that are 16 to 18 inches high rather than the standard 14- to 15-inch height are more comfortable for most homeowners, except for children. Taller commodes are also accessible for those who use a walker or wheelchair. Image courtesy of Gerber

Bathroom Fixtures to Consider

Here’s the low-down on bath fixtures:

Shower fixtures. Body sprayers placed throughout the shower can massage the body or produce a relaxing mist. Rain shower heads give you the feeling of standing underneath a water fall. And there’s no need to limit yourself to just one shower head. Dual fixtures mean more than one person can enjoy the shower at a time. These luxury fixtures aren’t limited to the master bath. “Manufacturers are making more cost-effective products that you can use in a standard bathroom,” says Ken Perrin, president, Artistic Renovations, Cleveland, Ohio. Various platforms for shower fixtures include the typical wall mount, hand-held units, rain showers and combo packs that include a rain shower or wall mount plus shower head, describes Andrea Conroy, Moen’s senior product manager for retail bath.

Tub and Shower Trends

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Infinity Bath

Bathroom turns spa with the introduction of an overflowing bath. The effervescent bath with extra-deep reservoir features chromatherapy lighting and continuous water flow. Design by Vern Yip

Photo By: Bruce Cole

Salvaged Shower Door

Seamless glass shower partitions are popular for bathroom remodels in any style of home. Since the glass allows 100% of all natural light to flood the space, it aids in making bathrooms feel larger in size. This custom factory window made of tempered glass and raw steel adds an industrial vibe. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn

Freestanding Tub

Today's tubs are less likely to be positioned in a corner where they take up valuable square footage. A freestanding tub is the focal point of this bathroom, while the chandelier adds a touch of sparkle in the rustic space. Image courtesy of Toto

Photo By: Toto

Spacious Shower

Many homeowners today are forgoing tubs for expanded showers, which can include body sprays, multiple showerheads, therapeutic lights and more. Image courtesy of Produits Neptune

Japanese Soaking Tub

Deep soaker tubs are replacing water-jet Jacuzzi tubs in today's bathrooms. A Japanese soaking tub is the focus of this space, surrounded by glass-paneled doors. The tiled floors in muted tones contribute to the relaxing experience.

Seated Shower

Seats are a popular feature in today's showers. This spacious shower is equipped with a bench along the wall, which offers users a place to sit and enjoy a spa-like shower.

Unique Bathtub Materials

This striking stone tub makes a statement in the center of this his-and-hers bath. Homeowners are choosing custom bathtub materials to complete their design. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Aron Photography

From: Celebrity Communities

Photo By: Jeffrey Aron Photography

Steam Shower

Steam showers are a luxurious feature that more and more homeowners are splurging on. This master steam shower features an onyx bench and oversized niche for storage. The space is a true spa experience for users. Design by Nancy Leffler Mikulich

From: Nancy Leffler Mikulich

Photo By: Peter Rymwid

Roman Shower

The Roman shower, which is designed without a rim to step over, is the best design for people of all ages, and especially those who use walkers or wheelchairs. The shower has no lip at the floor, which slopes down toward the drain.

Here is a round-up of various types of shower heads you’ll find on the market today:

  • Wall-mount unit: This is the basic fixture, nothing fancy but highly functional.
  • Hand-held unit: The ability to remove the shower head for cleaning and bathing is a true convenience. “A hand-held can offer multiple functions, such as a very targeted strong spray for cleaning and a soft spray for bathing children,” Conroy says.
  • Rain shower head: You’ll get full coverage and a waterfall experience with this unit, but be careful that it has an engine and is pressurized, Conroy warns. “You don’t want rain shower droop,” she remarks.
  • Body sprays: You can purchase drill-less slide bars with flush-mount body sprays and you won’t damage your shower if you decide to try the technology. “It’s like a first date,” Conroy compares. “It’s a commitment to drill a fixture into your wall. You can try the [body sprays] without destroying or damaging tile or the work you’ve done in the bathroom.” The slide bars on which body sprays are fixed are mounted to the shower with suction cups on this Moen product.

Sinks. The vessel sink is ideal for a powder room and serves as a focal point, but in a full or master bath, some find this configuration is less functional than a deeper, undermounted sink with a nice, arching faucet that is easy to operate with a single handle. So, what’s more important: how the sink looks, or how it works? That’s up to you.

Pedestal style sinks are timeless space savers, and their bowls are available in oblong, rectangular or traditional oval shapes.

Meanwhile, a range of materials options opens up avenues for creative bathroom design. “Where people often thought of vitreous [china] as the main material for bath sinks, now we are manufacturing our own glass sinks, and what we are doing with glass has expanded,” says Diana Schrage, senior designer for Kohler. Glass sinks can be dropped in and undermounted, or installed with an integrated glass top. “Taking it a step further, cast iron allows users to have more finishes like a black-and-tan, sea salt or ember,” Schrage adds.

Faucets. Aside from water efficiency [link back to water conservation], today’s faucets are highly functional with features like integrated ceramic disks within the fixture that help grind away buildup that causes leaks. The idea is less leaky sink repair and greater durability. On the style front, faucets can be fastened on the lavatory deck, integrated or even mounted on the wall. “If you want to have a cabinet right up tight against the wall and have a wall-delivery [faucet], the effect is just beautiful,” Schrage says. “It’s a nice statement in powder rooms because it’s a little bit of a surprise.”

Various Styles of Faucet Integration

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Classic Faucet With a Twist

Moen has created a new twist on a classic faucet design. Reminiscent of the handles and spouts accompanying vintage claw-foot tubs, this wall-mounted feature is surprisingly updated in its look and feel with a brushed nickel finish.

Regal Appeal

Cifial has designed a fastened faucet that adds texture and color for a more formal powder room. The separate hot and cold handles and the tall spout add a touch of formality and luxury to the space.

Gold Finish Faucet

Kohler gives this modern faucet a formal design by finishing it in glistening gold. The single handle and spout are simple and sleek, creating a subtle utilitarian feel.

Urban Chic

A contemporary wall-mounted faucet by Moen shines bright in a chrome finish. The spout extends over the sink basin while the two separate handles allow for custom hot and cold temperatures.

Timeless Appeal

The perfect bathtub faucet, this fastened chrome-finished accessory offers a large spout with separate handles. The adjacent hand-held shower head is within an arm's reach and can be used in tandem with the spout.

An Eco-Friendly Faucet

TOTO has created a line of single-handle high-efficiency faucets that allow you to wash your hands effectively while still saving water. The contemporary Upton faucets are available in a standard model, which is perfect for undermount and self-rimming sinks, and a tall model, ideal for vessel sinks.

Texture Adds Interest

Today's faucets come in a wide range of colors, textures and styles. This single-handle fastened Delta faucet is a part of their Addison line, which offers a rich brushed copper finish. Whether used for a pop of color and interest in a minimalist bath or to blend with a more earthy, deep color palette, brushed copper creates a look all its own.

Photo By: GARY SPARKS

Hands-Free Faucet

Kohler's wall-mounted Karbon line of faucets is just as useful in the bath as in the kitchen. The Karbon bath faucets allow users to position the spout exactly where they want it and then have both hands free for other tasks. This unique hands-free feature, along with the industrial-looking design, sets the Karbon collection apart.

Architectural Ambiance

The new Stance collection of faucets by Kohler exudes a modern design with strong, architectural lines. Refined angles and edges with a “joystick” style handle offer a striking design statement for modern living spaces.

Less Is More

The Loure collection of faucets by Kohler makes a major impact with minimal accessorizing. The understated fastened faucet slopes dramatically over the basin, and separate hot and cold handles mimic the faucet's geometric design.

Bathroom Sink Styles

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Self-Rimming Sink

A self-rimming sink is the easiest to install and can be replaced without destroying the countertop. It has a rolled and finished edge or rim and seems to sit on top of the counter. This self-rimming bathroom sink has a traditional porcelain finish and a silver faucet. Image courtesy of Toto USA

Undermount Sink

Installed underneath the countertop, undermount sinks are growing in popularity because they're easy to clean and offer a seamless appearance. Set beneath marble countertops, this bathroom's white basin sink gives the space a clean-cut, contemporary feel. Image courtesy of Xylem

Vessel Sink

A stylish choice for contemporary bathrooms, a vessel sink is a basin that sits on top of the counter. A blue glass vessel sink with a nickel faucet is the focal point of this tranquil master bathroom. Design by Jill E. Hertz.

Pedestal Sink

A pedestal sink is a basin that is supported by a freestanding pedestal leg. Pedestal sinks take up very little floor space and are easy to clean around, making them a great option for both large and small bathrooms. The pedestal sink is perfect for this bathroom since there isn’t much square footage. Image courtesy of Kohler

Console Sink

A console sink is a table-like fixture supported by ornamental legs. Upheld by simple, bracket-like legs, this console sink gives the bathroom a light and open feel. Design by Beth Haley Design in Nashville, Tenn.

Wall-Mounted Sink

Supported solely by the wall, wall-mounted sinks free up floor space and are arguably the easiest to clean. Because of a lack of space in this bathroom, designed by Jennifer Charleston, the wall-mounted sink is the perfect option because it's not too bulky.

From: Jennifer Charleston

Vanity Sink

A vanity sink is installed into some kind of cabinetry. It provides ample storage and can hide clutter. This sink is built into an antique-looking cabinet, giving the space a rustic feel. Image courtesy of Native Trails

Photo By: Michael Skott

Toilets. Taller toilets that are 16 to 18 inches high rather than the standard 14- to 15-inch height are more comfortable for most homeowners, except for children. Taller commodes are also accessible for those who require assistance (walker, wheelchair). The lineup of toilets available in a full range of colors and designs can make the decision more difficult than you might think. You can spend a couple hundred dollars or several thousand, especially for one-piece toilets that are sleek looking but require more labor on the manufacturing end, which drives up the price, Schrage explains. “I ask people if they’ve ever taken a pottery class,” she says, relating the expertise required when working with porcelain. “To have something with that low of a tolerance for air come out as this magnificent, high-performing piece at the end is quite a task.” (Bet you never thought of a toilet that way before.)

Next Up

Choosing a Bathroom Backsplash

Get tips on how to make the walls of your bath express your style

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