Creating a bath that meets every one of your family’s needs depends on a variety of factors, starting with a layout that works. Probably the most fun part of the planning process, though, is selecting fittings and fixtures that suit your style and your Southern Californian lifestyle.
After all, here’s where you get to add all those pretty amenities you’ve been dreaming of -- an oversize whirlpool tub, a steam shower for two, pedestal sinks and more. But with so many bath fixtures to choose from, it helps to know what you’re looking for before you head to the showroom.
When selecting counters and sinks, for example, you’ll need to decide how you would like the sink basin to sit -- either above the counter or below. Will you be installing a tub or just a stall shower? What type of toilet will fit best in your space? Perhaps there’s even room for a bidet. Maybe you’d like to include some real luxuries. A dual-sink vanity gives partners valuable extra elbowroom, and a separate toilet compartment allows for more privacy.
Everything down to the smallest detail is important: Faucet handles and cabinet door hardware that feels wonderful in your hand will delight you every day. To make shopping for fixtures easier, arm yourself with all the information you’ll need to make the best choices for you.
Choosing the Right Sink for Your Bathroom
Today’s sinks can be truly artistic. With beautiful proportions, rich colors and decorative finishes, these sculptural forms can make your bath extraordinary. And whether you like a minimalist look or one that’s infused with tradition, you’re sure to find the perfect fixture and fittings.
The style of sink you choose will depend on your taste, budget and the size of your space. Self-rimming sinks are installed in an opening in the countertop. Adhesive applied to the raised rim or lip, which rests on top of the counter, holds the sink in place and forms a waterproof seal. Under-mount basins are joined to the vanity surface from below, so there is no raised lip -- a boon for easy cleanup.
Integral sinks are perhaps the most hygienic option. Manufactured from solid surfacing, they are used with the countertop to form one seamless, easily maintained unit.
Vessel sinks usually rest above the counter, allowing their shapes and colors to function almost as a sculpture within the room. Vessels are made of everything from fireclay, stone or metal to heavy-duty glass.
Pedestal sinks have a classic, traditional look. Keep in mind, however, that pedestals offer no storage underneath and little surface area for toiletries.
Console sinks, which stand on two or four legs rather than on a central pedestal, provide wide, practical decks, but like pedestals, they offer no storage.
When shopping for a sink, you’ll also find a wide range of options in materials, including vitreous china, marble and other stones, solid surfacing and stainless steel. Composites, or cultured stone, are made of granite or quartz particles suspended in a polyester resin. Fireclay, a durable ceramic, offers a hard, glossy finish and is strong enough to sustain larger designs, some of which almost resemble furniture.
And other materials, like glass, hammered metal, concrete, wood and stone, have taken vessel sinks to new heights of style.
Just keep in mind that many of these products are more appropriate for a powder room, where they’ll receive less wear and tear.
Choosing the Right Faucet for Your Bathroom
Like a work of art, a new faucet can add a bit of whimsy, set a tone or even act as a central design focus in your bathroom. The range of styles and material choices has transformed these once strictly utilitarian details into architectural centerpieces.
For purely dressing up the sink or adding finishing touches to the bath without exorbitant cost, nothing compares with some of the newest designs in faucets. And many of the choices offer surprising functionality.
Embellish the charm of a turn-of-the century bath with Victorian faucets, which include pewter scrolled knobs to complement a claw-foot tub and pedestal sink. For more contemporary tastes, use faucet sets that have free-flowing shapes and colored ceramic finishes. You’ll find dozens of options with simple yet strong lines and sensuous detailing.
Of course, the standards are still available -- cross-handle knobs, levers, ball handles and simple straight spouts.
The different types of faucets available for the bathroom can be distinguished by the way the unit’s handles and spouts are arranged.
Two-handled faucets are most commonly used in the bath. They feature a single base unit that holds the spout and both hot and cold valves. Lately, though, single-handle faucets have also been popular in the bath.
They include a center-set knob or lever above the spout, which makes them very easy to use. Wide-spread faucets have hot and cold valves and spouts that are mounted separately. They work well for wall-mounted applications or for hard-to-fit high-design sinks and tubs.
When shopping for faucets, you’ll need to know about “centers” -- the distance between the center of one handle and the center of the other.
Lavatory faucets mounted on the basin usually have 4-inch centers but can come in 6 to 8 inches. Wall-mounted lavatory faucets can come in 4 1/2 inch and 6-inch centers. If you are replacing an old faucet, the easiest thing to do is take it with you to purchase the new one.
Faucets are typically formed of either metal or plastic at their bases. The best quality and longest-lasting faucets are made from solid brass. Of course, this is also the most expensive option.
Faucets made with zinc-alloy bodies are a good compromise. They’re durable and less costly than brass. Plastic varieties, on the other hand, are inexpensive but do not perform as well as the metal types.
As for faucet finishes, they vary from the standard chrome and brass to pewter and nickel. There are also combinations of finishes, such as chrome and nickel. Higher-end faucets include bisque and ceramic finishes and fine metal overlays of gold or sterling silver for detailing.
You will also have plenty of color options -- even for faucets with a metallic finish. You’ll find everything from classic polished or satin chrome and brass to brushed copper and nickel with deep bronze and warm silvery tones.
Selecting a painted or enameled finish will really allow you to coordinate your faucets with the rest of your bath design scheme.
Watch for Part 2 of Choosing the Right Bathroom Fixtures next week.