From Finishes to Handle Styles, How Designers Pick the Best Bathroom Faucets
Shop six statement-making spouts.
Published Jan 7, 2022 1:10 AM
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When it comes to picking out a bathroom faucet, aesthetics often get all the fanfare. “Hardware is the jewelry of a space,” says designer Marie Flanigan. “I view it as something beautiful that can add a bit of luxury and interest.” But the selection process should give just as much weight to functionality. Luckily there are plenty of options where you can nail both.
From there, Flanigan says the biggest choice is figuring out the ideal size and style depending on the square footage you’re looking to fill. “For example, if there is a bathroom that doesn’t have a ton of space, I love a wall-mount faucet,” she notes. To help narrow down the choices, we spoke with six designers to learn more about how they picked out the faucets in some of our favorite bathroom spaces.
- For the pragmatic but playful: Kallista One Tall Spout Sink Faucet
- For the Art Deco obsessed: Rejuvenation West Slope Wall Mount Faucet
- For the value-minded: Kanary Matte Black Single Handle Faucet
- For the classic traditionalist: Waterworks Henry Low-Profile Lavatory Faucet
- For the modern minimalist: MaestroBath Caso Luxury Wall Mount Bathroom Faucet
- For the sleek fashionista: Brizo Widespread Bathroom Faucet
For the Pragmatic but Playful: Kallista One Tall Spout Sink Faucet
Type: Widespread | Finish: Nickel silver | Drain included: Yes | Flow rate: 1.2 GPM
Why we chose it: A sleek spout punctuated by cheerful cross handles.
Susana Simonpietri is such a big fan of Kallista’s One that she went with it in her own seaside home. “I just love how clean the angles are and simple and timeless the collection is,” the creative director of design firm Chango & Co. shares. “We have used it in many houses both in the lever and cross handles—we opted for the cross handles in our home because I wanted it to feel playful.” But one option Simonpietri always prefers is a deck-mount setup. “They’re easy to clean around and have the potential to create less splash back,” she notes, adding that this is especially important where you’ll be brushing your teeth or washing your face.
What we like:
- WaterSense listed
- Polished chrome, nickel silver, and matte black are in stock and ready to ship
- Choose between lever and cross-handle styles
- Best for 8- to 16-inch centers
For the Art Deco obsessed: Rejuvenation West Slope Wall Mount Faucet
Type: Wall-mount | Finish: Brass | Drain included: No | Flow rate: 1.2 GPM
Why we chose it: Brass that feels like a blast from the past.
Mirroring the arched ceilings in a bathroom with architectural nods to the 1920s, designer Anne Sage stuck with curves when selecting her client’s plumbing fixtures, including the Rejuvenation slope wall-mount faucet in aged brass. Created in collaboration with Watermark, this exclusive design offers a timeless, industrial feel that blends modern-day minimalism with old-school nostalgia. Here it adds a bit of contrasting character to a bathroom filled with soft details, from the blush-tinted tile to the rounded, freestanding tub. Wherever you place it, this faucet refuses to be overlooked—and considering its particularly high price tag, you wouldn’t want it to blur into the background anyway.
What we like:
- Transitional glam
- Solid, lead-free brass
- Ceramic cartridges with lifetime guarantee
- Lead time is 16 to 20 weeks
For the Value-Minded: Kanary Matte Black Single Handle Faucet
Type: Single-hole, single-handle deck mount | Finish: Metal | Drain included: No | Flow rate: 1.75 GPM
Why we chose it: For less than $100, score a bold color and assertive square silhouette.
Yes, you can find the best bathroom faucets on Amazon—just take a page from designer Justin DiPiero’s book. To keep his recent renovation on budget, he searched for affordable yet fashionable fixture finds, and Kanary fit the bill. “I wanted to keep it simple with mass appeal. Because this is a starter apartment, I knew I wouldn’t be staying in the space forever,” explains DiPiero, who went with matte black hardware throughout, coordinating the sink, shower, and kitchen. “Faucets are key to translating the overall design aesthetic for the space,” he adds. “Whatever style or theme you’re working toward, the hardware is an oft-overlooked but essential element to maintaining authenticity within the design.”
What we like:
- Good quality
- Minimal, subtle branding
- Deck plate not included
For the Classic Traditionalist: Waterworks Henry Low-Profile Lavatory Faucet
Type: Deck-mounted center set | Finish: Brass | Drain included: Yes | Flow rate: 1.2 GPM
Why we chose it: You can’t go wrong with this eye-catching heritage brand.
“I love using Samuel Heath and Waterworks for bathroom fixtures. Both brands exude craftsmanship and quality,” notes Flanigan, who recently tapped the latter for a garage apartment–turned–guesthouse. For this client in particular, the plumbing fixtures were a priority. “She was definitely leaning toward brass and loved this collection—it brought a lot of warmth to the space,” adds the designer. Atop the wall-mounted sink, Flanigan’s team went with a low-profile setup, choosing a style that lent itself to all the vintage pieces that can be spotted throughout the space. (If your bathroom is really small, we also can’t help but admire the single-hole version of this faucet from the same line.)
What we like:
- Utilitarian design
- Easy to contact customer service
- Comes with a European-size drain
For the Modern Minimalist: MaestroBath Caso Luxury Wall Mount Bathroom Faucet
Type: Single-handle wall mount | Finish: Brass | Drain included: No | Flow rate: 2.2 GPM
Why we chose it: A streamlined, single-handle design that embodies elegance.
A surprising find on Wayfair (and currently on sale), these high-end fixtures designed and handmade in Italy by MaestroBath helped create the bathroom of designer Sarah Sherman Samuel’s dreams, a spot that she lovingly refers to as her “happy place.” In the primary bathroom of her Michigan home, the two single-handle, wall-mounted faucets are installed over a custom concrete double vanity to create a sense of uniformity. Inspired by the abstract designs of modern architecture, the angular pieces offer a sweet moment of contrast between the arched mirrors and curved sconces.
What we like:
- Rust-, stain-, and scratch-resistant
- Deck plate included
- Single-hole install
- Quickly running out of stock
For the Sleek Fashionista: Brizo Widespread Bathroom Faucet
Type: Widespread deck mount | Finish: Matte black | Drain included: No | Flow rate: 1.5 GPM
Why we chose it: A tall, streamlined spout that steals the spotlight (now with updated tech add-ons).
Brizo’s Jason Wu line is forever a favorite of Magda Rauscher, designer of My Modern Dom. The widespread setup is a no-brainer in a large bathroom, like the one in this walnut-clad mid-century home. “We knew we wanted to do black fixtures to pull that bathroom together—the walnut vanity and clean lines of the white tile in the space needed fixtures that would deliver some contrast, while also adding curves to a bathroom that had mostly linear lines,” she notes. The faucet’s latest iterations now offer updated colors pairing matte white with a brass lever handle and SmartTouch technology (turn it on and off with just a tap!).
What we like:
- Less than $500
- Free shipping through Build.com
- Mix-and-match handle styles
- Only compatible with three holes
- Not all of the best bathroom faucets are sold at a retail store. “This was an amazing Craigslist find, since it was exactly the style we were looking for—once we found it, we just worked around it,” shares Leanne Ford of the Delta fixture used in her Pittsburgh home.
- Germs on the brain have us reaching for touchless faucets in every room of the home, from the kitchen to the bathroom. Moen’s Align collection is a hands-free dream.
- Sometimes simplest is best. Hardware staple Kohler’s no-frills designs fit in any bathroom, even designer Sheila Bridges’s wallpaper-clad retreat in New York’s Hudson Valley.
- If you’re tired of all chrome all the time, check out Danish company Vola. The brand’s faucets offer a playful pop of color in 27 powder-coated finishes, including carmine red, pink, yellow, and light green.
How We Chose These Products
We relied on experts to share the shapes, silhouettes, and styles they come back to in bathrooms again and again. But for your own search, Simonpietri’s advice is simple: Save images of everything you like. “You’ll often bump into the same units over and over and realize you know exactly what you love just from using Pinterest,” she notes.
Our Shopping Checklist
“There are so many awesome faucet profiles and finishes available. Fixtures are to bathrooms what that perfect piece of jewelry is to pulling together a great outfit!” notes Rauscher, which is why she always recommends stepping into a showroom to see what you vibe with—it can really help solidify a decision. “What you select has the ability to take the space from traditional to modern just by switching out the fixtures. For a modern look, select sleek black fixtures with clean lines. If you’re wanting something more traditional, polished brass or polished nickel will deliver,” she adds.
Brass is the cream of the crop in terms of both appearance and durability, but polished nickel also provides a luxurious look. Stainless steel is an easy choice as it’s low-maintenance (most metals have a tendency to patina with age). If cleanliness is a concern, go with something that’s antimicrobial like copper.
Although often viewed as ordinary objects, faucets can have a huge impact on any space, according to Caroline Danielson, director of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery showrooms. Ask yourself: Are you going for something industrial, utilitarian, or more ornamental? Are you getting a brand-new vanity or simply replacing your former faucet? These are all factors in determining which is the best bathroom faucet type for you, says Danielson, who explains the following main options:
- A single-hole faucet is installed into one hole on the back of the sink or vanity, offering homeowners a simple design perfect for small spaces. Typically this style has one knob or lever to control the water temperature and flow, though some models do offer two separate controls. The unit is usually pretty painless to install thanks to its single-hole assembly.
- The center-set faucet, in which the handles and spout are attached or mounted together to form a single unit, works in a bathroom of any size, making it popular with Ferguson customers. Most offer two handles for easy operation of hot and cold water, and this assembly can be used on sinks with three holes and 4- or 6-inch centers.
- A widespread faucet offers style variety and many installation options. For this reason, it is a reliable choice since three separate handles (sometimes two, as in the case of a bridge faucet) are installed across the back of a three-hole basin. The greater flexibility allows for a larger basin, creating a center distance from 6 to 16 inches wide. DIYers, beware: This faucet often requires the use of unique escutcheon plates, however, that are sized to the individual handle and spout base rather than a one-piece plate for all three.
- An above-the-countertop vessel faucet has a higher lip and taller spout to perfectly fit a sink’s towering design. This faucet provides an excellent focal point due to its extra height and often requires a single-hole fixture controlled with a lever handle.
- A fashion-forward alternative to traditional sink-mounted faucets is the wall-mounted faucet. It can be used with freestanding or inset sinks and is a great space saver, freeing up room on the vanity and surround.
Handle Types and Styles
A quick tip: It’s never a bad idea to pick out accompanying hardware and handle styles after establishing the type of faucet you want, either in your sink, shower, or tub, though it’s important to note that the way handles operate will heavily influence the functionality of your bathroom design. “One-handle faucets are optimal—turning them allows you to control the water temperature and volume, while lifting or lowering it will change the water pressure to your desired settings,” says Danielson. Just as popular, two-handle faucets offer two separate controls that flank the spout on the left and right sides. “But many are opting for touchless or touch-activated faucets, often with no handle at all,” she adds.
- Lever handles are often found in contemporary bathrooms, most popular in blade or wedge shapes, and feature 90- to 120-degree turns.
- Cross handles are a transitional cross-shaped style that’s easy to hold and turns 90 to 360 degrees.
- Knobs are pretty standard and—although affordable—still attractive. They offer multidirectional control for pressure and temperature.
So what does GPM stand for and why is it important? The flow rate is a measurement of gallons per minute. If you’re interested in saving on water consumption, look for low-flow faucets or a government-certified WaterSense logo, suggests Danielson. “A faucet with a WaterSense label ensures that you are getting a fixture with an eco-friendly flow rate that’s guaranteed to save water and money,” she notes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (which is behind the WaterSense program), you don’t need more than 1.5 GPMs, and that number doesn’t necessarily impact your water pressure (how hard water comes out versus how much of it comes out).
Q: I hate streak marks. Any advice on how to get my bathroom faucet looking squeaky clean?
First, let’s talk material. Is your bathroom faucet stainless steel or nickel? Brushed brass or a colorful, powder-coated enamel? Chemicals and water interact with these finishes differently (tarnishing is completely normal, and many designers recommend embracing your personal patina). But if you are tired of streaky residue and longing for a sparkly-clean sink, try a nonabrasive wax or a material-specific polish to buff and wipe clean with a soft washcloth. We always recommend first giving a multipurpose cleaner a quick read to see if it plays well with your faucet before spraying. If water stains happen to be your particular pain point, Rejuvenation’s care instructions include mixing a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water with a sponge that’s metallic-safe (some fibers can scratch metal finishes).
Q: How much will it cost to reno my entire bathroom?
We’re willing to bet that your faucet will not be what tops your bathroom reno budget (complex tile installations, on the other hand, for sure will), but the biggest money grabber is likely the plumbing in general if you’re looking to flip-flop your shower with your toilet.
The Last Word
“There is a bathroom faucet fixture for every household’s aesthetics, budget, and lifestyle,” shares Danielson. “When you’re planning your update, the key is to make sure you start with basics and include the important features. From there, it’s easy to get creative.”