Running With Tradition
A new take on traditional styles for bathroom sinks, lavs and faucets has led to a host of new product designs, materials and finishes.
by Anita Shaw
These individual preferences have led to the demand for more choices in colors, finishes, materials and design concepts. Not surprisingly, then, when it comes to today's bath sink and faucet design trends, color ranges are broader, faucet finishes are tougher, materials are more diverse and traditional and contemporary styles can stand alone or blend together.
"People are so overpowered by technology outside the home that there seems to be this desire to have the home be a retreat from that," comments Charlie McTargett, trade business unit manager for Delta and Delta Select Units, Delta Faucet of Indianapolis, IN.
Today's traditional styling doesn't mean products identical to those of the past, however. Current products for the bathroom have been designed to offer a good crossover between traditional and contemporary, manufacturers agree traditional influences, with a twist.
"Traditional [faucet] styles used to be larger in scale, with thicker spouts and handle bases and more Americana," notes Lori LeTourneau, national sales manager for KWC Faucets in Norcross, GA. "Now, the trend is toward slimmer, more tapered designs that read more European in flair."
"Style preferences have changed from 'pure' traditional, such as Greek Revival and Neoclassical styles, to styles from the Craftsman period," observes Steve Bissell, marketing manager of sanitary products for the Kohler, WI-based Kohler Co. "Mission style, Shaker style and styles reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright are becoming more predominant," he adds.
Universal design is also growing more prevalent, according to manufacturers, which note that today's cross and lever faucets meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, without being specifically designed to do so.
"We've always had the desire to design products that can be used by the physically challenged so that they don't need to buy a commercial product that reminds them that they have this challenge," stresses McTargett. He adds that many manufacturers have gone down this path. "You see products that are very ornate and are very good looking, and yet they're designed so that a wide variety of people that have infirmities can use them. That's important today because the whole baby boomer generation is getting older."
"Consumers have begun to open up to new ideas," comments John Spector, director of U.S. operations for Dornbracht USA, Inc. of Duluth, GA. He notes that the company's most popular seller, Tara, is a reinterpretation of the traditional style, redesigned using the cleaner, reduced lines of today.
"While there will always be a market for replications of traditional fittings and accessories, we have seen a rising consumer interest in new looks," he reports. "Meeting the necessities of functionality, the popular product of today combines this sense of history with the clean lines of tomorrow."
Whether they prefer traditional, contemporary or a blend of the two, today's consumers appear to be willing to spend more for upscale products that will last longer and add value to their homes. Claudia Juarez, strategic marketing research analyst for the Anaheim, CA-based LASCO Bathware, notes, "People don't want something ordinary when remodeling the bathroom."
Widespread faucets are currently more popular than the
mini-widespread versions, according to Juarez, even though they are
a little more expensive. "People are willing to pay for it, because
they perceive it as something of greater value," she
With the movement toward traditional styles, a wide range of new finishes has become available. According to Uhl, while polished chrome remains popular, polished brass is experiencing a resurgence at American Standard because it is now available in a physical vapor deposition (PVD) finish that makes it very durable. Satin and black nickel faucet finishes are also available in PVD from the company.