Taylor says that some manufacturers are doing pewter, gold, copper and textured finishes as well as some unconventional, whimsical colors. “While these might be ‘on the rise,’ they might not quite take off and have staying power,” he cautions. “Trendwise at this time, chrome and brushed nickel are the most popular finishes. In our experience, these lighter finishes continue to remain at the forefront of consumers’ minds,” he adds.
Murray says that bronze tones, antique copper and even black have commanded the attention of many designers and homeowners, citing the popularity of Danze’s recently introduced tumbled bronze finish. The finish is obtained by tumbling the products in a drum after the finish color has been applied, resulting in a natural, unique finish each time, she says.
Suvak adds that, in addition to new finish colors, consumers are looking for functional features in their finishes, such as Moen’s Spot Resist finish, which, as the name suggests, resists fingerprints and water spots.
Material decisions are being impacted by current and upcoming legislation that mandates that the weighted average lead content in pipes, fittings and fixtures used to convey drinking water cannot exceed 0.25% on wetted surfaces, says Allison McKinney, product manager for Delta Faucet, based in Indianapolis, IN. “This is something that has a large influence on the materials we use to manufacture our products,” she says.
Wood adds, “In our business, we focus on brass forming and finishing. The primary changes in base material have to do with new formulations of low lead brass to meet the coming 2014 industry requirements.”
Diverse materials continue to be seen in bathroom sinks, from traditional ceramic to natural stone and copper. Neilson Howard has seen a movement toward the use of copper, partly due to recent studies confirming that copper is naturally antibacterial, she says. “Today’s homeowners really seem to appreciate an antibacterial option for the bathroom, and copper being a natural material [makes it] even better.”
Magarik adds, “Ceramic sinks offer diversity in shapes and styles, providing them with an advantage over glass and stone.”
On the other hand, Michael Zimber, founder and president of Stone Forest in Sante Fe, NM, sees a strong demand among the luxury market for sinks made of rare and expensive marbles from Italy. “We are doing quite a few custom projects in these high-end materials,” he says.
A growing awareness of the impact people have on the environment and a larger desire to care for the planet brings an expansion of the use of natural materials and earth-friendly products as well.
While the sink and faucet must fit with the overall bathroom aesthetic, current designs are allowing for greater flexibility, manufacturers say.
“What’s great about current design trends is that you no longer need to fall under just one of the design categories: traditional, transitional or contemporary. When it comes to plumbing fixtures, combining different finishes and styles can make a huge difference and bridge the gap between categories,” says McKinney. “Also in line with this sentiment is the recent emergence of ‘soft contemporary’ styled products, which blend features from both contemporary and transitional design styles,” she adds.
Wood agrees: “We continue to see the desire by customers to mix traditional and nontraditional elements to create their own look.” For instance, Wood points out that a consumer might choose a contemporary style product, and then have a traditional old world finish.
Suvak says that the décor of the bath tends to lead choices for bathroom faucet options, but there are two ways this can play out. Either the faucet matches the overall style, or the faucet contrasts the style. “‘Mix and match’ is a strong trend we see among consumers who are confident enough to express their personal style by creating contrasts between their bath faucet and other interior objects,” he says. “For example, the room might be designed in a very traditional style, but the faucet chosen features a very modern, linear design – to provide rich contrast to the rest of the room.” While he sees a trend toward modern designs, he says that traditional styles are still the most popular with consumers.
Murray notes, “The only real ‘trend’ in popularity across the board is that there is no trend! It’s very individual.”