STYLE

Function meets fashion in latest varieties of modern sinks and faucets

07/26/2012 01:57 EDT | Updated 09/25/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Whether you're settling into a new space or looking to refresh an existing one, switching out older sinks and faucets can offer an instant facelift to two frequently used areas of the home.

And for those with an eye for design, there are a wealth of choices challenging conventional wisdom of what can — and will — work style-wise in kitchens and bathrooms.

"In fashion in the last few years, we've been seeing these big hits of colour and lots of colour-blocking and saturated colour," said Karen Sealy owner of Toronto-based Sealy Design Inc.

"It trickles into interior design in things like pillows and throw blankets and vases and stuff like that, which is pretty easy. Now in the next wave, it's actually coming in sinks."

Sealy points to famed designer Jonathan Adler who partnered with Kohler on a vibrant range of bathroom sinks in eye-popping yellow, green and blue hues.

In addition to cast-iron and ceramic finishes, apron sinks are also available in a vast array of shades, Sealy said.

"You could have a totally white kitchen with stainless steel appliances, and all of a sudden, have like a sea mist sink. So you can have a little hit of colour in your sink and have some fun with it."

Even faucets are tapping into the colour trend, with one model from Kohler featuring interchangeable spout liners, allowing users to change shades to suit their style tastes, she noted.

Sealy said there are also more ceramic and powder-coated finishes in faucets, showcasing high-gloss and matte black in addition to white — and even patterns on handles.

Metallics, too, have left a shimmering stamp within the realms of apparel, accessories and decor — and faucets are also getting a taste of the gilded treatment.

Jane Chadwick of faucet manufacturer Pfister said they're using an array of metal finishes like chrome and stainless steel for those desiring a more transitional, contemporary look, as well as warmer touches like Tuscan bronze to curry favour with style traditionalists.

Gold and polished brass faucets are also in the mix, noted Sealy.

"If you think about a rich mahogany or walnut or teak cabinetry and you think about pairing it with a warmer metal — it's a completely different look," she said. "You can make it a little more rustic, or you can make it a little bit more kind of cabin-in-the-woods as opposed to that really clean, sleek, almost cold modern that we've been seeing."

Marie-Claude Brosseau, product and trend manager at Rona, said chrome pairs well with virtually anything, particularly matte finishes like granite and stainless steel — the latter representing another big trend in sinks.

As for bathrooms, Brosseau said another notable trend is having vessels atop countertops, a contrast to kitchens where undermounts are more common.

"A few years back, you used to have only round vessels, bowl-shaped vessels. But now it's more rectangular. So you get to have that porcelain look over the countertop," she said.

"As well, you have the natural stone vessel which wasn't there before, so this is new as well," she added, describing the style as reminiscent of sand with a smooth, polished finish.

In addition to matching colours and tones, Chadwick said configuration is key in the process. Those undergoing a reno may want to select a new model sink that already fits into the pre-existing space.

"That could be from one hole — which would just have the faucet itself — or you could have a two-hole selection which would have the faucet and a soap dispenser," she said.

There are also three-and-four hole options to include a side spray, an additional single lever for water function, and the spout itself, she noted.

When opting to replace sinks, Sealy said it may be worth considering also changing countertops at the same time.

"The problem is, if we take a stone countertop out or a quartz countertop it may snap or break because it's obviously been glued down and everything — so it's hard to take those things out."

What's more, with a designated spot for the new sink, Sealy said it may limit consumers' choices when it comes selecting a replacement — unless there's one of the same size. If the new model is too big, it may require making a larger hole, she noted.

Faucet selections will also hinge in part on the depths of the sinks with which they're being paired, noted Chadwick.

"Pull-downs typically have higher spout height, they're higher (in) height, so that would definitely work with a deeper sink configuration," she said. "For a lower sink configuration, which was a lower depth, a smaller depth, I would think a pull-out style would suit that."

Vessel sinks can be either semi-recessed into the counter or sit directly on top of it. Those styles would be best paired with vessel faucets or single-control lavatory style, Chadwick added.

While each individual will have to assess their level of comfort and desire to infuse vibrant shades and patterns into their space, Sealy is buoyed by the transition towards brighter hues and bolder designs available for home interiors.

"We went so minimalist for so long that everybody got so sick of it. Now, we're really injecting personality into our homes."

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