Fixtures & Finish can say it all

Fixtures & Finishes

By Denise Deveau

The kitchen is seen as an entertainment hub and the community space within the home, whereas the bath has become a bit of a space to escape to so that we can
relax and recharge. And while both rooms serve very different purposes, design, layout and functionality of each are equally important to homeowners.

”While the kitchen serves as an area for entertaining, the bath is being treated as a peaceful retreat,” says Brad Campeau, Masco business development manager for luxury showroom.

”Consumers are now choosing transitional pieces that lend themselves to a contemporary setting.”

Selling up

There’s always an opportunity for a bit of upselling when working on a kitchen or bathroom renovation. ”Even a small change of the faucets can give a spark to the kitchen or bathroom,” says Riobel’s Kathleen Saint-Yves.

Custom finishes with a vivid splash of contrast are hot right now. With so many finish options across appliances and fixtures, consumers are opting to mix metals in a fashion-forward look, says Masco’s Campeau.

”Black stainless steel, for example, is less reflective and warmer than
traditional stainless steel, offering a modern look that easily pairs with a
variety of finishes. Matte black coordinates with most other fixtures and
accents and can be used to complement traditional transitional spaces.
Champagne bronze provides a splash of contrast and can be paired with
traditional, transitional and contemporary décor.”

Another upsell opportunity is with retrofit shower rail systems, which also
happen to be available in a variety of finishes. Retrofit systems are an ideal
way for homeowners to add a handheld component to a single showerhead
system.

”They can do that easily without the cost of a major renovation without
having to replace anything behind the wall in the home,” says Garry Scott
of Moen. ”If someone has a standard bathroom with just a showerhead
and valve, you can put in a hand shower and slide bar, while keeping the
showerhead and it all looks like a whole new shower system.”

Tapping into Black & Gold

Garry Scott, vice-president of wholesale marketing and brand development for Moen Canada, says his company’s studies have shown strong trends of high interest to consumers.

”Consumers are always looking for ways to make their home more stylish by going with different style and finish options. They want faucets that stand out and get noticed. Brushed gold is very popular for homeowners who want to
elevate their design.”

It stands to reason that faucets would go there, given that gold is already a popular choice for lighting and hardware – just look at hinges and handles in the home, he adds. ”Designers and architects are looking to gold finish to bring life and warmth into the room.”

Another top pick is matte black. ”That’s the perfect choice for people who want to make a statement with a unique finish. It gives a contemporary fresh look to the bathroom or kitchen.” Another finish that is often on the wish list is oil rubbed
bronze or even ombré.

Gold and black are certainly the predominant finishes of the day for fixtures, including showerheads, Saint-Yves notes. ”Designers are coming up with completely gold or black shower systems, including the hose. Textures are also
coming back, like pearl finishes on handles or mixing brushed nickel with black to create a very cool look.”

In terms of faucets, Saint-Yves notes that people seem to be going smaller in the kitchen and bigger in the bathroom. ”Two or three years ago it was all minimalist.
Now bathroom faucets are becoming a bit chubbier and have bigger diameters.”

Turning up the conversation in the shower

Perhaps one of the most interesting innovations that is gaining interest is digital
shower systems. Garry Scott says there are now systems that can be controlled by a person’s voice, digital assistant (e.g. Alexa or Google Home) or a smartphone.

”They’re much sleeker in appearance and allow for a lot of customization. You just need a controller and valve, and you can pick the showerhead and fixture you want.”

Kathleen Saint-Yves says the beauty of a digital shower unit is that there are no handles required. ”Everything is behind the wall. All you have to do is push a button to decide where you want to have running water from.”

She notes that the installation is a bit different and may require a learning curve. ”Not everyone can do it. They are still in their early stages in terms of demand, but they are a great idea, particularly for families with children or disabled people because you can program the shower to specific temperatures for each person.
There’s no danger of burning.”

Going industrial

Of course, there are always a group of homeowners who are willing to change things up completely to stay on trend. A particularly popular design is the industrial look complemented by cement or concrete surfaces, with ”raw”
faucets and fixtures to match.

Dominic Giordano of TAPS says the industrial look is gaining momentum with designers and homeowners. ”There are more fixtures that feature textured and knurled finishes. Brands are coming out with products that look like exposed fittings in chrome and black that look like a wall pipe. Some even have handles that look like shutoff valves.”

These include specialty brands like Watermark‘s Elan Vital 38 line, he says. ”It looks very much like what you see inside the wall. IB Italian Bathware also has a line of industrial fixtures, as does Brizo Bath collection.”
Many homeowners are more than willing to push the boundaries when it comes to their choice of fixtures, so it is good know there’s no shortage of options for plumbing contractors to offer

Colour it whatever

Two years ago, bathroom designs were all about minimalism, white on white with the occasional greys thrown into the mix and chrome or stainless steel faucets and showerheads. But in the past few years, things have changed a lot.
”The theme now is colour, colour, colour,” says Kathleen Saint-Yves, marketing director for Riobel.

”Grey, black and gold are back.

Baths can now be painted different colours.” Sinks, tubs and toilets are definitely trending to colours and different finishes, says Dominic Giordano, sales representative with TAPS in Toronto. ”Not only are
manufacturers coming out with matte white, we’re also seeing pastels
and black toilets and sinks from Italy, such as the Catalano Colori line.
People just want something that’s funkier and different.” Shapes are
shifting as well. Not too long ago, it was all about square fixtures.
And while geometric shops continue to be a mainstay, ”Round is
now coming back,” Saint-Yves says. Homeowners, however, haven’t
abandoned the white and chrome combination by any means. ”For
sure there is always big room for that combination,” she adds. ”It’s
not something manufacturers change every other year. It’s a look that
will easily last for years.”

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