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Fixtures & Finish can say it all

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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.”