Just as a faucet is a design element, so is its finish. There are plenty of choices—nickel, chrome, brass, bronze, stainless, to name a few—and many come in light and dark varieties as well as polished and brushed (also called satin) versions. To pick the right tone for your bathroom, consider the following.
A vintage finish on a classic faucet in a traditional bath is more yesterday than today. It’s your space—don’t feel confined to any so-called rules of design. “A big trend is applying old-world finishes to modern faucet shapes,” explains Judd Lord, Delta Faucet’s director of industrial design. For example, Delta Faucet’s contemporary Trinsic faucet with a Venetian Bronze finish marries coolness and warmth.
The finish of a bathroom faucet is a dramatic design choice. Freshen up a classic look by mixing a modern fixture with an old-world finish (like a Trinsic faucet in Venetian Bronze, above), or dress the space in dazzling gold tones (with a Dryden widespread in Champagne Bronze, from @pikeproperties, top).
Multiple finishes add dimension and contrast—just don’t get carried away. Harmony is the key to pulling the look together. “One way to do that is to choose finishes that are all polished or all brushed,” Lord says. “Brushed nickel and Champagne Bronze, which also has a brushed coating, look good together.” Or stay in the same metal family. If you already have a lighting fixture in oil-rubbed bronze, which has a dark, worn look with bronze peeking through, you could go with an inky Venetian Bronze finish for your bathroom faucet.
Chrome fixtures add a classic, cohesive look to a traditional bath and also have the flexibility to complement more contemporary spaces, like this Ara channel faucet does amid copper and rose gold accents.
Think of them as the classic white shirt of the bath—subtly sophisticated and easy to match with other accessories like towel holders and door pulls. Shiny chrome is the most popular bath finish and comes with an affordable price tag. Nickel has a warmer tone and a more exclusive pedigree. Stainless steel, still the leading metal in the kitchen, looks indulgent in the bath, too.
Polished nickel, a neutral finish, stands out equally well against the natural texture of a wooden backsplash and the cool glass of a tile shower wall. Here, a wall-mount faucet further integrates the fixture in the room, and an H2Okinetic three-setting hand shower performs as well as it looks.
If ease of cleaning is a priority for you, choose a brushed finish—its muted surface helps mask fingerprints and water spots. Also, since it’s not reflective like a polished finish, it’s better at showing off a bathroom faucet’s details, Lord says.
Satin surfaces, like the brushed nickel on this Windemere two-handle center-set faucet, shows off a faucet’s features and is more forgiving with fingerprints and water spots than some polished finishes can be.
The latest brasses bear no resemblance to the highly polished metals found in Grandma’s house. Instead of classic green undertones, today’s brasses are warmer with gold tones, like Champagne Bronze. But gold doesn’t just suit vintage décor—it’s also stylish on modern bathroom faucets and fixtures. A popular look: an all-white bathroom with chic gold accents.
An all-white bath is just begging for brilliant bursts of color. In this space, color comes courtesy of two Trinsic Single-Handle High-Arc faucets in Champagne Bronze and complementary gold accents from mirror frames and wall lights. (photo: @lcinteriors)
To see popular finishes side by side, check out this article about comparing and picking faucet finishes on Inspired Living.