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Fixtures to give your bathroom a facelift

Interior designer Sheila Bridges with tips on how to upgrade your lavatory.
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A simple way to give a bathroom a facelift is to buy a new sink (lavatory) faucet. New faucets might not make a big impact on your houseguests, but it can provide a refreshing, new look.

Think about faucets in a range of colors like solid white, chrome, gold-plated, even red or black. Installation is relatively easy and may cost around $75 to $200.

Changing a sink is also an easy fixture upgrade that may cost around $200 to $400.

Types available

Drop-in basins fit into a countertop. They are usually placed atop a cabinet, though not always.

Pedestal sinks are supported by a narrow base. Pedestal sinks don’t provide a bathroom with countertop space nor storage, but do create more space.

Vessel sinks have become more and more popular as a design option, and the idea evolved from the old traditional pitcher and washbasin, used before modern-day plumbing.

Features to consider

Size. If your bathroom is small, you may not have room for a standard drop-in bowl and cabinet; a pedestal sink or corner drop-in are among your other options.

Deck space. When planning the sink area, include enough space for toothbrushes, eyeglasses, soap, and so on. This is especially important if you’re considering a pedestal sink, as you may not have a countertop nearby.

Cleanability. Vanity tops with integral sink basins, raised edging to reduce splashing, and the vanity material and finish all play a part in how easy your sink will be to keep clean.

Style. You can choose a sink as fancy as you like; ornate pedestal sinks, art-glass basins, and cultured marble vanity tops with integral sink basins are all available. A wide variety of colors are also available, and basins can even be custom-made by glass or ceramic artists


At the bargain level, $50 to $100 will get you a basic drop-in or pedestal sink. For $200 to $500, you can get an integral sink (all one piece with the vanity top), and your style and color choices for drop-ins and pedestal sinks widen.

If you’re willing to spend $300 to $700, your options include larger or more ornate pedestal sinks, designer-series fixtures, art-glass basins, and exotic materials.


Types available

Two-handle center-set faucets offer a traditional look and the most control over water temperature. Handle and spout styles vary to suit the ambience of your bath.

Faucets with single-handle control provide a more streamlined look and greater universal access.

High-style spouts can incorporate either faucet design, but they add a stronger fashion statement to faucet functionality.

Features to consider

Durability. Newer faucets offer washerless construction, which virtually eliminates drips and leaks caused by worn-out workings.

Style. Vintage handles, period spouts, and a wide variety of finishes are available.

Cost guidelines

At the bargain level, you can get a basic, two-handle, 4-inch center-set faucet in a chrome or lower-grade brass finish for $20 to $70.

For $70 to $150, you’ll have the choice of washerless faucets with more finish options, single-handle or lever-handle control, and more distinctive styles.

For high-end style, such as designer, decorative, and period pieces; styled spouts; and finishes like no-tarnish brass or brushed nickel, you can expect to pay up to $500.

Finish Options

A good starting point to decide on the faucet style is to look at what is used in the rest of the house. If the home is traditional, for example, this should be reflected in the bath.

Traditional metal finishes include brightly polished chrome and brass.

Contemporary finishes include brushed nickel, brass and chrome in sleek lines, sometimes combined with contrasting metal accents.

If color is a priority, baked enamel or plastic faucets come in a variety of colors.

New options in metal finishes for the bath include antique finishes that are more resilient than the originals. An antiqued brass finish, which has black streaks running though it, and rubbed oil finishes on bronze and copper have a beautiful aged patina.

The same finish can be used for all the hardware, faucets, tub doors and towel bars for a coordinated look, but the more daring can carefully mix different finishes in similar tones or contrast finishes.

Most finishes require no special upkeep; avoid harsh abrasive cleansers on any finish.

Most lines of faucets come in a limited range of finishes, usually four or five.

Shopping Tips: Consider your storage needs and installation options.

Vanity cabinets and built-in cabinetry offer the best storage options. Choosing your vanity or cabinetry first will help you select the type, size, and shape of basin that will fit.

A pedestal sink, while a practical solution for most bathrooms, can feature a generous bowl but little sink decking or storage. If you’re set on a pedestal sink and your remodeling project doesn’t include plans for a closet or shelving unit, you should rethink your plan. Even the smallest bathroom will need some display or storage space. Try a decorative medicine cabinet, small set of shelves, or storage cart.

Keep in mind that solid countertops, such as marble, granite, or wood, will allow for undermounted basin installation. Such installation maximizes the countertop area, and the seamless design is easy to keep clean.

Consider coordinating your sink and toilet.

If your sink is highly stylized, you’ll probably want your other fixtures to match.

For instance, if your budget allows, pair a wrought-iron pedestal sink with a retro-style toilet and claw-foot tub.

Go over your plans with a plumber

Identify any problems before you plan to install your sink yourself.

Most consumers are unlikely to know, for instance, that freestanding bowl sinks are usually made without an overflow, so they must be fitted with a grid drain.

Before you tear into your wall or floor, make sure you know how to do the job.

Consider a style that fools the eye

If space is at a premium and you don’t care for the pedestal look. A console sink, for example, provides the illusion of space because its front is open.

Cabinets and vanities, while providing a rich, furniture-like look, may take up too much space in small baths.

Keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses of various materials.

Bathroom sinks are available in almost any material, including porcelain, enameled cast iron, vitreous china, stainless steel, brass, nickel, copper, marble, and granite.

As a rule of thumb, hand-painted finishes are more delicate by nature and require special cleaning attention.

Vitreous china is quite durable and features a smooth, easy-to-clean finish.

Marble and granite, while among the most expensive materials, last the longest and require little upkeep.

Don’t forget about faucets.

The hardware that will complement your sink is as important to your overall design as the sink itself.

Today’s faucets are fashion accessories, running the gamut of styles and materials from simple and streamlined to ornate and adorned.

Make sure the materials and styles match the sink, and pay attention to faucet height. For instance, bowl or basin sinks require a spout that is long and high enough to reach the bowl — but not so high that the water splatters when it hits the bottom of the basin.

A bathroom designer can help you determine the perfect height.


Boulevard Lever handles

Item #: BDLS02-K

Finish: NICKEL

Price: $1160.00

Industrial Luxe lavatory faucet with cross handles

Item #: LXLS01MC


Price: $ 660.00

Opus Single Vanity

Item #: OPWS010

Finish: Oak

Price: $3700.00

TNSK 01 Titan vessel basins

Item #: TNSK01


Price: $ 840.00

Hancock bowl

Item #: HASK01W

Color: WHITE

Price: $485.00

Aero Retro Lavatory Faucet

Item #: RTLS01BZ

Finish: Architectural Bronze

Price: $1260.00


Allure Widespread Faucet

Item #: 228391

Finish: Oil-Rubbed Bronze

Price: $199.00

Deco Lavatory

Item #: 1216

Finish: Stainless Steel

Price: $209.00

Kholer Crucible Lavatory Sink

Item #: K-2271-0

Color: White

Price: $417.00

Newport Brass 920 Series Fittings

Item #: 920-10B

Finish: Rubbed Bronze

Price: $405.60


Kohler Vessels Botticelli Lavatory


Description: White Carrara Marble

Price: $2300.00

Kohler Bateau Vessel Sink

Item# K2273-96

Color: Cobalt

Price: $513.00

American Standard Brooke Console Table


Finish: Espresso

Price: $675.00

Marble Top


Description: Midnight Black

Price: $600.00

Corbian Undercounter Sink


Color: White

Price: $96.00

Amarilis Iris Widespread Faucet


Finish: Satin

Price: $368.00

Falling Water

Item# K-T196/K-307-K-NA

Finish: Satin Black

Price: $600.00-670.00