Selecting a bathroom faucet is more complicated than it used to be.
Years ago, there were only a handful of options, mostly centered on polished brass or chrome finishes. Today, the options are almost unlimited, depending on your tastes and budget.
You still can find a basic single-handle chrome faucet for less than $75. These often are ideal for secondary bathrooms, particularly those that children frequent.
Conversely, the sky can be the limit with double-handled Victorian inspired faucets that top the $1,000 price range.
In many master bathrooms, design is taking a back seat to function. Home buyers are going all out for luxurious vanities, sinks, tubs and showers. They want the faucet to either make itsr own statement or blend well with all the other glamor.
While single-handle faucets tend to dominate the kitchen, the opposite is true in the master bathroom.
"People tend to want something more decorative and you're going to get that with a double-handle faucet," said Faye Adams, a senior brand manager with Delta Faucet.
This style also functions better in the bathroom because it receives less traffic than the kitchen.
Among the popular styles are high arching faucets that add an Old World look. Because many bathrooms have two separate sinks, this style can make a dramatic impact, said Therese Schaefer, vice president of sales and marketing for Landmark Homes, which is building houses priced from $500,000 at Providence Ridge in Lindenhurst.
"The two-handle faucet is a little more gracious," Schaefer said. "It takes a little more space on the vanity, but it's worth it."
The overall faucet style often is dictated by other design features in the bathroom. A room with rustic stone tile would blend well with a high arching faucet, while one with sleek glass and metal wall tile would fit better with a more contemporary faucet.
Among the popular contemporary faucet styles are those that have cylindrical stems with narrow spouts or a stem that juts out from a wall mounting.
Bathroom faucets that mount on the wall often are used with stylish vessel sinks that sit on the counter. In that scenario, the sink and faucet together are designed as the focal point.
When selecting a bathroom faucet, the finish is an important decision. There are a wide range of options, from a warm satin nickel to a cool polished chrome. There also are many specialty finishes that incorporate bronze and copper.
Those exotic finishes have become a hot trend, particularly in high-end master bathrooms. Homeowners are using them to create an Old World look or replicate the fine luxury found at a resort. Others are moving toward the 1950s look, with glamorous crystal or cobalt blue accents.
"Especially in the master bathroom, people are looking to really dress it up," Adams said. "Even if they are only there for a short time, it's a place to relax and pamper."
There are two schools of thought on selecting a faucet finish. Many people still want a coordinated look with one finish throughout the room. Others are mixing and matching.
With a coordinated look, the faucet finish matches the toilet lever, the shower faucet, other fixtures and the towel bars.
"Once you get into more specific finishes, like the bronzes, people want that total coordination," Adams said.
It often is easy to coordinate the finish when buying gray metal or brass finishes. They are fairly consistent among manufacturers. When you start shopping for fancier finishes, however, the coloration can vary.
A Venetian bronze finish from one manufacturer might be slightly different from an oil-rubbed bronze finish from another. One solution is to buy all the products from one company, a process many manufacturers encourage by making "suites" of products that match.
Sometimes it is difficult to find the fancier finishes that match for the bathtub faucets and shower heads. The solution for some byers is to use a different finish on the faucet.
"They are mixing up the metals in the bathroom," Schaefer said. "Most don't mind it at all -- they are tired of all the matching."
While the two-handle faucet dominates the master bathroom, the single-handle faucet still is preferred for secondary bathrooms. Single-handle faucets are easier to use and there are many inexpensively priced ones designed for kids. The lever can be set in the middle of the hot and cold, so the child can just pull it out for the water to flow. This makes it less likely a youngster will be scalded.
In those bathrooms, the finishes are simpler. Instead of an oil-rubbed bronze, buyers will select a polished or brushed chrome.
There are many factors to consider when selecting a bathroom faucet. As you shop through the builder, a home improvement store or a bathroom showroom, think about the statement you want to make.
Allison E. Beatty is a Chicago-area freelance writer. If you have questions or information to share regarding new-home buyers' product and design choices, write to Choices c/o Chicago Tribune, New Homes Section, 435 N. Michigan Ave., 4th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611. Or e-mail:email@example.com.