Design Life column: Don’t overlook your faucets |

Design Life column: Don’t overlook your faucets

Whether you’re building a home, remodeling or just fixing up a room, there are important decisions to be made. Usually, lots of them.

You need to pick out flooring, hardware, wall finish, colors, fabrics, furniture and so on. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so it is wise to focus on a few major details and ignore the rest.

Well, here’s a tip: Don’t overlook the faucets.

Faucets can be as much a part of the overall design as cabinets and flooring. Don’t think of them as merely accessories; faucets are a major player in the scheme of our homes. We stand by them, touch them, turn them on and off.

Many times, every day.

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European faucets

When I travel internationally, it always strikes me how faucets in other countries make such a statement, especially in Europe. It seems that Europeans put together bathrooms and kitchens with a kind of sexiness that you don’t see in America.

The “sexiness” is not only the design, but the quality as well. In addition, Europeans brilliantly juxtapose an old-world feel with high-tech, smartly-designed contemporary features. Here in the States, we have fancy, state-of-the-art stainless steel appliances in our kitchens — but we stick to generic looking faucets.


So what’s the difference between an ordinary and an extraordinary faucet? Finish (the color of the metal), quality, size and design.

Not all brushed nickel and chrome are the same. Due to the ingredients that are blended into the metal, the brightness and depth can vary tremendously from company to company. Sigma, an American company, offers faucets in 30 different finishes. The choices include satin silver, soft pewter and satin gold.

Most faucets today are in the same finishes: oil-rubbed bronze, brushed nickel or chrome. They’re OK, but choosing a non-typical finish such as polished silver, satin bronze or verdigris adds a unique touch to any bathroom or kitchen.


How do you judge quality? Closely observe the way a faucet opens and closes. When a faucet is closed, the water should stop completely with no leaking whatsoever. When a good faucet opens, the water flows in a dynamic stream. In addition, a good faucet has weight to it and the mechanics operate firmly.


Even in a traditional style, there are ample opportunities for good design. Interesting angles, unusual curves and unexpected proportions all make for an intriguing faucet. My favorite company for faucet design is Dornbracht, based in Germany.

Although Dornbracht is best known for faucets with a contemporary style, the company also makes several fixtures that have a traditional European look. The quality is superior and the cutting-edge design seems almost futuristic.

Before Apple came along, electronics were never thought of as items that could be sexy or alluring. Faucets are the same way. They may seem insignificant and utilitarian, but with a little imagination, faucets can become pieces of sculpture that are integral parts of a beautiful design.

Nancy Sanford, owner of Nancy Sanford Interior Design, is an award-winning interior designer who has been transforming residential and commercial spaces in the Vail Valley for the past 12 years. For more information, visit or email Nancy at

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