Whether you’re starting from scratch or you simply want to update an existing bathroom, a few carefully selected pieces of brassware can make all the difference.
Choosing new shower fittings and taps for the basin and bath is like dressing up your bathroom and giving it a bit of a facelift in keeping with the latest trends. At the premium end of the market, it’s all about contemporary styling and clean lines, as Kate Griffiths, who works in contract design and specification at Kohler UK, confirms: “Whether it’s for a modern or a traditional suite, designs coming through satisfy this trend,” she says.
Left: Raindance 240 shower from Hansgrohe. Right: Shawa freestanding shower from West One Bathrooms
For basins, the choice is varied. Alongside the ubiquitous three-hole mixers are single levers, dual-control buttons, joystick handles, wall-mounted or waterfall spouts and handles that mirror the shape of the spout itself for a streamlined effect. Before you buy, make sure you know your water pressure and pick a tap to suit. Period properties tend to require a pump to boost water pressure, so always check and seek professional advice before you splash out. For baths, as well as wall-mounted taps and sit-on styles, a floorstanding mixer makes the ultimate statement and is the perfect for a luxury freestanding tub.
Showers can also be used to create a focal point, even in the smallest of spaces. Sleek hand showers on vertical risers sit snugly alongside thermostatic shower valves and exposed shower heads in conical shapes, neat round styles and oversized drencher designs. The Moxie shower from Kohler even comes with an integrated speaker.
The finish of your brassware is also key. No longer are the options limited to trusty chrome – the latest designs come in everything from titanium and copper to matt black, rose gold and satin brass.
“The finish is a big emerging trend,” reveals Michael Gray, product manager at Grohe, “and this can affect whether a product looks contemporary or traditional in design. For traditionally styled rooms, consumers might consider a rose gold finish, which adds a touch of classic elegance. If they are looking to create a modern space, they might opt for white or choose between hard and soft granite, which makes a statement and can add a futuristic element to the decor.”
Classic design also has its place and can be used to great effect in a period property or conversion.
“A traditional rose can be the crowning glory on a vintage feel bathroom,” says David Cole, sales director at Perrin & Rowe, “while traditional hand showers and brassware with porcelain inserts give a classic feel and allow for a greater mix of materials. A more transitional setting can be achieved by teaming a traditional rose with more contemporary surroundings.”
Water saving is essential for many of us looking to buy new products.
“Look out for clever technologies,” says Michael Gray of Grohe, “such as Grohe’s EcoJoy, which works to conserve water and energy without compromising on performance. Also, take note of products listed under the WELL Water Efficiency Label, which recognises products designed to reduce water consumption.”
Left: Fittings from Waterworks. Right: Union floorstanding bath filler and shower kit from Crosswater
We spoke to Crosswater brand manager Marten Baker to glean some of his bathroom expertise.
What is the latest in basin and bath tap functionality?
With today’s improvement in bathroom technology, the latest digital functions can now be sympathetically integrated into traditional or modern brassware designs, providing all the superior functions and usability of a modern item. The vast majority of taps within the Crosswater collection are fitted with innovative aerators or flow regulators to ensure that the flow of water is smooth and consistent, reducing the risk of splashing, for a more efficient design. Multi-flow bath fillers are also now available with separate handsets to revolutionise the shower/bath experience.
And what’s new in terms of shower tech?
Digital shower technology is becoming increasingly popular. More sophisticated and efficient processors are making high performance digital showers not only more affordable but easier to install, maintain and suitable for water delivery systems of varying types. Transforming everyday bathing into an extraordinary experience, our digital collection reveals a highly responsive, integrated system that allows you to precisely control the flow and temperature of your water at the touch of a button. An optional wall-mounted remote control is also available, allowing users to operate the shower or bath before even entering the room.
Any buying tips?
Today’s style choices can be confusing, so first decide on the long-term look you want to achieve. Second, determine the water pressure of the house (whether it’s low or higher), considering whether the system needs a pump to allow the shower and brassware of your choice to work.
Any finishes that are particularly on-trend?
Traditional chrome remains popular, but consumers are now provided with much more choice. Additional MPRO finishes and our brand-new collection UNION have just launched in 2018, exploring contemporary brushed brass and brushed or matt black options.
We also spoke to Lisa Kyne, owner of Ripples London, to discuss the latest styles and finishes in brassware.
•We have seen a significant shift over the last year away from chrome fittings. Most manufacturers have expanded their range to include finishes such as copper, nickel, brass, gold and stainless steel as well as matt black or white. The delivery times have been greatly improved too, so they are much more available than they have been before. We have noticed a slightly higher demand for the brushed and matt finishes – in particular brushed brass and matt black.
•The matt black finish tends to suit the more modern style of taps and showers, whereas brushed brass leans towards a more classic or traditional style. Certainly we’ve seen an increase in sales of shower columns and pipes, too.
•One thing to think about when specifying special finishes is to think about the other parts of the bathroom that might have standard chrome finishes such as toilet seat hinges, flush plates/buttons, radiators and valves, shower door fixings and profiles. Fortunately we know a great plating company who will colour-match to ensure all your Ripples bathroom is colour co-ordinated!
Left: C1 collection from Duravit. Right: Traditional single-lever basin mixer from Perrin & Rowe