3 bathroom fixture brands high-end designers love

Iris Price | Improvement Center Columnist | December 18, 2013

A video advertisement that aired for Kohler bathroom fixtures a while ago features an actor playing a pompous architect trying to impress new clients with examples of his internationally acclaimed accomplishments. When he asks the couple, "What can I do for you?" they tell him to design a house around the Kohler faucet they brought with them, intimating that their faucet is a match for his world-class designs. But is it the bathroom fixture brand of choice for interior designers with high-end clientele?

If you are working with a designer on your bathroom remodel, she or he might present you with a few options for fixtures of different brands to get a better idea of what you like. But often the homeowner looks to the decorator for guidance -- that's why you hired her or him in the first place. Many (but not all) designers have favorite brands. An informal survey of four interior designers produced four different answers, and Kohler was not even mentioned. So how did these brands earn the desirable "favorite" title? Each designer stressed style and finishes as the chief reasons for favoring a brand.

Designer's choice: bathroom fixture brands

Here is a sampling of the fixtures of choice for three of the four interior design consultants queried:

wall mount faucet
Photo credit to California Faucets

Lea Shulman of Lea Shulman Interiors in Darien, Conn., specializes in kitchen and bathroom remodels. Examples of her work have been published in Kitchen and Bath Ideas, The Bridal Guide, and Better Homes and Gardens as well as in the industry trades. She favors California Faucets because, she says, "They offer all their fixtures in many finishes and are very high quality.

"But the best part about California," she says, "is how easy they are to design with. You can create any look from traditional to modern. California allows you to mix and match handles with faucet bases." That kind of versatility allows her to customize the bathroom design to best satisfy her client's style and vision for the space. It also plays well with different fixture brands, which allows her complete freedom.

bronze faucet
Photo credit to Rohl

For Stacey Michael of Timeless Interiors who designs for upscale homes in the Lake Tahoe area, the answer was easy. She says, "…my favorite bathroom fixtures are Rohl and [its] Perrin & Rowe® [collection]. The reason I like them," she says, "is their variety of styles. The finishes are live finishes that are superior to most." Live finishes, like brass and bronze, change with time, unlike most metals that have a clear, protective finish. She also likes the fact that they make bath faucets that swivel.

Santec modern faucet
Photo credit to Santec Faucet

Sacramento designer Pamela Farnsworth Smith, owner of Avallon Design in Lincoln, Calif., is partial to Santec faucets. "The last home I designed entirely around Santec's 'Designer' series of faucets - lavatory and tub/shower both," she says. She likes that they are "very style-forward in their design" and that they fully embody their tagline "fluid imagination." She also appreciates that Santec's fixtures have "a characteristic design flair to the shape and finish."

Style transcends bathroom fixture brand for some

Houston's Four Square Design Studio's principal Laura Michaelides refuses to play favorites. "I don't make judgments about fixtures based on brand at all," she says, "but rather on a combination of the style I'm looking for, as well as the budget my client has. So I've specified fixtures from a multitude of brands without any allegiance at all."

If you're working on your own bathroom remodel without the aid of a designer, you probably owe it to yourself to look a little further than the big box stores or the advertising hype before settling on faucets, toilets, sinks, tubs, and other components you need to transform your bath from boring to breathtaking. With the vast array of bathroom fixture brands available, you might be surprised to find something more unique to give your bathroom that special touch. After all, if you are going to bother tearing it all out and putting up with the mess, why not make the results the best your budget can handle?

About the Author

Iris Price is a single Baby Boomer whose antidote to a lack of retirement funds was to launch a long-delayed career as a writer. While others her age concoct bucket lists and travel the world, she bought a new-construction home and obsessively creates lists of must-have home improvements and personal realization goals. She specializes in writing about home services and self-motivation.