D-I-Y faucets get designer focus

The rounder shapes of automobiles and furniture have influenced the design of bathroom fixtures, such as faucets. The rounded faucets are easier to clean, and water runs off them, rather than collecting in crevices. Screws are recessed in these designs, which give the products a higher-end look. Price points are lower than expected for these mid-line products, they appeal to women because they are easier to clean.

At first glance, a Ford Taurus, a new couch and a bathroom faucet don’t have much in common. Look a little closer, though, and the similarity becomes more evident. The rounded, fluid shapes dominating automobile and furniture design have trickled down to d-i-y bathroom merchandise.

Smoother, elliptical shapes are beginning to replace the hard edges and comers on lavatory faucets and handles.

“It’s a design trend happening across all categories,” says Karen Mendelsohn, business manager for Peerless Faucet Co., Indianapolis. “In the bath, it’s especially appropriate and useful because these shapes encourage the natural runoff of water.”

D-I-Y-faucets-get-designer-focus

Contributing to the smoother design are recessed screws on lavatory faucets and levers. Once found exclusively on high-end, professional-quality bath fixtures, recessed screws are now featured on consumer-oriented merchandise, says Allen Pfenninger, a spokesperson for Moen Inc., of North Olmsted, OH. “It’s a more high-end, quality look than you used to find on do-it-yourself products,” he says.

The new shapes serve two purposes, according to Mendelsohn. “They’re aesthetically more pleasing–the consumer’s getting an upscale look at a mid-level price point,” she says. “They also enhance cleanability. The units stay nice with low maintenance.”

Because water doesn’t collect in corners and crevices–such as knurled edges and screw holes–there is less buildup of lime deposits, soap scum, toothpaste and other substances that make lavatory faucets difficult to clean.

Both trends–the upscale look and easier cleaning–have made their way to middle and lower price points due to the needs of female consumers.

“In the bath merchandise area, the women are the decision makers,” says Pfenninger. “If a couple’s redoing the bath, the woman chooses the faucet and the man installs it.”

Mendelsohn agrees, “It may sound sexist, but the women in our surveys overwhelmingly care about how it looks, and how much time it will take to clean,” she says. “No one has time anymore to go into the little screwholes and ridges with an old toothbrush to get all the gunk out of there.”

Choices in what style of faucet to buy are split along gender lines, as well. Moen has found that women prefer the double-handled lavatory, according to Pfenninger. “Women like it because it has the look that they want,” he says. “Men seem to prefer the polisshed brass kitchen faucet. It’s easier to adjust, to get the light mix of hot and cold water.”

While women typically make the decision of what style of faucet to buy, men make the brand decision when purchasing. This decision is based on ease of installation and maintenance.

According to a study commissioned by Peerless, consumers purchase a new faucet every seven years, “so it better be easy to keep working,” says Mendelsohn.

As a result of manufacturer’s increased emphasis on maintainability, several faucet makers also incorporate wrench flats into the cap assembly. It allows for easy removal of the assembly, and reduces the chances of damaging the finish.