Fittings & Other Items
Small details are the ones that make a big difference in style and comfort. When thinking about fittings, vanity, tapware, and other items it’s always good to consider not only the style you prefer but also your lifestyle, your needs, and the size of your family.
Sinks and Taps
The humble sink was once a very easy choice – one or two bowls, preferred size, and drain side. These days not only can we have a varying number and size of bowls, but also various types of installation styles, as well as a wide range of material options. Unfortunately, this is another area that is sometimes overlooked when considering design options.
It is recommended to look at your existing sink on a day to day basis, and understand that the new sink and surrounds will, more or less, continue to look like even once the new sink is installed (albeit newer and more attractive). This will assist in determining location – should it be placed on show on an island, or would it be best to hide it away on another run of the kitchen? Would it be useful to have a secondary ‘hand sink’, for light duties, such as washing hands, filling the kettle cleaning fruits and vegetables, and rinsing your cup?
Four main choices to consider:
Top- mount or drop-in
Sink is lowered into the cut-out with an overhanging edge, and tapware can be either on sink, on bench or on wall. Advantages: protects the edge of your benchtop, and the only practical option when you have a laminate benchtop. Disadvantages: the edge is seen, however, these days with the introduction of laser-edging there are many styles available that have a discreet edge and are more aesthetically pleasing, whilst still providing protection for the edge of the benchtop.
This sink is attached to the underneath of the benchtop, thus leaving the edge of the benchtop (which needs to be finished by the stone mason), fully exposed. This type of sink requires expert installation in order to ensure you do not experience problems with extended use. Tapware has to be either on bench or on wall, although some models do allow for on sink installation
Advantages: high aesthetic rating. Disadvantages: exposed edges may be prone to chipping, drainage for just washed dishes requires either an accessory-style addition next to it or in it, or the more expensive option of draining grooves engraved on the stone. Not an option for laminate benchtops.
Beautiful to look at, though depending on the material, may be more susceptible to wear and tear, and usually much more costly.
Typically made of ceramic. Ceramic sinks add classic style to the kitchen and are perfect in the more traditional styles. Made from raw materials such as clay, kaolin, quartz and feldspar, ceramic sinks are easy to keep clean and deceptively durable if good quality. These days, they are also available in stainless steel versions, which not only makes them more practical, but also much more affordable. Beautiful in any setting, though most at home in the more traditional styles.
consider your preferences for each of the following:
- On sink, on bench or on wall.
- Material, colour and finish – stainless steel, black or other colour, metals such bronze, copper, graphite, etc., polished, matt, distressed.
- Style – lever or tap mixer, or faucet & tap set.
- Manual or with sensor.
- Simple or with accessories such as pull-down spray nozzles, integrated filter options. There are also some very sophisticated units which do mains water, filtered water, boiling, chilled and even sparkling.
- Separate or integrated filtered, boiling chilled and sparkling tap – perfect teamed with a small hand sink on the island for washing produce, and preparing hot and cold beverages. Good also in butler’s pantries.
As with appliances, there are many varieties in each of the various categories. In the selection of each item, it is important to consider how many persons are likely to be using the bathroom at any one time as well as the needs of those users. This will then mean the difference between choosing, say a double vanity or shower, or the addition of extra handholds for the safety of more elderly or impaired users. Your choice of item may also significantly add to the cost and time to complete the installation.
Here we list the most pertinent for you:
Vanity, storage & basins
Wall hung or on floor, minimalist or substantial. May be just one large basin with separate storage, or a full unit with lots of storage. Off the shelf or custom, there are many materials to choose from, including laminate, polyurethane, timbers, etc. Consider matching your vanity joinery to a shaving cabinet or other storage solution. Basins can be undermounted on or above counter, or semi-recessed. Many shapes and materials, including porcelain, solid surfaces, glass, and metals.
For bathrooms is also available in many styles and configurations. Think all-in-one showers which incorporate a rain-shower connected to the main support together with a hand-held shower head which is also adjustable in height and angle. The use of sensors is becoming more popular as increased hygiene protocols are currently high on everyone’s list. Mixer taps still reign supreme, although the faucet and tap for more traditional styles are still popular. Once again, important to decide early on as this will impact not only the design, but also trades and costing.
Baths & Showers
Your choices here will be ruled by your design layout. If having the shower over the bath then you will generally be best served by choosing a recessed bath, rather than a freestanding one. Where the bath and shower are separate then your choices are greater, based on space available. Baths are available in many materials, shapes, colours and even patterns and finishes. Frameless glass enclosures for bathrooms are a must to ensure you maximise space both in reality and visually. Wet areas with combined shower and bathing area, are a lovely addition if space permits.
Mainly porcelain units, though other materials are available. Long gone are the days of the separate cistern and bowl joined by an ugly pipe (although in some instances it is the only choice). Nowadays we can enjoy a much more elegant solution with a much easier to clean, single, back-to-wall unit, that incorporates both the cistern and the bowl. Alternatively, though more expensive and sometimes just not possible to do, the cistern can be hidden behind a wall, leaving only the bowl and the flush controls seen. Beautiful option for the more contemporary or modern styles. Also available with bidet features that are available from the very simple to the very complex. Separate bidets are becoming more popular, though still not often seen.