Choosing Bathroom Fixtures
By Sarah Green Carmichael
Using American Standard fixtures On a Bathroom Remodel
Bath fixtures might not be the first thing you think of when you start your bathroom renovation — most people start by thinking about the big things, like layout, tile, and vanities — but they are an important aspect of the finished product. Essentially, they’re like the jewelry you choose to complete the perfect outfit: a finishing touch that classes up the whole look, making it feel finished and polished.
Avoid Choice Paralysis
And yet if you suffer from choice paralysis — the phenomenon whereby having too many options results in an inability to choose anything — choosing bath hardware is almost guaranteed to cause a flare-up. A visit to a bath showroom or big box home store retailer can quickly overwhelm with options. And since of course bath fixtures are about function as much as form, there can be a lot of factors to consider.
Classic Designs at an Affordable Price
When we were redoing our upstairs bathroom, we decided to keep it simple — we had already upgraded our old toilet to an American Standard model, and loved how that turned out, so we decided to start by looking at American Standard shower heads and faucets. American Standard is also competitively priced for such a storied brand, offering quality products at a price most Americans can actually afford.
We were drawn to their classic designs — just the thing to suit our 1860 Colonial Revival home — and clean lines. It was easy to find a set we loved; we chose the Portsmouth Collection (a classic New England name for a classic New England house!). The Portsmouth collection is based on turn-of-the-century designs, which suited our historic house perfectly. It’s a design that’s equally at home in the old world as the new.
Moreover, the Portsmouth faucets use as much as 30% less water than traditional faucets. Given that we are in a severe drought here in Concord at the moment, I’m glad to know that our new faucets are helping to conserve this important resource.
High Quality Hardware
Once installed in our double-sink vanity, I was impressed with how smoothly the taps rotate on and off, and the high quality feeling of the chrome. The Portsmouth collections fixtures are made of heavy brass with a durable chrome finish, and you can really feel the solidity of the brass in your hand when you turn them.
The stream produced by the faucet is steady and even, with not a drip in sight — according to the product specifications, this is due to a ceramic disc valve cartridge. I’ll be honest with you — I’m not a plumber, and that phrase doesn’t mean much to me. But the smooth, dripless operation of the handle sure does!
For the shower, we went with the Fluent showerhead, which pairs nicely with the Portsmouth fixtures. Connected to the shower wall by American Standard’s clean, go-with-anything Modern Shower Arm, it offers a great shower, with a steady, even flow and perfect water pressure due to a pressure-compensating flow control device in the shower head itself. This is a huge upgrade from our old shower head, which only offered two settings: sad-dribble-of-water setting, and sandblasting-off-your-nipples setting.
Since at 7 inches in diameter the Fluent is a bit broader than a standard showerhead, you can either rinse off more quickly since there’s more water all around you, or just enjoy a more luxurious, enveloped-in-water feeling to your standard shower. I think I’ll really appreciate that on chilly winter mornings.
Shower UX: A Delightful Surprise
But perhaps my favorite piece of bath hardware is the Portsmouth two-handle shower trim and valve kit. This piece of hardware allows us to set a temperature for the shower with the lower, lever handle, and control the volume of the water with the upper, cross handle.
Even though I’m the one who picked it out, I’ve been surprised by how much pleasure this set-up has brought me. In my day job, we pay a lot of attention to what we call usability, or UX (user experience) — how can we design something to make it supremely easy and intuitive for users to interact with? And this type of shower kit is a small change with a vastly superior UX. No more futzing around with the temperature every morning, or trying to remember where the ideal spot is for hot water — just turn on the water, and your ideal temperature come right out of the showerhead.
Our old system involved a lot of fiddling around with hot and cold taps, always trying to find the right mix of water pressure and temperature; with our new American Standard system, I feel like I save at least five minutes every morning (and untold gallons of water) with this much smarter set-up.
Choosing bath fixtures can easily become overwhelming, if you let it — but it doesn’t have to be. Just as with jewelry, it’s an investment — choose classic, quality pieces you can get years of enjoyment out of them.
Remodeling with American Standard Fixtures Video