Welcome back to the Cummings Custom Interiors blog! This is the 4th post on customizing your builder-grade home. If you missed the first three, you can read them here (lighting), here (cabinet hardware), and here (doors).

Today’s upgrade topic is short and sweet- plumbing fixtures. Changing out your builder-grade fixtures can take your home from bland to blingin’ in a jiffy.

One of the great parts about getting an entirely new look with nothing but plumbing hardware is that you don’t have to spend a fortune gutting your kitchen or bathroom. And just like when we talked about cabinet hardware, there is a wide range of pricing available.

One important tip, though- to make it easy on yourself, check the brand of your current plumbing fixture and choose new fixtures from the same brand. [You can usually find this information at the base of the faucet spout or on the plate underneath/behind the knob(s).] If you don’t use the same brand, you may end up having to cut holes in the wall and do actual plumbing work with pipes and wrenches to change out your fixture, and that’s just making things unnecessarily difficult. It is possible to switch brands, but it could mean a lot more work and money- and maybe even a plumber- than if you just stick with the brand that’s already installed. That’s my two cents on the topic.

Additionally, make sure you stay consistent with the finishes you install. If you’re upgrading your shower head, pay attention to the finishes of the sink hardware, tub hardware and shower frame in the rest of the bathroom. If you’re changing the finish of any faucet in the bathroom or kitchen, make sure the drain and handles match. Otherwise you could end up looking like this:

The kitchen is a great place to start, because the main piece of plumbing we can upgrade is the kitchen faucet. I would strongly recommend a faucet with a pull function that allows you to pull the head of the faucet away from the base. You’ll fall in love with it if you don’t already have one, and it’s something buyers want when they’re looking for a home. (It’s also great if you wash a lot of dishes by hand.) Touch-activated faucets are relatively new on the market. All you have to do is tap the faucet with your hand to turn it on and off. My in-laws installed one of these in their new home, and I have to admit that it’s super cool.

If you’re renovating or building, a pot filler over the stove is another great feature to include in your plans. It’s not really cost-effective to install one of these unless your kitchen needs a gut-job.

Moving on to the bathroom- here we can update the sink, bathtub and shower hardware.

There are gobs of bathroom sink fixtures from which to choose. Keep the style and finishes of your new fixtures consistent with the rest of your home. If you live in a farmhouse, it doesn’t make sense to install a modern faucet in the master bathroom.

Again, make sure to check the brand and size of your current fixtures before purchasing new ones.

If you’re starting from scratch, wall-mounted fixtures are a great option for a bathroom with character. I love this look:

The bathtub is another great place to upgrade fixtures. Make sure that you replace every metal piece if you change finishes. An oil rubbed bronze faucet looks awful with a brushed nickel drain plug (see above).

Finally, the masterpiece of the modern bathroom- the shower.

Okay, so most of us aren’t going to have a shower like this. But we can still drool over it.

The easiest way to upgrade your shower is by simply swapping out the shower head for a better model. This is a great option for people who don’t have the budget for a complete bathroom overhaul. Keep in mind, however, you get what you pay for. A $20 shower head from Bed Bath and Beyond isn’t going to cut it if you want your home to have more character.

There’s also the option of switching out the knobs in your shower. We did this a few years ago, and even though it was a small change, it really improved the look of our bathroom.

If you’re willing to put in more effort and cash than you would by only switching out the shower head and knobs, you can install a custom shower system. There are loads of options these days- waterfall shower, steam shower, handheld, multi-function, and body sprays are just a few examples. My personal recommendation is a waterfall shower head, especially if you enjoy relaxing in the shower. Handhelds are also great for shaving and rinsing the walls after you clean.

You don’t have to demolish your kitchen or bathroom to give it new life. Simply upgrading a few fixtures can give you a jump start on making a dated room look new. What changes do you want to make to your plumbing fixtures?

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