One of the area’s most knowledgeable sources in plumbing fixtures is Amy Katterman, a showroom consultant at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
. Having teamed up with Amy on many of our clients' projects, we know she’s the go to person when it comes to what’s new, what’s not, and what’s making a comeback in sinks and faucets. A sales and showroom consultant since 2007 with the Downers Grove-based resource for kitchen and bathroom
fixtures, Amy says the best way to make a selection for your project is to schedule time to dive into the different options.
The Ferguson Showroom includes brands like Grohe, Delta/Brizo, Moen, Rohl, and Kohler. Setting aside time with a consultant means a 2-hour block of uninterrupted time with an industry-level expert.
If you’re considering a kitchen remodel, let’s explore what’s “now” in the sink and faucet arena…
Sinks: What’s Popular
[caption id="attachment_4209" align="alignright" width="300"] (Shaws fireclay sink by Rohl.)
Amy says stainless and porcelain cast iron sinks are still the top two choices, but granite composite sinks (like Elkay’s E-Granite & Blanco’s Silgranit) are making a huge push. “They are generally a lower cost and are very durable. Even Kohler is trying to get in on the composite sink game!”
Fireclay is picking up speed as another popular material, and while it’s more expensive than stainless or porcelain cast iron, when customers see it, Amy reports, “They love it.”
A note on fireclay.
While people recognize the look and understand the properties of a porcelain cast iron sink, the term fireclay is relatively unknown to most. Similar in look to cast iron, the fireclay sink’s manufacturing process is far different. Briefly, the clay and glaze are combined and heated to over 2,000 degrees. This causes a chemical reaction which actually causes the glaze to become a part of the clay. Why does that matter to you?
As a result everyday uses of abrasive cleaners will not affect the fireclay sink. On the other hand, manufacturers ask owners of their cast iron sinks to avoid such cleaning techniques.
Faucets: What’s Popular
Pull downs are going places. The popularity of pull down faucets continues to dominate the industry as Amy shares that 95% of the kitchen faucets she sells are the pull down variety. “Pull outs and side spray faucets are still sold, but very rarely. Customers, in general, want less to clean around.”
[caption id="attachment_4215" align="aligncenter" width="540"] (Pull Down Faucet)
Smart kitchens are on the rise. We’re a tech savvy world, which means new opportunities for technology in the kitchen
is popping up everywhere. “Touch faucets and motion-sense faucets are very popular right now,”
said Amy. “And for being relatively new, they all (for the most part) work really well.”
People prefer polished. Stainless steel or brushed nickel are both high on the list for faucet finishes, yet Amy is still seeing an interest in polished chrome and polished nickel.
Sinks: What’s Considered Luxury
Prep sinks are becoming more and more common in luxury remodels or new construction, and Amy confirms the popularity of second sinks in kitchen design is on the rise. “Homeowners tend to really like the idea of being able to separate their food prep from the clean-up sink,”
says Amy. “That and having a prep sink gives the kitchen a more “high-end” look.”
Faucets: What’s Considered Luxury
Pot fillers. Foodies and kitchen lovers are swooning over the hinged arm faucet that is installed in the immediate cooking area of the kitchen. No more lugging a heavy pot of water to the stove, this faucet is about convenience and owning the look of a professional kitchen.
[caption id="attachment_4218" align="aligncenter" width="540"] (A swing arm pot filler over a Wolf Range in a PB Kitchen Design project in Wheaton, Illinois.)
Sinks: What’s Making a Comeback
Single bowls. “Large single bowls are most popular now for the clean, professional look, but we still sell a decent amount of double bowl sinks,”
comments Amy. “I think it depends on what the customer is used to. I find that classic and conservative clientele still do a lot of hand-washing, while younger clients tend to use their dishwashers for everything.”
With the kitchen sink being the most highly used tool in the home, preference, according to Amy, really comes down to the individual user.
Faucets: What’s Making a Comeback
is back, but per Amy, it's a little different than the polished brass we were tearing out of homes in the 90's. The more earthy feel of unlacquered brass, antique brass, and matte brass are all now quite popular.
Making selections for a new kitchen can be overwhelming, which is one of the reasons we refer clients to partners like Ferguson’s. They have a very client focused professional approach, a good range of product, and competitive pricing.
“I watch what people are drawn to, even if they aren’t paying attention, and make sure I ask a lot of questions to understand their style,”
Tips from Amy if you’re trying to DIY
In a world where everything is available for purchase online, Amy has seen success stories and also helped customers through the nightmare of trying to troubleshoot through this technical process.
“Buying plumbing online can be difficult. The websites don’t always instruct you of all the parts you need (i.e., order the shower trim, but no rough valve, or get the showerhead but no arm to mount it on, etc). A lot of them will not give you a warranty on the product. Many of them do not stock product, but will tell you something is “in stock” just to get the sale.”
Amy encourages consumers to seek personalized service during their remodeling projects, adding that a “brick & mortar” store gives you guidance during the process. “At Ferguson’s, our customers have our support for as long as they own the product and you can physically see the product you are buying.”