From the Mixed Up Metals of My Bathroom
September 17, 2021 8:59 AM   Subscribe

I need to replace the sink faucet in my bathroom. The metals in the bathroom don't match, probably because things have been replaced haphazardly over time. What to choose? The old faucet is shiny golden brass, as is the light fixture, rim of the mirror, and tub faucets. The shower head, tub stopper, tub cleanout, and toilet flush lever are chrome. The toilet paper holder is rubbed brass. The knobs on cabinets are clear "crystal" and some kind of fake tarnished silver.

I actually really like the brass with the vintage peach tiling, but the mix of metals is kind of ugly. The faucets I like best don't come in brass, and I'm trying to stick with Moen and Delta because parts are readily available here. The other brass fixtures are starting to get corroded, so may end up replaced if it begins to affect their function. Some of the chrome is because the plumber didn't have any other color on the truck in an emergency. (If it matters, the floor is pale peach and pale tan mosaic, the shower is pale peach tile, the sink, counter, and tub are pale tan, the cabinets are dark brown, and the toilet is white.) I could easily change the cabinet knobs to try to make this look more purposeful. I feel like a white faucet would look nice with everything, but haven't found one that would work from the major companies.

What would you do?

Get brushed nickel because it is supposed to be easy care and hope it blends well enough with the other metals?
Go with chrome, because it will always be available and plan to replace other metal items with chrome as they fail?
Continue with brass and plan to replace other metal items with brass as they fail, with the understanding that they might not be available in brass?
Get whatever and use this one neat trick to make it all look purposeful?
posted by SandiBeech to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Aesthetically, I would personally either stick with brass or with a mix of bright and rubbed brass. Brass is super easy to polish back up (you do *have* to polish it, but it's not hard, just get a can of Brasso and a rag and you're there.)

But the real question here is which is your priority: convenience or aesthetics? Silver (either chrome or nickel) fixtures seem much more common and easier to source, and they're easier to maintain. If you really care about the appearance, get what you like best (and replace non-matching bits as opportunity and budget allow), but if you know that you're the kind of person who will take what the plumber has on his truck in a pinch and never quite get around to swapping it back out (...I am familiar with this problem) go for the easy option.

(And probably look around for some different cabinet handles either way; crystal and tarnished silver is a Look, but probably not the one you're going for, from the description.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:13 AM on September 17, 2021

I personally like brushed nickel and indeed it will kind of blend with the brass (for as long as you still have the brass in there) because nickel has a yellowish tinge.

I don't think there will be a problem sourcing nickel items.

I personally think chrome is ugly and I am gradually replacing my chrome items with nickel.

Saying this for the first time ever ... "just my 2 cents"
posted by JimN2TAW at 11:35 AM on September 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'd go with brass again as many of the visible metals around the sink are already brass. I'd replace chrome items with brass, especially the visible ones (tub stopper and cleanout would be last on my list). Don't introduce new metals like nickel, lean in to the brass instead. Brass looks great with peach and it's a classic material that will always have replacements available. Swapping out drawer knobs is easy and many of the other swaps can be easily DIY'd with a quick look at how-to videos on YouTube or whatever.
posted by quince at 12:16 PM on September 17, 2021

Adding a vote to avoid chrome as I find it shows water spots and fingerprints more than any other metal. But then I have small children so I am perhaps over-aware of this tendency.
posted by The Librarian at 6:58 PM on September 17, 2021

Chrome can be damaged by cleaners containing ammonia (which we were told just after a major bathroom rebuild). There are plenty of safe-for-chrome cleaners on the market.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:23 AM on September 18, 2021

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