Few things really rev people up like pot-fillers – I had no idea. Such was the subject of our first actual farm fight of the renovation. I thought it was a no-brainer that we don’t need one because I rarely used the one we used to have and we don’t have one here and I rarely wish we did. Brian, apparently, had a secret emotional, passionate connection to our former plumbing fixture – a daily connection unbeknownst to me in our LA home. Here’s how it went down: on the day of the post about the prep sink (last week) I was reading comments from you about pot-fillers (which came up because I mentioned that never really used ours) and was innocently wrapping up the design of the kitchen. Brian sauntered downstairs, to me announcing that “‘hey’ I’m was nixing pot filler from the design because we never really used ours and it’s an indicator of a luxury new build”. Ladies, my #1 warning is to wait till coffee kicks in before talking renovation with your partner. He was caught off guard and vehemently disagreed with me insisting that he used it ALL THE TIME in our old house and misses it every. single. day. We were not on the same page and it seemed worthy of a discussion here: Pot-fillers – ostentatious luxury or daily utility of convenience? Let’s spout off:
I’ve had a winding relationship with pot-fillers myself and my opinion on them has flip-flopped a few times over the years. When I first heard about them I thought they were pretty, but kinda silly, as if the added real estate from the sink to the stove warranted additional plumbing. Seemed to me like a rich person’s kitchen feature. But that was when I was 28. Before I cooked, before I had kids, and certainly before I could afford to renovate a kitchen with such luxuries or even know what elements should go into a well-designed kitchen renovation.
Cut to 2016 when we were planning out my first kitchen renovation in the LA house and I wanted a pot-filler – maybe I was ready for more adult kitchen elements, thinking that IF you are renovating you obviously should make choices that align with what a “nice” kitchen should have. I think at this point Brian could take it or leave it because we had never had one. But you don’t want to miss an opportunity when renovating, right? Over those 3 years living there I rarely used it, so it was mostly for jewelry – for looks and admittedly I do LOVE the way it looks. Brian had a different experience. Looking back I realized that those years were when Brian actually cooked the most, and we made a lot of mac and cheese, pasta, and rice for the kids. So he is very attached to this bit of plumbing because he came to really use and rely on it, and I get that. So let’s explore the pros and cons from my point of view, on the inflammatory pot-filler.
Pros Of Having A Pot-Filler:
If you have a big kitchen having a pot filler can be a convenience, for sure. We are not big pasta and rice people (besides kids stuff) but filling up huge stock pots for broth would be helpful, and surely for boiling potatoes or corn on the cob, which can get heavy. So if you are you big stove pot people it’s nice to have and you can just fill up your pot while on the stove instead of carrying it full from sink to stove. I think we all can agree that this is a bit silly/unnecessary (a comment that Brian did NOT respond well to) but it absolutely depends on your kitchen size and your lifestyle (and your arm strength haha).
They are very, very pretty – if you are into plumbing fixtures, which most designers are – then it’s another pretty feature in your kitchen. They are a piece of jewelry that can break up a wall of tile, stone, or drywall (if you are into that), bring some metallic shine over your range, and tie in with your sink faucet finish. Strictly as a design element – they are a nice touch.
Their shape can add an architectural and sculptural element. Speaking simply design here, they articulate out (which we love) and when they recess back they look cool and have a weird shape that contrasts nicely with the straightness of cabinetry and stoves.
They can make a kitchen look more custom, high-end, and luxurious. The question you have to ask yourself is if that is what you really want anyway (this is my issue). Like jewelry, I think that they add elegance. From my perspective “elegance” has not been an adjective that we have used to describe our future farm kitchen – it’s more “charming, utilitarian, warm, soul-full, sweet, practical”. No glamour or elegance needed, so I felt that maybe no pot-filler was needed.
The high spout allows for other “around the houses” uses, especially if your sink faucet isn’t a gooseneck or bridge (high). Think about filling flower buckets and vases, mop buckets, and watering cans for plants. Right now I tend to go to the hall bath or our bathtub to fill up big watering cans so, yes, that could be very useful. People who drink a lot of tea with tea kettles love the convenience, too.
Pot fillers are good for resale (there are literally no facts to back this up, it’s just my hypothesis just like anything that seems like a luxury is good for resale). It is something that people see as a luxury that might shift their emotions towards a kitchen when looking to buy. I’m not saying that it should, but I think it does.
The “Cons” Of The Pot-Filler:
It adds to your budget, but not as much as I thought. When you are gutting a kitchen and moving a lot of plumbing it can feel like adding a pot filler is nominal, but it is still likely a couple of hundred dollars in labor before the fixture itself. It’s only a cold water line which can be small. It really depends on how far away it is from a water source for how expensive it is. if you are just updating and not gutting, it’s harder to add (unless you have access through the back wall or if you do a countertop pot filler if you are changing out cabinetry). But if you are doing a full gut remodel then it’s much easier. Now the fixture itself can vary from $200 – $2K so that’s where you’ll spend the bulk of it.
***I’d like to point out that you still have to haul the pot OFF of the stove back to the sink to drain, so put your burly friend’s number on speed dial.
They aren’t “necessary”, technically. Unlike the sink faucet, a pot-filler is a “good to have” and I think it’s important to question all of your “good to haves” in your home to make sure that you are putting in something you USE, not just something you like. Ahem. Hello, pot? Kettle calling. I know I have a lot of chairs that I LOVE that people don’t necessarily sit in, but going forward this is not the goal. Designers are certainly guilty of this crime, which in my past I didn’t think was a big deal but with the planet screaming at us to stop consuming I currently really think we should lean away from things that are solely pretty, without function. If you use it? Great. If you don’t think you will, rethink it.
They are a sign of luxury and newer construction. This is both a pro and a con depending on what you are going for, but for our house this was is the best “con” against a pot-filler for me and one that I attached my argument to quickly. They are a newer invention and therefore do signal a “new build”. They may send a message of “new and fancy” which may or may not be the message you want to send. It’s not the message I want to send so for me it was an easy “nix”.
In short – pot-fillers are for convenience and beauty, but that’s about it. So now you have to weigh your affection towards both of those attributes and how high they are on your priority list. For Brian it’s one of the few things he has put his foot down on (thus the fight) because he uses it a lot, and who am I to deprive him of his relationship towards this plumbing fixture. I personally love how some of them look (not all of them) and when done right don’t necessarily look like new construction. Much like a beverage or freezer drawer they indicate new remodel, but not necessarily “luxury”. DeVOL designs their kitchens for utility first and they always put in a po-filler.
We ended the fight with me saying “just because we like something doesn’t mean we should have it if we don’t USE it frequently”, and Brian responding that he promises that he’ll use it, every. single. day. Deal.
If you think they are silly, dumb, and pretentious, simply don’t put one in. For me it’s like having both trail running shoes and HIIT workout shoes – it really depends on how often you do the two different activities to warrant two different pairs of shoes designed for slightly different utility. Having the daily convenience can bring joy and ease to people’s busy lives – and there should not be any judgment on that. If you are super into design and cook a ton it might be an element you want, but if you aren’t then it might be simply unnecessary. Ultimately, in the scheme of things, like most design elements it’s nothing really to argue about and we felt SO dumb for letting it ruin our morning. Brian won this one pretty quickly because he is so rarely passionate about a design/functional element and as his partner, I wanted to respect his perspective and desires in this renovation process. And listen, I like a pot-filler too so this wasn’t a big concession.
While convenience + beauty = perceived luxury, it actually doesn’t have to be a very expensive one. Plus if you get daily use out of a beautiful convenience, then no, it is not a consumptive waste. So Brian and I came up with an obvious rule for our big purchases – that “liking” and “wanting” a ‘”luxury” isn’t good enough (and it shouldn’t ever have been a good enough reason for us), you have to really use it often and appreciate its use and function to include it in our home – whether it’s a splurge or not. I feel like, despite the national pot-filler divide, THAT is something that we can all agree on.
P.S. I was going to do a roundup of them but generally, you should try to match the style and finish of your sink faucet (IMHO).
Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: All the What’s, Why’s & How Much’s of the Portland Kitchen