Here’s a funny story/cautionary tale I never told you: When I was choosing the faucets for our 100-year-old English Tudor 5 years ago I wanted unlacquered brass – I longed for the patina, the age, the texture, dimension, and frankly, like the novels I’ve been devouring lately, I wanted that old-world romance that it provoked (The Duke Heist, anyone?). I went to a plumbing store in Pasadena to see them in person and I asked the very experienced salesperson how he felt about live, unlacquered (essentially unsealed) finishes. He responded quickly and enthusiastically “Oh I love them…..” I said “oh good!” and he continued, “…because you’ll be back here in 7 years replacing them”. That was obviously NOT the snarky news I wanted to hear, nor did it change my mind (and no one told Brian that hilarious anecdote). I did however take his precautions in every way – like buying a white sofa with kids, it’s doable but requires preventative measures and maintenance. We softened our water which we were going to do anyway, but it is HIGHLY recommended for live finishes (the Culligan partnership happened afterward, btw). I bought both the right daily cleaner and the monthly wax. After 4 years there was a tiny bit of green around the base on two of them (out of 8), but mostly they looked beautiful and we loved, loved, loved the patina. But the truth is unlacquered brass – like real marble – is a lifestyle choice. You have to love it enough to deal with the consequences and maintenance.
Unlacquered brass brings me an odd amount of happiness. You know when you peel a banana for a toddler and they throw themselves on the ground in rage because either they wanted to do it, or you did it with your left hand instead of your right, etc, and you just think “well this reaction certainly doesn’t match the act”. That’s how I feel about unlacquered brass, except the opposite. It shouldn’t make me as happy as it does, but it does. But let me be clear – mostly in older homes – like our kitchen above. I do not miss it at our contemporary mountain house (I love our Purist faucet) and we aren’t planning it in the river house new build either (we are choosing this one). But in our old Tudor and this old Craftsman farmhouse, I know that it will give me a daily dose of joy, every time I touch it/see it and use it.
We all have our things. 🙂 So today I’m showing you all the faucets I an considering for our kitchen faucet suite (faucet, prep faucet, and pot filler) for our family farmhouse and what I’ve currently narrowed it down to. It should be said that I love a gooseneck or a bridge, and I’m leaning more towards traditional than modern (so no square ones) and I need deck mounted for the kitchen, not wall-mounted. Here we go.
At first in the name of “low maintenance but still so pretty” I was leaning into satin or brushed brass. Polished is better for contemporary homes like the mountain house and besides, the shine adds more bling than I want for this home (repeating “grounded” and “casual” for every decision) so I did not consider polished for this home.
A Utilitarian Faucet – I.E. The Pull-Down
For a brief moment, I was influenced by Max and the choice we made for Ken’s River house and loved how utilitarian it was. Not trying to be fancy but utterly full of function and says, “What? We cook a lot”. Brian gave all of these fast “nos” because he wants a farmhouse style faucet, but for the record, I love these.
For another brief moment (like 2 days) I leaned into polished nickel. We have it mixed in our range, and we have a TON of wood in the kitchen so maybe having a cooler tone would be better than brass. Ultimately I leaned away from it (but chose it in the upstairs new guest bath). By the way, in general for older homes, you want to opt for polished nickel over polished chrome. Nickel is much warmer in tone and feels more timeless, chrome looks more mirrored and cold (it leans more 80s to me). I really love polished nickel and mixing metals in general.
Unlacquered Brass Faucets – The Winners (??)
I’m down to two at three at this point – each with their pros and cons. The Newport brass one above is I think the one I used for our house in LA as well as the Silver Lake Hills kitchen. It’s beautiful and classic. The only con I see is that I have used it twice.
This one is just the right amount of traditional “fuss”. I’ve pinned it probably 15 times over the years and it’s just good. There is no way I’ll regret this. It should be said that there are very few affordable unlacquered brass faucets on the market, for whatever reason (I found one below). Unlacquered brass went out of fashion decades ago when we started sealing the metals for longer use (to avoid the disintegration of the metal). So the general population doesn’t opt for this higher maintenance finish, therefore there really aren’t a ton on the market. I get it. I would like that to change, but I get it.
Now this one can be in unlacquered brass OR they even have an “aged brass” or “satin bronze” finish that has this beautiful tone that makes them actually look like the patina of an unlacquered brass, but with less maintenance. Watermark is an awesome maker that gives you endless options to customize your plumbing. Like most things that are custom and made in America they can be pretty pricey, but you get what you pay for and these are beautiful.
Again, this would be in unlacquered brass (I really wish their site showed them in all the different finishes – or at least 3-4 popular ones). I love that big gooseneck with the caps at the foot.
Ok these two above are about half the price as others ($500 ish) including the sprayer (so saving even more) and is indeed so pretty. I found it on Etsy, made in Morocco by a small maker which is lovely. Brian is nervous about the quality for the price and not working as well with our American systems or not being able to return. The reviews are decent, and I showed ARCIFORM and they didn’t see any red flags, but it feels like a risk. If ANYONE has ordered from them please let me know.
So gorgeous. The little round knobs on the knob are playful but in a classic way. The nuts add a utilitarian element. I would never ever ever regret this one.
I mean, that pot filler is incredible. The ball joints add a bit of whimsy that I really really love, while the white enamel gives it a quaintness. I do wish they didn’t have their branding on it, but I guess as a huge fan of deVOL I wouldn’t mind it.
I mean. How beautiful is that? I would get this in polished brass, likely with levers (like below) as they are easier to maneuver with the side of your hand (say when you are washing raw chicken off your hands). The cons of this are 1. not made in America so they are imported from England, but a small company that does lovely things that I would like to support, and B. I don’t see a pot filler on the website which means we’d either source another one.
But I’m also tempted by the more modern goosenecks, in the unlacquered live brass that will age so well with the house:
Kallista is another great brand that I love and am debating – Brian thinks the below is too modern and he’s probably right, but what you can’t really see until it ages is how the patina could make it work.
I wish I had a conclusion for you – the WE FOUND THE ONE moment, but honestly, we’ve been so swamped with the move that I’ve put off trigger pulling to make sure that I’m making good decisions. Somedays I want to play it safe, other days go for it. While the faucet isn’t the most important decision in the kitchen, it is one that I don’t want to regret, so I need a clear head. Needless to say, it is NOT clear right now and unfortunately, we have time. But I wanted to get you inside my foggy head and let you know where it’s at right now and if any of you have a favorite unlacquered faucet that is NOT here let me know in the comments. ALSO if you have horror stories or cautionary tales with your unsealed or live finished faucets do tell. I should mention this real quick – I used unlacquered in our shower in our old LA house and we had to replace a part that had rusted through – so I personally plan on using this finish sparingly (just the kitchen faucet). The kitchen is front and center all the time and I have to clean the kitchen twice a day so I know I’ll be more mindful of it, whereas a showerhead I will forget about the second I get out of the shower and clean far less frequently (leading to neglect).