When renovating a kitchen or bath—rooms that are notoriously shiny and new once updated—you'll want to include at least something that looks vintage. Worn copper countertops? Antique mirror glass? Our house totally woke up like this. Problem is, achieving that lived-in look can be expensive. Sure, you can find a perfectly aged dining table, but it'll probably cost more than a modest school loan. So what about an antique brass faucet and hardware? The unlacquered raw material has a “living finish”—which sounds like an invented brand campaign but is actually a very accurate way to describe it—that patinas over time, paradoxically looking more and more timeless every day. It creates the perfect balance with glossy tile and appliances.
Unfortunately, “unlacquered brass faucets are hot right now—and expensive," says New York–based designer David Lucido, who wanted to use one in his Manhattan studio apartment. We're talking well over a thousand dollars from a quality manufacturer, to say nothing of the drawer pulls, bathroom sink handles, and cabinet knobs you might still need to match it. But for those of us who didn’t make a separate line item in our budget for brass (who are you?), there’s a better way to get the look: Buy a faucet in a cheaper (read: less trendy) finish and have that finish stripped.
This works because most quality faucets are constructed of solid brass, so stripping away the grandma-style burnished nickel will reveal the brass underneath in its raw state. You should be able to do this with almost any style faucet, but David sprung for this little number that retails for just $200 from Chicago Faucets, a line of really well-made, brass-construction fixtures. (Of course, not every cheap faucet with an ugly finish is brass underneath, so be sure you know you're buying one that is!)