Pairing Tub Form and Fixtures: What Faucets Work Best with Different Tubs

Bath fixtures are not necessarily the first thing your eyes are drawn to in the bathroom, yet they are incredibly important details that can make a bathroom’s aesthetics come together or fall apart when paired with a tub form.

If you walk into a bathroom with an elegant, vintage bathtub and it has a modern, straight-line faucet, you might feel confused about the design choices of the bathroom. Both pieces are beautiful and functional, yet they don’t go together. 

Take time to consider details when just starting to plan a bathroom renovation or installation. You don’t want to install a new tub and realize (too late) that the bathtub overflow and drain don’t match your faucet. Here are a few considerations when choosing tub form and fixture pairings.

Consider the Design of the Whole Bathroom First

Balance, symmetry and a harmonious aesthetic are key to making your bathroom an inspiring space. These traits are created when smaller details are consistent with the statement piece of the bathroom.

A free-standing tub can be the main attraction of a bathroom, but must have its “supporting cast” for it to really shine, says interior decorator Diana Moore. Details such as tapware, lighting and the vanity need to all work together with your tub. “Without this cohesion, your statement feature will stand alone in terms of style and register incongruous with the rest of the room.” Your hope for a harmonious space lies in the details. 

Consider the style you’re after. “Look at the rest of your home. What aesthetic do you gravitate toward… traditional lines, minimal or modern shapes, industrial edges? Use those answers to guide you,” writes lifestyle blogger Sarah Gibson. Like other congruent elements in your home, the features in your bathroom must also work together. 

The colors, design, and functionality of your bathroom will influence the type of tub you choose — but choices don’t end there. The tapware that goes along with your tub can make or break the aesthetic feel of your bathroom.

Choose Your Finish In The Beginning Stages

With tapware, the material and finish are some of the most important elements to consider. 

“When deciding on which finish to go with on a fixture, you first need to establish whether or not there are any other fixtures in the room it needs to match,” explains the team at A stainless steel faucet with a brass drain is jolting. Instead, make sure each fixture is intentionally chosen and coordinated with the other pieces. 

This doesn't mean you can only have one type of finish in the bathroom. In fact, mixing and matching different finishes has become very popular.

A perfect example is this stunning copper bathtub highlighted by Vera Klein at Home Beautiful. The copper tub matches the sink, while the blacke matte standing faucet matches the lampshades and other accessories in the bathroom. There’s an interesting contrast of the black and copper. The key is to be selective with the finishes you choose and make sure there is balance.

When mixing and matching metals, you want to be careful to not go overboard with multiple finishes. “One way to do that is to choose finishes that are all polished or all brushed,” explains industrial designer Judd Lord. “Brushed nickel and champagne bronze, which also has a brushed coating, look good together.” You can also choose to stay within the same metal family to give your bathroom that harmonious, but not too matchy feel. 

Contrasting certain finishes, like black matte with stainless steel, adds variety to the space if done well. By balancing the different finishes, the bathroom will look stylish rather than uncoordinated.

Stay Consistent with the Design and Era of Your Tub Form

Bathtubs are central to the overall design and era-specific style of a bathroom. The tapware you choose must also flow with this design. 

If you are going for a vintage or farmhouse look, you may opt for a clawfoot tub. There are several viable faucet mount options for clawfoot tubs, says Scott Sidler, owner of historic preservation company Austin Historical. The most typical choices are a wall/tub mount, deck mount or freestanding mount. Freestanding mounts are usually chosen when there are no supply line penetrations in the tub. 

Aside from the mount type, you can choose between the different faucet styles. The two main types of faucet styles for clawfoot tubs are the British Telephone or the English Telephone (gooseneck style). With either of these, you have options for the finishes and the types of metal or porcelain on the handles, says Vickie Dodson at The Tub Connection. She says that oil rubbed bronze is a finish that is bold and quite varies in its appearance.

Clawfoot tubs don’t always have to be traditional. Interior stylist Emily Henson chose a bright green, mini clawfoot tub for her bathroom remodel. She reminds us that the fixture choices don’t just stop at the faucets. Another touch that you must consider is the shower curtain rod. She plans to install a round or oval curtain rod to match the tub and tapware. 

For more modern-looking tubs, you will be working with straight lines and clean angles. Home decor writer Anabelle Bernard Fournier shows an example of a rectangular freestanding tub that has a mounted faucet with very little curve and a flat handshower. The minimalistic feel to this tapware is very contemporary. 

The team at highlights another contemporary bathroom design with sharp angles, straight lines and modern brushed gold finishes. The oval freestanding tub is paired with a freestanding, brushed gold faucet. All the angles, colors and finishes work together to make a cohesive, modern feel. A tub and faucet cannot create a beautiful space on their own — they must work with the overall style of the bathroom.

Your Color Scheme Influences Your Tapware

Both tub and faucets come in different colors. If you want a more neutral look, you may stick with traditional chrome or nickel color families for faucets. If you are going with a more eclectic or contemporary design, you may choose a colored bathtub or fixtures. With a colored tub, you will want to consider which finishes looks best with your unique centerpiece. 

Nancy Mitchell at Apartment Therapy suggests that colored faucets and handles can give your bathroom a modern and fun touch. Complementary colors in the bath or shower area make the space energetic. Orange and blue go well together — but orange and lime green will probably be uncomfortable.  

Black matte fixtures can be paired with white tubs to create a monochrome color scheme. Colored tubs are typically paired with chrome or brass tapware. If your bathroom is filled with marble, you might want to choose a luxe gold or brass finish, according to the team at Curated Interior

And don’t be afraid to go big.  Red is an invigorating decor color. "It can be used like a rich jewel that will strengthen your spirit for the day ahead,” says Russell Whitehead, cofounder of interior design studio 2LG in London. The studio designed a bold bathroom with red tiled walls and a red telephone faucet that creates an energetic feel.

The color of the tub and other bathroom elements — from faucets to walls and tiles to artwork — will impact the mood of the bathroom. Choose colors that give you life.

Have Fun With The Shape of Your Faucet

There is a wide range in the shape of bathtub faucets. The shape of tub faucets range from sleek and angular to soft and curvy. 

Floor-mounted faucets add inviting clean lines to the bathroom, according to the team at Watermark Designs. The shape adds elegance to a modern bathroom that can fit many different styles ranging from farmhouse to shabby chic. Some floor-mounted bathtub tub faucets have rounded handles and angles. Others have sharper edges giving a contemporary vibe. 

Many homeowners are opting for more natural looks too, according to Alice Daniel at HGTV. This includes faucets inspired by water bridges, bamboo and organic shapes found in nature. 

A big question you will ask yourself is if you want your tub faucet to double as your shower faucet. A shower and tub combination with a handshower can be a stylish and versatile way to bathe.

Don’t Forget Function

Tapware is where style and function meet in the bathtub. Though you may love the stylistic appeal of certain faucets, you need to consider what will actually make sense in your daily life. 

If you are designing a guest bathroom to delight visitors, you may want to go for a bolder, stylish look. If your bathroom is going to be used by your large family with kids, you will want something beautiful, yet practical. 

The important thing is that you enjoy it. You’ll know you made the right choice when you enjoy its aesthetic value while using it. 

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