Today's kitchen faucets fall into one of two camps: European-style or traditional. Enameled single-lever fixtures with pullout sprayers and interchangeable attachments are fashionable, but traditional gooseneck styles with individual handles remain popular, too.
Sink faucets are available with single, center-set, or spread-fit controls. A single-lever fitting has a combined faucet and lever or knob controlling water flow and temperature.
A center-set control has separate hot and cold water controls and a faucet, all mounted on a base or escutcheon.
A spread-fit control has separate hot and cold water controls and a faucet, independently mounted.
Finishes include polished chrome, brushed chrome, nickel, polished and antiqued brass, soft pewter, elegant gold, and jazzy enameled epoxy. For sheer durability and low maintenance, a polished chrome surface with high nickel content is the best bet.
While most faucets are sink-mounted, certain installations call for either deck-mounted or wall-mounted fittings. When you select your sink, be sure the holes in it will accept the type of faucet you plan to buy as well as any additional accessories, such as hot water dispenser, soap dispenser, water purifier, and a dishwasher's air gap.
Ask yourself three questions when you're attracted to clever, streamlined designs:
1. How well could you work the controls with greasy hands?
2. Can the spout fit over a large pan?
3. How easy would it be to clean or maintain the installation?
Whatever style you choose, you get pretty much what you pay for. Solid-brass workings, though pricey, are most durable. Ceramic- or plastic-disk valve designs are easier to maintain than older washer schemes.
If you'd like to give yourself a little treat, take a cue from restaurant kitchens. Instead of lugging heavy pots of water from sink to stovetop, consider installing a so-called pot filler near the range or cooktop.
From Ideas for Great Kitchens
For more useful kitchen know-how, purchase Ideas For Great Kitchens