How Do I Pick a Mid Century Faucet? (Or any other finish material for my remodel?)

14 min read If you’re struggling to pick out a mid-century faucet (or any other part) of your remodel … start right here!

What should you do when you can’t make up your mind, when finding a mid-century faucet seems impossible?

Before I get into that: ARE YOU SIGNED UP FOR THE FREE MASTERCLASS? IF NOT, WHY NOT? Come (LIVE) on Saturday 27th at 11am central or watch the On Demand Replay as soon as the class is over.

The abundance of choice is a HUGE factor in feeling in over your head when you are trying to choose finishes for your home update.  With the entire internet at your finger tips … or even the plumbing supply show room that your plumber directed you to … you can feel like anything is possible and nothing is certain. 

Avoid Remodeling Overwhelm with a plan: get Help at this weekend's mid-century master plan master class!

Here’s the thing though – only a few of these myriad options are actually going to be right for your style and your house when you get right down to it.  

There’s a couple of ways to kill that too-many-options-overwhelm:

  • Sit down calmly and create a style guide for the whole project 
  • Pick just one thing and build out your vision from there
  • Start with a single room in your house and then grow your choices
  • Copy someone else’s design “homework” (I’ll show you how here!)

The bottom line … this is just one step of the master plan method.  

If you want to learn all the steps to plan a regret-proof remodel then show up on Saturday for my Masterclass, “Planning an MCM Remodel to Fit Your Life(and Budget)” and I’ll show you how to plan a regret-proof remodel for your mid-century home!

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Resources to Help You Define Your Style 

Read the Full Episode Transcript

One of the parts of planning, a remodel that my clients and students struggle with the most is how to pick the right mid-century faucet, cabinet door, drawer pull, flooring, or paint color. Even I get overwhelmed when I start just walking through a home goods store or scrolling on the internet, looking at options.

Granted, I’m also overwhelmed by how wrong for my mid-century home most of those things seem, but the abundance of choice can seem immobilizing. Hey there, welcome back to Mid Mod Remodel. This is the show about updating MCM homes, helping you match a mid-century home to your modern life. I’m your host Della Hansmann, architect and mid-century ranch enthusiast. You’re listening to season nine, episode eight.

By the way, if you’re struggling with this question right now, then here’s my best advice for you. Come to my free mid-century remodel planning masterclass on Saturday, the 27th. (That’s this Saturday if you’re listening to this live.) And I’ll walk you through the steps of planning, a low-stress remodel that stays on budget and preserves or puts back the mid-century charm into your home.

Then I think you should jump on the chance starting Saturday to join the next cohort of Ready to Remodel. In this group, you get access to watch at your own pace, video lessons, workbooks, and design tools to help you master plan your remodel.

Plus bonus content like subject matter design workshops and design guides for your kitchen, your bathroom, your living spaces, basements, and more my guide to choosing and managing contractors for your home remodel and a cohort of fellow remodelers asking the same questions you are.

Plus three months of weekly group calls with me where I’ll help you solve whatever stage of remodeling crisis you’re currently wrestling with, including how to pick the right mid-century faucet.

So this is the last cohort of Ready to Remodel starting this year. This is the perfect time to get your planning ducks in a row so that you’ll be ready to dive in and get a builder’s attention first thing next year, to make your remodel dreams happen. Or if you’re planning to manage your remodel yourself, then even more than that, you need a remodel master plan right now. I want to help you do this right.

I hope I’ve convinced you to sign up for the free masterclass or that you’re already signed up. If you’re not, do it right now at midmod-midwest.com/signup. It won’t be happening again this year. So now is your big opportunity.

The resource of the week, this week is my style guide workbook. Grab it in the show notes, along with the other links I mentioned in the transcript, at midmod-midwest.com/908, or go directly to midmod-midwest.com/styleguide.

All right, so let’s talk about what to do when you can’t make up your mind about picking a particular finish. The abundance of choice is a huge factor. When you’re trying to choose finishes for your entire home update, the entire internet is at your fingertips, or even just the entire plumbing supply showroom that your plumber directed you to. It can feel like anything is possible and nothing is certain.

Here’s the thing though. Only a few of those myriad options are actually going to be right for your style and your house when you get right down to it. If you clicked on this podcast episode, because I said, let’s talk about how to choose a mid-century kitchen faucet. We’ll do that one first. Now there’s not a right answer for what to do in a mid-century home update.

There’s not not one faucet that I’m gonna recommend that is the mid-century kitchen faucet. Instead, there’s an answer that’s going to work well for you in combination with all the other choices that you make for your house, you might fall into one of several scenarios:

You could go with a vintage stainless steel faucet, because you are trying to perfectly preserve what would’ve been in your house originally.

You might be keeping it or putting it back exactly how it was. You could perhaps source the exact model that would’ve been sold in your 1952 or 1965 house the year that it was built. Or you can look for a similar model. That’s simple in a material that would’ve been original to the house, probably stainless steel.

On the other end of the spectrum for people who are doing fully modern updates of a vintage house or who have no original faucets materials of any kind left in the house. You might choose to go with a brass-looking object. Sometimes this also sold as matte gold.

If you followed along with my story of the amazing remodel that Adrian Kenny of Mid Mod Colorado has done on his own home, all the fixtures he chose for his house, as well as all the handles and drawer, poles and door handles are the same brass or gold color. They look amazing together and it feels very vintage even though it’s actually not a material that probably would’ve been used very commonly at that moment of time in a new build.

That’s two different options. You might choose to fall in the middle. Do what I’m actually planning to do in my own home. If you have some original metal objects in the house that you plan to keep, then you might want to work with them.

I have my original doorknobs on my original simple plywood slab doors. They’re beautiful. I love the wood grain of the doors. I love the patina of the handles. But if I wanna work with this as I choose other new materials for my home, I won’t actually go looking for brass doorknobs faucets or other pulls. Because new brass is anodized and will never get the same aged patina that my mid-century fixtures do have.

So in that case, to work with what I’ve got, I’ll be choosing something that’s usually sold as aged bronze or rubbed bronze. It looks like a dark matte or almost black matte color. And it has just a little bit of bronze or brass color showing on exposed edges. That’s the rubbed part.

This can be counterintuitive. But actually, this will be the most cohesive look for my house. The two materials together at my original patina brass door handles with the brand new Schlage aged bronze new handles are the best match for each other. The best sort of familial combination that seems to work together.

So in reality, you’ve got a lot of possibilities. It’s very mid-century fashionable right now to choose a brass, bronze, or gold finish for your faucets, light fixtures, and handles. You can also go with any matte bronze, brown, or black and that will also work pretty well in a mid-century house. You can go pure vintage, full time capsule by choosing stainless steel for all of the above.

The one thing that I will actually just stand on a soapbox and say I do not recommend for a mid-century house is brushed nickel for either faucets or handles. It’s just not a great match for mid-century houses. If that’s the choice you wanna make, then make it consistently and lean into it.

I’ll say I don’t actually have anything against brushed nickel itself. All the handles and faucets in my parents’ house are brushed nickel, but their house is a modern, sustainable straw-bale cottage. So it has nothing to do with the mid-century tone and vibe in the end.

Choosing a good mid-century faucet for your home might be as simple as just picking one of the three options I’ve just listed – full vintage, stainless steel, or working with some of the original metals you have in the house, so that an aged browns or a matte dark black or brown or modern vintage gold or bronze would be your best bet. It’s as simple as that.

But we wanna go beyond just the faucet. How do you choose every mid-century object for your house? The goal, the end result I want you to achieve here is a beautiful, coordinated, cohesive house where every piece feels like it’s playing well with every other. And as a wonderful side effect, this is something I’m gonna talk about in the free class on Saturday.

This will actually save you stress. Because once you have a system for choosing materials, you won’t have to make an individual choice every time you choose a new product. Which will cut down on the emotional cost of your remodeling process. The end result you want is a material pallet – a family, a vocabulary, of objects, materials, finishes – that you always choose from when you have to make a choice for your house. And that will help you create a remodel that looks as consistently beautiful as Adrian’s. I often refer to this palette as a style guide.

This should be heavily based on what you like, but if you don’t feel like this is an area where you’re very creative or decisive, that’s okay. You can actually cheat off someone else’s homework. You just need to make sure that the homework you’re studying or adapting is close enough to where you’re starting from and where you wanna go.

This is something that those of you who are lucky enough to be living in a time capsule home will have one approach for, and those of you who are living in a house that has a lot of its mid century character already removed, will be able to handle a little differently.

So take a moment right now to just mentally identify whether you’re living in a time capsule house or a flip. Or if you’re somewhere in between the two, which end you’re closer to. Let’s talk about how to build a complete mid-century style guide.

This is something I go over extensively in my ready to remodel program. And it’s also a design tool that I create and share with my one to one clients. You can get a jump on the process yourself.

If you wanna check out my free style guide resource, if you wanna jump back right now and learn a little bit more about how to use them and why they’re great, you can start with season four, episode seven, where I talk about the style guide that will help you keep your remodeling plans on track. And I believe I link to the free workbook there I do. Yes.

Um, you could also jump to season five. I get into how to choose mid-century materials for your kitchen. A mid-century faucet will come up there using a style guide method.

In season six, episode five, I talk about how to use your scroll time on Instagram and Pinterest (hey, I know you do it, I do it too) into a remodeling action plan using your style guide. And then actually last season, I talked about how to take the style guide one step further and start to translate it into the active planning spreadsheets you’ll use to keep track of every real purchase that you make for your home.

All of these things are useful, but today I wanna actually talk to you about how to get started pulling together that style guide, how to form that for yourself, several different approaches that might seem manageable to you in each of those episodes. I touch a little bit on the idea of creating a full vision of the house, that style guide, before you get started picking any individual material. Or before you start on any other part of the house, you want an entire vision.

First, that’s definitely a great way to go to make all of those choices first and then avoid overwhelm. Sometimes though you need a different approach.

So for example, another way to grow towards a style guide is to pick one object. Pick a mid-century faucet for your kitchen and then build out from there. So if you need to pick a mid-century faucet before the plumbers come to install it tomorrow. Uh, well in modern supply line issues, I don’t recommend that. But if you need to pick one quickly, then I’m gonna include a link in the show notes to a reel I made a little while ago showing the process of going through build.com (which has literally tens of thousands of options for faucets) and then narrowing them down to one specific choice in probably a one minute process.

It is actually possible to do it. If you go through this process of thinking about what’s the right material, looking within the things that are listed as modern, mid-century, or contemporary on any website listing. So you’re ruling out all of the sort of Victoriana and farmhouse style, and then looking at what’s the simplest shape, what is a known brand narrowing down your choices until you have only a handful to choose from, and then following your own inclination, you can pick one object.

Once you’ve got that object, that’s your stake in the ground. You can build an entire style guide around that from one faucet. From a mid-century kitchen faucet, you can then choose any other plumbing equipment that happens in the kitchen.

If you have a second sink, an identical or a complimentary mid century faucet there. You can then pick cabinet handles in a similar or complimentary metal. You can pick door handles that match the cabinet handles and pulls. You can then compare your options for wood species and stain with those sample handles that you’ve already picked out with that mid-century faucet you have. It’s always a great idea to nail the objects down as quickly as possible and store them somewhere because in this age of supply line issues, um, you don’t wanna count on them showing up when they’re needed.

You can start to basically build out a language of materials from one point. Growing things that all work with that material. Anytime its the same type of material with, you know, metal, for example, your light fixtures, possibly even your cover plates on your outlets and light switches, your handles. These are all gonna be the same metal. Then you pick tile that works with that metal. You pick wood that works with that metal, and you start to fill out your pallet of materials like that.

Another way to sort of reduce the overall stress of creating an entire style guide for your entire house is to start with one room. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to think about the style of your whole home. So start with an easy space. Actually, there’s two approaches to this. You can start really simple, uh, a place like an entryway might have only a few materials that you need to choose. Once you’ve set those. When you get to a more complicated room, you can build out from them. Or you might start with a space like your kitchen or a bathroom.

Look at it like this to fully remodel a kitchen, or even to tweak what you have. You have to catalog or choose your metal for plumbing, hardware, light fixtures, and appliances, your wood species, grain and stain for cabinet shelves, floor and trim, paint color for the walls and other surfaces, your countertop material tile for backsplash flooring, material, soft furnishings, and more. Once you’ve set up a plan for a kitchen, you can adapt it to every other room in your house.

With small adjustments in the entry, your options are simpler. You’re only choosing a floor, a wall material, ceiling, possibly a light fixture trim, um, an area rug, some simple furnishings. That might be an easier place to start with a few solid choices. And then you can grow into more detail and more related specificity elsewhere.

Here’s one more way that you can set up style guide for yourself. You can copy someone else’s homework. It’s not cheating. A great way to use the inspiration of an atomic ranch magazine house or the house of Adrian that I just posted this weekend in my story. By the way, you can find that in my highlights right now.

You can choose the material language of that house and apply it to yours. First though, you wanna make sure that it actually works with what you’ve got in your house. So for example, if your house is all amber shellac pine, you might not wanna borrow the walnut or teak look of a magazine quality house. But you might look and choose the types of metals that they’ve chosen, the types of accent materials, the tile color they chose for their bathroom, and simply grab all of that.

Then start asking yourself for each one, is this what I love? If not, I can tweak and adjust it to still fit within the cohesive whole. But I don’t have to start from scratch on choosing. Really no teacher is gonna come around and make sure that you’re not looking at someone else’s test paper. All you need to do is make sure that they’re answering the same questions that you are and copy away.

In the end, I want you to look at this process as a simplification. And the fact that so much of what’s out there isn’t actually appropriate for your mid-century home is a blessing.

I use the same technique when I visit an antique mall. I’m scanning for mid-century fines, but there may be elements from all areas of American history tucked into that mall. There’ll be Victorian rockers and eighties kitsch in different booths.

This just helps me to go through the mall more quickly. I walk along scanning for mid-century keynotes for the right shape of furniture. For the right color of leatherette. For that distinctive brass wall hanging. It’s helpful that most of what’s in there isn’t for us. That means we can focus in on the parts that are and make our decisions more simply.

So don’t let the abundance of choice hold you back. Use it to pare down the possibilities to wrap this up. I walked you through three different, great options for your mid century faucet. You could either go fully vintage stainless steel. You could go modern reproduction brass. Or you could choose a matte black or an aged bronze that plays well with existing metal that you’ve already got in your house.

And if you’re putting together your entire house style guide to create that mid-century style language, that will keep your house cohesive. You can do your homework in advance and build the style guide organically by taking a survey of what you’ve got in the house, and then deciding what the material palette will be for everything before you start choosing real objects. Or you can go out to a kitchen store, pick your mid-century faucet and start building the rest of your style guide language from there.

You can start with one room in your house and grow and expand your ideas. And you can even copy the materials from someone else’s home. As long as you creatively adapt them to your own situation, rather than just mindlessly say, I want that, that, and that. Here’s the bottom line. Choosing the materials for your house is just one step of the master plan method.

If you wanna learn all the steps to plan a regret-proof remodel for your mid-century house, then show up on Saturday or by the way, if you’re not free on Saturday, sign up anyway, and I’ll be sending out an on-demand video that you can watch at any point over the next couple of days. So don’t let being busy at that specific time on Saturday, hold you back.

One more thing. Like I said at the top of the episode, not only is Saturday the free masterclass, “planning, a mid-century remodel to fit your life and budget”. It is also the kickoff of the next cohort of ready to remodel. And for the people who are ready right now to jump into the program on Saturday, there are going to be a couple of great bonus resources. So think about it now, talk to your partner and get ready to jump. Because to encourage you to break your inertia and get started planning right away, I’m offering two special bonuses only to people who sign up on Saturday.

So if you sign up for ready to remodel on Saturday, you’ll get to schedule a one to one kickoff call for the program with me. We’ll talk about your house, what you wanna do with it and get you set up to make the most out of the ready to remodel program.

And you’ll also get access to our super popular layout buster challenge workshop. The way this works is about two months through the program, everyone is starting to get ideas for their house. They’re starting to brainstorm and they’re starting to run into some roadblocks on specific layout challenges for their house. 

So we have everyone make a floor plan or take some photos to show what the problem they’re having is and bring them to a two-hour workshop. I get at my iPad and we brainstorm successful, surprising and satisfying solutions to those layout challenges in real-time. It’s always a gas. We usually get some crowdsourced ideas from the other homeowners waiting to get their problem solved. And I only do this for my ready to remodel students. So are you gonna be one of them? Let’s get started on planning your regret proof mid century remodel right now.