How to Get an Antique Brass Faucet for Way Less

First you'll shop for a chrome-plated fixture—and then transform it

First you'll shop for a chrome-plated fixture—and then transform it

By Kenzi Wilbur, Architectural Digest

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.

While technically you could tackle the stripping process yourself, it does require playing around with caustic chemicals (and several layers of finish, as some faucets have two). So you're probably better off finding a metal or plating shop in your area that can do it for you. Prices vary based on where you live, but expect to pay $200 to $250 to have a large fixture stripped down to the raw brass. It's not free, but you'll still be spending way less in total than you would on a raw brass fixture. What's that? It's weird that retailers price brass fixtures higher than brass fixtures coated with an ugly layer of nickel? We don't make the rules. We just find the workarounds!

Afterwards, you can let your newly old beauty patina on its own, or you can “speed patina” it if you need it to look like it’s been there forever right this minute. David did this by letting the faucet sit on top of a few blocks in an airtight container with a finger or two of apple cider vinegar in the bottom. The vinegar in combination with the air will tarnish it over the course of a few hours or overnight. Just remove it when you like the color, and then tell your guests it came with the house.

See more at: Architectural Digest


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Lifestyle Magazine: How to Get an Antique Brass Faucet for Way Less
How to Get an Antique Brass Faucet for Way Less
First you'll shop for a chrome-plated fixture—and then transform it
Lifestyle Magazine
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