Fixtures & Finishes
As owner of the new Fixtures & Finishes (formerly Kenny & Co.), Mary Louise Choate stays focused on all the ways these standard household items can make our lives better.
Q. You have been with Kenny & Co. for years; it has always been such a respected name in town for being a real niche in plumbing, tile, and lighting fixtures. Why the name change?
A. Kenny & Co. was a division of Kenny Pipe & Supply out of Nashville. The owner, Bill Kenny, decided to pursue some other opportunities and very graciously offered to sell me this location. The new name, Fixtures & Finishes, states what we do but doesn’t limit us. The fixture part is pretty obvious, but the finishes part refers to anything that might be on an architectural schedule of finishes—tile, hardware, cabinet accessories, lighting.
Q. Where do the latest trends come from?
A. Like fashion, plumbing and tile trends are so design-driven, but the annual Kitchen & Bath Show (KBIS) doesn’t always do our industry justice in what we have to offer. Some of the lines that we support aren’t always shown there, such as Waterworks or THG or some of the more specialty items that we use.
Q. Who shops with you?
A. The designer/builder/architecture/plumbing sectors are so important. But the client is more educated today and cares more—they see that a TOTO Neorest toilet or a special tile or a beautiful faucet is an asset to their home’s value.
Q. What are some of the trends and changes you have seen over time?
A. Before the market crashed, there was not a sense of commitment to design. Now, people are coming in and saying, “This is my home. I want to stay here and enjoy what I have. But if I choose to sell, the next owner will enjoy this (faucet) as much as I have.” Boutique showrooms like ours help clients find the beauty in the design of the products.
Q. What are some favorite products you have in your own home?
A. We splurged on the TOTO Washlet seat (similar to a bidet). The Washlet seat requires an electrical outlet just next to the toilet, so when customers are remodeling, we encourage them to add that outlet then—even if they wait on the purchase. We also have the TOTO SanaGloss finish, which is amazing. It means toilets and sinks stay super-clean.
In our master bathroom, we installed a rainhead shower (in addition to the regular Speakman head). I use it when I want to really relax in the shower or to warm up before jumping into bed. It offers a totally different experience.
In our laundry room, we installed 6- x 12-inch Asian Statuary marble tile on the floor. We don’t worry about what will happen if we spill something or drop something on it; we just enjoy it for the beauty of it.
Q. What is one design trend that you hope never returns?
A. Colored-plumbing! I’m glad pink toilets and pink tile in a bathroom and avocado-green kitchen sinks have gone by the wayside. I also hope we don’t go back to cookie-cutter choices. I always want people to consider their choices from a design perspective, choosing fixtures that bring them joy—that’s an investment they can live with.
• CHOOSE PIECES THAT LAST People are planning on aging-in-place and are making choices they can be comfortable with as they get older. For instance, choose classic white toilets (comfort height: 16.5”).
• MAXIMIZE SPACE If there isn’t room for a tub, I really encourage customers to make their shower larger and to add additional shower heads or steam units.
• SPLURGE Heated floors are not that expensive and are just a wonderful luxury that makes your life better six months out of the year.
• ARTISTIC TUBS We are seeing a rise in requests for more air jets as well as free-standing or custom hand-painted tubs. Waterworks makes a free-standing tub called the Candide with a burnished nickel exterior that is so pretty.
• FINISHES Silver tones—nickel and chrome—are always in fashion. Nickel is a little dressier so you see it more in kitchens, powder rooms, and master suites. Chrome is timeless and great for all over, but particularly in children’s baths. Uncoated brass has staying power too. People are using it as an accent in a specific room in the house, like just in the kitchen or powder room. Rustic finishes remain popular. Waterworks has a carbon finish that is oiled-rubbed but with more black. It has a great industrial look.
• TILE Subway tile has staying power, but look for new treatments, sizes, and patterns. We also do custom mosaics for clients that are really pretty. For instance, choose a traditional black-and-white tile and add in a gold accent piece or signature motif such as a honeybee. We do a lot of exposed (bathroom) consoles with brass, glass, metal, or acrylic legs. The console wall is a fun place to tile and add pattern.
• BAR SINKS AND KITCHENS Mix metals. The all-stainless look is still nice, but we see designers pairing traditional apron sinks with sleek uncoated brass faucets for a very different look.