Design Notes Archive

Double Taps

Double Taps

Despite all the latest innovations in sanitaryware—think touch-free faucets that can measure out exactly how much water you need by voice command—designers still have a soft spot for antique-style taps. Pre-dating the once revolutionary mixer tap, there's a renaissance afoot for the single tap, used in pairs, or in the case of Salvesen Graham, in quads even. 


So, what’s all the fuss about? “They’re classic," says interior designer and antiques dealer Max Rollitt, recounting how people used to put plastic and rubber hoses on them. In this Oxfordshire hallway-cum-boot room, left, he mounted a pair over an antique porcelain basin. Tucked in the back of a 17th century farmhouse, Rollitt was tasked with peeling back chincy 1980s additions and imbuing a more peaceful feel. “It's always a balance,” he says. “These taps are beautiful. I’d rather bring in modernity through colour and fabric and create joy through that, than putting in a mixer tap.” To further beautify the space, Rollitt softened the room with a skirted Robert Kime fabric instead of cabinets and a glossy green ceramic pendant from The French House. Those, along with the reclaimed floor tiles and imperfectly laid zellige wall tiles, draw out the movement and texture of the original ceiling beam, creating a connection between new and original elements.

Down in Cornwall, House of Hackney founders Frieda Gormley and Javvy Royle opted for a pair of single taps in the kitchen of their Georgian manor house, centre. Mounted over a copper sink, the taps are handcrafted by deVOL and made of unlacquered aged brass for its vintage appeal. “We wanted to keep that traditional double tap look,” says Gormley, “and I prefer it for the ease of access to hot and cold water separately.” The couple also honoured the home’s history by salvaging the original cabinets, which deVOL then upgraded with beading, hinges and hardware. Elsewhere, cabinets are topped with castellations that echo the lines of the property’s medieval Trematon castle, visible out the kitchen window. Green zellige tiles and House of Hackney’s tapestry-like Plantasia wallpaper also bring the outdoors in. Ever the entrepreneurs, Gormley and Royle have turned their home into a lovely little side gig as an occasional bed-and-breakfast. Book your visit via Unique Home Stays. 

In another Georgian home, designer Nicola Harding worked with architect Jonathan Rhind to infuse comfort and intimacy into a grand Grade-I listed townhouse in Bath. In the storage area between the kitchen and pantry, right, that meant layering saturated blues on walls and Plain English cabinetry (painted ‘Squid Ink’ and ‘Blue Gum’ respectively, by Paint & Paper Library). The pair of large brass taps command attention like sparkling jewels, with the tones replicated in an antique mirror and set of wall lights. Their rich, glowing finish against the cool blue walls adds warmth to the space. If you’re on the hunt for a similar pair of antique brass taps, Mongers Architectural Salvage regularly finds and refurbishes them.  

Photographs © Tom Mannion, deVOL, Paul Massey