While contemporary design is emerging in furnishings and fixtures everywhere - just pick up a magazine or store catalog to see the trends - most of the US loves traditional product design. Chrome finishes, white tiles, and beige paint are the norm. When undergoing updates or remodels, it's nice to add products and finishes that while classic, have a fresh new look. Not only do you gain technology - water efficiency and environmental friendliness - you often gain function with better scale, finishes, and performance. I've found a few that I classify as transitional since they feature classical design style but a sleeker look that may appeal to hard-core traditionalists as well as those who want to add modern flair to their homes.
Faucets: Watermark makes this widespread faucet with classic styling but longer spouts, lever handles to comply with the principles of universal design, and a durable chrome finish. It would look at home on a pedestal sink or in a master bath suite. They offer multiple finishes and an array of styles in products for kitchen and bath.
Moen has a wall-mounted faucet in three finishes, for traditionalists that love vessel style sinks but not the tall deck versions. A softly curving spout, updated lever handles, and beautiful porcelain inlays, make this the perfect blend of old and new. Available in three finishes and inlay options.
Bathroom vanities: The shaped legs, rich wood, and marble top on this Kalista vanity are traditional features that are updated by the slim lines. A larger counter surface is balanced by a nicely scaled sink. In a small bathroom this is dynamite when paired with marble hexagonal or subway style tiles on flooring and walls.
Xylem also has some vanities that cross the boundary between Craftsman and Modern. Their Capri vanity in a deep espresso finish has nice finish details that offer a nice transitional style.
Lighting: The Massena pendant is Hudson Valley Lighting’s contemporary update to a classic schoolhouse light fixture. Available in two sizes, the light features a metal shade and a metal frame, with a round ceiling canopy. Pendants can be specified in old bronze, polished nickel, satin nickel, and white glass with polished nickel accents.
In an updated brushed nickel finish, this wall sconce by Brass Lighting Gallery is a fine example of a more linear, modern edge for a bath sconce. Wonderful for a powder room or guest bath - in pairs - and the lines can be perceived as Deco and Retro if you're aiming for period style.
Sinks: The Shaw farmhouse sink by Rohl is another great example of better technology applied to classically styled kitchen sink. Its fireclay material resists scratches, thermal shock, alkaline and acids, and maintains radiant appearance.
Hardware: Baldwin has added a fabulous style search to its website. You can identify your preferred style by room photos and hardware finishes. Their line of Classic Hardware has everything from embellished to simple knobs, levers and pulls and you can find some wonderful transitional styles for your project.