The kitchen in our apartment is sunny and bright. There’s a window to throw open, a vintage stove to cherish, a dishwasher to be eternally grateful for along with the very good fortune of having food on our table and a roof over head. Gratitude notwithstanding, there’s also a list of thirty or so things that might be classified as “needing attention” especially if you’re the kind of person who pays attention to these things, which, you know, I am.
Until very recently, one of the items on that list was the acrylic sink knobs and a simple swap has made all the difference. The new metal handles are not fancy but they do disappear into the background of the stainless steel sink and the kitchen more generally. More importantly, they feel a whole lot better. Excuse my persnicketiness, but the hand-feel of an acrylic knob, in all its oily slickness and many creviced surface leaves so much to be desired. A metal handle does not display condensation or black sludge from beneath its clear acrylic cap. An improvement!
Beyond that, swapping out the plastic sink knobs for metal handles means that our kitchen sink faucet can be turned on or off with a knuckle or a wrist or some other part of my hand that has not recently plucked a slippery egg yolk off the floor. Gone are the days of trying to turn a plastic knob with the palms of two hands, while my fingers drip with toddler slime.
These handles might not be the touch-free tap handle of every germaphobe’s dreams and they’re certainly not the stuff of state of the art kitchen design, but they are a very simple hardware store fix that just generally makes kitchening more pleasant, whether you’re in a rental kitchen or otherwise
So, in no particular order, a few notes and tips for tackling this particular small improvement:
What to look for:
If you’re planning to swap the handles of a generic kitchen faucet, search for “universal fit” sink faucet handles. These are not fancy handles and you’ll find that there are MANY acrylic options in this category. (Lest anyone reading think that acrylic knobs are a vestige of kitchen decor of times past, let me assure you there is no shortage in the current market.) I chose the simplest metal lever handles I could find that didn’t look like they belonged in a hospital.
What to expect:
+ Cost: Each metal faucet handle is sold separately and a pair costs a bit more than double the cost of the equivalent acrylic set. That said, for me the ~$30 investment into the thing I touch more than anything else in the kitchen makes the price feel more than worth it.
+ Tools: You do not have to be a professional plumber to tackle this project. You’re not switching out plumbing parts or replacing the whole faucet. You don’t even need to shut off the water. What you do need is the new handles and the accompanying hardware in addition to a flat-head screw driver (or similar thin, flat tool) for prying the top of your existing faucet and a phillip’s head driver to unscrew the handle from the stem. Your replacement handle should come with a set screw and wrench and any specific directions you might need to follow.
+ Time: This is largely considered a cosmetic fix and you should be able to finish it in under 15 minutes.
Step 1: Pop the acrylic cap off the plastic knob with a flat head screwdriver and remove the screw.
Step 2: Admire the bare faucet handle stem and clean away any sludge (there will be sludge).
Step 3: Place the provided adapter over the stem and tighten the set screw onto the stem with an allen wrench.
Step 4: Place the new handle over top of the adapter and screw into the same place where you unscrewed the first handle. (Cap the top with the provided cover; shown two photos up.)
That’s all folks! What do you think? Have you replaced faucet handles before? Ready to give it a try? I’m here for questions and general cheerleading!
+ Our dish brushes are all from local shop, Salter House.
+ They’re hanging from an iron hook from Fog Linen.
+ Lately I’ve been keeping my soap on this ceramic tray from Bloomist.
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