A common challenge with pull-down faucets is when the long hose, the key component in the system, gets caught on pipes or other items under the sink, preventing the hose head from retracting completely. But kitchen showroom manager Melissa Railey says the latest models extend with ease—and they dock more tightly and reach more places in the sink with an easy twist of the wrist.

“[Customers] don’t want that hand-held part hanging down,” exposing the hose, says Railey, of Lufkin, Texas-based Morrison Supply Co. “With the new Reflex pull-down systems, it is not such a challenge anymore.”

Reflex, Moen’s latest pull-down innovation, as well as Brizo’s Solna, Pfister’s Elevate EXT, and Kohler’s Cruette and Bellera models, just to name a few, solve past usability problems, paving the way for a growing consumer demand for high-arcing spouts. The Solna wand, for example, snaps back to a magnet within the spout so it won’t dangle. Its hidden design provides a streamlined style that’s still easy to use.

“You just hook your index finger around and pull it straight down,” says Judd Lord, director of industrial design for Brizo. “You can maneuver it with two fingers and a thumb.”

Meanwhile, the Brantford and Arbor pull-downs by Moen require less force to extend than previous systems, the maker claims, and their aerodynamic hose weights are shaped to bounce off under-sink pipes to prevent hang-ups.The wand also self-retracts from any position. “You don’t have to fish it back through or manually mate up the wand with the spout,” says Beth Wallick, senior wholesale product manager at Moen.

The spout on the Pfister Elevate EXT includes another clever usability feature: It adjusts from 8 inches tall to 11 inches at any time to easily fit tall pots, while its long hose extends up to 70 inches.

Cost Factor

Even the most up-to-date faucets aren’t foolproof, however. If the hose does catch, homeowners typically conclude the problem lies with a faulty faucet. “It could be someone accidently pushed a bottle back too far [under the sink] and the weight got [caught] on it,” says Jerry Bougher, marketing manager for kitchen faucets at Kohler. Educating consumers about the potential of stuck hoses is the quick fix to preventing callbacks like these.

And while many manufacturers have reduced costs, pull-downs will never be priced the same as swing-spout faucets because of the extra parts and manufacturing process, Lord says.

There is a trade-off, he argues: “Why would you settle for a standard faucet when for just a nominal up-charge you get all the extra functionality a pull-out could provide you?”

Sleek Spin

Straight lines and minimal detailing is the faucet look of the future, less because it’s hot in Europe and more because fewer crevices and angles are easier to clean. The modern direction, however, has a fresh spin.

“It’s not 100% super clean, uber straight, square, or perfectly cylindrical,” says Brizo’s Judd Lord. There is a hint of tradition in the slight details on spray heads and faucets, freshening up an existing kitchen while simultaneously tying in with wood cabinetry and warm finishes.

The popularity contest winner in finishes goes to stainless steel, six times more popular in pull-downs than chrome. According to Moen’s research team, that’s because consumers want the kitchen faucet to match their appliances.One-hole configurations are also on the rise. Moen’s Beth Wallick observes: “Ever since we have had heavy remodeling, the idea of cutting more than one hole is painful after you’ve put in all this money.”