If, as it’s been said, the kitchen is the focal part of the home, then the sink is the focal part of the kitchen. Just watch how people react when they walk into a kitchen: Almost without fail, their eyes will go to the sink. It doesn’t matter if there is a dishwasher – that’s just an appliance – it is the sink that provides the visual and emotional magnet for the kitchen.
If you are proposing a kitchen design to homeowners for a remodeling job or a new house – or if you are building a house on spec – pay serious consideration to the sink. If you can capture your client’s attention with that one feature, the rest of the design will fall into place. There are practical considerations and design trends that you can use to guide your decisions, and their enthusiastic approval.
First things first: Where does the sink go? The classic placement is against a wall, below a window. This is classic because it works well, both practically and emotionally: more natural light, better view, better placement for traffic flow and easier placement for plumbing. With islands and peninsulas so prevalent in kitchens, some people want their sink located there. While it looks stylish, there are practical considerations as well: plumbing, space use (islands are usually meant for serving and/or eating space) and traffic flow. While this looks appealing stylistically, it is usually impractical.
Obviously, more sink means less counter space. As with most design, there is a compromise. Don’t be too quick to skimp on the size of the sink, though: A larger sink has practical considerations for soaking and washing large pans, thawing turkeys (rarely needed, true, but you’d be surprised how often that image comes up in clients’ minds) and just the sheer emotional reaction of, “Wow! Look at the size of that sink!”
One Sink or Two (Or Three)?
The two-sink configuration has been a standard for at least 50 years, replacing the then-standard single-sink “country” style sink. It was originally considered to be more convenient because it allowed the homeowner to fill one side with soapy water and the other with clean water for washing and rinsing. Now, with dishwashers virtually universal, the only things that are usually washed in a sink are those too large to be fit into a dishwasher or made from materials that can’t be machine-washed: roasting pans, baking dishes, large skillets, serving platters and cutting boards. Three-sink configurations are now made, with the idea that they allow separation of washing and food-preparation areas, but that just chops up the useable area. The current trend today is towards the older (now newer) one-sink style. Here’s the surprise: That single sink configuration that looks so large? It actually takes up less counter space than a two- or three-sink configuration. It just looks big because it isn’t broken up by dividers.
The two primary choices – with variations – are mounted and flush. The least expensive styles and mounting methods are drop-in and rimmed-edge sinks. Under-mounted, flush-mounted (that is, tiled-in) and integral sinks (made as part of the counter) have cleaner lines and allow wiping the counter directly into the sink. The trend is towards flush sinks, both for style and practical considerations, although they are a little more difficult to install. This option is easier – and more exciting – if new counter top material is in the budget, since that opens up a wide range of possibilities for choosing sink materials.
The now-classic brushed stainless steel sink is practical, readily available, easy to install and dull… deadly dull. Composite granite, colored solid, cast acrylic, fireclay and even copper sinks are available. Don’t forget to consider enameled cast iron – they’re much harder to chip than you (and the client) might think and most makers have a lifetime guarantee. And with these new (or revived) materials, come all sorts of options: Low dividers, step-style bottoms, rounded backs and even country style apron fronts. If you want to wow your clients, consign the stainless steel to the scrap metal pile and go for one of the exciting options.
The most exciting feature of kitchen sinks can be summed up in one word: Options. There are a tremendous number of options for materials, size, configuration and style now available than ever before. Options are what clients want and now you can offer them possibilities they never thought they had.
About the Author: Tanya wrote this guest post on behalf of The Coral Cove.