The Kitchen Sink

Most of my projects involve entire whole home renovations where I specify everything for the interior buildout from the bricks in, right down to the kitchen sink.  Most of my clients fall into two categories, they have their hearts set on a large single sink or they don't have an opinion about a kitchen sink at all, usually because they don't cook.  My own personal preference (from many years of experience) is a single wide deep sink.  I enjoy cooking and I cook a lot, typically 6 nights of the week you'll find me cooking in the kitchen.  Of all the dozens and dozens of kitchens I've designed over the past 6 or 7 years I've rarely specified anything other than a single bowl kitchen sink, either farmstyle or undermount, they've almost all been one large sink.

The kitchen shown above is in a client's house I designed in 2007, it features an apron front stainless steel sink, concrete counters and custom cabinetry made from reclaimed barnboards.  (This is a candid photo I took one day years ago while there for a meeting.  It seems like a lifetime ago, this was before Iphone's existed,,,,and before I blogged or tweeted.)

In many situations I find double bowl sinks impractical, overall they require a larger cabinet size, they eat up a lot of counter space, and the divider in the middle is permanent - you simply don't have the option of soaking large pans or oversize cookware.  With a single bowl sink,,,,they're typically not as wide as a standard double bowl sink but I love that you have the flexibility of soaking large items whenever you want.  You can still use it to wash small or delicate things as you normally would.   A lot of people struggle with this concept, how do you wash and rinse in one large sink?  Well, when it comes to washing, I typically take the largest bowl or pot that needs washing, rinse it out, fill it with hot soapy water and use it to wash everything else in.  I keep a small dish strainer inside one side of the sink for rinsing and drying.  Occassionally I use the counter for drying items, but usually I can contain it all in the sink.  The top photo is a perfect example,,,,when I arrived at my client's house that afternoon she was soaking some large baking pans in the sink, so you can see her dish rack on the counter while she was putting these things away - typically the rack sits inside her sink.  This isn't a dish rack specifically made for her sink, but they are available.

When I specify sinks I like to also order accessories specifically for that sink.  If I'm having the sink custom made, I'll find a series that is compatible with my custom size as close as possible.  The selections above are just a sampling of the variety of options to chose from.

Double bowl sinks or sink and a half, usually require a 36" wide sink cabinet.  Many times I'm working with limited space and a 36" sink cabinet just isn't practical, I'd rather go with a smaller sink cabinet and have that extra 6" or so for a bank of drawers beside the sink, ie; an 18"set of drawers vs a 12".  I'm not a fan or irregular shaped sinks with funky curves or angles, I like them clean lined and simple.   It can be challenging to find simple double sinks to fit a 27-30"cabinet which is another reason I often use a single.  You can easily find large single bowl sinks from 18" to 24"wide, and if you really search you may find a 27".  When I want the largest single sink I can possibly fit in my sink cabinet, I have them custom made.  I've had stainless steel sinks custom made for most kitchens I've designed, this allows me to maximize the sink to whatever size I want and ensure it works with the cabinet I've specified.  (I don't recommend this for DIY'ers.)

If you're shopping for or considering a single bowl sink for your own kitchen here are some great tips to keep in mind:

  • know the exact inside dimensions of your cabinet not just the outside dimensions
  • refer to the actual sink size not just the overall size which includes the mounting rim
  • the lower the guage stainless steel the thicker and sturdier the steel, 16g is stronger than 18g.  18 is standard, 16 is even better, avoid 20g for a kitchen sink.
  • keep drain location in mind if you're also using a garburator, anything other than centre may impede your garbutor/drain hookup inside your cabinet
  • the tighter the radius the more of a 'pro' look you will get but the almost square corners can require more attention to cleaning
  • the smallest radius for the corners of a stainless steel sink is called "Zero Radius"
  • a 5/8" radius will still give you that rectangular look and ease of cleaning
  • go for 9" or 10" deep sink for pro style function
  • its key to utilize sink accessories to maximize the efficiency of a single sink, use bottom grids, dish drainers, dish racks and integrated cutting boards to optimize the sink interior
  • a side spray or pulldown spray faucet is great for using the large sink to wash small dogs or large vases
  • make sure when determining your sink's location for the countertop cutout that you leave adquate counter space behind the sink for your faucet and faucet handle clearance.

Its always a major milestone for me when the kitchen sink finally gets installed on a project, its the moment the space becomes a *functioning* kitchen and indicates final completion is just days away, not months!  Currently on my project board, I have an upcoming single kitchen sink install in the NYC project, and we were measuring down to the 1/8" of an inch for that one!  For another out of town project I've just drawn up the details for a stainless custom sink and a half configuration,,,,,ready to be sent off to the fabricators.   The anticipation of both these installs has me excited to see these sinks in their newly finished homes very soon!!

All photos and room design:   Carol Reed