One of my readers from Connecticut sent me this picture of her beautiful kitchen sink. She has a Franke professional series 30" stainless steel sink (the deep one), and Perrin & Rowe bridge faucet. I must admit that this picture is swaying me against the farmhouse sink – I love the clean lines of the marble surrounding the sink, although the reader said that the seam is often placed in front of the sink, and with a farmhouse sink this is avoided as there is an apron.
A wider view of her kitchen – she has another sink in her island, which is made out of the same granite as the island (the other surfaces are marble). My reader told me that she uses the sink by the window as her cleanup sink; the dishwashers and dish cabinets are located over here. The sink on the island is used for prep work and cleaning dirty pots and pans that are used in the oven and on the stove.
My Connecticut reader has the best of both worlds – she put a Shaws farmhouse sink in her laundry room, which she loves. She selected a Rohl wall mounted faucet for her laundry room. What a gorgeous laundry room!
Another reader from Decatur, Georgia sent me this picture of the kitchen that she recently renovated in her charming bungalow. She selected materials and styles that were in keeping with the bungalow, and I found the space to be so well thought out and charming. The reader said that once a year she and a friend spend an entire day baking, and roll out dough on the marble counter – this gives the counter an even appearance and lots of patina! I might ask her if my oldest daughter and I can come over on the next baking day….my 11 year old is a budding baker!
The kitchen has a zone devoted to clean up; the dishwasher is to the side of the sink, and the dishes are stored in drawers in the island.
This is just a small selection of the amazing kitchens that people emailed to me as a result of my post! Given that many of my readers experience by blog through the email subscription and don’t read the comments, I thought that I would compile a list of some of the tips that came out of the comments and emails. As one reader said in an email, “as for advice about sinks, it reminds me of giving advice about which church to attend. How can I possibly try to convince you to come to my church? I don't know your denomination or your preference for a formal or casual liturgy. While I love my church, it might not be the one for you”. Amen to that!
Type of Sink
- A large, deep, single cleanup sink gets rave reviews – especially when there is an auxiliary prep sink for vegetables. Most people with Shaws sinks have either the 30” or 36” inch sinks.
- Most people love their single bowl 30” and 36” Shaw sinks for both their looks and function. However, several readers noted that the Shaw sinks have very little pitch to the drain, so water collects in the corner – and items have to be ‘chased’ to the drain (and every speck of food shows up against the white). The salesperson in the kitchen design store told me about this too! However, to my readers, the look of the farm sink more than makes up for this inconvenience.
- There was a large contingent who raved about their single stainless bowl – they find it easier to keep clean, and find it to be practical and easy. Quite a few people emailed me about their Elkay, Franke, and Blanco stainless sink. One reader chose Blanco model #516216 with the integral drainboard; she said that “it’s a huge sink and it allows me to let things air dry without having a dishrack sitting on the countertop”.
- Sink depth is a very important consideration, according to many of my readers. If a sink is undermount, and the sink is deep, then a short person might have a hard time using the sink – too deep translates into back pain. One person commented that in their old kitchen, they had a 10” deep sink, which was too deep and caused back issues. In their new kitchen, they did 8” deep, and it is perfect for them (they did not note if they are tall or short). Another reader recommended (based on personal experience) that if a sink is undermount, then order the sink no more than 9” deep. Yet another reader commented that a too shallow sink is just as frustrating as water splashes out.
- Many were passionate advocates of two large double bowls – because it is an efficient part of their cooking process. One reader uses one of the sides as a place to soak dirty dishes and pots and pans while she is cooking; she uses the other bowl for the prep and washing of food. When it is time to clean up, the dishes are soaked and ready to load. For me: I tend to use both sides of a double bowl the same, which is my downfall with a double bowl – I would need a disposal in both sides!
- One reader told me that “our prep sink is 17" wide x 18" front-to-back x 10" deep. It's fairly large for a prep sink, but because I want to wash vegetables and put our large collander in there, I wanted it to be big. Plus, I stole this great idea from a friend. She fills her prep sink with ice and puts wine in it during a party. The island becomes somewhat of a bar”. Another reader seconded that opinion, indicating that “in some kitchens people make the mistake of putting too small of a prep sink in their islands (sometimes they put in a bar sink) and I don’t think they are as functional. I got the Blanco 516224”.
- Susan Serra, kitchen designer: “As a kitchen designer, I can tell you that, nearly without fail, my clients want the 30" single bowl sink. And, they seem to fall into two camps: either the sharp corner under mounted stainless or the Shaws type sink”.
- Kelly at Kitchen Sync, a kitchen designer, weighed in too: “One of the questions I might ask is what the splash levels are -- the higher the neck, the deeper I might make the sink (assuming all the other factors balance -- like others have said, too deep a sink is too hard on the back for taller folks)”.
- Another tip – the Shaws farmhouse sink is not the only company making this style; Franke has teamed with Villeroy & Boch to make a farmhouse sink that is half the cost
I am fairly certain that I will go with the single sink, especially since my kitchen designer said that she is leaning towards a prep sink too. If I just have one sink in the kitchen, I might change my mind though, and go with two big bowls! As far as materials are concerned, I will rely upon the advice of my kitchen designer and interior designer. After looking through all of these pictures, I realize that an apron front is a definite aesthetic decision in a kitchen, and there is something very clean lined about a stainless sink that is undermounted. We will see!
Location of Sink
- To quote a reader: “Well, I just don't like anything on a kitchen island but a plain surface! No sink, no range,nothing but a plain slab of something. I love having a huge area to unload grocery bags,to put a big vase of flowers on and arrange for a casual buffet,to set for dinner (and have it look like a table...not with a gaping sink-hole or oven- range staring you in the face)”.
- Several readers indicated a strong preference for a kitchen island that has nothing on it – just one big surface for cooking, socializing, setting out a buffet, unloading the groceries. One reader said having a table like island has been great – she does a lot of the prep work on the island, and with a spin around she can access all of her major appliances very easily. She said that when no cooking is going on, she places a huge vase of peonies on the island and ‘the kitchen has on her party dress’. I loved that image! I also loved the idea of a big surface for unloading groceries (I do not have this now!).
- Many of my readers have a definite preference for a sink in front of a window, rather than in the middle of an island. As one reader noted, “cooks tend to spend a lot of time at a sink, and if one has children and a backyard, they can always observe the kids at play and share in their activities 'from afar' without seeming to 'spy'”.
- Another reader noted that the problem with the sinks in the middle of an island is that there is usually a mess around the sink...and if you are in the family room, looking into the kitchen, past the island, the first thing you see is mess. Running water causes a lot of splashes, as can a garbage disposal unit when in use...and invariably one is piling the pots and pans onto the adjacent counter space so nothing is ever pristine and clean.
Style of Faucet
- Faucets are a whole subject unto themselves. One reader feels they get short shrift way too often even though they are arguably the most used fixture in the kitchen .
- One reader said that if she were putting her sink on the island smack in the middle of my kitchen, she would spend ‘big bucks’ to have it be the star of the show.
- Others were big advocates of a single handle, as you can flip it on with a wrist – very handy when the hands are covered with mess.
- Bridge faucets – those who have them said it is no problem at all to have a separate hot and cold handle – most people start with the hot then add a little cold to adjust the temperature. The overwhelming consensus: it is no big deal to have the separate handles. Some of my readers have a bridge faucet in their secondary (prep or bar) sink, and a pull down or single handle in their main clean up sink
- Self identified germaphobes prefer the idea of a one handle sink that they can turn on with their wrist
- There were lots of votes for the Kohler Vinnata faucet because of its clean lines, and the ease of one lever and pull down sprayer. This is actually very similar to what I have in my current kitchen (I had it installed last year when I gave my kitchen a mini facelift), and I love the function.
- Faucets - Danze single handle in polished nickel from their designer "opulence" series and Blanco “grace’ were among those mentioned, as well as these:
Quite a few readers have this faucet, the Vinnata by Kohler.
Several other readers selected this Grohe faucet as an alternative, model 33870EN0. I am a big Grohe fan for the shower; I used a Grohe shower system when I remodeled my master bathroom 6 or 7 years ago.
My designer has mentioned the Michael Smith faucet a few times – I wonder if she is talking about this one?
I still keep coming back to this one. After looking at quite a few faucets, the gooseneck style is the one that really appeals to me. If only they would make a bridge faucet like this with a pull down sprayer head – it would be the best of both worlds! If I end up with two sinks, I might do a pull down sprayer in one, and a bridge faucet in another. I wonder if you are supposed to have the same faucet in both sinks?
- Tapmaster – a great device that can be easily installed in existing kitchens, this device is placed at the kickboard and is used to turn a sink on and off with the tap of a toe. This seems like a great solution for germophobes, people who cook or bake a lot and have messy hands while cooking, or possibly in a utility sink for a gardener. http://www.tapmaster.ca/us/
- Do not skimp on drawer hardware – particularly the hardware the controls the strength of the drawer (on the inside)
- When you have minimal overhead cabinets, you get a lot more light in a kitchen. Walk in pantries hold things that would typically be in cabinets, plus pantry shelves cost a fraction of the cost of cabinets
- To quote a reader: “Consider making the splash behind the stove top in a solid piece of stone that matches your countertops. Although tile is beautiful, you have to be so careful of splashes from the stove onto the grout between the tile, some of which can cause permanent stains, and then after some months the entire wall behind the stovetop can start looking bad! A sold piece of stone is easy to clean up”. (Note: I posed this question on Gardenweb, and many said that if the backsplash is well sealed, it won’t get stained, but it is important to wipe splatters right away).
- One reader recommended to follow your gut, even if you are using a kitchen designer, because you know how you cook and what you like
- Two dishwashers on either side of a farmhouse sink is one of the best design decisions one of my readers made when tackling her kitchen redo
- Marble crept into the conversation quite a few times – one person recommended Porous Plus 511 for sealing it
I feel very well prepared for my kitchen design meeting on Friday with my architect, interior designer, and kitchen designer, and I would like to thank all of you who read this post and commented either via the blog post or email. In the end, a kitchen is very personal as everyone lives and cooks differently, but while my kitchen is still a blank slate, it is helpful to think through some of these issues!
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