Monday, February 1, 2010

Kitchen and sink tips from my blog readers!

Kitchens clearly are a passion for many of my readers, and I received a record number of comments to ‘the kitchen sink’ post. I also received more than 100 emails with all sorts of great kitchen design wisdom, some of which contained pictures of the most beautiful kitchens from all over the world!
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.
laundry room
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.
    Miccahel Smith Kallista
    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?
Miscellaneous Tips
  • 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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  1. What a fabulous and helpful post. All of the comments you received are great, especially some of the misc tips. I am working on a kitchen so thank you!

  2. Great comments and advice! And I love both of those kitchens, they are as beautiful and they are practical!

    Kat :)

  3. Terrific information! One thing to add for the "germaphobes", I used a Danze electronic gooseneck faucet in my new kitchen. Turns on when you wave your hand or a dish in front of the sensor and turns off when you move/walk away. Temperature controlled, too. Total luxury but it's worth it!

    Recently put my sink in the island (which I thought I would hate but love bc I added a sliding chopping board to hide the mess when I walk away). Now I can face my kids when I'm in the kitchen working and they are sitting at the island chatting/snacking. And I'm lucky enough that it still faces the backyard window bc I totally agree that the person doing all the work should be able to enjoy the view!

  4. This is a fantastic follow up! The reader who suggested that if the sink is 'smack in the middle of the kitchen, then make it the star of the show' has got me thinking on something I've known for a long time (but I have been putting it off). Great ideas!

  5. That laundry room - I die!

  6. I too have two dishwashers on either side of my farm style sink (w/the bridge faucet, that faces the backyard window), best. thing. ever! There a million things I wish I did differently, that one I got right. good luck!

  7. One more piece of advice! I LOVE that I chose our dishwasher from amongst those that accept a full cabinet panel to match the cabinets around it perfectly. The buttons to operate the DW are on the top of the door when you pull it out and are therefore totally invisible when the dishwasher door is shut. It makes me happy because it was an appliance that I could hide from view at very low cost. I highly recommend this approach!

  8. So much fun and great information!
    Can't wait to tune in to the next segment...Have a great meeting this week.
    Your friend the germaphobe :)

  9. Terrific ideas for my dream kitchen. Very inspirational!

  10. Just when I thought I had gone over all the pros and cons your list gave me some food for thought. Thanks so much! It is so funny how easy it is to help someone plan elements in their house but I question myself so much in my own decisions.

  11. Holly, what an amazing compilation - must have taken you forever to distill all those comments. I really appreciate this - I am not renovating, but the practicalities remain the same into the future, like sink depth, etc.

    Good luck with your choice!! Hope all is well with the planning...

    xo Terri

  12. Holly,
    I know your kitchen is going to be fabulous because of all the careful consideration you've put into it as well as the helpful input of many others. I think the clean uninterrupted cabinet face provided by an undermount sink is the most classic simplicity. And the farmhouse sink in that fabulous laundry room is the best! Can't wait to hear what you have in mind for your laundry room, too, as well as the rest of your new home. I know it will be fabulous and I look forward to watching it develop.

  13. Great thought provoking information for anyone undergoing a kitchen reno or upgrading their faucet or sink. As you said, it's a personal decision and I'm sure you will make the perfect choices for you and your family.

  14. Fantastic Kitchen and post! So glad to have found you..Off to browse! Maria

  15. Hats off to everyone doing a kitchen. I like the Decatur kitchen. It has so much headroom: so many windows, so few upper cabinets. And it looks like a (well designed) family kitchen rather than a designer kitchen.

  16. Those kitchens are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing all of the great tips!

  17. I have been wanting to get a new sink and faucet, so I loved this post. Your readers have great taste.

  18. Love the Connecticut kitchen pictures. Was fortunate enough to attend a dinner party at this house and the kitchen was both beautiful and perfect for entertaining.

  19. your head has to be spinning! so many choices to consider with both design and function.

    enjoying this holly as i re-live my kitchen "gut". can't wait for the other decisions; stove, stove backsplash, floors, lighting....ahhh!


  20. A new kitchen sink is slated for 2011. This post will be printed out & heavily high-lited.

    Can't wait to discover which sink you've helped me buy!

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  21. Beautiful spaces that were shared, thank you to your great blog and your readers for sharing. That laundry room would make you find a reason to do laundry for sure.
    The comments and opinions that are posted can be helpful, and yes, at times entertaining.
    Your hard work of compiling so many of the comments into groupings is greatly appreciated. Thank you. xo

  22. Thank you for this incredibly informative post. It will certainly be kept and filed for quick and repeated reference.

  23. Great post. The kitchen is probably my favorite room in the house. We all recognize it as the heart of the home. So true, I think. We're redoing our kitchen, and I've selected a single deep stainless sink. I never thought about backaches...I'm tall so hopefully not. -susan

  24. I, too, enjoyed this post. The Connecticut Kitchen in gorgeous. We are in the middle of building a house, so this is very helpful. Any idea what countertops they used? It looks like Marble on the perimeter, but is the island soapstone or honed granite? This is so much fun!

  25. Really excellent post. Both kitchens were wonderful and I will save all the great info you have shared.

    I am a fan of two dishwashers as well and if your tight on space Meile makes an 18 inch model for stemware and cutlery but I often use it for large/tall items that I don't have room for in the regular dishwasher. Its perfect in the butlers pantry.

    thanks again, kelley

  26. Hi everyone - thanks for the comments! I learned so much from compiling this post.

    The Connecticut kitchen has marble on the outer perimeter of the kitchen, and a honed dark gray granite that has a rough surface on the island.

  27. Thank you so much. I love the look of the honed granite, too. What a gorgeous kitchen!

  28. Excellent and comprehensive post! I have bookmarked it for further information. One consideration not mentioned would be the placement of the sink under the countertop. Cut the opening in the surface slightly larger than the sink lip. Otherwise the lip will catch "stuff" and create much more clean-up. In one of my residences,I have the exposed lip and in my other residence, the lip is not visible. I much prefer the the latter option. Just a thought to ponder!

  29. Congratulations with your great post! So interesting!

  30. Love your blog! LOVE this post. I've been contemplating a kitchen renovation and this post has SO many answers for me! Thank you!!!

  31. Fascinating! There appear to be as many ideal kitchens as there are readers!

    ...and your readers have drop-dead gorgeous kitchens. I want to move into that CT one ASAP.

  32. Wow! I too am collecting inspiration, tips, and 'lessons learned' for my upcoming kitchen renovation, and this post is so helpful. After my last two-bowl under-mount sink, I am seriously thinking about a single-bowl farm style sink. I was always moving the dishes from one side to the other in order to access the disposal. Thank you for the great info!

  33. LOVING image two. No lie it meets each criteria of my dream kitchen checklist.

  34. I love the sink in the island if there is not the option of the window. I think it makes for an easy clean up.
    Love the kitchens and tips you have shared.
    Good luck with your plans!

  35. I have both the deep Franke sink (like in your post's first photo) and the Shaw farm sing. The think I love about the frank is that it is so easy to wipe crumbs and such in to it -- the farm sink you can't because of the lip.

  36. AMAZING post! I really can't thank you enough for all your research and new building posts. We are in the exact same spot you are on our new house plans so I appreciate every detail you have thought through! I am not as fortunate as you to have a designer (and Suzanne Kasler, no less!) So all the photos you show are VERY, very helpful. I am hoping you can show more of the fabulous commenters photos. Our architects are wonderful, but I do wish I could have design help. I am thinking of hiring a kitchen designer as I think this is the most important room in the house. Thank you again for making my life much easier.

  37. Over 100 emails!! My goodness you have been busy up to your eye balls. TTI, you will certainly have the most well researched kitchen EVER and we have reaped the rewards in your 2 most recent posts. My mom is considering a kitchen remodel and I am sending these posts to her. Plus, I do love the church analogy!

  38. i'm so glad to read this! we're in the process of getting ready to build, and one of my biggest frets has been the kitchen sink. while i LOVE a good farmhouse sink, i have to wonder: if you have a single bowl, where do you rinse the dish you just washed? also, i'm 5'4", my husband is 6'4" ... that's going to have to come into play as we figure out the heights of things, and your discussion about the depth of the sink made total sense. and you reinforced my idea to keep the large island solid and keep the sink at the window. thank you!!

  39. This is such a great compliation of pictures and tips. I am going to add you to my blogroll so I don't miss future updates! I am currently updating my kitchen and would love marble countertops but understand they need to be sealed annually and polished periodically. I am worried this may be too much, but I LOVE the way the look. Off to read more etips!

  40. Great post with lots of information. Thanks for sharing!

  41. These kitchens are fabulous. I love it.

  42. I love the sinks it looks so neat and well placed especially the marble table. It looks very organic, I absolutely love these kitchens.

  43. There's a lot of really helpful information. Thanks for posting this up!

  44. I'm in the middle of planning a kitchen, and this was wonderful to come across! I've been agonizing over the sink, and many of my questions/concerns were addressed here. Thanks!

  45. Thank you for the post. I too am in the process of choosing a farm sink. I have decided on apron front, either Shaw or Kohler. I have reservations with an undermount being pair with butcher block counter tops, it's apparently a water damage maintenance issue.

  46. Hi there, thanks so much for the feast of pics and for your well written comments. Made me realise that design .... interiors or architecture .... is a subject with so much depth... the deeper one goes , the simpler and more heart warming results one gets!

  47. Thank you so much for this post! I am in the middle of a renovation as I type and I just ran out and showed the plumber your post! Love it!

  48. Her kitchen is amazing! I love the stove with the alcove it looks great.

  49. Spending so many hours in the kitchen is justification enough to take some of the ideas from these photos and add them to my kitchen design. The Michael Smith faucet was one of my favorites.

  50. As a small bespoke sink manufacturer I thought you may be interested in looking at my range of sinks. I am in the UK so I am unlikely to get many US buyers but it may give some inspirational ideas. There are plenty of photos and advice on choosing sink design and materials. http://purelystone.com/online-stone-shop/4561377464/Kitchen-Sinks And on my Pintersest board there are inspirational kitchen sinks from around the entire web http://pinterest.com/purelystone/cool-natural-stone-kitchen-sinks-in-granite-marble/


Thank you for your comments! I strive to make my blog positive in tone, and appreciate the same courtesy when comments are made. Thank you!


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