Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kitchen Sinks on Walls

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Earlier this month, I wrote a post on wall mounted faucets. What is on my mind this week are sinks that are on walls (which often have wall mounted faucets!). Most of my pictures from the wall mounted faucet post were from powder rooms; in a kitchen, it is far more common to place a sink under a window or on an island, both for the view and to achieve some open space over the faucet.

In my new kitchen, we are going to have two sinks: one on the kitchen island, which will have a nice view across the kitchen to a wall of windows, and will be used for prep and pot washing (because it will be across from the range, and convenient to the fridge). For a variety of reasons, we will also have a sink that is on a wall, and this sink will be used mainly for clean up; we have started calling it the ‘scullery sink’. It will be convenient to the kitchen table, for easy dish clearing and washing.

At our last architecture and design meeting, we talked about how to handle the cabinets that will be over the wall sink. These will be the only overhead cabinets in the kitchen, so they are important. Luckily, I had already started saving images for this post, so I was very prepared and could visualize the options!

This is one of my favorite pictures of a sink on a wall. I love the glass front cabinets and how the back of the cabinets are painted in a contrasting color. Note how the cabinet above the sink is raised to allow more ‘breathing room’ for the faucet. Image via House Beautiful.

I really like a stone cut-out above a sink if it is on a wall. Given the small closed space in this area, the place above the sink has somewhat limited use, with only room for a few shelves and display cabinets. Image via Cote de Texas.

Another sink on a wall, this time with a wall mounted faucet. There is some nice open shelving above the sink, and the back is painted in a contrasting color. I wish I could see the whole wall (see update below)! Via Cote de Texas.

Revised: Two wonderful readers emailed me links to the entire kitchen - and it is beautiful. This is actually quite similar to the layout that we are thinking about for our plan, but our kitchen will be wider - there will be two floor to ceiling hutch like cabinets on either side of the windows. One will house the microwave and other items, the other will be the dish cabinet.

I was really struck by this kitchen when I first saw it on Limestone & Boxwoods, in part because of the unique window over the sink on the wall. It is an interesting way to treat the space – to use an interior window. I am not sure how I feel about it, though. What do you think?

This great kitchen, by Bear-Hill Interiors, uses open shelving above the sink on the wall. To me, this works because it relieves the heaviness of a cabinet above the sink, and is also practical because there is not a solid mass to bump your head on (which could be a problem with a cabinet over the sink). Also, it appears as if the shelves are high – higher than the standard 18” above the counter which is typical for cabinets. I truly appreciate the style of this kitchen, but I am not a fan of open shelving for myself.

Another beautiful kitchen by Bear-Hill Interiors employs both open shelving as well as a bump up for the area above the sink. I actually really like the idea of cookbooks in this area.

I am not sure where I got this kitchen picture (maybe a real estate listing?), but it is interesting to see how the sink wall was handled. The shelf on the sink is not exactly on the same plane as the side cabinets, but close; it is not as deep, which removes the issue with bumping the head. I am not sure how I feel about display shelves, though.

This picture is very well known in the blog world, but did you ever notice that there is a sink on the wall? I remembered the plate rack on the wall, but did not notice that there was a sink there too until I went back and scrutinized the picture. Image via Cote de Texas.
Revised: I had to add this picture, from the new post from This Photographer's Life on a historic Neel Reid house. Photo credit: Blayne Beacham. Click here to see more pictures of the incredible house! I really like how this sink is handled on the wall of the kitchen. It doesn't feel crowded, perhaps because of the light colors and the expanse of space on the wall.

This is a secondary kitchen (in a former garage space) designed by Suzanne Kasler, as seen in Veranda. Suzanne loved open shelves in this kitchens, and said it worked well in this because it is not the main kitchen in the house.

This is from Martha Stewart’s old home in Connecticut. The cabinets go across the wall, but notice how high they are – certainly above the standard 18” above the counter. This may look good and work well for secondary cabinets, but I don’t think it would work well for cabinets that are used every day (especially for a short person like me).

One of my favorite sink pictures – how many times have a posted this on my blog? At least a dozen. I see new things every time I look at it, though. The cabinets go all the way over the sink, but wouldn’t this be annoying to use on a daily basis – it seems like a tall person or even a not so tall person would bump their head on the cabinets when trying to wash the dishes.

Los Angeles based architect Steve Giannetti is truly masterful at kitchen design. This is an example of a sink on a wall in a home he designed; he said that whenever he incorporates wall sinks, he usually bumps up the cabinetry above the sink.

In this kitchen the area above the sink is free and clear, which allows for a great view of the beautiful tile. But, it somehow it doesn’t look quite finished. I think it would look better if the shelf was lower, or if there were multiple shelves. My architect noted the importance of making some sort of connection between two banks of cabinets when they are separated.

This is an interesting use of the space above the sink – it is raised, and there is cabinetry and a small shelf.
Have you ever seen a sink on a wall in a kitchen? What solution do you like the best out of these pictures, or do you have a good picture to send to me? I love the idea of a sink on a wall in our kitchen plans, because it is a practical and convenient place to put a sink. However, it is not totally straightforward coming up with a good cabinet arrangement on this wall. These are going to be much used cabinets, which makes the configuration even more important. I would love your observations and insights!

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  1. I found myself saying...
    "Oh..that's great"
    then scroll to the next ..
    "OOH ..that's good too"
    And on and on.
    Hard to make up ones mind...beautiful .
    xoxo~Kathy @
    Sweet Up-North Mornings...

  2. love the interior window above the sink. we're discussing doing that on a project i'm working on now - above the sink and into the entry hall -so you get a 'view' both through the entry hall and front door out to the back and vice versa. I think we need to bring back more interior windows and views into residential architecture!

  3. First of all, so fun to go on this design journey with you! I love the first image, the 2nd Bear Hill kitchen and the Giannetti kitchen with the cabinets over the sink raised, with one or two shelves. Although I don't like when the cabinets aren't raised, you wouldn't have to worry about hitting your head (as you mentioned) as the counter depth is approx 26" (typ.) and the upper cabinets are half that. So, unless you are leaning over for some reason, you wouldn't hit your head.

    I do also love the idea of an interior window and the round shape which breaks up all of the straight lines of the cabinetry.

  4. So much good stuff here. I can't add to the discussion on the cabinetry above the sink but I will say that I am a big advocate of interior windows. Our basement is, like many, very dark and we incorporated one interior window but like it so much we've decided to hold off on finishing furniture down there and add some interior windows instead! Marija

  5. Oh my goodness....such lovelies to look at. I am particularly partial to the kitchen from Limestone and Boxwoods. The layout is aesthetically nice and appears to be functional and lots of storage. I think the interior window could be good especially if the family room is on the other side, so to keep tabs on the children!
    I am not sold on the sink on the wall concept...I like to see what's going on while at the sink and prefer to look out onto something. So many times when one has guests they all want to be in the kitchen area, for me, the one who is most likely to be at the sink, I would like to not have my back to them!
    As always, thought provoking, I need to keep my thinking cap on hand!

  6. I really wanted an interior window in our new house but it didn't work out. I tried to make one happen where the open shelving is going to be, on the other side of that wall is the entry. I thought a wall of glass behind the shelves would be pretty nixed!

    Your "favorite" sink shot is from Roman & Williams kitchen (love them). It's such an amazing space...used it many times for inspiration.

    Happy decision making!
    xo Jessica

  7. Right now I am obsessed with the Kohler Harborview sink, here is a pic I posted of it against a wall...
    I will say that I still prefer the sink under the window locations, as I am washing or prepping I can stare off into space or watch as the boys play.
    Out of all of the images that you did post I do prefer Steve's. I feel the others leave me feeling a bit claustrophobic, while his design has a more airy feel...less storage, yes, but I can breath when looking at it.

  8. All of those images are so lovely. What about a plate rack/drying rack above the sink... I'm thinking Scandinavian, I think.

  9. No sink without a view! Better to have two views. Won't folks gravitate to the sink with a view, or the one that allows them to talk with family and guests? I presume researchers study how folks use their kitchens.

  10. Wow, that is a wonderful series of pictures. Those sinks on the wall are so pretty! I am muddling through a mini kitchen reno myself right now so the eye candy is quite timely inspiration!

  11. Wow , this is gorgeous pictures.
    White kitchen is so nice and wonderful ideas.
    Thank you for this inspiration!

  12. I love this series on your new kitchen - the cabinets and sinks, etc. that black sink is so gorgeous! I can't wait to see your finished house - you are SO going to take a picture of each room!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Beautiful post... I love the first and 3rd photos!

  14. Oh em gee, I love that clock! It's like the modern grandfather!

  15. Very nice pics! Trust me, though, if you have cabinets over the sink, you don't bump your head on them unless someone leaves the door open or something (which is a danger with all wall cabinets). Wall cabinets are narrower. I am a klutz, and I have never bumped my head on a cabinet over a sink, and either has my 6'4" husband. While it may look nice to bump up the cabinets or have open shelving, it's definitely not necessary for safety or comfort!

  16. At first, I thought you were talking about sinks that hang on walls---wall sinks. Then, I quickly figured out they were you talking about sinks on windowless walls.

    I think many of the photos you have shared are great options for a sink on a windowless wall. Thanks for posting all of them!

  17. My favorite is the first photo. I love the simplicity of it. I don't like a whole lot
    going on visually in a kitchen. Love the architecture and glass cabinets to shine, not all the "stuff".

    I don't care for that particular interior window. Way too fussy and distracting to me.

    I like space above the sink, as in the first photo. My sink has a cabinet that is installed 41 inches above the sink. I use it to display
    a collection of cut glass. I am contemplating ripping it down though for a cleaner look!

    I sure hope you have an Open House for your Atlanta readers when your home is completed!

    Kristen W.

  18. My fave is the stone cutout above the sink. I have a friend who did that even though it was right under a window, and it still looks beautiful.

    I wonder if it's possible to post your layout/plans? It would be helpful for those of us about to embark on a kitchen renovation who appreciate your taste and could benefit from some of your always great ideas :)


  19. Holly, the kitchen that you said you would like to see the rest of the wall was featured in a This Old House episode several years ago. It belongs to a designer/architect couple who was working on a This Old House project and they were kind enough to show off their kitchen in one of the episodes. The kitchen is in a carriage house that they renovated in the Chicago area. Here is a link to the couple's website featuring loads of pictures of the entire house. It is beautiful!

    The kithen pictures start around photo 65 so be patient. Also, there is a picture of the kitchen on Christopher Peacock's website (as they are his cabinets). Here's the link for that

    It is my favorite kitchen of all time! Diana

  20. Long time listener, first time caller. A quick note of thanks as I am so inspired by your blog & appreciate the time & detail you put into such post. You have become my greatest reference source as I am also designing a new home. You have impeccable taste & a file of beautiful images to die for!

    It appears our kitchen layouts are similar & I, too, was concerned for the wall sink as I am tall. We have decided on open shelving above the wall sink. I like the mix of old & new so we are using a salvaged wood plank for which I will display some pretty glassware. (similar to the photo of suzanne kasler's design) My thought is that if you have to be there cleaning, might as well have something lovely to look at.

    My kitchen has no upper cabinets. We have planned two armoire style cabinets to flank the ends of the cooktop wall. I remember that you were struggling a bit with glass front cabinets & I think if you chose to do open shelving about the sink wall, then you may want to consider the other cabinets being concealed. The glass fronts are beautiful, but not the most practical.

    Again, thanks for the wonderful inspiration!

    Best, Emily

  21. I am stuck with having a view over the sink - but I wonder if that is in part with the tradition of having a view. The first thing we did in our current kitchen remodel was move the sink so that it could be over a window. Of course, in our small 1930's house, that means my back is to our small son when I am doing dishes. In our new house, we will have a farmhouse sink under windows on the far left wall (trying to reduce upper cabinets as well), and a smaller farmhouse sink on the island near the stove and refrigerator - although I do think the smaller sink will receive more "action."

    Next, I am wondering if you would be willing to do a post on the connection between architects and interior designers and how you keep that connection strong. Our architect made it very clear to us that he does not do kitchen design and we have had no communication with him on the design aspect of the house. When we finally got smart and hired an interior designer, our architect did not take too well to her "changes." Our interior designer is not a kitchen designer and so now we are looking at hiring one of those too! It all seems disjointed and is driving me crazy, while yours, on the other hand, seems so smooth! Of course, you do have the best in the business and we are stuck with what Cleveland, Ohio has to offer :). Live and learn.

    Finally, when will we get to see a rendering or construction photos of the exterior of your home?

  22. I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of a sink on a wall. I'm sure that the team you are working with will come up with something fabulous though. I love the kitchen by Suzanne Kasler. I love the ottoman/bench seating she has used. I would love to try that myself. Do you know the source of those?

  23. I run into this problem a lot in my Kitchen design business. It is always a good idea to raise the cabinets just above the sink, not so much so you do't hit your head, but for your line of sight while working. And it just plain looks better to help define the sink space. By bumping out the sink cabinet in this space ( 26 to 27 inch depth instead of 24inches) it also makes it easier to work under upper cabinets/shelves. I love the idea of an interior window/ mirror. Adds a lot of interests and breaks up a wall of cabinets. Love your inspirational pictures. I am e-mailing you a few other pictures for interior wall sinks you might like.

  24. There is something about several of those pictures that seems clostrophobic to me and I am struggling to figure out what that is. I think the backsplash and lighting selections will be as important as the cabinet style you go with in that area. I do love the dark stone cutouts. Could you combine the best of both worlds with your cabinets and use a colored opaque glass in them? That way you might get the impression of glass fronts without being able to see what's in them, but you would also get the colored back in a different way. Good luck!
    Debbie @ Vintage Scout Interiors, Dayton, Ohio

  25. Thank you so much for all of the great comments and links! I really appreciate your input.

    Great suggestion about bumping out the sink cabinet - I had not even thought about that.

    Diana, thank you SO much for the link to the Christopher Peacock kitchen. What a great kitchen!

  26. Holly! Look! The sink I gave you is the same sink as the picture two pictures above it you said you got from a real estate listing... Isn't it? The home has been on the market before... It has to be the same! :) Thank you for using my picture :)

  27. This is a great post TTI but the subject is sticking in my craw - right up there with beautiful tub fixtures that require undignified stretching to get the hot water running.

    These all seem claustrophobic to me. The last one, with blue checked fabric on the stools at least has some breathing room to the side. Plus they seem to require turning your back on your guests, cutting off conversation. It's like being forced to stand in a corner.

    If you are at a catered Cote d'Texas party, maybe you want to hide the dishwashers. I can see that.

  28. P.S. Anonymous' Lake Forrest house link is something. If type 64 in the "64 of 106" you can start the kitchen pictures.

  29. These are all such beautiful examples, but the one kitchen that really blew me away was the one with the interior window over the sink. Aside from the fact that the kitchen is amazing, I love quirky architectural details like that in a room.

  30. Love the stone cut out sinks. Could the wall directly behind sink just act as a focal point (mosaic tile design) etc. so the space feels open. Love the other commenter's idea to bump out the sink.

  31. What impressive and delightful kitchens! I have really enjoyed your blog, thanks for the great information.


  32. Love Steve's solution and the one just below it. The black sink is stunning though and would make quite a statement.


  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. Pardon any redundancy in my post as I haven't read the other comments. Here's my two cents: Per your last post on cabinets, if the bank of wall cabinets is reaching the ceiling, I would definitely go with glass doors and make the upper units (near the ceiling)solid. If reaching the ceiling, the cabinets would feel too heavy if all were solid. I wouldn't be afraid of the dishes not being attractive because stacked dishes are neat in and of themselves(and cups on saucers stacked upon each other even more so). Also, if your sink area is going to have solid walls on one or both sides(as in your 2nd picture), I would not add a stone cut-out above the sink as it visually shrinks the area.
    One other important thing I would consider is to measure the tallest person who will be washing at this sink and make sure their head clears any cabinetry or shelving above.

    All the best to you in this most fun, but nerve-wracking endeavor, but always remember, don't second-guess your instincts!

  35. I was scrolling back and forth trying to decide which one of the lovely pics I liked best .... sorry no answer there, except that the white ones win it for me! Too bad I just completed a french country, sandstone cabinet kitchen reno! One can always admire!

    Inspire?...You do!!!

  36. Oh, I forgot to also note your question regarding the interior window! Again, my two cents is to say yes, yes! If the room behind this wall has natural light then absolutely, but if it's a closet, forget it.

  37. Goodness, I've forgotten to add that my reference to solid cabinets being too heavy only refers to wall cabinets(as separated by counters), but not to floor to ceiling cabinetry.
    I've finally read all comments and must second the great idea of reader Sue Murphy: Bumping out the sink cabinet is wonderful if your aisle width permits it. A contractor in my area does this to all his(own)homes and not only is it visually appealing, but it's also much easier to clean behind the faucets. Unless, of course, you are putting them on the wall!
    I've never commented so much,EVER, but this is exciting; however, I'd like to share a Danish proverb to temper all the advise you're allowing your readers to impart: "He who builds according to every man's advice will have a crooked house."

  38. Susan, your comments have made me smile!!! I love that Danish proverb.

    Usually I write a post to wrestle with a topic, and come to a conclusion by the time I finish the post. Not so with this one. However, the exercise of collecting the pictures helped me tremendously when meeting with my kitchen designer this morning at the coffee shop; we looked through all of the pictures, came up with a few options to talk through with my architect and designer, and we feel good. There will be a sink on the wall. We have two concepts for the cabinets above the sink. I would love to do an interior window, but I don't think it can be centered on the family room wall on the other side, so we may have it look like a window but be antiqued glass - or we may do some sort of open shelves in the middle of two cabinets. I will definitely let you guys know what we come up with!

  39. My kitchen sink on walls is a "Lavabo". It is part of the "Artist Line" from Kohler. It works beautifully as the "second sink". Here is a picture of it in one of my recent posts.

  40. I have a wall mounted sink photo in my future home file and it remains my favorite still. I love how easy it would be to clean around it. The fact that no water could sit around the edges of it growing mold and grossness makes me happy :)

  41. Thank you for mentioning Bear-Hill Interiors in your post!!

  42. i covet a soapstone lab sink with a wall-mounted fixture... oh my goodness!!!

    but, having a wall-mounted sink, i have to say that it works out just fine. I've always had wall-mounted sinks actually & in past cases the cabinets we're bumped up above the sink, but now our bottom shelf is pretty high & shallow so there was no need to break the line which was great.

  43. These pics are all so great. I have a friend with a wall sink similar to the pic with just the white marble tile over it, but hers is capped off with an arch to tie the cabinets together and then she has a piece of art hanging over the tile and it really looks good and more finished.

  44. Amazing kitchens! I like them all. A sink needs to have a window near it in my opinion.
    Great blog!

  45. My favorite has to be from Suzanne kasler, one of the most innovative designers! I love how she always mixes the old and new. The dining table is fantastic!
    I just went to a preview of the Southern Living Idea House last night. Everyone will be surprised at the kitchen design, a whole new concept in kitchens will be reborn! The layout is unique and great for entertaining. Stay tuned they will not let the photos out yet! The Designer Insider

  46. I love the 3rd and 4th images the best. It looks the most cohesive.

  47. A few things for your consideration. I have a wall sink as my kitchen has no windows. Think small cottage. The kitchen is small but well lit. I did not design this kitchen it came with the house. I have a plate rack above the sink and I love it! It is visually appealing and practical for me. I find it slow going to have to open a cabinet to get the dinner plates. Of course the dishwasher is to the right of the sink so it is so handy to put the plates into the rack without having to open a cabinet. I also have put my silver in a basket on the counter just by the diningroom door for easy access to the table. If I were to design a kitchen I would most definately have a few open shelves for dishes I use daily. If I am using them all the time they get washed often and don't need the protection of a cabinet from dirt and grease.

    I am learning to love a small kitchen it is very efficient. Short movements from here to there. I am sometimes amazed at the size of recent kitchens I see and would not go back to a huge kitchen. Somewhere right in the middle is perfect for me.

    You have received lots of ideas here but ultimately you are the only one who knows how you will use your kitchen and how many people will be in it with you.
    Just my 2 cents.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  48. I love the blue color in the back of the cabinets and the other pops of blue throughout! what a fabulous idea! truly is a nice change from the all white without making too drastic a change to the cabinets!
    get inspired


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