The Humble Sink
Humble but absolutely necessary, sinks are one of the most taken for granted items in our kitchens. They nowadays come in such a vast range of shapes, sizes, colours and materials, and with so many options at your fingertips, your choice of sink should not to be taken lightly. So if you’re looking to take on a kitchen reno as your next project, let me give you a few hints to help you in choosing a sink that best suits your needs and your home.
SIZE - The position of the existing drainage pipes will affect, actually impose, the positioning of your sink. So unless you are relocating the plumbing as part of your renovation, this may affect how much you can stretch left or right, as well as possibly affected the size and layout of your kitchen. Opting for one small single bowl, or one larger trough style sink should be influenced by the way you intend to use the space. (e.g. look to double bowls for practicality, or a smaller version for restricted size and less usage). Also consider the depth of the sink bowl, as these vary too, but it can also then accommodate larger pots, a big consideration depending upon your favourite style of cooking. Also, don't assume that using a dishwasher will diminish the use of the humble but ever necessary kitchen sink, as not everything can go in a dishwasher, and the sink is not simply for washing , but also for preparing. Note also that the larger or deeper the bowl is, the more water it will require to fill it.
BOWLS - one bowl, two bowl, one and a half... the design of the sink is quite varied and must suit the kind of use required in your kitchen. As sinks are multifunctional, having to empty it before using it for a different use will be a frustrating habit if choosing a one-bowl sink, despite how big this one may be. A regular family kitchen will benefit from the most practical and multifunctional two-bowls design. If you’re lacking space, then maybe the one and half style will still offer the benefit of a second bowl, whilst taking half its space on that all valuable benchtop.
DRAINING TRAY - On the left, on the right or none at all are your choices. But, if choosing to do without, chances are that you will miss it. For example, when hand washing anything, you will have to bring out a tray to contain the dripping water, or having to open a tea towel on the bench to let things drain. A great design option for this, especially with most good quality double bowl sinks is the added accessories, which usually include a drain board and maybe a chopping board or colander. These provide options for both draining items when required, as well as being able to hide dirty plates easily if in a hurry or maybe between courses for a dinner party. Not last, some very 'groovy' designs [LOL] are now available for contemporary kitchens, offering very ‘good looking’ sink designs with fitted but removable drainage trays, providing a great amount of practicality for your kitchen as well as streamlined good looks.
MOUNT - The standard drop-in sink design is practical and effective, as it not only provides a hardwearing usable space for washing and preparing meals, it’s also a cost effective option as a hole is cut into the benchtop for the sink to ‘drop in’ without the need and the further costs of polishing those cut edges, as they are never visible. An undermount sink, is by far the most popular choice, it provides a clean modern look, allowing the benchtop surface to run continuously with the sink sitting underneath. It does open the opportunity for the exposed benchtop edges (especially in stone) to possible chipping, but it is a clean look that most buyers and homeowners are looking for. A good alternative to this whilst achieving a clean modern finish, is a thin laser cut sink which can be recessed into the benchtop. This is similar in installation to a standard drop-in sink, but as the edges are so thin, and usually stepped down into the surface of the benchtop, they sit level with it. Some sinks come in very thin profiles, and attempt to replicate the look of a recessed sink, whilst providing the practicality of a drop in, at a middle installation price point
MATERIAL - Metal, Stone, or Ceramic? there are a few choices available, each with distinctive properties and looks. Your sink should be chosen by the performance you expect of it, as well as the design and style of your kitchen and home. Stainless steel sinks are the most durable and come in a wide range of designs, including streamlined modern looks. Stone or composite stone sinks offer edgy good looks and hard-wearing surfaces; they not only perform well, but can also come in a range of modern colours, especially darker options such as black and charcoal, offering a wide choice for individual kitchen design. A Ceramic sink works in both traditional homes, as well as those with a coastal vibe, and the clean white surface can lighten up the look of a kitchen whilst adding lots of character. Ceramic sinks are very durable but can also subject to chipping and scratching, requiring a careful use, but are still a very popular style for many Australian homes.
Many homes I deal with these days have a butler's pantry, allowing for a second kitchen sink. In this case I usually opt for the stylish look of an undermount sink in the more visible but possibly less used main kitchen, whilst adding a practical and still good looking drop-in sink to the pantry, allowing this space to be a true working space.
MAINTENANCE - surely you want your sink to be easy to clean, as this is not only a visual issue but also a hygienic one; the right maintenance will help you with both. Stainless Steel is easy to maintain and will look great with a simple wash of soapy water then dried with a soft cloth. Ceramic sinks are easily cleaned with warm soapy water, and the occasional use of an abrasive cream cleanser will bring it back to its original splendour. Stone and resin surfaces are also easily cleaned with soapy warm water, but refrain from using strong chemicals, as these can corrode and damage the surface.
So, now that you have a better understanding of sinks, you can start looking through the vast range available. Make sure however that you discuss your wishes with your kitchen designer and the plumber, as every floor-plan and plumbing fit out are different and this might affect your final choice.
have clear in mind how frequent and what use you intend your kitchen for
be aware of the floorplan and plumbing as these may restrict your choices
don't be tempted by 'out-there' trends, as this can be and expensive item to replace
especially in the kitchen, always place safety and functionality before looks
James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has 3 decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design and regularly shares his knowledge and experience in adding value to homes through clever design & styling. Watch his free videos on YouTube, and follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more free information.