Text by Jennifer Poff Cooper
Photos courtesy of The Ewing Companies
The kitchen sink is one of the most popular and heavily used work spaces in the entire house, so choosing it with care can make a big difference in how a kitchen looks and functions. According to the 2018 Kitchen Design Trends released by the National Kitchen + Bath Association, the single bowl sink remains a favorite. Rick Hyatt, owner of Atmosphere Builders, says that most sink bowls are at least eight inches deep. A single, deep basin means you can easily wash a big pan or prepare large quantities of food. A disadvantage is that performing two tasks at once requires a bit of juggling.
A more useful configuration is two basins of differing sizes (a 60/40 or offset sink). This allows separate tasks to be performed more easily, though smaller or split basins may not accommodate large pans comfortably. Locally, according to The Ewing Company’s staff designer Sara Jones, the preference is about half and half between the one and two sink configurations. “It’s comical how strongly people feel about it,” says Jones, but “you use it every day for every little thing.” Todd Fitch of Blacksburg installed a four-foot triple basin sink and loves it. “A colander fits perfectly in the middle,” he says.
Elle H-Millard, Certified Kitchen Designer and a 2018 National Kitchen + Bath Association insider, says that the farmhouse sink is gaining popularity and taking on more of a furniture look than a sink. It is a large, single basin sink, typically porcelain, stainless steel or granite composite with a distinctive apron front and vintage feel. Hyatt says that his company is doing fewer country style kitchens with farmhouse sinks.
The website Houzz.com recommends sizing your sink based on several factors: kitchen size, the size of the window above the sink, whether you want the sink to be a focal point, budget and if your style of cooking works better with two sinks. Cost, function and aesthetics all weigh in when selecting sink material. “We are seeing a variety of materials and finishes, although stainless steel is still the most popular,” H-Millard shares. It is durable, easy-to-clean and does not harbor bacteria in the material; it is often required in commercial kitchens. The metal can scratch, but most marks can be buffed out. Houzz notes that it is flexible, tending to blend into any environment — traditional or modern. Hyatt recommends thick stainless steel – at least 16 gauge – for soundproofing and durability.
Porcelain is a traditional material that looks authentic in kitchens with a vintage style, and the color choices are practically endless. However, porcelain can chip, and metal pans can leave marks or scuffs that are difficult to remove. Among the new trends is granite composite. It resists scratches and chips and does not show water spots. There are many colors to match or contrast with countertops and overall kitchen decor.
“I chose the Blanco granite sink and have no regrets. It’s beautiful, durable and easy to clean,” relates Deborah Simpkins of Christiansburg . “Never will I go back to porcelain or stainless steel. It comes in beautiful colors, and I have received many compliments.”
A natural stone sink — soapstone being the most common — can exactly match your countertop material and give any kitchen an authentic period look. It is costly and can require special maintenance. Copper, concrete and hammered metal are other options, though they are more uncommon due to budget constraints.
“Undermount sinks are here to stay, and the drains are becoming more integrated into the bowl to eliminate bacteria build up. This gives a more modern, sleek aesthetic to the bottom of the sink,” H-Millard explains. Jones also notes that an undermount sink eliminates the lip to clean around that a drop-in sink creates.
Sink manufacturers are making the sink work even harder with myriad accessories like cutting boards, prep bowls, knife blocks, colanders and racks for dishcloths or cleaning utensils. Hyatt mentioned a stainless steel grid that fits in the bottom of the sink to help prevent scratches.
With all the new — and old — designs available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when choosing a faucet. Chrome, nickel, brushed nickel, polished brass, oil-rubbed bronze, white, black and stainless steel are some of the standard finishes. Jones says that two-tone faucets and mixed metals are becoming popular. A tall gooseneck faucet is perfect to accommodate large pots and promotes an industrial feel. The pull-down faucet is in demand because it only requires one hole and has a nice, clean look. Hyatt concurs that, especially with stone countertops, a one hole faucet is preferable to enhance appearance and simplify cleaning.
While you may look around the kitchen at everything but the kitchen sink, just the kitchen sink alone can set the tone and style of this entire heart of the home. It is where people inevitably gather, and the sink is the work horse in the kitchen.
Jennifer Poff Cooper is a Christiansburg-based freelance writer. When her kitchen was remodeled by Ewing a decade ago, she selected an undermount, offset, stainless steel sink with double bowls and four holes in the granite for two handles, a spigot and sprayer.