Sinks and faucets are important design features that often get overlooked during the kitchen design process. They need to be aesthetically pleasing and tie into other elements of the space, while still being 100 per cent functional and durable. The sink and faucet should be made from quality parts and be functional for your needs – after all, it is something you use every day for years so it has to be long-lasting. When designing a kitchen, I have a few key questions that I ask to narrow down the selection process and simplify things. How many people are in the family? Who is the main cook? What type of countertop(s) are we considering? Is there a second sink in the kitchen?
Under mount versus drop-in
In my opinion, the most convenient sink for quick cleanup and a streamlined appearance is, hands-down, the undermount sink. Keep in mind this type of sink can only be used with a solid surface countertop. What exactly does this mean? Basically, any stone top such as granite or quartz is undermount friendly. What will happen if you pair an undermount sink with a laminate or wood top, you ask? The materials will eventually swell from moisture content and your lovely new countertop will be ruined.
If you’re doing a laminate or wood top, the drop-in or self-rimming sink is the best option. The drop-in sink has a lip around the edge to keep it mounted to the top of the counter.
With the stainless steel variety, scratching is always a concern; however, this can be combatted by using a grate on the bottom of the sink. These sinks come in a variety of gauges, or thicknesses. A lower gauge number means thicker, better quality steel. An 18 to 20 gauge is typically what I recommend as it keeps cost at a reasonable level and is good quality. A well-designed stainless steel sink also offers lines that guide the water to the drain. I prefer squared-off corners, as they look more modern. Stainless steel sinks come in undermount, drop-in and apron front styles, so they are very versatile. These sinks range in price and can start very low and work their way up, depending on gauge, style and brand.
If stainless steel is not your thing, consider the cast iron sink. Although extremely heavy, this finish is difficult to scratch or stain, as it has a baked-on enamel finish. These sinks also come in a variety of colours and styles and offer the most variation of all the sinks. More often than not, this sink requires heavy duty supports inside the cabinetry, as these sinks can weigh up to 150 pounds when empty. I often recommend this sink for the rustic, transitional and, sometimes, modern space. These sinks come in undermount, drop-in and apron front and all are beautiful. They are typically on the upper level of cost.
This sink is pricey and may chip if heavily used. It comes in many variations and can be a design feature. Overall, I am not a fan of the granite sink as I like to mix materials in a kitchen and this one, for me, is reserved for a countertop. These sinks come in drop-in, undermount and apron front.
Composite sinks, although cost effective, are not very durable. I am more inclined to recommend the stainless sink if someone is on a tight budget, as they are cost effective and stylish.
Like the sink, faucets play a key role in the design aesthetic of the kitchen. The faucet often ties in the lighting style but doesn’t necessarily have to be the same finish. For example, you may have gold lighting and chrome faucet or vice versa. It’s fun to mix metals and finishes as long as the styles coordinate.
In order to get the combined quality and style, faucets are typically medium to high price points. They should also have a built-in spray option or a side spray. This allows for quick and easy clean ups of pots and pans and also the sink itself.
Touchless faucets are starting to flood the market. These are nice if you frequently cook or bake, as one literally touches the faucet with the back of the hand or arm to activate it. I am wary of this feature with pets that get up on the counter or even little hands that reach up; however, this doesn’t always present a problem.
Black faucets are hot right now. We used to see a lot of chrome; however, black is a nice pop of the unexpected. Gold faucets are also making a comeback as this material itself is hot right now. The gold faucet can be paired with the stainless steel sink or a cast-iron one.
Don’t forget the potfiller!
Pot fillers are making a huge comeback. Whereas in past years a small percentage of clients would ask for these, now the majority are asking for them. The pot filler is extremely functional as it allows a pot – large or small – to be left on the range to be filled up. This is a timesaver as well as a design feature!
The hot water dispenser
This faucet is a nice touch because you always have boiling water ready to go and don’t need to wait for a kettle to do its thing. Typically this would be worked into a coffee area in the kitchen with a second entertainment style sink.
The Karbon from Kohler is fun because it can be manipulated in a ton of ways and is always a great conversation piece.
The Artesso from Brizzo is one of my favourites because it’s very transitional in style. It’s what is referred to as a deck mount, where the centre piece is raised. It’s something we would have seen a hundred years ago in a farm style kitchen.
Many people have a wet bar/coffee area worked into the kitchen. The Gentleman’s bar sink faucet from Kohler is a stunning addition to a bar sink and modern design.
This article first appeared in the fall, 2016 print issue of Home & Cabin