In our recent kitchen renovation (see the full before and after here, and the source list here), we had a lot of materials decisions to make. While lots of sites and books offer great tips on choosing things like flooring and countertop materials, there are some odd gaps in information that we discovered, and as a result we ended up figuring out a lot of things as we went along. Rather than leave that gap of info out there, it seemed like the least I could do was share what we learned, in case it helps someone else down the road.
Info on countertops exists in droves, so we can keep this part brief: basically, laminate is cheapest, wood is next cheapest, and from there the prices go up fast for things like concrete, granite tile, slab granite, slab marble, solid surfaces like Silestone and Caesarstone, etc. We didn't want laminate, so went wood since it was next cheapest. And so far we love it. The main thing about wood is that you have to be a little careful about water, and you have to use an overmount or self-rimming sink, not an undermount. But you don't have to be crazy about water, like you do with marble and red wine. Trees are made to get rained on, after all.
See all that counter space on either side of the sink, now that the sink is 25 inches wide, unlike our old 33 inch sink? That's on purpose. We considered some apron-front farmhouse style sinks, but ultimately didn't find any affordable ones that would fit with our existing cabinetry, and we decided that an apron-front would be too big. By going with a 25 incher instead, we gained four inches of counter space on either side of the sink -- almost a square foot and a half more surface area!
As for the sink material, given our space and budget constraints, and the wood countertop, we had to go with a standard stainless or glazed aluminum or cast iron sink. The cast and glazed option were pricier, so we were pretty much set on going stainless. (There are also polyresin sinks out there, but I'm not a big fan. They are really economical, though.) Standard-issue stainless sinks (how d'ya like that alliteration?) are all kinds of ugly in my book, so I really wanted to find something a little more attractive. Needless to say, I was crazy excited when I found ours at Home Depot, and for a pretty great price.
I love how the rim is nice and thick, and with just a single, clean line. Makes it look much more modern than most of its stainless brethren.
So here's the part about sinks that I wish someone had told us more about: standard sinks come drilled with a set number of holes.
In our case, that would be four holes. Make that four relatively closely-spaced holes.
That means two things: 1.) you have to have stuff to cover or fill four holes, and 2.) you have to have stuff to fill only four holes. No more, no less.
Most faucets come with a deck plate that let you cover either one or three holes. I'm generally anti-plate because I like the cleaner look you get without one. So that meant we had three other holes to fill, and only three holes.
Also notice, in the picture above, that the dial for our faucet is actually on the side, not the front, as we have it. Because of the close spacing of our sink holes, we knew that we either had to use the deck plate to give the faucet dial enough space, or move the dial to the front. Not a lot of modern faucets have a front control, so that was a must for us, and really narrowed down our choices. If we'd chosen the faucet before the sink, we'd have been stuck using the deck plate. Lesson: If you're going with a stock sink, pick your sink first, or at least pick the sink and faucet jointly.
So now we've got a sink and a main faucet... so what to do with the other three holes? We knew one hole would be for the water filter, since our place came with one built in, and we'd be dummies to take it out. Two holes down, two to go. One hole had to be an airgap, that little knob to the left of the faucet, which prevents your dishwasher from overflowing when the soap gets sudsy.
You can go with a standard air gap cap as we did, or you can choose from a few multi-purpose versions such as these soap holder, soap dispenser pump and paper cup versions, all from Overstock.
We considered (and even bought and returned) the soap dispenser pump air gap, but then realized that left us one unused hole. So we decided to put an under-sink soap dispenser in one hole and the standard air gap in the other.
Beyond the basic decisions, it was just a question of aesthetics. I knew we wanted a big, statement faucet, since the main part of the kitchen is otherwise lacking a focal point. I also knew we wanted a sink with a sprayer nozzle option on the main faucet itself, not as a separate hose (which would have used another hole in the sink, and I just don't love that look or function).
And I wanted the water filter spigot and main faucet to have similar arc lines but not compete with each other. I think we succeeded, and without spending a ton (though don't look too closely, or you'll see that the knobs don't quite match).
So that's the story of our sink! Gripping, isn't it? :-)
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