Read the script of Kya deLongchamps’ kitchen-sink drama to set the scene to make an informed choice when selecting this home essential
The rising functionality of the kitchen sink has seen it subsumed into multi-function, highly detailed chef work-stations for chopping, washing, rinsing, draining and more. Immerse yourself in a genuinely stimulating bit of design shopping.
The deeper the sink, the less room you have for storage beneath the housing with the intrusion of the U bend of the plumbing making up at least 35cm. That said, deeper sinks are extremely useful for scrubbing out large cookware than won’t fit in the dishwasher.
The ratio of bowl sizes is subjective, but it’s hard for most cooks to manage without at least an extra half sink for dropping pasta through colanders and peeling vegetables etc. The price impact for two bowls is low in a quality S/S choice.
Look over the configuration and keep in mind that more bowls equal less drainer space. Check if the waste is included as it can add up to €30 for a single push action element.
To place most sinks, bar dedicated compact models, you will need at least a 600mm width in the base cabinet. Some sinks with an integrated drainer are reversible. You simply plug up one hole with a supplied fitting. Others are designed with the half bowl and drainer to the left or right.
Check the bowl orientation, set up, and tap holes offered before purchase. If you’re right-handed — the drainer should be on the right as that will be your natural direction from wash bowl to the half bowl and set-down on the drainer or cutlery baskets.
The inset is the most typical form of mount, the sink or a sink and drainer sit into a cutout in the counter supported by an overhang to its edges. A series of clips on the underside of the counter pull the sink tightly into place. Insets are useful in that the sink, well installed, seals the edges of the counter cutout, a vital area for the survival of laminate.
Flush-mounted insets have been perfected in the last five years, ideal if you have laminate counters than can’t take an under-mounted sink. For new class look for concealed over-flows.
An under-mounted sink presents the sink as a receiving bowl beneath the counter surface — the counter material acting as an edge and often the draining board. Water and kitchen spills can be swept in directly from the counter with no interrupting speed-bump.
Under-mounts require a counter material with a self-sealing edge such as glass, Corian©, concrete, quartz composite, granite and oiled hardwoods. As laminate is set over a pressed wood core, an under-mounted sink will eventually rot it out.
Integrated materials present the sink as part of the counter and in poured concrete (tinkle-crash — not dish friendly), stainless steel, zinc, copper and aluminium. A single material, seamless run present one of the most highly architectural finishes of all.
Today’s sink now wears not only simple drop in colanders and chopping boards that fit on an additional rim within the bowl — but a whole suite of accessories. Additional features don’t suit everyone as we all have highly individual ways of doing things.
On a budget — for a good composite quartz sink with additional accessories — B&Q have recently introduced the Romesco Smart Space (see their excellent videos on Vimeo) as part of their Good Home range, €239. The Blanco Collectis 6S offers fitted chopping boards, sorting bins and hanging rinsing compartments to a highly urbane design. From €837. Team to Blanco’s in-cabinet waste separation system — Select, sho.ie.
We love the ledge (rim) design of Blanco Zenar, over-mounted with a really nice deep back edge for tap mounting. This IF flat rim is super flush to the counter — formerly a very rare bird. From €399. For a small kitchen look at the Blanco Etagon range with the clever saucepan suspension rails that can also work as a trivet, blaco.com.
One of the most advanced, multi-piece work-station designs, the Box Centre by Franke delivers food preparations boards and knives racked into an area of the sink unit itself. Once washed, the utensils dry in place. The Box comes with a wire rack to hold the accessories, a three-knife block, two chopping boards , a strainer bowl and a drainer rack.
It’s available in their composite Silgranit PuraDur (80% quartz in an acrylic matrix) in a range of UV-resistant colours or brushed stainless steel. It’s priced at €1600, see frank.com for suppliers.
Stainless steel: 18/10 stainless steel is colour neutral, rust-proof, heat-proof and acid resistant and easy to clean it offers a high level of hygiene. Although a polished mirror shine might grab you on the showroom floor, a satin or “linen” finish will disguise scuffs and cuts — all stainless steel gathers character with use. Prices in-store start at €120 for a single 860mm Pyramis or 958mm Sapphire inset bowl and drainer.
The internal bowl corner finish in various collections is worth noting: Smeg do deep sharp Linea & Mira corners and softer returns in Alba bowls — easier to scrub out. Prices from €235 for a 1100mm bowl and a half inset or under-mount.
For something new try a coloured PVD coating in copper or bronze. Alveus Bronze Monarch under-mounts from €350, thekitchensink.ie. Franke Fresno Fraganite sinks come in Copper Gold, Sterling Silver and Copper Grey, from €700, suppliers nationwide.
Composite: The rugged son of early plastic sinks, composites combines ground natural stone with acrylic for a tough but warm surface that is more forgiving of dish and glass drops than ceramic, steel or concrete. Heat resistant to around 280C, its greatest advantage is a high durability against scuffs and scratches and in a colour it won’t show drops of hard water as vividly as steel.
Top branded composite granite and quartz sinks include an anti-bacterial coating to guard against food poisoning.Brands include Rangemaster, Astracast, Schock, Franke, Blanco, Cooke & Lewis and Romesco (B&Q). Prices range from €200 for a single bowl and drainer by Shock (kitchenfittingsdirect.com). For cheaper resin sinks try Cooke & Lewis at B&Q from €157.
Ceramic: A determined rustic “look” and not really suited to the urban minimalist, fired at high temperatures, a quality ceramic kitchen sink will not chip, but is not forgiving of everyday staining and needs to be kept immaculate. Its hard surface will shatter dropped flatware, so a plastic bowl or rubber mat is standard issue. Chunky continentals with raised sides and sunken draining boards will add some presence.
If you fancy the recent return to under-mounted double Butler sinks with the front face of the sink on show — ensure you choose either granite or a very well sealed oil hardwood worktop. Traditional “weir” overflows can block up regularly. A Havsen double (82cm) with visible front is just €180.
Lillviken and Grundvattnet accessories are available at IKEA, and it also offers a steel double with visible front, the Bredsjon as a play on the classic clay sink, €440. A separate inset Butler drainer is vital, and costs €130, again at B&Q.
Smeg has launched a new line in retro kitchen taps in a choice of the colours beloved on its fridges, dishwashers and small appliances. These models come with a flexible hose and pull out spray.
All Smeg taps are supplied with ceramic disks to improve the flow rate of water, swivel spouts, as well as braided stainless steel connection hoses as standard. They are priced from €430, see smeg.ie for suppliers.
Left: Textured, leather finishes to stone overcome the annoyance of fingerprints and smears. For a lower sheen, investigate honed stone. Samples will show you how the finish influences the colour, €500-€600 per linear metre ex.installation for 30mm.
The choice of commercial kitchens steel worktops are tough, hygienic and flash. In a normal kitchen situation we would recommend 304q Catering Grade for your kitchen worktop and 316q grade for kitchen worktops/sinks if unit is outside or if you were very close to the sea, for instance a beachhouse; POA, delvo.ie
Above right: Slender-profile and fixable laminate counters are having a moment with 10mm-20mm depths on offer. Check out Nepeta, chipboard-free laminate from B&Q, €263 per 3000mm. IKEA Barkaboda offers a woodblock look in a walnut veneer that can be sanded, from €200, ikea.ie.
Quartz mixes (90% crushed quartzite and binders) come in as many as 100 colours. Examine Silestone’s rugged Volcano finishes and highly tactile Suede choices. Prices vary across brands. Expect to pay in the area of €550 per linear metre, similar in price point to warmer acrylic counters.