There are many factors that contribute to the overall style of a kitchen, from the floor to the cabinets and everything in between. But the kitchen sink is the real heart of every kitchen, no matter what size or style, so it’s doubly important that you choose the right sink – not just one that will get the job done, but one that fits with the overall aesthetic you want to achieve for the kitchen as a whole.
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If you want a classic farmhouse or cottage style kitchen – white cabinets, lots of natural wood, and plenty of homey charm – you’re all but legally obligated to get a farmhouse style sink. Also known as apron sinks, these beautiful kitchen sinks are made of fireclay or porcelain and ooze old fashioned charm. That said, they’re the traditional choice for a reason: these sinks are also highly durable and very large, which means they’re great for washing dishes for a crowd. If you don’t like the look of apron sinks, look for antique porcelain trough sinks. These gems are a bit difficult to find new these days, but install like traditional drop in sinks and typically come with integrated drainboards and backsplashes for a picture perfect farmhouse antique that also happens to be a real workhorse.
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Fireclay apron sinks can work great with a French country style, too, but this slightly fancier, slightly more sophisticated style really deserves a kitchen sink that’s a bit more elegant. If you opt for white fireclay, look for sinks that have decorative aprons rather than smooth, unadorned faces to add just that little extra bit of ornate detailing. If you can, though, opt instead for a copper apron sink. These have a much more regal appearance (particularly when the apron is embossed or otherwise decorated), but still have just enough of that artisan charm to fit with the “country” part of a French country style.
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Farmhouse kitchens and French country kitchens are fairly distinct, immediately recognizable styles with very traditional features, but modern kitchens don’t really follow the same strict guidelines in terms of color, material, or fixtures. In fact, a modern kitchen can be a lot of things, and depending on your particular style, you can probably make all but the most ornate sinks work. That said, there are a few kinds of sinks that just scream modern, and one of my personal favorites are concrete or cement sinks. Concrete is becoming a hugely popular material in the kitchen – particularly for the floors and countertops – and a concrete sink is a great, striking addition. They can be built directly into a concrete counter top (along with gorgeous custom drainboards or prep stations) or installed on their own. The distinctive shade of gray is immediately recognizable, but the sinks themselves are typically very smooth and non-porous (due to special coatings), which minimizes concerns about the surface scuffing dishes or staining.
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Restaurant style kitchens are another modern look that’s seeing a big boom in popularity, and another style where choosing the right sink really matters. If you’re going to have big, heavy duty stainless steel appliances, you really need to have a matching sink. Professional grade stainless steel sinks are large and deep with an unusually high capacity, and more than almost any other material are designed to take a beating. These can have an exposed front or apron, but most are undermount sinks or even integrated into a stainless steel countertop for a seamless, restaurant-style workspace. Look for sinks with sharp, zero radius corners for a slightly higher capacity and a seamless, professional, and very modern look.
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On the opposite end of the spectrum, rustic kitchens focus less on glistening clean stainless steel and cool colors and more on warm, earthy, and handmade items, from hand-scraped hardwood floors to barn beams and rustic cabinetry. Once again, plain white farmhouse sinks can work with this style, but you really can do one better, and again the answer is copper. Hand hammered copper sinks – this time without any other adornment – have a gorgeous rustic appearance and natural patina in a deep, earthy brown. Their rugged, dimpled surface keeps this material from feeling too fancy for a rustic kitchen, and brings a really fantastic artisan quality to the space.
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Now, I know from personal experience that if you have a genuinely small kitchen, there isn’t a ton of room to have fun with your design. Efficiency has to come first, and a sheer lack of kitchen area means there isn’t much space to develop a distinctive style. But that doesn’t mean the sink you choose doesn’t matter. In fact, because it takes up proportionally more of your kitchen, the sink will have a bigger impact on the overall look and feel of the space, as well as the usability of the kitchen. For a sleek, clean style that’s also highly functional, look for a sink that comes packaged with accessories, particularly a cutting board and colander. These items are designed to sit firmly on the rim of the sink, turning it into a prep area when you need it and leaving a simple, seamless sink once you’re done washing up.
What style kitchen do you have? Do you have a favorite type of kitchen sink? Let me know in the comments!