Kitchen Sinks Front and Center

by Kacey Larsen
kitchen sink

Functionality and aesthetics. While there is debate among the six manufacturers Qualified Remodeler spoke with about which is the top driver when it comes to the selection of a kitchen sink, there is no debate that these are the two top considerations.

“When it comes to the kitchen sink, functionality is the biggest selection factor for most customers. Rightly so if you think about how often and much use you get out of your sink everyday [between] washing dishes, soaking dishes, leaving dirty dishes sitting, prepping food [and] dumping food waste. It makes sense that functionality should come first,” says Ruben Gonzales, national sales manager for Ruvati. “That being said, a kitchen sink is large and quite visible, and is often the first thing that catches your eye when you walk into a kitchen. The look and style of the kitchen sink will thus define the general aesthetics and beauty of your kitchen. Customers and designers are getting more and more aware of this and are looking for ways to enhance the beauty of a kitchen sink without compromising on functionality.”


Heather Jach, retail marketing manager at Franke, offers the reverse viewpoint. “Our market research shows that the sink selection process begins with aesthetics. Consumers want to anchor their kitchen with a sink that aligns with their design vision,” she notes. “Once they’ve identified their preferred style, however, consumers turn to function to identify the product that best fits their needs.”

While some might be clear on their priority when it comes to kitchen-sink selection, Christy Emens, marking communication manager for Blanco, recommends discovering how clients use or plan to use their kitchen and factoring that into the decision-making process. “Sinks are the workhorse of a kitchen, and a remodeler should assist their customers by finding out how much cooking and cleaning the homeowner does. Will they need a sink that’s pretty, or one that is both tough and attractive?” she asks. “A stainless steel farmhouse or apron-front sink is probably not a great choice if the sink will get a lot of use since stainless can scratch easily; a SILGRANIT, Fireclay or DURINOX apron-front sinks will resist scratches. Understanding the options and presenting them to a customer can help them be satisfied longer with their kitchen.”

One area where all manufacturers were in total agreement is that a kitchen sink should be selected early in the design phase for a kitchen. “Cabinet size first determines the scope of sinks that will fit,” Emens says. “It’s best to determine the style and type of sink upfront as well as the faucet, since some faucet styles are too tall and do not work underneath cabinets, for instance, or the style of faucet is too large for the space selected for the sink. A good design addresses both the sink and faucet styles, and where to place them for the best working kitchen layout.”

Scott Jackson, kitchen group manager at Moen, also notes the importance of a kitchen sink in relation to cabinetry and countertop selections. “The sink is the center of the kitchen, as prep work, cooking and cleanup all involve work at the kitchen sink in one way or another. Having a sink that best matches homeowner needs is critical to have a functional and efficient kitchen. Before selecting a sink, designers should consider how the sink will function and how the kitchen layout will affect sink selection. For example, larger kitchens can mean multiple sinks and feature a second, smaller prep sink located in an island,” he says. “Regardless of a kitchen’s size or layout, homeowners should have easy access to the kitchen triangle—the sink, stove and refrigerator. If this triangle is too small, family members might trip over each other or if it’s too large, food preparation might be a tiring task.

“Sink placement is a personal choice,” Jackson continues. “Homeowners may prefer to place their sink by windows to give themselves a view while prepping for a meal or cleaning up, whereas others may prefer to face the rest of their home where they can still converse with guests or keep an eye on children.”


Sink placement is something Elkay is beginning to pay more attention to as well, according to Design Manager Jason Silverstein, but he thinks counter space in general plays a role in kitchen sink selection and placement. “During the design space, it’s important to think about the size of the sink you need versus counter space you have. For example, if you have a massive kitchen island in the plan, then go for a larger sink off the island and plan the cabinets around it. We know people want bigger sink areas, but there’s always a constant battle between counter space and sink size,” he says. “As kitchens get bigger and islands offer more counter space, we’ve seen an increase in both the number of sinks and size of sinks. From what we’ve seen, those larger primary sinks are staying off the island. Homeowners may love showcasing their cooktop, but the sink holding dirty dishes, not so much. However, second sinks for food prep and kitchen support are becoming more popular on standalone islands. The sink’s install location is something we’ve recently started tracking, so it will be interesting to watch the data over the next few years.”

Trends to Watch

Current kitchen sink trends stem from the dual selection-drivers of functionality and aesthetics. There are a plethora of sizes, sink materials, colors, shapes and styles available from each manufacturer, but farmhouse sinks appear as a reoccurring theme.

“A farmhouse sink is an excellent choice for homeowners who want to make a design statement. This sink has a simple design that never goes out of style, and it offers homeowners a roomy basin for tackling most kitchen tasks,” says Katty Pien, chief marketing officer for LIXIL Americas. “Stainless steel continues to be the finish of choice for kitchen sinks because it coordinates with stainless kitchen appliances. Increasingly available in apron-front sinks, this durable material also delivers a unique, contemporary take on a classic design. Spacious single bowls are prevalent because they can efficiently accommodate large pots and pans. We’re seeing that larger, single-bowl sinks ranging from 30 to 33 inches wide are trending right now.”

The Hillside Sink Collection from DXV reflects a country heritage and character in a restrained, sophisticated design, Pien adds. Offered in both stainless steel and fireclay, the collection comes in a variety of sizes and several colors. American Standard’s Pekoe Collection similarly provides a twist on a classic farmhouse design as an apron-front sink with a stainless steel finish in a range of size options. The Pekoe Collection includes both SoundSecure+ and StoneLock, both of which protect against unwanted noise and vibration.


Moen’s Jackson also notes the importance of sound absorption in a kitchen sink. “A key feature to look for in a stainless steel sink is sound-deadening ability—how loud will the noise be when something drops into the sink, such as a piece of silverware,” he says. “All Moen sinks feature SoundSHIELD to reduce vibration and noise caused by clanging dishes and the drumming sounds produced by running water.” Like Pien, Jackson points to the continued popularity of stainless steel because of its complementary match to appliances, but he also adds its resistance to chipping, cracking and peeling as benefits. Demand continues for Moen’s farmhouse sinks, he notes, and the company also offers drop-in, undermount and apron-front sinks.

Stainless steel remains the most popular metal choice at Franke, Jach notes, though she does see an upswing in color sinks—notably black and white—as well as the rising popularity of Franke’s Farm House Sink, especially in fireclay. “There’s been a demand for both deeper and wider bowls within kitchen sinks, and Franke just introduced a wider Chef Center this year in response to this demand,” she says. “Design and functionality are critical for any larger sink, because they take up additional counter space, and products like Chef Center XL incorporate accessories to provide added workspace within the sink, including cutting boards, colanders and grids.”

Blanco also offers a variety of accessories that pair with its kitchen sinks, such as grids made to the shape of sinks, colanders, cutting boards and workstations that are useful for prep or cleaning. Emens notes current  kitchen-sink trends spotted by Blanco include farmhouse style sinks, undermount sinks and super single style sinks. “Double sinks are not as popular in today’s living kitchen since most homes own dishwashers and do not need two sides of a sink for clean and dirty dishes. With helpful accessories, a single bowl holds larger items more easily and still has the functionality of a double sink,” she adds.


The company offers sinks in four materials: stainless steel, SILGRANIT, fireclay and DURINOX. Blanco’s stainless steel sinks feature a satin polished finish. Available in eight colors, SILGRANIT, a granite composite material, makes kitchen sinks scratch-, stain- and heat-resistant. The company’s fireclay sinks are also stain- and chip-resistant, and come in white or biscuit color options. DURINOX is Blanco’s latest material introduction to the Precision Sink Collection, and appears in the R0 DURINOX Apron Super Single Bowl.

“It’s the small details that matter most in the long run, such as sound-proofing, satin polished finishes, etc.,” Emens says. “Another little detail on our sinks is that the top and bottom are near the same size—some sinks are smaller on bottom but have a bigger top opening. When you have a larger top opening, it appears the sink is bigger, but if it’s smaller on the bottom you can’t fit as many things inside. It’s misleading.”

A small detail that is poised for growth, according to Mark Hird, senior product manager for Elkay, is the company’s Perfect Drain, which eliminates the gap around the drain for a cleaner sink. “Elkay is renowned for Perfect Drain, which has the potential to be a game changer for the industry with its proprietary design and compatibility with InSinkErator disposers,”Hird adds. “It’s one of those features that still needs to be pointed out to the consumer because they aren’t necessarily looking for it; but, after hearing about it, they understand why Perfect Drain is the logical choice.” Perfect Drain can be found in select models of Elkay’s stainless steel, Quartz Classic and Quartz Luxe sinks.

A trend observed by Elkay’s Silverstein is the kitchen sink as a statement piece. “While many homeowners want their sink to blend in, the idea of the kitchen sink as a statement is growing, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. So long as the eclectic, farmhouse style trends continue in the kitchen, then people will be looking to apron-front sinks to play a key role in achieving those looks,” he says. “There’s so much mixing of styles now, and apron-front sinks seem to be working great with most of them. Typical style descriptors, like traditional, contemporary and transitional, are becoming less and less relevant. For the most part, those terms are not how homeowners think of their aspirational kitchens. When helping homeowners choose a sink, we usually start with durability, color and style preference, then educate them on which material will meet their needs.” When it comes to color, Silverstein notes a “stronger than expected” interest in the company’s bolder Quartz undermount colors, such as Maraschino Red and Jubilee Blue.


Ruvati’s Gonzales echoes the growing interest in making the sink a statement in the kitchen, with customers seeking unique colors and materials. He notes the Ruvati Fiamma fireclay sinks are popular, as are apron-front or sharp, rectangular bowls. Because of the trend toward kitchen islands, the company has designed a sink that fits perfectly on the corner of an island with two sides exposed, the RVL2311WH Fiamma fireclay sink. Gonzales points to Ruvati being an “end-user focused company,” and he sees the end-user seeking more personality for their kitchen sink.

“There seems to be a new, upcoming trend away from the stainless steel colored sinks that have been around for many years. They want something with more color and character. Neutral colors such as black, white or tan seem to be the most popular colors for kitchen sinks when customers move away from stainless steel,” he says. “At Ruvait, we don’t want to limit our customers to just two or three colors when they are looking for color options. From bold colors such as red, green and blue for modern, artistic kitchens to neutral but unique colors such as carribean sand or horizon gray that add a touch of character and personality to the kitchen, we empower our customers to define their own unique kitchen styles.” |QR

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