We spend a lot of time in front of our sinks—washing hands, pampering ourselves, rinsing produce, cleaning up after a big meal—so it’s no surprise that choosing ones that will serve your home and lifestyle best can make a world of difference when it comes to enjoying the every day.
Looking for guidance for your project, or an upgrade during a renovation? We talked to three interior designers involved with the 2020 Whole Home Concept Home, who used Elkay sinks throughout the space, to get their take on the sink selection process and provide inspiration for your own.
Include a good view
For interior designer Sarah Robertson of Studio Dearborn, combining beauty and efficiency in the kitchen is key. That’s why she strategically positioned the main kitchen sink in the Whole Home on an island with sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains.
If you have multiple people in the kitchen, the island is the place that family and friends always gather around, so it makes sense to have a sink there that’s also able to turn into a serving set up,” Robertson says. In the Whole Home Concept Home, she used Elkay’s Circuit Chef sink, which provides the ability to prep, cook, serve, entertain and clean up all at one convenient workstation.
If your kitchen configuration allows for it, Robertson strongly recommends the mental and emotional health benefits of gazing at nature.
“It’s important to think about how a sink’s position in the kitchen can help you stay not only connected to your family but the outdoors,” she explains. “Maximizing your views is so important, and if you stick a sink up against the wall just looking at tile, it doesn’t achieve that.”
Get colorful with material
While stainless steel is often a go-to choice for the kitchen because of its appliance-matching look and durability against the clang of dishes, the 2020 Whole Home also spotlights how sink materials, such as these quartz models from Elkay, can evoke a more artful tone in a room. The deep, moody-black composite sink in the kitchen’s preservation pantry is nothing short of a showpiece.
“The house’s property has a communal garden, so I felt like there was an opportunity for a different material with the kitchen’s secondary sink where vegetables would be prepared and preserved,” says Robertson, who also notes that a secondary sink offers room for hiding used pots away from guests—a good option if you have the space and you prefer to wait til the end of a party to clean up. A drainboard was installed on the side to make space to rest dishes or produce after cleaning them.
The aesthetics weren’t lost on Robertson, either. “There’s something really pretty about handling vegetables up against the black backdrop with a composite sink that won’t show scratches that easily.”
Bonus? There’s a nearby vacuum sealer for preserving produce or meat so it’ll last longer, or prepping fresh food for a dip in the kitchen stove’s built-in sous vide.
You can still double up (on the basin)
And while single basin sinks are trending for kitchens (and bar areas, like the one in the Whole Home), it’s important to take into consideration your own sink style and comfort level when making a selection. “Thanks to dishwashers most people have started using their sinks just for washing the larger pots and pans, so the double-sided sink isn’t as functional as it used to be,” says interior designer Erin Hurley. “But when I’m meeting with homeowners, I still tell people that there’s a time and a place for it. You have to think about how you live in your space.” So if you’re used to hand-washing dishes, don’t force a single basin sink into your design just because you think it’s pretty.
Bar and Lounge Area
Keep the conversation flowing
Having a dedicated sink in your main lounge area can ensure entertaining is a breeze, says General Judd of Me and General Design, who made the bar area of this year’s Whole Home exceptionally user-friendly.
“What happens a lot when people are in the kitchen and someone is at the sink is that your back is turned to them, so the conversation stops,” Judd says. “Inside the [Whole Home], we moved the bar sink area to the side, which gives a better opportunity to continue the conversation and be engaged with everyone in the room while making drinks.”
Judd selected a single-basin, undermount stainless steel sink and a single-lever faucet from Elkay, always keeping in mind the bar area’s smaller square footage and unique function as a place to almost exclusively cut and prep for drink making. (If you’re wondering, his favorite cocktail is an Old Fashioned.)
“Especially for a bar area, the smaller undermount stainless [sink] is easy because you’re going to be sweeping things into it and there aren’t going to be any pots and pans,” Judd explains, noting it’s all about matching the size of the sink to the purpose. “That goes for the faucet, too, which is why we chose the single-lever at an 8-inch height — it won’t splash and get water everywhere.”
The space offers a feature as practical as it is luxe: a glass rinser. “There’s a beer tap in the bar area, and we also attached a glass rinser to the sink,” Judd says, which translates to a lot fewer separate glasses to wash at the end of the night. (Bonus: It also serves as a convenient station for washing a child’s cup as they move from milk, to juice, to water throughout the day.)
Don’t forget one in the design
While other cleaning devices (such as the washer and dryer) are more top-of-mind when designing a functional laundry room, Hurley says that adding a sink to a laundry room is key—especially if you have kids.
“We used a single basin Elkay sink in the Whole Home laundry room, and I think it’s fabulous because when kids have an accident or you need to scrub something, it’s right there and handy,” Hurley says.
“This is kind of a farm community, with everyone playing outside and getting muddy and dirty. When you come inside, the laundry room is right off the garage, so you can toss your dirty clothes in the sink, and don’t have to worry about tracking it through the house.”
Go for an undermount in heavy-use bathrooms
When it comes to main bathrooms, it’s all about maximizing counter space for daily routines—and all the serums and electric toothbrushes that come along with it. An undermount sink can provide a little bit of extra elbow room around the vanity area (no sink lip to contend against while cleaning!) while also creating a seamless look with the countertop itself.
Leave space for storage
If you’re working in a smaller space, like a half-bath or a powder room, it’s easy to turn this petite area into a jewel box with the sink as a focal point—but keep storage in mind. Pedestal sinks, console sinks and wall-mount or “floating” sinks may fit your needs perfectly when it comes to size and personality, but those options don’t come with the sort of cabinetry that other sink options provide. Be sure you’ve considered your needs for stocking towels, washcloths and cleaning gear.
Try a splashy look in the powder room
Vessel sinks—basins that sit atop a vanity, not inside of it like more traditional sinks—are an eye-catching trend in bathroom design, working well in areas that want to spotlight a certain aesthetic, like a copper, natural stone or “wading pool” style sink. They’re slightly less sturdy and more prone to chipping, though, and should live in areas that aren’t going to see a lot of rough-and-tumble behavior.