Popular Kitchen Sink Styles

From vessels to troughs, today's kitchen sink trends merge functionality with style, making them the focal point for food preparation.


"Everything but the kitchen sink" is a saying that may well have come from the world of design, where in years past the sink served as a mere backdrop to the overall look of a kitchen. Today, however, sinks are taking center stage, as designers and DIY renovators are experimenting with new looks that combine both visual and functional appeal.

"The sink is really becoming more of a focal point in the kitchen compared to what it used to be," says Brooke Adrienne Murphy, a designer with Nicely Done Kitchens in Washington, D.C. "Instead of it just being the area where you clean up, it's now seen as a unique feature."

With today's increasing emphasis on sinks, new favorites are emerging in the marketplace. Here are some of the most popular kitchen sink trends:

Vessel Sinks

Also known as "basin sinks," vessel sinks have been a hot bathroom trend in recent years, but are now becoming increasingly popular in the kitchen. Vessel sinks sit atop—or slightly recessed of— the counter, instead of being below the countertop level like traditional sink basins.

Because they are more visible, vessel sinks can make a major design statement. Designers are producing them in a variety of unique, but kitchen-friendly, materials, including natural stone, metals, glass and even wood.

Because vessel sinks are raised above the counter surface, working at one requires less bending over, which can be easier on the back.

Daniel Hagerman and his partner recently installed a hammered copper kitchen sink in their Chicago condo. "We loved the look of the metal sinks installed on top of the counters in the bathroom at our favorite Mexican restaurant, so we had one made in a larger, deeper size for our kitchen," says Hagerman. "It looks great and people are surprised by how practical it is. It's art for the kitchen."

The cost for a vessel sink depends largely on its material, but their popularity means this kitchen favorite can now be purchased in virtually any price range, from economy to luxury.

Prep/Entertainment Sinks

Many homeowners have discovered that having a smaller, second sink such as the Kohler Addison installed in the kitchen can make a big difference in a kitchen's workflow. Known as "prep" or "entertainment" sinks, these sinks offer an extra workspace for someone to help chop carrots, for wine to chill on ice or for washing hands before sitting down at the table.

"The main sink is no longer the only sink," says Jack Healy, president of Sinks Gallery, which sells artisan and designer sinks. "Our clients are almost always installing a second sink, often in the kitchen island, and, in some cases, even a third sink."

Farmhouse Sinks

One of the hottest kitchen sinks today is the "farmhouse sink," sometimes also called an "apron sink." Farmhouse sinks are so-named because they mimic the rectangular, extra deep look and exposed front common in many vintage, rural homes. They can sit atop the counter or be mounted, and because these basin-style sinks generally lack a "deck" running around the outside, faucets and other hardware are installed directly into the countertop, behind or to the side of the basin.

"Farmhouse sinks have really gained in popularity," says Brooke. "They have Old World appeal, but also are often available in a large, single well configuration that's great for larger pots and pans."

The most common material for farmhouse sinks is a timeless white porcelain or enamel, but as these sinks gain in popularity, manufacturers are offering the classic farmhouse design in more varied and modern materials, including fired clay, stainless steel, copper, natural stone and even wood, like a teak double sink by William Garvey Furniture (available at SinksGallery.com). Farmhouse sinks are available in either single or double basin designs.

Trough Sinks

If you've ever tried to work at a sink with more than one person, you know how crowded a conventional square or rectangular sink space can get. Trough sinks solve that problem.

Longer and leaner than a traditional kitchen sink, trough sinks can accommodate two, three or even four faucets and drains, offering significant elbow room for a family of cooking enthusiasts. They are also ideal for home gardening and craft projects, and trough sinks like the Mystic by Elkay offer a great way to attractively serve a selection of chilled food and drinks on ice. And because of their longer, narrower shape, trough sinks work well on plumbed kitchen islands, like this Kohler Iron/Tones trough.

Seamless Sinks

The tiny crevice where sink meets countertop can be one of the most difficult spaces to get truly clean in a kitchen. Today's popular seamless designs—in which sink and countertop are melded together into a single piece—eliminate this problem.

"Seamless sinks are really popular right now because they give the unique look of your countertop actually running into and becoming your kitchen sink," explains Brooke.

Enjoy the same look and functional qualities in your sink that drew you to your countertop choice. Seamless sinks are essentially countertops with built-in sinks, such as those offered by Avondale Kitchens. This means you can have your sink fabricated from the very same material you've chosen for your counters, including natural stone, concrete or manufactured solid surfaces like quartz.

A seamless sink can be designed to meet your custom specifications. If you cook for large numbers of people, ask for an extra deep or wide basin. Many homeowners have their installer or fabricator rout and slightly angle the countertop at the edges of the sink, creating a built-in drain board.

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