A Rich History
The farmhouse sink has been a popular trend in American kitchens since the late 1990’s. Their history, however, started centuries ago across the pond in farmhouses found in Ireland and England. The idea was created well before indoor plumbing, when there was a true need to save large amounts of water that had to be carried by hand from a nearby source.
The two original styles of apron sinks (another name for a farmhouse sink), emerged from Britain and Ireland in the latter part of the 17th century. The Belfast model was deeper and had an overflow so excess water could drain off. The London model was shallower and didn’t hold as much water or have the overflow option. Water was more scarce in the city of London and every last drop was savored.
These two models gave inspiration to farmhouses across America. In the late 19th and early 20th century they could only be found on working farms. By the 1920’s they were quickly gaining popularity in city homes. A Monel (copper and nickel alloy) apron sink became all the rage but when WWII began, the copper and nickel became too precious to manufacture sinks. Aluminum models emerged onto the marketplace to replace the Monels.
The design of the apron or farmhouse sinks was no accident. They were deep and big for not only holding water, but for holding large pots, preparing food and even washing babies. They also were originally designed to sit slightly in front of the cabinetry for two reasons. First, they were created with women in mind who were spending most of their days in front of them. It enabled them to stand directly in front of the wash basin so they didn’t have to lean over the sink as much. Secondly, the water and suds that would splash out of the sink wouldn’t effect the nearby cabinetry. The liquid would simply fall down the front of the sink onto the floor instead of pooling onto the wood below.
Many Material Options
Time and modern aesthetics have revolutionized the look of the apron sink as well as the materials used. These are the 6 most common sinks you’ll find in today’s kitchen:
White sinks are typically made from fireclay or porcelain.
Fireclay sinks are increasing in popularity due to their exceptional durability. They are made of fireclay and heated to extreme temperatures and then coated with a highly resistant glaze. This combination makes them non-porous and durable, making it nearly impossible to scratch or chip. This sink is not likely to discolor, rust or fade over time.
Porcelain sinks made of a ceramic material that is also heated to high temperatures (although not as high as fireclay). They look similar to fireclay sinks, however, they are not quite as durable and are more prone to discoloration or chipping. The good news…they will come in at a lower price point.
This option is more industrial or contemporary looking and it is also more affordable than other farmhouse sink options. They can take a lot of abuse from heavy pots and pans, and the proof lies in the fact that most professional kitchens use them. They are not only durable but easy to clean. Be sure and invest in a metal that is at least 16 to 18 gauge in thickness, as these sinks are less likely to dent or scratch. Stainless steel sinks are also lighter, so there won’t be as much of an issue with requiring extra supports within the cabinetry.
Concrete is really hot right now, but there are some things to consider before taking the leap. Because concrete is not as dense as other materials, it is prone to chipping and staining. For those of you who may classify themselves as perfectionists, its natural coloring and patina could irk you over time. It also requires regular sealing.
Composite sinks are made of various materials such as granite or quartz mixed with other plastics and resins to create a highly durable sink. They are designed to be stain, heat, impact and chip resistant. They are a wonderful option if you are looking for a wider variety of colors, as they come in cream, brown, gray, black and of course white.
Copper has become a very popular upscale choice for farmhouse sinks. They instantly add elegance and style to your space and also have antimicrobial properties to help keep bacteria at bay. The copper sinks have what experts call a “living finish” meaning over time they create a certain patina. The copper option is generally more expensive and keep in mind acidic food can’t be left to sit at the bottom as it may tarnish the finish.
Easier For New Construction or Renovation
Designing a farmhouse sink into a new kitchen space is easy to pull off, however, it can prove difficult if you are wanting to incorporate one into an existing layout. Because it protrudes outward and is deeper, the existing cabinetry will have to be evaluated by a professional to see if it’s a possibility. These sinks are bigger and bulkier, which makes them extremely heavy. Your kitchen cabinetry will most likely need additional supports put into place. It will also be difficult (or nearly impossible!) to work around your existing countertops.
Some other things to consider when thinking about purchasing a farmhouse sink. The fireclay and porcelain sinks can be noisy when washing dishes and can be less forgiving when fragile items are dropped in them. They also have a deeper basin, so dishes have farther to fall and have a higher chance of breaking or chipping the surface. The stainless steel and copper options offer a softer landing.
If you are concerned about the basin being too big and you are afraid of wasting water, smaller versions of the farmhouse sink are available and can add a great touch to a bathroom or a wet bar. A small basin apron sink is a great way to serve as an ice bucket for guests. Fill it up with ice and add your beverages!
The farmhouse sink’s rich history, versatile materials as well as its beauty and ergonomic design make it an excellent option for your home. Your sink is one of the most important components of your kitchen. It’s where you spend the most time and can be the focal point of the space. From a farmhouse in the heart of the country to the most modern of city apartments, the apron style sink will elevate they style of any space it’s placed in.