Kitchen Renovations

How to Configure Your Kitchen Sink

Find out whether a single, double- or three-bowl sink would work best for you

Your kitchen sink’s configuration is partly an aesthetic issue, but you should also take into consideration how you use your kitchen. Your cooking and cleaning preferences will dictate how many bowls you need.

As far as cost goes, two or more separate sinks are obviously going to be the most expensive setup — for the extra plumbing fixtures as well as the installation. Triple-bowl sinks are also typically priced higher than their single or double-bowl counterparts. But the price ranges for single-bowl versus double-bowl sinks are fairly similar as cost has more to do with the sink material, mounting type, craftsmanship and size, not necessarily the number of bowls.

Single-Bowl Sink

The single-bowl sink is my personal preference in the kitchen. If you cook pretty elaborate meals quite often and like having a large and deep sink to work in. You can wash large pots, pans and cutting boards easily, and also hide dirty dishes in its depths.

The obvious downside to a single bowl sink is that it’s not a very good multi-tasker. For those who primarily hand-wash their dishes, it’s not as easy to wash, rinse, drain and dry dishes with just one sink bowl.

The single-bowl sink is best, then, for those who primarily wash dishes using their dishwasher and who regularly have large items to hand-wash.

Single-Bowl Sink with Integrated Drain-board

Here’s an interesting feature for a single-bowl sink that would make hand-washing dishes a bit easier and neater. An integrated drain-board allows you to wash, rinse and then set things aside to dry, all while keeping the water runoff contained.

Two Single-Bowl Sinks

This is a smart hybrid of the single and double-bowl sink. You get the advantages of a single bowl (large, uninterrupted sink space) but have an extra sink available to rinse veggies, wash hands and more. Two sinks means double the plumbing fixtures and a more expensive installation, so that’s an issue to keep in mind if you like this setup.

Two Single Bowls Plus a Third Prep Sink

If you have the space and budget for it, this is a sweet setup. I like that one or two cooks could be at the main bank of sinks prepping, cooking or cleaning up from dinner, while the kids or guests can wash their hands or fetch a glass of water from the prep sink without being underfoot.

Double-Bowl Sink

The most popular style of kitchen sink, the double bowl, is a good choice for those who wash their dishes by hand or who need to be able to perform more than one task at the sink at one time. For instance, one person can be standing at the sink washing up while another cook drains the pasta.

One downside to the double-bowl sink is that due to the divided bowls, neither bowl ends up being very large. This makes it awkward to wash large dishes. One way to get a bit more sink area and still have the flexibility of a double bowl is to pick a sink that has unequal-sized bowls: one larger bowl and one smaller.

Often, the smaller bowl is also more shallow, so this is where the garbage disposal is mounted. This gives you more space under the sink and disposal because it can be mounted higher. However, I’ve heard some homeowners complain that the small sink ends up not being very useful and they wish they had a large single bowl, or two separate sinks instead.

If you prefer the multitasking qualities of a double-bowl sink but need larger bowls, check out your options in extra-wide double-bowl sinks. These come in widths of 36 inches or more, and give you plenty of space in which to work. However, they require a larger sink cabinet than the typical 24-inch, 30-inch or 36-inch sizes, so make sure you can accommodate one of these big guys before pulling the trigger.

Triple-Bowl Sink

With a triple-bowl sink, you can easily wash and rinse your dishes and still have another sink free for other tasks. This beauty takes up quite a bit of valuable real estate, though, as you lose a good bit of useable base cabinet space having to accommodate such a wide sink and its plumbing. A triple-bowl sink is best for a generously sized kitchen where more than one cook may be prepping the meal.

When deciding on the number of sink bowls for your kitchen, weigh factors such as the number of cooks in your kitchen and how you prep for and clean up after meals. If you are a solo cook and primarily use your dishwasher for cleanup, then a single-bowl sink is probably your best bet. For those with busy kitchens who need extra bowls for prepping and washing, you may want to go with multiple sinks or a double- or triple-bowl sink.

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