Of all the rooms in the average American home, the kitchen was affected most by the dramatic change in daily lifestyles of the American family over the past 100 years. Women entering the workforce and the hurried lifestyles of all members of the family have greatly reduced the amount of time spent in the kitchen preparing meals. According to surveys, the average woman at the turn of the 20th century spent over 40 hours in the kitchen preparing and cleaning up after meals, however, the amount of time was cut in half by the 1950's. Although the kitchen design's primary design focus is still on the function of food preparation, aesthetic qualities is becoming ever more important consideration. This is a reflection of the changing role of kitchens as a gathering place for family and friends. Thus, today's kitchen appliances and fixtures represent a balance between function and form.
The basic form of the kitchen sink has changed very little over the past 100 years but they are now offered in a variety of materials, configurations and style. Vintage style kitchen sinks are a popular choice for today's buyer, however, just because they are designed to resemble antique sinks does not mean that they are available with only a limited number of sizes and configurations. In fact, the same criteria for purchasing a modern kitchen sinks apply to the purchase of vintage kitchen sinks.
Stainless Steel Kitchen Sinks
Stainless steel has been a popular choice for kitchen sinks for decades due to its cost and durability. For many, however, stainless steel sinks look too utilitarian. Although invented in the early 1900’s, commercial stainless steel sinks were not widely available until the later half of the 20th century and therefore they look out of place in vintage themed kitchens.
Cast Iron Kitchen Sinks
Porcelain coated cast iron kitchen sinks were commonly used throughout the first half of the 1900's and they remain a popular choice for vintage themed kitchens today. Cast iron sinks are heavy. Their glossy white porcelain coating is durable and easily cleaned with a soft cloth and water. Abrasive cleaners should not be used to clean porcelain enameled cast iron sinks.
Fireclay Kitchen Sinks
Fireclay kitchen sinks are also highly durable and are often available in array of color choices. Like cast iron sinks, fireclay kitchen sinks are available in a variety of vintage as well as traditional decorative styles. Fireclay sinks should be cleaned with a soft cloth and water. Abrasive cleaners should not be used to clean fireclay sinks.
Copper Kitchen Sinks
In recent years copper kitchen sinks have become popular. Developing a fundamental understanding of the qualities of copper sinks is an important first step in selecting a copper kitchen sink. Copper kitchen sinks are handcrafted and are produced by an array of manufacturers and importers. Unfortunately, quality can vary greatly among copper sink brands. The gauge of copper used is especially important for kitchen sinks. The lower the gauge the thicker the copper used. Also, be wary of bargain priced copper sinks as the craftsmanship and quality of construction may be inferior. Beyond variation in quality, it is important to know that most copper sinks have living finishes which means that there is no protective coating on the copper. A patina is normally applied to living finish copper sinks to darken its color and provide a warm aged look. Patina surfaces can scratch revealing the natural lighter tone of copper but these scratches will darken over time as the copper patinas naturally. If you have hard water, copper sinks should be cleaned with a soft cloth to remove hard water spots. Abrasive cleaners will scratch the surfaces of copper sinks and therefore should always be avoided.
Number of Bowls
Most vintage style kitchen sinks have either one or two bowls. Two bowl sinks are advantageous if the sink is used for washing dishes as the second bowl can be used for rinsing and drying. A third bowl used for food preparation is a modern amenity. If your vintage sink is not available with three bowls, installing a separate small prep sink is an attractive alternative.
Topmount kitchen sinks, also known as drop-in or self rimming, simply rest within a hole cut into the kitchen countertop and are therefore relatively easy to install. Faucets usually mount to the rim of topmount sinks. It is important that the sink that you choose matches the number of holes required by your kitchen faucet. Topmount sinks are often less expensive but also lack the eye-catching style of other types of sinks.
Undermount kitchen sinks install underneath a hole in the kitchen counter top. They offer a sleek look compared to topmount sinks because they have no exposed rim. Another advantage of undermount sinks is that meal prep messes can wipe unobstructed directly into the sink. Undermount kitchen sinks however are more difficult to install than topmount sinks.
Apron Front Sinks
Apron front, or farmhouse, kitchen sinks add instant vintage style to kitchens. Apron front sinks are typically undermount sinks that have a decorative exposed front. Apron front sinks are available in cast iron, fireclay and copper. Their installation requires a notch cut from the top to side of the counter top. Installation and the cost of the sink are often much more expensive than undermount and top mount sinks.
If you plan to install a garbage disposal to your sink, it is important that you confirm that the kitchen sink that you choose will accept a garbage disposal.
Shop 4 Classics collection of vintage sinks includes country style kitchen sinks from American Standard, cast iron and fireclay apron front kitchen sinks from Kohler, fireclay and copper kitchen sinks from Belle Foret, cast iron Farmhouse kitchen sinks from Strom Plumbing, and copper kitchen sinks from Brass Elegans.