How many inches is best between counter and window in kitchen?

threeapplesNovember 8, 2011

My builder needs to know asap how many inches we want between the counter top and the bottom of the window in our kitchen. This window is above the sink and I'll likely have some sort of backsplash there, though I've not decided yet. How many inches is best? And, how do I figure the window sill--is that something Marvin makes or my carpenters make? thanks so much!

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athensmomof3

Don't know the answer to this question - our architect specced the window taking into account the relationship to the other windows outside as well as the countertop. However, I have heard of people with lever style faucets (like the Grohe Bridgeport and others) that you turn on by pushing backwards. These require certain clearances and the sill may get in the way. It is something to consider even if the sill is high enough - we are bumping out our sink 3 inches so we can accompodate that if we want.

The sill goes in with the rest of the trim. . .

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 2:09PM
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renovator8

The sloping exterior bottom element of a window is called a "sill" and it is part of the window frame. The interior bottom element of a window is called a "stool" and it is a piece of trim like the jamb and head casing that is added by a finish carpenter. In a traditional design there is an "apron" trim below the stool. Some people, even some manufacturers, call both elements a "sill" which is understandably confusing.

It is also possible to use a casing trim at the bottom of the window instead of the traditional stool & apron detail.

What you need is the detail from Marvin that shows the height of the stool trim above the rough opening. Then you need to determine if you want the stool to be sitting on the backsplash or above it (in other words will there be a space between the two elements).

If you tell me the window model I can give you the dimension you need.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 2:25PM
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chisue

Yes, allow for the backsplash and consider how 'splashy' you are at the sink. This is also a 'proportion' question: How will the window look with whatever else is on that wall -- center it on the cabinet height? Will there be window casing? Got room for that? Do you WANT a sill?

My 'sink window' is three casements and an archtop. It sits ON my backsplash with casing on sides and top. Like athemsmom, my sink is set out a few inches. I rarely need to wipe off the window glass.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 2:29PM
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mydreamhome

If you're doing a granite or laminate backsplash, that's typically 4-6" tall, then leave at least 2" between the backsplash & the stool, then the space required for the stool typically 3.25" and you have somewhere between 9.25" - 11.25". I think mine is 9" even. I am only 5'4" and I can see out of it just fine. If you opt for one of the new fangled side controller faucets, you should be fine as far as clearance at that height--have the countertop guys drill the holes for the faucet on site with your faucet present for correct placement & spacing.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 2:50PM
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threeapples

wow, as usual you are all very helpful. i am more confused now after reading all of these dimensions and learning the options. i love an herbeau faucet: HER410520. I believe the sink is not being bumped out, but rather a length of counter surrounding the sink up until we get to the counters to the right of the sink, and that will be a different counter depth. I hope that made sense. The height of the window needs to be at the same level as the other windows so the exterior looks ok. I think the window will be a 55 5/8" tall by 54" wide, though my Marvin rep is going to get back to me tonight about the actual size. The ceiling in the kitchen is 10" tall, we plan to have molding around the casement window (it's an outswing), and I haven't made decisions on a sill or stool as I'm just now learning about all of that. I guess I have to make a whole bunch of decisions rather quickly so the proper window can be ordered this week, which will then dictate these other choices? designing this house is becoming a full time job! thank God for gardenweb.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 3:21PM
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chisue

Well...there you are. The window has to be set even with the rest of the windows on this elevation.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 3:33PM
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renovator8

I usually put the stool directly on a 6" backsplash and, when possible, let it be a shelf beyond the windows. I like the window to be part of the counter design not just in the wall above it.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 3:41PM
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threeapples

Renovator8, very interesting idea--thanks for the photo!
Chisue, yes, the top of the window does need to be in-line with the other windows on the back of the house, but the bottom of the window cannot possibly be, so that is the concern--where do I stop the bottom of the window and how will that impact the molding and window sill and stool. So many choices to make.....

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 8:35PM
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mydreamhome

threeapples--That is some faucet!!! Glad you posted the faucet you were looking at. It has the side lever controller which can be placed to the front of the faucet or to the side. Placing it to the side will most likely keep it cleaner and out of the way, however you will need to plan for clearance on how far down & side to side/front to back it levers. The other thing you will need to watch for is the clearance at the back top of the faucet where the back of the spout piece extends beyond the stem of the faucet. You will need to have enough clearance for it to sit at a 90 degree angle to the wall as well as for it to swivel from side to side.

If you want a lower sill like Renovator8 posted, you will more than likely be limited to situating the control lever to the front of the faucet vs. the side and the top of the faucet should clear the sill completely so no worries there. If you opt for a higher sill, you have the option of placing the controller lever to the front or side, but you have to make sure you have clearance either above or below the sill for the top part of the faucet. Your best bet is to pull the specs on the faucet for all these dimensions and get together with the builder & window guy to decide how you will achieve clearance based on the look you're going for. Then you'll be able to spec the window size.

Glad to hear you got Marvin to do those outward swinging casements for you. I love the look!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 9:02PM
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threeapples

thanks, mydreamhome! well, Marvin will do the window, but not with the beautiful cremone hardware i wanted. oh well. thanks for the suggestions. i'll get the specs of the faucet to my window guy and designer and figure all of this out. i can't get over the amount of decisions building a house requires!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 11:03PM
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sherrilea

Have you considered putting the window even with the counter? I love it in our current kitchen and plan to do it again in our new build.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 9:39AM
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athensmomof3

The picture I pulled up when I googled your faucet is what I would personally try to avoid - the handle facing forward. That means the water either hits your hand every time you turn it on or you have to turn the faucet out of the way. We have a bar faucet that operates the same way, but we have a small bar sized sink in there so no issues.

We bumped out our sink and rangetop - copying to a large degree this kitchen . . . not the best picture but they bumped out the sink and range on different walls with ogee furniture feet - this solves the problem of the faucet and gives a little more interest to a straight cabinet run . . .

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 6:02PM
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threeapples

Athensmom, I'm pretty sure the herbeau faucet comes with the handle on the side, too. Thanks for reminding me to double-check. Let me go look at your link....

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 8:19PM
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athensmomof3

You can put it on the side but it requires extra clearance - extra from a standard faucet. That is why it is shown with the handle in the front - there is not enough room to have it tilt back to turn on. I have a friend who ran into this issue after construction and had to put it in front of the faucet as shown. It was on an ancillary sink so not a huge deal but she was frustrated with it and might have chosen a different faucet if she had known she didn't have clearance to put it on the side. I think it requires like 3 inches or so behind the faucet, which you wouldn't have in a standard countertop with a kitchen depth sink . . .

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 8:38PM
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athensmomof3

This is the faucet we got for our wet bar. We have room to put the handle to the side because it is a bar sized sink so only 17" deep including the undermount rim so we have extra room in the countertop to allow for the 3" clearance behind the counter . . . Most kitchen sinks are so wide ( i.e. between the edge of the countertop and the window) that there is not 3 inches extra to allow for the faucet handle to tilt back without hitting the window sill or backsplash. That is why they turn the faucet handle forward - and you lose aesthetics and functionality with it that way I think. Something to consider if you know you want to use a faucet of this design - you may need a wider countertop at the sink to do so. . . .

Here is a link that might be useful: Bar faucet

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 8:43PM
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threeapples

athensmom, do you think the faucet i've chosen, with the sprayer that goes with it (it angles down though and looks a little strange) will look ok with a cast iron farm style sink from kohler? i'm so used to the bridge style faucets now that i don't know if this is big enough to look ok with a 36" wide sink. thanks!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 10:47PM
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buckheadhillbilly

I wanted to do what Sherrilea did but chickened out. We were worried about water getting into the window frames. Is that a problem for you, Sherrilea? Instead we raised the window 2 1/2 inches off the counter, similar to what Renovator8 showed.

We just put a 2 1/4" strip of the granite as a backsplash underneath.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 10:55PM
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threeapples

Buckhead, beautiful! What kind of windows do you have? It's nice to see divided lite.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 9:19AM
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babs711

Buckhead, what is your countertop? It's lovely!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 3:21PM
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buckheadhillbilly

Thanks, threeapples and babs! The windows are Pella Architect windows and the countertop is honed Crystal Pearl Quartzite. I had wanted something that looked like marble and was worried that this material was too gray, but now I love how soft and lived in it looks. Great with the honed Virginia Mist on the island! Very soft and antique looking.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 6:07PM
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sherrilea

Buckhead, our window bumps out about 18 inches from the faucet so we don't have any issues with water getting into the window frames.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 9:43PM
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kcmo_ken

I like the way Sherrilea has hers installed, happens to be the same way I install them as well. I order the windows with sheetrock returns though, and wrap the tile backsplash around where hers is trimmed out. It is a very clean installation, and never any complaints. I tend to install fiberglass windows as well; if you use wood windows I might rethink this approach.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 8:33AM
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aj33

buckheadhillbilly,
With the setup in the picture, are you able to reach the water without bending towards it?

In our current house, while doing the dishes, I am always bending a bit and would like to avoid it in the next house. I was thinking of getting a sink just like yours...

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 1:32PM
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buckheadhillbilly

aj33, I'm sorry for the delay getting back to you. We've been moving in. I don't think I have to bend any more than at my old sink. I think the key is to have the sink the right height for you. When you undermount a sink, it makes the bottom of it lower. I "test drove" many farm house sinks in the show rooms that were so deep that you would end up with an awful back ache at the end of a good wash up.

I actually picked up my sink at the scratch and dent section of Ikea. I was considering undermounting their sink and wondered if it was really big enough. This one had the back lip broken off and was $25. I figured it was worth $25 to see if it would fit my cookie sheets, roasting pans and other large items. Then my builder pointed out that if I planned to undermount it, the broken bit on the back wouldn't matter. So, after I determined that it was big enough and deep enough without being too deep, we took a tile saw and sawed off the back.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 8:54AM
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