Buy a new sink or a vintage sink?

saintpflaApril 23, 2014

I have been looking at sinks. I really, really like the vintage 1920s farmhouse porcelain cast-iron sinks - with the large apron.

I found one in good shape with a double-basin. The norm price for these are crazy expensive and the one I found is no exception.

Question....because my friends do NOT appreciate vintage and I don't want to feel like I'm making a horrible mistake, would you buy a vintage sink or buy a new one?

Please elaborate as to the 'why' for your decision.

Two of my friends were aghast and responded with, "Yeah - but - it's OLD!" or "Buy a new one that looks old!", "It's not pristine..." I was responded with, "Yeah, that's kind of the point...."

So now I'm second guessing myself.

Here's a photo of the sink in question...it even has the legs!

What would you (or did you?) do and why?

Thanks!

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katy-lou

Cool sink. I do love my single bowl, but neat find and I'd be tempted to go vintage!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 6:15PM
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saintpfla

Katy-Lou - thanks! I was hoping to find a large single bowl - but - timing is everything with Salvage! There just isn't one available - and that's yet another decision.

Why did you decide on vintage? Did you regret the 'less than pristine' look? It never be shiny, shiny - but- here is Florida with our hard water, it's pretty hard to keep a sink pristine anyway!

I think the sink and stove and the two focal points in a kitchen - then, the cabinets of course. So, you need to have the look of the room built on the focal points.
Honestly, there doesn't seem to be any major flaws on this.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 6:26PM
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writersblock

Just remember: if it's steel, you can send it away to Missouri to have it re-enameled properly if need be, but there's no place doing that for cast iron anymore. So if it's iron, the finish is what it is, so I'd want to see a sink in person before deciding.

That's a cool sink if it's in good condition.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 6:49PM
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saintpfla

It's definitely cast-iron, but no makers mark/date can be found.

Honestly, I wouldn't bother with a re-enameling (which, I didn't know ANYONE was still doing anymore!). But, I would imagine the end cost would be on par with the price of a Fabergé Egg at that point and more than I care to spend for something to do dishes in! ;)

The sink is in another state, so I have to buy only via photos. So far, they've been very good with all of my photo requests. They even cleaned the sink as I thought there were stains on the bottom and there is not.

The only real flaw I can see is the bottom left front has a little damage and rust. But, that's an easy fix with a little touch up paint.

See pic attached.....

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:06PM
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mata

I installed a 1930's farmhouse drainboard sink I found at a salvage shop. I love the look and would do it again. The "Sanford" sink is a new reproduction of the style, but it costs $1000. The one I found was $200.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:13PM
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saintpfla

WOW! You're my hero, Mata! What an awesome deal you found! I am not that lucky with this sink, unfortunately. It's close to the new price.

Did it bother you that the porcelain is not going to be 'shiny new' looking? Does it stain easily?

Did you have any issues with installation and does it require any special plumbing? Can you still install a garbage disposal or no?

Any 'best practices' or "if I had to do it again..." words of wisdom?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:26PM
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greenhaven

I have no personal experience, but I will tell you that if I had the choice between that sink and a new one I would get that one in a New York minute!

It is true to the era of your home, you are keeping heritage alive and reusing rather than consuming. If you love it then shut your ears to your friends. There is no reason not to just because it is old. That is First World mentality right there.

Again, I have no experience, but I know there are people who would come to your home and refinish a tub...why not a sink? I have also seen the gal on Rehab Addict refinish old sinks....

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 8:08PM
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magsnj

You already know my vote.....

It's not good b/c it's old, it's old b/c it's good.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 8:15PM
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mata

Most of these sinks were designed to be wall-mounted but some people elect to just set them on a cabinet base. I wall-mounted mine which required fastening two brackets to the wall studs. The sinks have a built-in lip which hangs on the brackets. Its not a difficult job but some time and patience is required.

If the faucet is original have someone with experience install it. They are a bit tricky to install. My plumber had to add spacers (washers) behind the sink so the escutcheon plates fit snug.

If the porcelain is in good shape most people wouldn't have a problem with it. The sink in the picture appears to be in good shape. I don't have a staining problem. Mine doesn't have a garbage disposer as the front is not enclosed, I would ask a plumber about that.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 8:22PM
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saintpfla

Thanks for the information and the support! This forum is nice because most people (ie: your friends) have no interest in your 'Kitchen Remodel Anguish'! They just want you to stop talking about it! ;)

Mata:
I would be buying a new faucet to go with the sink and not use the faucet in the photo.

I still do not have cabinets selected and the cabinet guy 'no-showed' this week, so I have to reschedule. But - my thought was to go extra sturdy with wall mount (AND the legs too) INSIDE a cabinet. So, not just a wall mount.

I think I'm going to buy it! I'm kind of excited about it! :)

It's my first kitchen remodel purchase! I can store it in my garage until I've got everything together!

I'm still interested in anyone's opinion on this as I haven't bought it yet.

thanks everyone! :)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 10:00PM
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sherri1058

I live with someone that thinks vintage = used = can't afford new/best/whatever.... I won't dump my DH for a vintage sink, but I still dream..... if you love it, buy it!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 10:35PM
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saintpfla

Sherri....LOL...that's essentially my friends attitude as well!

I did a bathroom remodel a year ago-- and my tub is a 1925 pedestal I bought for $175 on Craigslist. It was in someone's front yard as a planter. Rust-bucket doesn't even come close to describing it.

I had it sandblasted and then refinished. It came out beautiful. It's my absolute favorite thing in my bathroom now. Every time I take a hot bath, I'm glad that I made the choice that I did to renovate it.

I guess with the sink, I'm nervous because I cannot view it in person and it's located in another state at a salvage store.

Once I pay for it and have it shipped - good/bad or whatever, it's mine then.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:00PM
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greenhaven

sherri58. my DH would think that too, but I wouldn't care! My kitchen is my office...he has his own he can put shiny new stuff in. :o)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:01PM
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mdln

Vote - vintage, without a doubt!!! Wish I had the time to shop for more vintage stuff.

A sink is about the safest antique you can buy, as you can really clean it (unlike much antique furniture).

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:17PM
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writersblock

>but I know there are people who would come to your home and refinish a tub...why not a sink?

Not a kitchen sink. (Well, they will, but you'll be sorry.) You don't bang pots and knives around in your bathtub. Actually you can easily find a local place almost anywhere that will do powder coating on a sink (which is much easier to get to them than a tub, usually), but you're very likely to regret it, since even that doesn't stand up the way the original enameling does. I'd take worn over a powder coat any day for a kitchen sink.

BTW, that looks like a very nice sink, but just FYI, in a month of searching around on CL in FL, I found two similar to it a couple of months ago over about 6 weeks while searching for a drainboard single basin sink, so if you aren't in a hurry you might find one locally and save the shipping (which is almost certainly going to be substantially more than the sink itself).

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:40PM
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ljwrar

You know my vote - vintage is the way to go. My sink is from 1931. No problem with staining at all. We even get day old turmeric from Indian food out of it. (That's when DH cleans up after I've gone to bed).

Lisa

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:42PM
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greenhaven

"Not a kitchen sink. (Well, they will, but you'll be sorry.) You don't bang pots and knives around in your bathtub. Actually you can easily find a local place almost anywhere that will do powder coating on a sink (which is much easier to get to them than a tub, usually), but you're very likely to regret it, since even that doesn't stand up the way the original enameling does. I'd take worn over a powder coat any day for a kitchen sink."

Those are excellent points and great information. I am filing that in my brain bank for that time in the future (I know it will happen someday!) when I find my dream sink.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:48PM
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raee_gw

Have them measure the openings for the faucet, and between the openings, to make sure that you will be able to find a new faucet that fits.

It is a nice shape. I love the deep front and the backsplash. Be sure that it is what you really want -- somehow I thought you were looking for drainboards? maybe that is just what someone else suggested.

Myself would hesitate at the double bowls (I love my large single bowl that much!) but not at the vintage aspect.

Cost doesn't seem to be a big factor if it is not much less than new. And, don't feel rushed to decide. There are other sinks out there, and this one does have a little damage. Just decide if this is the one you love or not!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 11:55PM
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saintpfla

Yeah, ditto to writersblock point. You cannot use a refinished sink...waste of money. My tub - which IS refinished - has to be cleaned with only low-PH type of products....so, definitely no bleach or anything harsh. It will ruin the finish.

A kitchen sink take so much abuse...it has to be something that you need to 'baby'. For the record, powder-coating nets the same result. I spoke with a powder coating company about refinishing the tub. It's not a good long-term solution for refinishing.

Writersblock: I've been looking and looking on CL and have not seen anything so far that matches this one in condition or style. A lot of the kind with the drain boards, which is not the style I'm seeking.

My concern is waiting too long and missing out on this. They don't seem to stay around for long. I'd much prefer to buy local, but I just haven't seen any.

Ljwrar: you are able to get out turmeric?! - now that's impressive!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:03AM
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writersblock

>I've been looking and looking on CL and have not seen anything so far that matches this one in condition or style. A lot of the kind with the drain boards, which is not the style I'm seeking.

Yeah, there's always that risk on CL--you may find a dozen of something in a short period of time and then none for months and months. Incidentally, FWIW, your kitchen would have had a standalone drainboard sink on legs originally. (Wall mount without legs was just starting about that time and was uber modern, but still drainboards) But I can see why you'd rather have something more compact.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:14AM
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crl_

I wouldn't do it even though I love antiques in general.

For one thing, I would strongly prefer a single bowl.

I would also be concerned that even if the finish looks good it has likely already had substantial use and has less "life" left in it. (I currently have a very old cast iron sink that has a big chip on one side and the bottom is permanently stained. I don't know how it was cared for over the years, but it has definitely done it's time.).

That would especially concern me if I was having cabinets, etc designed around it, because what happens if it fails in five or ten years? I don't think it can be adequately refinished for kitchen use and it might be difficult to find an exact replacement.

I do think it is lovely and would be a great focal point. Sorry to be a negative vote and if you decide to go with it, I hope it is in great condition and I'm all wrong!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:57AM
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feisty68

I would go vintage in your kitchen. I had an ancient sink like that in one apartment. We cleaned it periodically with toilet bowl cleaner - got out all the stains. Sometimes a vintage sink just makes the kitchen when the rest of the home fits with that.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 1:13AM
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jennybc

Mine is not installed yet.... But here she is. It's an old laundry sink for my kitchen clean up sink. Very deep with slight ridges on the inside edge. Love it! It will have a turned leg stand built. 42" wide

Jen

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 5:24AM
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CEFreeman

My not-vintage Kohler farm sink sat on my garage floor for a couple years (another story, another time) and developed rust underneath and on the corner. Not terribly noticeable unless you're sitting on the floor building the drawer underneath. That said, vintage never = perfect!

I admit, my first thought was that was that you're friends are very much like my thank-God-former-in-laws. Extremely superficial. If it wasn't new it was garbage. If it didn't cost $$ originally? garbage. However, they were the most penurious shoppers I've ever met and could find that expensive, new piece somewhere for 1/2.

That said, though, to each his own. I find myself feeling sorry for people who are so limited in their imagination.

I like the sink a lot. I'd go with it.

This post was edited by CEFreeman on Sun, Apr 27, 14 at 0:30

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 9:11AM
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saintpfla

CRL:

That's great feedback! I don't want everyone to agree with me -- you don't take in all aspects if everyone agrees with you. I want to ensure I've really vetted this decision. It's an expensive purchase. And, it's not like there's a manufacturer warranty that comes with it.....

Raee:
That's a great idea about the faucet measurements. I never thought of that. I also want a photo of the underside of the sink. Any major rust issues should be visible.

Jenny:
That is a really beautiful sink! I love the sculptured edge. What a great find! That's a great idea on having a turned leg stand built for it.....hmmmm.....giving me ideas now!

This sink is also 42" long. But, the right basin is more shallow than the left. I currently have a normal drop-in double stainless steel sink. I like it. I like having the utilization. I'd prefer a deep single sink -- but - just haven't found any. They get snapped up fast.

I don't want the drain board sink because I have such a limited space., I don't want to lose counter space real-estate with a drain board. I'd rather just have the sink and I can dry dishes and put anything away that they're drying on.

I know shouldn't -- but -- I feel like a pest in asking this salvage place for 18,000 requests about this sink.
"Can you take a picture of this?"
"What's the measurements of that?..."
"Is that a stain or just dirt?"

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:29AM
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greenhaven

It's their job to answer questions! let them now you are serious, will they wait a certain period of time for you to decide?

CEFreeman: Penurious? What an awesome word choice! I have never had that used in an actual conversation, lol!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:35AM
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eholmes1

I'm a vintage cast iron enamel sink/tub fan myself, but I would be wary about buying a sink I could not inspect in person. It's too easy to destroy the finish on these old sinks with abrasive cleaners. Are the sink basins glossy or dull in the photos you have?

The original faucet may be a real find as well -- a lot of modern faucets seem to be made mostly of plastic instead of metal like the old ones.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 10:43AM
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powermuffin

I would love to have a vintage sink, double or single bowl. My only caution is that it doesn't look like a garbage disposal will fit in either drain hole. If that doesn't bother you and you understand that old stuff is never perfect, then go for it.

I ignore people that make decisions about things just based on the fact that the thing is old. My whole house (1908) is furnished with upcycled stuff and I love it. But I can live with imperfections, including my own!
;]
Diane

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:16AM
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saintpfla

eHolmes1:

I'm assuming that the sink has been scrubbed and bleached to death before ending up in the salvage yard. I mean, back in the 1920s-30s, people used Comet and BonAmi on a regular basis. I don't expect that it would be 'glossy'.

It doesn't look like it is glossy in that photos. But, they don't look stained either. So, it's been heavily cleaned over the years.

That's the dilemma -- glossy or live with 'matte'.

Now - is there a functional issue if it's matte and no longer glossy? That's what I do not know.

I would assume you cannot go super glossy on cabinet colors either or it would like odd with a large 'matte' piece in the kitchen, correct?

My cabinet color will be white btw.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:46AM
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saintpfla

I found this...it's pretty cool...since we're talking about vintage sinks and kitchens. Great photos!

http://retrorenovation.com/2010/02/08/14-vintage-kohler-kitchens-and-two-mid-century-kitchen-sinks-they-still-offer-today/

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 11:48AM
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writersblock

Saintpfla, if you're interested in the period of your original kitchen, you might want to check out this site, which has great information about the period before mid-century (they have another sister site for mid-century).

As for the sink finish, yes, once the top layer of glass is gone, a cast iron sink will stain more easily than while it's still shiny. However, I don't believe the sink you want really was a kitchen sink. That style was used more as a utility/laundry sink. Deep bowls were not popular at all in kitchens till quite recently. So the finish probably hasn't been as stressed as if it had been in a kitchen, but one thing I would for sure check is the size of the drain opening to be sure it meets kitchen code. I've found a lot of cool sinks over the years that couldn't be used in a kitchen because the drain was too small.

Here is a link that might be useful: 1920s kitchen gallery

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:48PM
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saintpfla

Thanks for the tips and the link! I love looking at those old photos and renderings!

I have been calling my plumber for that kind of advice and just to find out the potential install pitfalls before I buy the sink....such as the drain hole size. I have no idea and didn't think to ask about that.

Frankly....really frustrated with them. It seems that they only want to talk to me if the meter is running. They are a large McPlumber company...so...go figure.

I'm not trying to re-create the kitchen to the 1920s....I just want a few vintage features...like a sink. I prefer the modern conveniences of today's kitchens....such as refrigeration and electricity! ;)

I don't mind a utility/laundry sink...it's probably more convenient for washing large baking sheets and large pots.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 4:54PM
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writersblock

>I prefer the modern conveniences of today's kitchens....such as refrigeration and electricity

You know, Good Housekeeping in 1914 had directions for building your own dishwasher, if you couldn't afford to buy one. (Just as an aside, the level of electrical knowledge they thought the average housewife should have is pretty fearsome today. I certainly couldn't adjust armature windings, but that was all the day's work back when AC and DC were slugging it out for dominance.)

By the 20s most any urban area was electrified. Lake Worth across the state from you started up their plant in 1913, and I bet St Pete would have been way ahead of them, since it was so much more developed so much earlier.

Having said that, no, there's no reason to recreate the original kitchen, but it does help to know what was in it and why when you're redoing it. I hope you noticed how almost every kitchen in that gallery had a breakfast nook, like you've found the bits of in yours, but those usually went away pretty quickly because people decided they could make better use of the space, especially in small houses.

Here's an article to support your decision not to take out walls. Interestingly, in many publications in the 20s you'll find there was a big reaction to the one big room style of the bungalows just before that time--that it was terrible to expect your kids not to have any privacy to entertain their friends and so on. I'm sure we'll see something similar happen in the not too distant future re the current great room trend.

Here is a link that might be useful: 11 reasons against an open kitchen

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 5:53PM
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Circus Peanut

Go for it! I have used vintage enamel sinks in the past and will be using one again in my own upcoming remodel.

You do need to ensure that the drain size is appropriate for whatever you want to do with it (can it accommodate a modern disposal? Some old ones can, some are 1/2" too small). Have them shoot you a close-up with a ruler. I *think* the exact size is 3.4" - 4" for a disposal, but do google to double-check.

In terms of a faucet, they still make nice adjustable-width laundry sink faucets precisely for these sinks (Chicago Faucets is a great source for solid ones that look just like their predecessors), so you can accept a fairly broad range of backsplash holes from 6" to 10".

The gloss level is also a good question for follow-up. Get more photos from different angles with light or a flash on it. Dull isn't bad, per se, but it's true that the duller it is the more easily it will stain in the future. Not that you can't keep re-scrubbing it, but it's a factor.

One thing is certainly true: there are more of these sinks out there, even this exact model, if you pass this one up. I've seen yours go by a number of times in various venues, like eBay.

Have you checked out This Old Tub and Sink? They are awesome and Kevin will take excellent care of you. Slightly pricey but he vets his sinks and tubs very well. I just bought a single deep basin drop-in from him and am very pleased with it. Link to the site below.

If you're looking for a single bowl vintage farm sink, there's this popular laundry sink model from the 20s that shows up regularly:

link to current eBay auction, $200

Enjoy! Vintage items aren't perfect, but then again after a bit of use most modern ones aren't, either. And the aesthetics just cannot be beat. Take it from a dedicated user of a 1949 stove. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: This Old Tub & Sink, Boston

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 8:05AM
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saintpfla

Hey CircusPeanut!

I've enjoyed reading about your renovations over the years and have borrowed some of your suggestions too. I like that you have tackled so many projects yourself. I tend to be the same way -- and sometimes regret it! ;)

I've been to the ThisOldTub&Sink site before...they nice stuff but...wow....$$$$$.

WritersBlock:
Thanks for that info! I like the separate rooms rather than one great room. To each his or her own -- but, to me, why remodel an old house to look like new construction? Just buy something already like that. Don't ruin the historic aspects and uniqueness of the building.

The house I grew up in Boston was built in the early 1700s. My parents painstakingly renovated it to the original look. They sold it and we moved out of state years and years ago.

It's up for sale now, I came to learn -- the house has been gutted completely - with 'great rooms' and slate tile over 1 foot wide original oak floors -- IF they even saved the floors? Original details and windows -- removed and replaced with picture windows. Walls removed. Fireplace - renovated to look "contemporary". Additions added (um...it was a 11 room house to begin with!)

Makes me sad to see it.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 3:52PM
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raee_gw

Oh, that really is sad! Doesn't it make you wonder WHY they bought that historic house in the first place, if historic wasn't what they wanted?

Had something similar in my next neighborhood over -- an historic district dating to 1803 when the village was established. The people bought a house, then the house next to it, then wanted to tear down one and completely remake the other into a mini-mcmansion complete with fake river rock exterior and a turret. Very local golf-course-home style. At first the commission turned them down; unfortunately after much begging and wailing about how it was their dream house, dream location, they wanted to raise their family here etc etc the commission gave in and approved it. It sticks out like a sore thumb, but I guess they are living their dream.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 6:21PM
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iroll_gw

I love the vintage cast iron sink, but if you prefer a single basin, I'd wait for one.
If you really want to go crazy expensive, Kohler still makes a cast iron sink like the one you're considering, and with a single basin, called the Harborview (but it's almost $3K)

Here is a link that might be useful: Kohler Harborview

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 7:15PM
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detroit_burb

I have a vintage double Crane earthenware white laundry sink like the one in jennybc's picture in my basement. these can be had with some searching and have really nice edges. The depth is 12".

keep looking.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 11:38PM
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CEFreeman

I want a vintage sink.

When (not if, but when) I can save for my soapstone counters, I'm replacing my lovely sink. I need something with bigger bowls, anyway.

Then, I'll have two, matching Kohler farm sinks for my barn.

But now, I want a vintage-y thing.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 12:35AM
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greenhaven

Wrecking those historic homes is nigh onto criminal. The very least one could do is actually tear them down and give them a decent burial. Now they must be like that woman who keeps getting plastic surgery to look like a cat- horrifying and unnatural.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 8:22AM
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