Prep sink in a small kitchen?

jenmaApril 28, 2010

How small is too small for two sinks? Anyone out there who has a small kitchen and LOVES their prep sink?

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It really depends on the individual layout and if you're giving up necessary work space to have one. Will you still have at least one good span of counterspace for spreading out and doing larger projects if you have a prep sink? And proper location is always key to having a prep sink...If it can't be in the right spot (for me that means in between fridge and stove with good prep workspace next to it), it often won't be worth the spot it takes...Not only do you lose the counterspace, but at least part of the storage underneath. I love my prep sink, and would have one if at all possible, even in a much smaller kitchen than I have now, but I have seen kitchens where they just won't fit the situation.

I went back to your other thread to reacquaint myself with your layout. I could actually see your layout working with or without a prep sink, especially since it's just the 2 of you. I like where Buehl had the prep sink on the peninsula...Handy for a quick hand-washing, as you'd expressed a need for, and also handy to fridge and stove, with nice prep space in between. I wouldn't move it nearer the stove and lose that prep span, as Buehl said.

I'm not sure why a prep sink is a budget buster? Is it because of the extra plumbing? I'd think it'd be less than a beverage cooler or other under-counter fridge you mentioned, which seem to me to be quite pricey for the space they offer, so maybe you'd have to decide which will work more for you in the long run. What would be more important for me wouldn't necessarily be what will be used more in your house.

Here is a link that might be useful: layout discussion

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 6:36PM
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I have a fairly small kitchen area. It's 11' x 8' L-shaped with an 8' island. If the island was a wall, it would be a tiny galley. It sits in a 16' x 30' room, so it appears to be a big kitchen, but the prep area is small. I ordered 17 cabinets for our remodel if that gives you an idea.

We have a prep sink in the island. I love it. We have a huge veggie garden and I clean and cut on the island. When we entertain, we fill the prep sink with ice and use it as a wine chiller or beer cooler. It's fabulous. If you can fit it in, go for it.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 6:39PM
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We bought a beverage frig for $250 on craigslist. I'm thinking now of expanding the area under the window (on the L side of the layout) next to my china hutch to have a beverage center for our teapot, espresso maker, etc with a beverage frig under it. Although not necessary, I thought it was a nice feature for a minimal amt of money (especially if we end up putting the frig in the nook of the peninsula) . . I was just at the Ferguson showroom and they honestly told me not to skimp on sinks and the cheapest (15" SS prep sink) was $250! And then at least another $150 for the faucet (I was brushed nickel). . . Not the plumbing really (since we have to replumb the whole house), but the materials alone.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 6:51PM
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prep sink really has to do with how it impacts your entire kitchen floor plan rather than how big or small your kitchen is. We have moderate sized kitchen, 13 x 13 ft. We have 90 inch island. That would have been an ideal place for a prep sink for kitchen fuctionality. However, I did not want to interrupt the island with sink or cooktop for "other" functionality issues. My kids do homework there every day, and I don't want their homework paper to get wet or get in their way when I am making dinner. We also eat breakfast there every day and I did not want to look at the sink every morning while eating breakfast. Just personal preference. So we nixed the prep sink. For us, the island works more like an old fahioned kitchen table than actual "kitchen" island where one "preps" on it. I use the area for dry prepping, ie baking. If we had a kitchen table, I may have put in a prep sink but we don't. We have a very modern open floor plan and the island and the kitchen actually look better without prep sink. So all of these things go into consideration.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 7:02PM
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I've always really wanted a prep sink so someone could do dishes while another washed veggies, etc. I'm planning to convert a U-kitchen to an island instead of one arm of the U, but the problem is that the main sink will likely go in the island, and it's really not giganto enough room for the prep sink there too.

So, I'm looking more at how the floorplan and island will still allow much more "2-cooks" function with lots more room for chopping or assembling, and getting out of each others' way, so that the opened up plan and island surface gets me most of the way to where I want to be in terms of work flow. Point is, a floorplan change makes "sharing" the sink, and the whole kitchen, more possible than the prior boxed-in plan.

I'm also trying to keep in mind that we are empty-nester wannabe's, so that most of the time DH and I would be able to coordinate dishes vs. washing fruits and veggies, and a larger expanse of island will still be an improvement for some family cooking during holidays, for buffets or cooking projects.

So, whichever way you go, agree with above posts about the more important thing is to really examine your particular work flow and functions, your cooking style and habits, and see how much you need extra sink or just multiple work zones. You may have your aha moment that clears it up.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 7:18PM
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kasimom- do you find it annoying to have to cross back and forth to get to a sink while prepping? Or do you not use your island at all for prepping? Also, are you a 1 cook or 2 cook kitchen?

rhome410-- I am assuming that you prefer the layout where we have two sinks and the cooktop inside (to the right wall) of the peninsula and the good view for prep?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 7:18PM
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Maybe I'm obsessing unnecessarily, but that's what internet forums are for, right? To keep you from pestering family and friends and turn to likeminded obsessors. That said, I don't really know what kind of a function we need (We've lived in NYC with 0 kitchen room) and now I'm in med school and DH works 80+ hrs/wk. Aka we live on frozen meals and salad in a bag, but I hope one day to be a multi-cook household. DH says to plan the kitchen for how we ARE, not how we'll be. But I'm a planner. I doubt we'll ever host a lot of big dinner parties/holidays (1000sqft house), but again you never know. I used to have 10+ people squeeze into our 500sqft apt in NYC for dinner parties.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 7:48PM
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So I'm going to say that even a small secondary sink would have made using a small kitchen easier for us. It's just me and the DH but having someplace to drain pasta or canned goods, rinse veggies or fill a cup of water would have kept us from fighting as much over the sink! Everyones right that it needs to fit good as well but I'd work really hard to fit one in!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 7:59PM
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I definitely disagree with your dh on this one!! Strongly. Plan the kitchen for how you WANT it to work, not based on today's limitations. If you do that, you'll never get to change, grow, and improve, because you'll be kind of stuck with what you have. I've always cooked and baked, but was never particularly adventurous. My new kitchen, with a great functional layout, room to work, and nice tools, has opened up new avenues to me...Motivation-wise, I guess. It is a joy to cook and try new things. I could always make things like pizza, bread, stir fry, etc., but often got premade as a crutch. Now almost everything is from scratch and I love cooking from fresh ingredients. It just doesn't really take much longer, but my new kitchen calls to me to give things a try. ;-)

I could deal with other layouts, but do think I liked Buehl's 2-sink plan with cleanup on the back wall and prep on the peninsula best.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 8:02PM
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if you are in med school and obsessing about kitchen... Hm... Girl, you need to get grades so you can match in a good residency. That's your first priority.

Depending on your situation, the probability of staying in your town is pretty low, if you are matching in any kind of competetive residency. During your residency, you will have even less time than now to cook. After that, you are NOT likely to live in this house for reasons that are pretty obvious to you if it is that small. I disagree with rhome on this. I would not put too much effort and money into the kitchen now.

I am 10 years out of my residency and NOW I finally have the money and time to do the kitchen remodel the way I want. You will NOT have time for many many years to come. I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 9:13PM
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Kaismom--Thanks for the well wishes. I'm finishing 2nd yr, starting Step 1 prep and I'll need it. But I have to admit; match is definitely NOT my 1st priority. I want to do well, but balance is key in the medical profession (otherwise my life will be over and I won't have enjoyed it!) I'm in the Boston area and I'm staying here (thankfully many residencies) because that's where DH is and honestly I think we'll stay in the house. My parents live nearby and have big houses for holidays, etc. So I'm planning for the future. . . Plus small is the new big. I have so much more time now than I did in college and I'm not going to be a surgeon. Plus isn't remodeling more fun than biochemistry?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 9:21PM
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I think your spouse is saying to plan for the family you are, not the family you wish you were. You can always spend more later, but you can't get the money back if you've spent it remodeling for a possible future that never happens.

Right now, you're thinking $500 for a sink is a budget buster. Been there! There are a couple of other budget things that you may not know - so here goes. The labor for everything will be close to the cost of "the stuff." Sometimes, if you buy inexpensive stuff, the labor can actually be more. In other words, because you buy ikea cabinets doesn't mean the drywall guy is going to charge you less than someone who bought cabinets costing 3 times as much.

Whatever you think you'll spend, you'll exceed it. If this is your first major remodeling project - it's likely you'll exceed it by 50 to 100% of your total budget.

You'll run into unexpected things. If you're moving the utilities, doing walls or replacing windows, they can have small to whopping price tags depending on your local area rates and what your municipality may require. Your house may have weird wiring, plumbing or heating. Your city may require 15 sets of architect drawn plans. What you want to do may not meet building codes.

You'll think you can do it yourself, but you guys are so busy you probably can't without incurring significant stress ON TOP OF the tremendous stress load that accompanies a remodel. And you won't know some stuff that comes from experience - like you'll probably spend at least $100 on paint.

We're almost done and have just crossed the "pain line" financially. This is partly because this remodel was forced upon us, but also partly because of decisions we made in the process. They were wonderfully thought out as far as adding to our lives, but poorly thought out as to their impact on the budget and helped along by some undiscovered water damage.

The time and money causes some relationship stress! :) In our case, we've done this before so we both know we're stressed out and a bit snippy. We know that will pass.

You sound like you're carrying an internal picture of "home" and what you'd like your kitchen to be. I'd like mine to be 16 x 24 feet with windows on 3 sides and a big french range, but that it's the kitchen or budget I have. Seeing who you are and not being driven by an internal magazine picture is the hardest part.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 6:06AM
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I decided not to have a prep sink in my kitchen. I went round and round with myself on this issue. I prep between my stove and my main sink. When I first moved into the house, I replaced the kitchen sink with a Blancowave 1 1/2 sink. It has a deep 20 1/2 inch bowl and a shallower 9 inch bowl. When I cook I use the shallow bowl for washing food and the deep bowl for washing non-dishwashing items. It worked so well for me that when I remodeled I decided not to add the extra sink and I kept the Blanco sink and top mounted it on my granite counter. My mom and I cook together on Sunday afternoons and do not have any problems sharing the sink. If I had more space I might have added a second sink but I wanted the most uninterrupted counter space I could get in three areas. Works well for my family and we have had four people cooking in the kitchen at once.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 7:20AM
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Circus Peanut

hi jen,

Entirely different field, but I've done the postdoc grind and know how important it is to have a good solid distraction! ;-)

I also have a small kitchen (10x11) and we decided on a prep sink for our cooking habits (he preps, I cook, and we bottleneck at one sink). LOVE it, great decision. Never regretted it.

Re. $$: we used a 15" round deep enamel sink I scored at Habitat for Humanity for all of $12. (Appropriately for this thread, it's from a defunct hospital.) Here in Portland ME, the Restore has at least 20 enamel and stainless sinks at any given moment, in all sizes, so definitely check out the Restores in your area (or zip up here to Portland!).

Another tip: my dad made us a cherry cover for the sink, so if we're not using it we lose no counter space. Not the best pic of the sink, but you can see the cover sitting on the counter behind it:

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 8:30AM
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I have a small, oddly shaped kitchen...My counter top run is basically along one wall that is 18' long. I do not have an island. I chose to put 2 sinks on the 18' wall. One is the main sink where we wash dishes, rinse plates etc. The other is a prep sink that is all the way at the end of the cabinet run...sink is in a cabinet that butts into the wall. The range is between the 2 sinks and there is decent counter space between each sink and the range.

When I posted my layout here, a lot of people commented that the prep sink wasn't needed, was in a bad place etc. But I went ahead and did it anyway, and it is one of my favorite things about my kitchen. It is what made my kitchen functional for multiple cooks. Now, my husband can wash dishes in the main sink, I can man the stove, and my 13 year old can use the prep sink to wash & prepare veggies. Works great. Sure, the sink along the wall isn't the best, but it was the best solution for us given the space. I even wound up with a considerably bigger prep sink than I planned due to a screw up by the granite company. In the end, the bigger prep sink is working just great too. Here's my layout.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 8:38AM
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My comment wasn't in response to being a doctor or doing a residency, since those are nothing I can speak to, experience-wise. What I was speaking to, which still may have some merit in this situation, is that many people cook the way they do now, because of what the kitchen they have now offers them. They heat up only frozen convenience foods, or don't entertain or cook together, because their workspace doesn't excite them or allow them to do more. Others have gotten locked into 'the way we do things' and miss opportunities to have things better, because they're blinded by current habits.

I'm only encouraging you to look beyond those things and go ahead and stretch for something better if it's possible...I'm not saying spend a fortune to create a dream kitchen you can't afford and will never use before you move in a year or two. But if you can look toward a lazy couple of days every few weeks in your stressful schedule to cook away in your kitchen as a couple, or can have it set up so you feel you can mix yourself a fresh stir-fry or amazing omelet instead of microwaving a pre-packaged meal, make a kitchen that will help you do those things, and that will make your life a little brighter, even though it's not the exact way you're living in this particular moment. I hope that makes sense...

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:53AM
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I was never attracted to the idea of a prep sink, but I think things like that are full-time obstacles (holes in the counter, faucets sticking up) for occasional benefits (how often do you REALLY, honestly need a second sink? Only you can answer).

I am a vegetarian, go to the farmer's market, and I probably bring back a lot more whole cabbages, cauliflower, leeks, beets etc -- vegetables that need sorting out -- than many people. And I do it in my 24" single bowl sink, or if I need more space, I fill a bowl of water or a plastic dishpan and sit it on the counter. Then when I'm done, I put the containers away and have my counter space back.

It can be done. It just depends on what you feel you'll get the most use out of.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 10:21AM
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Prep sinks sure can be a heated discussion!

In response: of course no one really knows what the future holds in terms of how long I will stay in the house, but we want this to be our forever house and are planning accordingly (or at least I am). And I agree with rhome410 that if you don't have the space or functionality in your kitchen, it makes new cooking experiences annoying, and a bad layout/lack of sink can keep you from exploring (or one negative experiences subconsciously stops you from trying again).

Although currently we don't ever jam up at the sink, I think that two sinks is really going to be worth it. I can't imagine using a bowl as a portable sink (that's just not my style) And another sink will be useful for handwashing and filling up coffee pots/tea kettles as well as prepping. In terms of it being an obstacle, well only the faucet is really an obstacle because you can get a cutting board to put over it while not in use,

Now I'm trying to decide whether to put the DW at the main sink (towards a corner and possibly clashing doors with the range) or at the prep sink (free on a peninsula but not a big cleaning sink.)

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 11:21AM
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it's me again. starting June 2010 (unless much has changed in med school), you will be in the hospital 70 to 80 hours per week except for 1 to 2 week off at Christmas and maybe a week off for spring break. During that entire time, you will not sleep 1 to 2 nights per week every week. Your husband is working 80 hours a week. Prey tell, who will manage your kitchen remodel? Who is going to leave work and meet the contractor when he/she uncovers plumbing issue that needs to be dealt with right then and there? It's either that or you are paying the guys at the job their salary with nothing to do. $50/hr that adds up! Unfortunately, in medicine, we can't just go to the office late after meeting with the contractor or leave during lunch to meet with the contractor etc. This is just one of the perks of the job!

I have done several remodels where I had extremely comfortable budget. Even so, it is extremely stressful to manage your job, marriage, kids, and other obligations on top of the demands of remodel. Whether you are trying to get into competetive residency or not, 3rd year medical school is extremely time consuming. Most people also find it emotionally draining.

4th year of med school is much lighter. I would perhaps wait and see how third year goes before starting the kitchen remodel. Torn up kitchen is much more stressful on the psych than an intact kitchen that is too small.

Since this is almost May, I would NOT start anything until you start your 3rd year in June. If I am completely wrong and that you find 3rd year a breeze, then you can start your remodel after June. What I would not do is to start something now, and not be able to concentrate on getting the kitchen done for a very long time.

If you had said that your husband is able to devote the time necessary to see the remodel through, I would not be giving this advice. I also understand that this is none of my business. So take this for what it is worth: an opinion from a complete stranger on the internet....

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 11:36AM
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I hope I didn't come off as argumentative or creating a 'heated' discussion, because I didn't intend that at all...Just trying to explain what I meant, which wasn't related to your challenging career. :-)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 1:08PM
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I think the Kubus KBX104-18 (Franke) might be a good option here.
It's shallow!
Consider this sink, with NO faucet!
You would just have water in a container, for those times you need it.
Or, you would install a hose and spray wand somewhere in the wall.
growlery is able to express the objections. "...holes in the counter, faucets sticking up..."
I concur.

(p.s. i didn't read the above posts thoroughly.)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 2:31PM
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Jenna, I'm coming into this late, and I think you've gotten some great advice, but I'll throw this on top of it:

I often am the sole cook, even when I'm feeding a dozen or more people--or just me.

Often there are four or more people all looking for workspace in my kitchen.

It took a year of planning, and of swinging too far toward one or the other situation, but I managed to get a kitchen that fits in the space of the old, miserable, nonfunctional kitchen, that works beautifully in either scenario. I mean really well!

That's what I would advise you, or anyone else, to do: Make a plan that makes it easy for either of you to throw together an instant dinner, for one of you to spend a happy weekend cooking, and for you and all your relatives to get together and cook for a crowd--in your house because the XYZ isn't working at mom's. A place where your favorite kids, and maybe one day even kids of your own, can help you in the kitchen and not feel in the way or really be in the way.

If you're careful, if you really think through how things work, if you spend your relaxation time checking through threads here about workflow, and rehearsing how you like to cook in the space you have, and how things work in better kitchens you hang out in, you will come up with the best plan for you, and for your house.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 2:31PM
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We had a prep sink in our old island and thought of removing it when we had the countertops replaced because I wanted the additional counter space in the island. While we were deciding, we had to live without it for a few months and realized how much we used it. Before that, I just didn't think we used it enough to warrant it in the new kitchen. Boy was I wrong.

When we had the granite put in on our much bigger, new island, we also had a bigger new prep sink put in. I love it! In a kitchen when there are often multiple cooks (when my family is over we're talking 3-4 people mulling around doing stuff) it's absolutely wonderful to have the second sink. Even when it's just my husband and me in the kitchen, we end up using it a lot because the main sink is otherwise occupied.

I agree with plllog about rehearsing first. And if you often have more than one cook, remember to think about who else might be in the kitchen, what they are doing and how they might be using the sinks too.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 10:09PM
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Re-reading the OP, I guess I should mention that I don't have a small kitchen - it's 20' x 13', although that does reach into the breakfast nook a bit, so maybe really more like 16' x 13'. I don't know how small is too small. I guess my decision point would be when the sacrifice of counter space is worse than the benefits of a second sink.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 10:48PM
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First time poster but EXTENSIVE reader of the forums. I'll start by thanking all fellow garden-webbers who read this post, and those who don't, for the many tidbits of wisdom and advice I've gleaned over the past few months while planning my kitchen.

My question, too, pertains to "prep sink or not". I've gotten advice from several who have "been around the kitchen block" to try very hard to include one. I had written it off, not thinking I could forgo the counter space, but I've recently panicked and am reconsidering.

My main sink is a large-ish single bowl -- because the Franke with integral ledge with double bowl wouldn't fit -- and is in the island along with DW. There is 2' landing on either side of sink, so I think it's a decent prep area even for 2 people. The back of the island is a raised bar, 6" higher than the prep portion. The rest of the kitchen is an L shape, about 13' on one leg and 11.5' on the other. Counter does not run fully because fridge subtracts from one end, the pantry/wall oven from the other, leaving about 10' and 7' respectively. On the 10' leg, there is a cooktop in the center, and my hood has towers that sit in the back 14" of the counter, straddling the cooktop - another counter interruption. This leaves my largest expanse of counter as the entire 7' leg. If I add a sink to that, it, too, is interrupted and hence my dilemma.

Now for my solution, but I'd love feedback. I thought I'd put a trough style sink along the back half, 23" long and 7" wide. To the right would be about 2' counter, to the left 3' to the corner of my L, and in front of sink I'd still have at least 12" of counter. What's more, my carpenter can fabricate a cutting board to fit exactly inside the trough, giving me uninterrupted counter when desired. I've even thought of a wall-mounted faucet here, but that's still undecided. What do folks think?

Beware, I've already purchased all of my cabinets and I'd have to retrofit my 24" base cabinet to receive the sink (which won't be an issue).... point here is, I don't have a ton of flexibility at this point in the game. Thanks in advance for and and all input!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 10:41PM
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