Second thoughts about my sink--vintage 40s kohler drainboard

mermanmikeJune 18, 2012

I am wondering if the amazing think tank on here can help me make up my mind. I have had a great 40s sink in storage forever waiting for the right project to use it on. Over the past months of my kitchen redo I've been planning on integrating it into the kitchen in the 1830s Greek Revival we are renovating right now. Suddenly I have become apprehensive for a couple of reasons: It is 5 feet long, we have a dishwasher, and do I really need drainboards taking up all that room? And I love when I see the sinks with the high backs and wall-mount faucets, but I less commonly see the one I have:

For what it's worth, after a million versions of our plan, we decided on Medallion inset cabs for the lowers in the harbor mist finish, door style is santa cruz which is a modified shaker design. Here is the finish color:

The counters will probably be maple or alder butcher block. The uppers will be handmade by us in alder and probably oiled to match the wide plank pine floor that is oiled. The stove is a vintage Chambers. Just background details in case it helps you.

Anyone else have an opinion about using this kind of sink? Like I said, if it had the high back I wouldn't even be questioning it, but I just don't have any inspiration pics with my sink in it. I would love to see some if you have them. Because of the placement of two windows, I can't even use one with a high back 5 feet across. But I have been toying with the idea of using one of these:

This one would have to be the 36 inch version:


or as a complete departure from the vintage porcelain look, I'm contemplating the Kohler stages, which keeps coming up for me because it seems so useful.

My partner is now completely frustrated with how many times I've changed my mind about finishes so I think I am free to make this decision on my own. Help!! Thanks in advance.

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hi mermanmike, i am the happy owner of the kohler sink, pictured last in your lineup. though not in the kitchen, i have it installed in what we call the mudroom bath, located right between the kitchen & mudroom. i selected it primarily to handle bathing of small animals and to accommodate any large roasting pans that needed soaking over night, when i just didn't want to leave them lying around in the kitchen.

and even though i have two sinks in the kitchen: a shaw's 36" farm sink (single bowl) and a smaller (24"?) rohl aria, a lot of roasting pans come out during the holidays, some which i've had to soak some for a couple of days so i know the extra kohler would be very handy. plus, i think it looks great.

while i love the look of your vintage drainboard sink, i wonder if you've ever used a double sink before. if so i'm sure you will have realized its limitations. depending on their size, larger roasting pans just don't fit. you didn't mention the measurements of each bowl, but i'm guessing they can't be more than 18" wide and probably less. if you do a search you'll find many discussions on the merits of larger, single bowl sinks. some still prefer a double bowl, but as a recent converter to a single bowl i have to say, i am loving it.

if the bowls on your sink were wider (at least 30") i would jump at the chance to own a sink like that. definitely search the boards and weigh the decision again. GL and please post again. your kitchen sounds very interesting.

1 Like    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:36AM
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I'd be hard pressed not to use it. Those drainboards are a great prep area with a cutting board on them.

I think I like it because I like the unusual.
I keep seeing lots of these sinks at my reuse centers and have been vaguely entertaining the idea of how to get rid of my Kohler Hawthorne sink and use one of these. They're just so cool.

I'm no help, but because the back is lower, and more unusual, I like it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:51AM
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Your second sink is vitreous china--like a bathroom sink or toilet. I love the way it looks and have looked at it for my own kitchen, but I would be very nervous about using a fairly fragile material like that as a main kitchen sink.

What is the first reproduction sink you posted? It's a utility sink, isn't it?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:19AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I have a double drainboard sink, very similar to yours, that I use as a potting bench outside. After using a deep, single bowl apron sink, I'm now relieved that the vintage sink didn't fit the space in the kitchen. Aesthetically, it's wonderful--I think the drainboards would be great, but functionally, the shallow, double sink is a deal-breaker for me.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:45AM
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I think putting a sink like yours in the kitchen is something to do for aesthetics, not so much function. It really depends on how you use your sink though -- if you rarely wash big pans that don't fit in the DW, or if you have a large utility sink nearby that can handle them, then it might be OK. I am not saying that sink is nonfunctional, I'm just saying it would work better for certain cooking/cleaning styles than others. It would not work so well for me although the look would have been perfect in my kitchen.

I have a double sink, I need a double sink and don't ever plan to switch to a single. My new sink is a low divide Kohler vault and so far it has held everything I've tried to fit in it. The faucet makes a big difference too. My parents have a reasonably deep double sink, but the combination of full-height divider and low faucet makes it a challenge to rinse off cutting boards and tall pots (the washing you can do, it's the sluicing off afterward that's hard). So if you keep your very charming sink, I think it will work best if you get a faucet with a reasonably high arc.

The double drainboards that span the whole depth (width?) of the counter would be fantastic with wood countertops. I wish I had that.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:36AM
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I had a similar 1940s double sink/double drainboard in my last house. While I don't miss the double sink, I do miss having the integrated drainboards. I used one side for drying dishes (we didn't have a dishwasher) and the other for prep/defrosting. The drainboards were so useful, but the double sink was kind of a pain. The single bowl wall mount sinks are very cool and if you love those, don't tie yourself to this sink simply because you've saved it so long. Someone else will be able to use it and love it.

Since you are considering the Kohler sink, it seems like the usefulness of the drainboards is important. And, since you are putting in wood counters, you may really want some kind of prep surface/drainboard adjacent to the sink for wet things. Do you have space for a vintage single bowl with integrated drainboard? They are usually about 52" L. Or, if you do want to go with something new, you might throw the Whitehaus Farmhaus Fireclay single bowl with integrated drainboard into in pile of things to consider.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:50AM
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Love, love those vintage sinks, but I am a single bowl sink kinda gal. We switched out our doubles for a single of the same size and I can't say enough great things about it. However, I am one who doesn't mind having a draining rack on the mother-in-law, by contrast, will only have double bowls because she uses one for the draining rack.

If you decide not to use it in the kitchen, can you use it in a laundry room? If we had the room in ours, I would definitely have put one in.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:03AM
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I have a similar sink, but with one bowl...and we're planning to put it in the laundry/mudroom. Great for cleaning veggies or putting cut flowers in vases. The drainboards will be perfect for so many uses, but the sink is just too shallow to work in the kitchen. I'm hoping to find one like Laura Calders' (keeping my fingers crossed) for the kitchen :)

From [Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures](
    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:15AM
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Circus Peanut

Don't know if you're particular about era, but the sink you have is from the 50's/60's, designed to fit over more standardized cabinetry. It will be slightly easier to install with slightly less customization necessary, thus possibly slightly cheaper.

The earlier 20s/30/s sinks with the high backs were designed to be standalone with legs, and require a little more custom fitting for install.

Having side drainboards is really marvelous if you plan to do any kind of vegetable prep or dish rinsing at that sink. If you rarely wash dishes in it, the shallower depth and double bowl might not be an issue; however, they may really bug you if you plan on any real washing-up work there.

A lot depends on your countertop material, also. Both of the deeper single-bowl models you show will sit proud of the counter, so there will be no sweeping of crumbs down into the sink, if that's a desire, and gunk might tend to build up along the sides where it hits the counter, requiring regular swiping into hand or trash.

They're all gorgeous: it's really just a matter of carefully recording exactly how you use your current sink, what you love and what you hate about it because of your cleaning/usage habits, and getting the best sink model to accommodate that.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:43AM
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Just as an FYI, here's a sink from 1929 that's similar to yours:

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 2:26PM
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I'm with CEFreeman. I think the drainboard would be a great prep area for fruit, veggies, and even messy meats like whole chickens or turkey.

Can you put the dishwasher under the drainboard side of the sink?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 2:29PM
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I knew this was the right place to come with my concern! I am getting a lot out of all your replies. I want to respond to a few:

Kate: Such good points. This is exactly what is drawing me to the Kohler just seems like it could be so useful, despite that it doesn't have the same charm. I did use a sink almost exactly like the one I am considering (sand 1 drainboard) in an apartment I had in college. I remember that soaking a pot meant filling it up and leaving it on the drainboard overnight (or on the kitchen table). And you're right, I think the interior dimensions of each bowl are something like 17 or 18 inches. Smallish for sure.

CE: Thanks for your snapped me back into why I originally snagged it. I do think it is extremely beautiful. When I moved out of the apartment I had with one of these, despite its flaws, I remember wanting to take it with me.

Marcolo: Great point--I honestly did not know there was a difference, but that explains why a lot of the pictures I have found of that sink have been in bathrooms and mudrooms. The other sink I posted is the Kohler Brockway, which again is pictured exclusively in bathrooms:

HLove: Yes, I know I will find somewhere to use it if we use something else in the kitchen. And if not, what the heck, its just plain fun lugging it around the country with me! ;-) J/K

LL: I forget where you live, but I discovered a great place near Oneonta recently that has something like Laura's sink...

Marti8a: Yes, the drainboards would sit on top of the counter, so a dishwasher could go under part of one.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 3:15PM
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Mike- Thank you for the link. I'm in eastern Washington, but I'll check it out :)

Another idea...will you have a prep sink, in your layout? If you did, that could be a good sized, deep sink and you could use your vintage sink by the dishwasher. Would that work?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 4:00PM
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The Brockway is a lav, so it's pretty shallow and requires a very specific faucet. I'm going through a similar struggle in my own kitchen.

However, if your house is 1830s why not a soapstone sink? You can make your own integral backsplash with a wall-mount faucet.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 9:01AM
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Those are beautiful, Marcolo...I have considered a soapstone sink before and now I am thinking in that direction again thanks to you! I am at a point where everyone in my life rolls their eyes when I start talking kitchen details. You all make me feel normal!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 7:37AM
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Mike- You are normal...they're the ones, who don't understand the TKO way of life! LOL

Seriously, I feel the same way when I talk about gardening, with anyone but my mom :)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 10:27AM
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Let's not forget Sabjimata's gorgeous funky GW kitchen with soapstone sink:

Here is a link that might be useful: Sabjimata's blog

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 3:28PM
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Hi, If you could find a 1940's Kohler single sink with double drainboards I think you would be much happier. We lived in a 1940's cottage for 20 years and, when we moved 5 years ago, the only thing I wanted to take with me was the kitchen sink. I found one and am having it restored and will install it in my 1880's farmhouse where we now live. A double sink is a royal pain! You had mentioned a window problem. Measure very carefully as you might be surprised that the backsplash is not as tall as it appears to be. I didn't think I would be able to use mine in my new house but, by removing the window sill molding, it will fit just fine. I just have to seal around the top really well with a good silicone sealer. Good luck! These old sinks really do make the kitchen!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 9:23AM
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I have that very sink in my laundry room and I love it! It is perfect for rinsing off veggies from the garden, potting starter seeds, arranging fresh cut flowers, and oh yes, soaking special items in the shallow sink. Here is a picture before faucet and finish of room.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 10:12AM
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We currently have a single bowl sink similar to the one in question installed in our 1840's farm house as a prep sink/pot washing area/farm sink. It's right next to our stove, which has been handy for things like canning, or just setting hot pots on its drainboards. When we put it in, the wall behind it turned out to not be perfectly flat, so there was a slight gap behind the middle portion but not the outer edges of the backsplash. We turned this into an advantage and store our knives there. Since this picture was taken, I've fitted a good size wooden cutting board on the right hand drainboard that's been very handy. We also could have custom-cut one to fit in the top of the sink hole, but didn't go that route.

I'll agree that it's an awesome spot for washing veggies, fresh eggs from the chickens, filling jars for canning, etc. We've really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, ours is no longer in good shape. The finish in the sink bowl is no longer shiny, and is extremely difficult to keep clean. We've also chipped it in a number of places so that it has the black underbody peeking through. (Hint: Don't store your canned goods in the cupboard over the drainboard, they aren't nice to the enamel when they fall!) We aren't getting rid of it though. It's slated to go outside to be used in a summer kitchen where we can cook and can outdoors.

Keep in mind that although lots of people like deeper sinks, if you are tall and are handwashing dishes, a shallow sink might be more comfortable to work at for you.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 10:33PM
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I am looking for a sink like this. Do you want to sell it??

    Bookmark   November 20, 2014 at 8:14PM
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I have used a sink like this for the past 5 years as my main kitchen sink. We moved recently and now I have one similar, but with only one bowl. Of the two, the double was handier for me. If you wash only large pot and pans or cookie sheets by hand, then I think a single is better. But for washing up regular dishes that are dishwasher overflow, the double bowl is fantastic. No need for a dishpan! It does have a charm and the drainboards... Once you get used to them, you won't want to go back to not having them! My old double bowl is in a house we rent out now, and I've thought about taking it out and saving it for a future kitchen reno.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2014 at 11:21PM
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Have you looked at the Kohler Gilford? I've had it very many years, just a great (big) sink with the high back. Faucets are difficult, but I solved that....

    Bookmark   November 20, 2014 at 11:38PM
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