Apron-front, farmhouse sink options… and why I decided AGAINST FIRECLAY.
I thought there was one kitchen decision that was finished… But then I remembered that if you think something is not a problem, it is most likely because you have not yet determined the extent to which it is actually a huge problem.
This is what I want in a sink:
I had originally wanted the 36” Rohl Shaw farmhouse sink… the larger size is visually appealing to me. But I’ve scaled back to the 30” sink because I’m not planning to bathe in the kitchen, and we don’t have a huge amount of space.
However. Over the last week, I’ve gotten my PhD in fireclay… I ended up in the quagmire of 500-open-tabs, trying to convince myself that a sink that gets half 5-stars and half 1-star doesn’t equal a possible problem.
The review here pretty much sums up everything I read about installation issues: it will be amazing to look at, but
you your husband might abandon the project halfway through.
What I already knew:
What I did not know:
–fireclay can crack.
–it can develop pitting.
–the sink measurements vary by as much as +/- 2%, across ALL PLANES.
–sometimes people have issues with drainage: if the pitch is off slightly, the water can pool in a shallow area away from the drain.
Basically, fireclay is a natural material; AND the sinks are handmade… which means, depending on your personality, EITHER:
Perfection is in the imperfection.
Or it will make you crazy.
I usually skew towards crazy… especially in the service of something shiny, but I think this is going to be a rare practical exception.
PLUS, I have to consider that my sink-installation-guy is brand new to the process.
I can guess how he will feel about me supervising the job; clutching my pearls, playing YouTube installation videos, and reading aloud instructions, (via bullhorn) that explain how YOU MUST BE CAREFUL WHEN TIGHTENING THE FLANGE.
I gave Paul a brief overview of this potential in-home circus, and he said getting it level wasn’t even his biggest concern… he was worried about the issue of how a true farmhouse sink shows the face of the cabinet’s rough opening.
And how for someone who has done this 500 times, no big deal… but for a guy who is married to the customer, and ALREADY perceives the customer as being “difficult,” there is the concern of mis-cutting / not-NASA-level-alignment / +/- 2% variation / and the extreme unlikelyhood of the lady of the house being satisfied with “we’ll just fill that space with caulk.”
This review details (with photos,) how a woman bumped her fireclay sink with a crockpot and a huge chunk fell off the front… This was sort of the deciding factor for me because regardless of whether this is a miniscule possibility:
A– I am a risk-adverse person who likes to control all factors.
B–my installation guy is NOT going to want to replace the sink… ESPECIALLY if it involves mathematical sorcery and removing the countertop.
So I started looking at other sinks… I really like a wall-mounted sink with an integrated backsplash.
I revisited the vintage option. I do really love an old sink, and they can be had for next to no money… but ultimately I think I’m addicted to the practicality of an undermount/being able to wipe the counter directly into the sink.
Below is my dream sink amalgamation. If I were a foot shorter, I’d do this… those are old utility sinks, and they are DEEP. But already I feel hunched over washing dishes, I can’t imagine reaching down another foot.
I see this version on craigslist from time to time or at the salvage yard and they look amazing in person– super thick and solid. Although you’d have to retrofit the drain to fit a garbage disposal. Most vintage sink drains aren’t large enough.
Considering everything– that I like the look of a farmhouse sink, I want to undermount, and it needs to be apron front because I’m 6’, Paul taller, and I’m hoping that installing the sink closer to my body is going to be a big improvement.
So I think what I’ve ended up with is the Kohler Whitehaven… these are sort of a faux farmhouse. They have a self-trimming face that covers the rough opening of the cabinet. So it LOOKS like you cut the cabinet to fit the front of the sink, but the lip of the sink is actually covering it.
October 15, 2015 @ 10:15 am
what a GREAT POST! thank you 🙂
September 12, 2016 @ 12:20 am
Your post is EXACTLY what I needed in all respects! Thanks for the great laughs AND advice. You just helped me close 499 of MY tabs!
February 16, 2017 @ 9:00 pm
October 15, 2015 @ 10:19 am
Fantastic choice. Does everything you want and gives Paul an easier install than any other. I am tall too and all my kitchen and bath counters are higher than standard. Makes a big difference when putting on makeup standing at the bath mirror and when chopping and doing dishes in the kitchen. Hope you are considering doing that.
October 15, 2015 @ 11:30 am
I was going to suggest the height thing too! I just have Ikea cabinets, but I mounted them a couple inches higher than normal and it makes me so happy. The bonus is that if your friends are short you can legitimately tell them that they literally *cannot* help you in the kitchen (I may have some control freak kitchen problems….)
October 15, 2015 @ 5:31 pm
I installed normal height counters, but I also got 3″ thick John Boos-style cutting boards! All my food prep is done on that, at an excellent height for me. I think you could get a 4″ thick one too.
That was my solution rather than elevate all my base cabinets, which would have elevated all the electrical, and shrunk the distance between my upper cabinets which I did not want to have custom-made.
August 14, 2017 @ 6:09 pm
I second this… or third… you get the point…
I’m tall as well and this just makes my back hurt thinking about it.
You are amazing. Thank you for your crazy.
October 15, 2015 @ 10:21 am
Thanks for this post!! I have been going back and forth regarding fireclay and cast iron farm sinkssinks. I really wanted the cat iron but almost talked myself into fireclay, said I’m having a professional install it so things will be ok. I’m going back to cast iron after reading your blog.
October 15, 2015 @ 10:23 am
We purchased the Kohler Whitehaven for our kitchen remodel last year. We have an 1830ish farmhouse in Pennsylvania. I love the offset drain and I can actually fit a large skillet in the sink with room to spare. It cleans up beautifully with a little Bar Keepers Friend. It’s VERY heavy. Get a team of horses to move that thing.
March 31, 2016 @ 11:53 pm
We chose this cast iron sink for our new construction. I’m online doing some research to make sure I want apron and not just an undercount sink. The decisions are keeping me awake!! Anyway… I read how these stain and such. I have kids. I could totally see them pouring red juice into sink and not rinsing. I see you mentioned bar keepers friend. Is this a constant scrub with major elbow grease?
October 15, 2015 @ 10:23 am
Why must every single decision be so bloody difficult? My husband keeps reminding me that I’m not trying to create world peace. But there are so many options and WHAT IF I MAKE A MISTAKE AND DIE WITH THE WRONG SINK?
So basically, I’ve been there. We had the white IKEA apron front sink in our last house and while I liked the idea of it, it had some chips and scuffs in the few years we lived there. This time, we’re going with a stainless apron front sink, 30 inch, single basin. And we also went with a Kohler “faux” front (the Vault).
October 30, 2015 @ 4:39 pm
This made me laugh out loud:
“WHAT IF I MAKE A MISTAKE AND DIE WITH THE WRONG SINK?”
February 16, 2017 @ 9:04 pm
I’ve delayed my cabinets by nearly four weeks, driven myself and everyone around me crazy, and lost sleep going back and forth between fireclay and cast iron. I’ve had a similar thought; WHAT IF I DIE AND MY HUSBAND AND SON ARE HERE WITH THIS EXPENSIVE SINK AND RUIN IT??!! I finally decided on cast iron too and have had to just let it go. After all, if I’m dead, will I really know what they’ve done to the sink?
February 25, 2017 @ 10:17 am
I loved your post! I appreciate all the info and the laughter! I was struggling with cast iron or fire clay, so thank you for answering all these questions! We are going with the same sink but for a 24″.
October 15, 2015 @ 10:24 am
I think you’ve made an excellent choice…. I wish someone would have told me that all my tee shirts would have little holes in them from leaning against my faux stone countertops…
October 15, 2015 @ 10:25 am
YOU have saved me an incredible amount of research time, sweetpea! Not only do I thank you, but so does my husband! (He just doesn’t know that yet!) xoxo
October 15, 2015 @ 10:26 am
Ugh. I looked at farmhouse sinks for a ridiculous about of time myself. I’m in the planning stages of our kitchen remodel and would love something vintage but we’re hoping to do an island sink so the vintage sinks on craigslist with the backsplash won’t work. :/
October 15, 2015 @ 10:30 am
I have the Koheler Whitehave and I love it! It does stain easily, so I let some bleach and water sit in it weekly! It’s very functional and it looks amazing
October 15, 2015 @ 10:32 am
I love our Kohler Whitehaven more than anything else in our kitchen.
Going on two years and no scratches or problems.
Stuff does get kind of stuck on the left side and I have to use the sprayer all the time to get that to the drain but that’s minor.
February 24, 2017 @ 11:26 am
I’m planning my kitchen now and I like the Kohler Whitehaven but I’m confused about why the inside front of the sink slopes inward which appears to make the bottom of the sink much smaller than the top would suggest. Is this an issue or am I making sh*t up?
October 15, 2015 @ 10:34 am
Oh my, it’s a good thing you did more research on the subject! I would never imagine a sink could chip so easily. I have the pooling problem in my bathroom sink and I hate it. The pitch to the drain is not enough to have all the water go down the drain. I really need to replace the sink. You certainly don’t want to have to deal with that! Obviously, this is one situation where your obsessiveness has paid off 🙂
October 15, 2015 @ 10:34 am
Excellent choice. We have the Ikea farmhouse sink. I am 5’7″ and the deepness of the sink kills my back. My only complaint but DH usually does the dishes. I agree with Katherine that you should consider making all your counters higher than usual. Paul will just love hearing that. 😉
October 15, 2015 @ 10:35 am
May I just add a simple “amen?” Undermount cannot be overrated.
October 15, 2015 @ 10:36 am
Looks good to me!
Another thing which makes it so easy for me to love you: I thought I was the only one who opened so many tabs my browser crashes and reads, re-reads, saves, charts, plans… then scraps it all and starts all over again when I am going to make a purchase. You make me feel less insane.
Well, no… you make me feel like I can hold up your picture and say “She’s just like me, except not lazy! So THERE!”
October 15, 2015 @ 10:36 am
“I ended up in the quagmire of 500-open-tabs..” HA! Just broke out laughing. My co-workers want to know what’s so funny! Loved this post – just like all the others.
June 3, 2017 @ 2:44 pm
Get the OneTab extension for Chrome – I’ve got nearly 7,000 tabs stored there by now. Categorized, grouped, can save as a file, transfer, etc., can’t recommend it highly enough.
October 15, 2015 @ 10:37 am
I feel your pain of hunched over dishwashing as I too am 6′ tall. Love the Kohler sink and think that’s the best choice by far. I’m also enjoying how the kitchen is coming together. AND you both still dance and seem happily married despite on going construction!
October 15, 2015 @ 10:40 am
You have probably thought of this already, but since I’m also tall (6′) and dealt with height issues EVERYwhere in the house I built, I thought I’d weigh in. The carpenters raised the level of the counters and sink by installing everything on top of a taller kick! Simple and effective. (I went with the vintage option, with the built-in drainboards, and LOVED it)
October 15, 2015 @ 10:43 am
Loved reading this…just ’cause I get the way you process things. For those of us with ideas who really care about the outcome, life can be hard:) I think the Kohler choice is lovely!
October 15, 2015 @ 10:44 am
I went thru all of the exact same issues as you deciding on a sink. I too ended up deciding on the Whitehaven. It has just as many issues as a fireclay sink, just saying. On a whim I bought a disgusting used cast iron sink from a junk yard and had it reglazed. I love it! The best part is I only spent $270.
March 31, 2016 @ 11:58 pm
So… You had white haven and replaced??
October 15, 2015 @ 10:46 am
This made me smile in recognition…we barrelled into a half-finished restoration project with 5 weeks until our lease was up and had to make a lot of decisions very quickly. I loved the farmhouse sinks. Only had enough time before inspection to get what was in stock at Lowe’s. So what I have is probably a mediocre (though pricey) representation of what you’ve been looking into. The tight deadline was my best friend, though, because I didn’t find out any of the things you did in researching. The debris in the sink does have to be hosed toward the drain, and I do wash it out more than others I’ve had, but I love it and would still recommend it if you like the look. I had stainless for years and thought it was a royal pain in the ass. Never looked good. Once you swish this puppy out with warm soapy water it looks great–doesn’t show drips and doesn’t look dull. Adds brightness to an otherwise dull area. Provides an awesome contrast to countertops or cabinetry.Every sink has its downsides. If the jokers who rehabbed this house could put it in, your husband absolutely can. I mean, our front door hardware and banister both fell off this week–I’m telling you Paul’s got this. If you love it, get it. We have the 36 because I wanted to have an in-sink dish drainer. I just might take a bath in it, or fill it with kittens, or disco balls. GO FOR IT WOMAN