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Apron Sinks
March 22, 2016

The apron, or farmhouse sink, is making a nostalgic comeback in kitchens across America. If you are one of the many who is designing a kitchen with this style of sink in mind, here are a few historical, and practical, things to consider before making your decision. Farm families of the early to mid-20th century typically had many more little helpers than the families of today, and farmhouse kitchens were designed to accommodate them. Numerous children meant food was cooked in greater portions, and that meant lots of food prep, larger pots, and lots of dishes. The sink had to be big enough and deep enough to handle the load. It even functioned as the bath for the newest members of the family. To create more work space, even the faucets were usually positioned higher and often installed through the back-wall.

Typically this sink was constructed as an all-in-one unit with drain boards on one or both sides, and back-splash panels of various heights. Often these basins rested on legs rather than cabinets as water could occasionally roll over the smooth front edge and potentially damage wood below them. The unsightly plumbing underneath the sink was usually masked by a simple curtain. Most of these features and concerns have been left in the past.

Today, the front, or apron, of the sink is the star. It varies in height, usually running about nine inches tall and jutting out from the cabinetry by an inch or two, helping to avoid any damage to wood below. The sink is mounted either over or under the counter top, depending on your preference. Typically it is supported with wood side mounts, so you'll lose a bit more space under the sink, but not all of it. With today's tall style faucets, the height clearance of the past can be easily recreated. Additionally, you'll lean directly against the apron of this sink, without a counter top in front of you. That means the reach will be easier when doing those dishes, perhaps making that sore back a thing of the past.

Most original apron sinks were very heavy, made of cast iron, enameled in white porcelain. This type of construction is still available today; but depending on the decorating style you're after, you have many additional choices which include: full porcelain, stainless steel, stone, and copper. Each of these materials has its advantages and disadvantages.

Porcelain

Porcelain-coated cast iron sinks have a beautiful, high-gloss white finish. And talk about strength; imagine trying to dent or crack your cast iron skillet – impossible. Same for this sink. That said, it has some susceptibility to chipping, should you accidentally drop that heavy pot against it; and staining, if you don't rinse down that leftover coffee. Because of its weight, this sink may require extra mounting support. Solid porcelain sinks are just as beautiful as their coated, cast-iron cousins. They are aesthetically pleasing for any décor, but especially appropriate for that nostalgic 20th century look. They can be susceptible to very severe blows, but they will endure normal wear and tear for many, many years.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel is a very fashionable approach to today's kitchen design, one that puts a contemporary spin on the nostalgic apron sink. Stainless also offers the least expensive option while being extremely durable and easy to maintain.

Stone

Granite, marble, onyx and many other stone apron sinks offer exquisite rustic appeal. Not necessarily the material of the 20th century kitchen, but stone certainly makes an artistic statement. Because stone is more porous than other materials, some staining can occur.

Copper

Copper, though likewise not a traditional sink material of yesteryear, will usually blend well with other elements in the nostalgic-designed kitchen. Expect a patina to form over the years, adding to its antique appearance. Some care will need to be taken to avoid acidic foods from discoloring a copper bowl.

No matter which material you choose for your farmhouse style sink, you can be sure that its apron front will draw attention to itself and be a highlight of your kitchen both aesthetically and practically.