The Trouble with Tradition

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The idea of an old-fashioned kitchen holds a lot of modern appeal, and the farmhouse sink has seen a recent rise in popularity. While even the name evokes a kind of simplistic, traditional sentiment, there are other factors to consider before letting this fox into the henhouse. Despite the farmhouse-style’s visual appeal, there’s a reason that sinks evolved many years ago away from this design. Custom kitchen designers and contractors make it possible to create an old-time kitchen without having to sacrifice practicality. And, installing a farmhouse sink is a technological leap backwards.

The Design

Rectangular and deep, the farmhouse sink looks like a basin sitting on top of the counter with an exposed front that extends to the kitchen. The modern farmhouse sink is installed to be the focal point of a traditional kitchen. In the olden days, the farmhouse-style sink (also known as an “apron sink”) was built for practicality. Women used the sink as a dishwasher, a place for food preparation and as a wash basin. However, like the horse-drawn plow, what was practical several decades ago is no longer practical now. The invention of the dishwasher and other household appliances outweigh the former usefulness of the farmhouse sink.

While custom designers and contractors certainly are capable of installing an old-fashioned kitchen complete with farmhouse sink, it doesn’t mean they recommend it. With its practical functions rendered inert, the flaws of the farmhouse sinks become increasingly obvious.

Weighty Expenses

The farmhouse sink is particularly large—twice the size of an average sink—and heavy. This can make genuine antique farmhouse sinks difficult and expensive to ship. New, custom-built farmhouse sinks have to be handmade, which can be extremely costly. Additionally, handmade sinks are difficult to construct within exact specifications, often resulting in small gaps between the sink and the sides of the cabinetry. If you plan on installing a farmhouse sink into a kitchen that wasn’t originally designed for it, you need to reconstruct the counter and cabinets underneath to handle the bulk and weight of the sink. There are some factory-made farmhouse sinks designed to replace average size sinks; however, by design, the sink still has its pitfalls.

Water, Water Everywhere

While the countertop basin design of the farmhouse sink may be beneficial to someone with a bad back who doesn’t wish to lean forward, it can be detrimental to the cabinet and floor below. It is very easy for water to spill out of the farmhouse sink and damage the face of the cabinetry and the wood structures underneath. Not to mention, the person using the sink can get wet much more easily too.

A conversion varnish finish is chosen to protect fine cabinetry for its durability. Although it is water resistant, even this finish won’t withstand repeated soakings. Over time, water damage can cause the polish to lift and crack. Eventually the finish fails to protect the wood, which is prone to buckling.

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Like a dandelion patch or a rooster wake-up call, the farmhouse sink is a novelty that a homeowner can grow tired of. And it’s just as difficult to remove since so many resources go into installing it, including the energy and cost of replacing custom cabinetry installed to fit the sink’s specific dimensions.

With time, money and dedication it is possible for a homeowner to have a traditional farmhouse sink, but why choose an impractical fad when there are plenty of other options? Once you’ve determined the needs for the kitchen, you can fill them in the most practical, stylish way possible. Instead of the farmhouse sink, for example, consider other installations that add appeal such as installing soapstone countertops , antiqued wood finishes, and retro-styled hardware for an old-fashion charm—without the risk for potential damage.

For those instances where an under mount sink is out of the question, take all the precautions necessary to protect the cabinetry. Become a fanatic about wiping any spills and splashes dry. Extend the lasting beauty of your cabinetry with non-wax polishes made with natural oils that are free of silicone, which tends to leave fine scratches and wear down the finish.

In the end, we all strive for one common kitchen goal: achieving beauty constructed to last. Whether you entertain or dismiss the idea of the traditional farmhouse sink, knowing some of the trouble with tradition can help you plan wisely. Custom kitchen designers can open the doors to new possibilities to help your custom cabinetry investment pay off.