Jessie Raymond: Getting in synch with a new sink

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, when it comes to style I’m no wild mustang. I’m more of a sheep, tagging along at the back of the flock.

For our recent kitchen renovation, therefore, it’s no surprise that I went safe and traditional: Shaker cupboards, plain knobs and bin pulls, white subway tile for the backsplash — horizontal, not vertical or chevron; I’m not a madwoman.

For the sink, however, I refused to follow the well-trodden path. I wanted a single bowl, which is not unusual. But I wanted a big one, bigger than any I had seen before. Borderline trough, in fact.

Of all my previous kitchen’s shortcomings, the sink annoyed me the most. For 15 years I put up with a model that had an 18-inch-wide normal bowl on the right and a doll-sized 8-inch-wide shallow bowl on the left. At a loss for this smaller bowl’s purpose, I used it to drip dry the clean dishes, a few at a time.

A sink with two equal-sized bowls is somewhat better, as you can use one side for washing and the other for drying. Or one for soaking and the other for rinsing, but then you have to keep the drying rack on the counter.

Have you ever seen a drying rack on the counter in kitchen design photos? Of course not. Because it looks like an afterthought and takes up counter space, and designers want you to picture yourself in a pristine kitchen, not one that gets, you know, used.

A double-bowl sink, however, assumes you never cook anything larger than a weeknight lasagna. I must have worked as an Army cook in a past life, because even though there are only two of us at home now, I’m always using giant roasting pans and deep stock pots and half-sheet pans (don’t be fooled; they’re twice the size of a typical cookie sheet).

For years, I struggled to fit pizza pans and cooktop grates into my sink. And the low faucet, which offered barely enough clearance for a midsized saucepan, only increased my frustration.

So when it came time to redo the kitchen, I rejected the standard sink options. I wanted my sink to be a full 36 inches wide.

You read that correctly.

Oh, I faced resistance. When Mark placed the order with our kitchen sales rep, the two agreed that my request for a soapstone sink to go with the soapstone countertops was fine for an old farmhouse. But 36 inches? I must have made a mistake, they decided, as that was “too big.” No doubt congratulating each other on their superior judgment, they reduced my requested dimensions to a more reasonable 33 inches.

As it turns out, there was a mistake made that day, but not by me. It was by the two men who figured they knew what I wanted better than I did. I won’t say I went full fire-breathing dragon on them, but their eyebrows have only just grown back.

In the end, I got my 36-inch sink, as well as a monster gooseneck faucet that arches high above it. It’s the perfect setup. I’ve been able to wash everything from a 30-inch-wide refrigerator shelf to the dog to the filter from my new range hood — that’s right, I finally have a range hood, and it even vents to the outside, because I’m fancy now.

At last, I have options, my favorite being that I can set the dish rack right in the sink, out of sight, and still have room to wash. But if I feel like soaking a window screen or trash can or wheelbarrow — I’m still exploring all the possibilities — I can set the dish rack on the counter, like normal people do, and use the whole sink.

For the first time ever, I have a beautiful kitchen, with all the space I need. I have a work triangle Gordon Ramsay would praise. I have real lights, so I no longer need to wear a head lamp to tell if the roast is done (it’s adorable that people think I’m kidding when I say this).

And though it’s not quite carb-loading, comfort-food season yet, I’m stocked up on flour and butter and am already ramping up production of casseroles and apple pies.

Do I have a single regret about defying the norm and choosing a larger sink than any reasonable person would ever consider or recommend?


Whoops. I guess I’m a little bit mustang after all.

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