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Do I need a prep sink in my island?

NoryW
4 years ago

I'm in the early stages of a kitchen addition at our new (1894) house, so I've been lurking here for a while, and this site is so unbelievably helpful! I'm hoping you all can help me decide...

We're currently planning for a 48" x 84" butcher block island. One of the very first things I wanted, when we started planning, was an island free of anything: No sink, no range, no bi-level, just miles of glorious prep space and counter seating. In our current apartment, the only sink is in the island, and it drives me nuts because it's always surrounded by soap, sponges, dirty dishes, drying rack, etc. So I really wanted to avoid that in our new kitchen. Also, we really love the farmhouse-table-in-kitchen look. Not enough to sacrifice the prep space of an island, but we were hoping that a large wood island top would give us that sort of vibe.

But now, I'm having second thoughts. I'm worried I'll regret not having a small prep sink in the island. We were going to put a prep sink down by the pantry, near the coffee and microwave, but I'm wondering if I'll really want one in the island instead, opposite the refrigerator. After all, I'm used to doing all my prep work right next to a sink (in 2 very crowded feet). On the other hand, I'm concerned about water issues with the wood, and I worry it will ruin the vibe we're going for.

I've attached a layout picture, and I'd love any advice from all of you helpful folks! Thanks!

Comments (24)

  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    First I'd have 48" between perimeter countertop and island countertop (not between cabinets). Luckily you have the room to move the island.

    Secondly, move your dishwasher to the left side of the sink so it's not in the work zone.

    Thirdly, yes you would do best with a prep sink on the island so you can move from fridge, to sink to prep to cooking without having to cross zones. It won't get messy like at the cleanup sink since you'll be using it to prep food stuff vs cleaning up.

    Also I don't think you need one at the pantry.

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  • NoryW
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Thanks for the feedback, cpartist and mdln.

    I agree that we want a bit more space between island and perimeter, to avoid traffic problems when dishwasher or fridge are open. We'll probably shave a few inches off each side of the island, rather than move it, because I like having the 50" at the bottom -- that will be a main thoroughfare, from back door to the rest of the house -- and if we move the island left, it might interfere with the banquette seating (the banquette is actually different than pictured here, and will extend farther down into the open space).

    I see your point about the dishwasher and the work space. I'll have to think about that. I grew up in a house where it went trash-sink-dishwasher (and my KD says this is the most comfortable and common setup for right-handers), so I worry that reversing it would feel very unnatural to me. Hm.

    Mdln, I just can't decide. I will be so sad if the island just becomes a repository for stuff, as it does in our current kitchen (though there are other contributing factors to this, like that there's nowhere else to put things in our small apartment kitchen). But I'd also hate to end up doing all my prep with my back to the room, and have a huge, little-used island to walk around.

  • AnnKH
    4 years ago

    Once you move the DW as cp suggested, I think you'll have decent prep space between the sink and range - though I also agree with her that a prep sink isn't going to have the clutter of a cleanup sink.

    While you are in the planning stages, make sure you inventory your stuff, and figure out what will be stored where. If you have a tiny kitchen now, you no doubt make do, but now is your chance to "make right"! Designate space for things near their point of use: cooking utensils, pots and pans, spices, potholders near the range; knives, cutting boards, trash in the prep zone (I truly love my knife drawer); places for cookie sheets, small appliances, storage containers, etc. If you've been lurking, you no doubt know the value of drawers!

    Do you think you will sit at the desk? I had a desk in my old kitchen, but it was so close to the kitchen table that I never actually sat at the desk - it was just a horizontal surface for accumulating junk. What I did need was a place for desk stuff: pens, scissors, stapler, stamps and envelopes, address book, calendar. receipts, etc. I added all that to my pantry cabinets, so I have a convenient place to keep all those necessary things, but I can keep it behind closed doors. I have a cabinet about 42" from the floor - inside I have shelves for In and Out baskets, my household ledger, dog supplies, envelopes, scratch paper, note pads, plus a calendar and magnetic white board inside the doors, and two outlets for charging. Below are a short drawer for pens, scissors, etc, and two file drawers. I am delighted with the results!

    OTOH, my Mom had a built-in desk in her kitchen, and she used it all the time - but she is much more tidy than I am, and kept it mostly cleared off.

    NoryW thanked AnnKH
  • Gooster
    4 years ago

    I have a similar shaped kitchen. The best bit of advice I received outside of this forum was to make sure the prep sink is large and deep enough to be useful (and has a garbage disposal). If you do put one in, make sure it is big enough to be used, and of course you have identified the right place for it (if you don't put one by the coffee station). I love being able to use mine to wash a watermelon prior to cutting or to let a large piece of protein thaw. The dog bowls get filled there as well without having to interfere with the work flow. That said, I share your concerns about wood.

    I also think stuff will accumulate on an island sink or no sink -- it's about having the discipline to not do it. (I even had to buy a charging station console so that electronics would not end up charging on the island.)

    NoryW thanked Gooster
  • HeatherInOR
    4 years ago

    I'm thinking to have an island sink for prep but also for easy access to water for coffee area. It's also kind of nice for entertaining- fill with ice and bevs. Similar to you , I was thinking to put sink in wet bar but decided in the island gives me lots more options and still close to bar and coffee area:)

    NoryW thanked HeatherInOR
  • NoryW
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    AnnKH, that's a great idea about the inventory, thanks. I will have to use my imagination quite a bit...our current kitchen is small enough that we've had to cut our kitchen stuff down to only the absolute essentials, but I'm sure we'll expand once we have the space to do so!

    I think I will sit at the desk, and it will always be a bit of a mess. But I actually have a system for my mess, so I consider it a necessary evil. I know myself: if I put my system behind closed doors, I won't use it (out of sight out of mind, sadly). But it's a great idea!

    Gooster, yes, I'm sure you're right about islands always accumulating stuff. I'm hoping to develop better habits around putting it all away promptly. It's nearly impossible in our place right now...the island is directly opposite the front door, and there's no space for a real landing strip, so of course it becomes one. And then we have no storage space in general, so usually there actually is no place to put stuff away. I am SO OVER apartment living, let me tell you!

    Heather, I think you're right, it'll be much more useful in island than coffee bar.

    I'm heavily leaning sink right now. The wood's non-negotiable -- we both have our hearts set on it -- but lots of GW threads seem to suggest it'll be no problem, especially for just a prep sink. We'll see if I can talk DH into it.

  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    I agree that we want a bit more space between island and perimeter, to avoid traffic problems when dishwasher or fridge are open. We'll probably shave a few inches off each side of the island, rather than move it, because I like having the 50" at the bottom --

    Luckily you have the room to shave off and still have a really nice sized island.

    I see your point about the dishwasher and the work space. I'll have to think about that. I grew up in a house where it went trash-sink-dishwasher (and my KD says this is the most comfortable and common setup for right-handers), so I worry that reversing it would feel very unnatural to me. Hm.

    I'm right handed and have had it both ways and trust me you will never really realize the difference. I respectfully disagree with your KD. In my condo it was to my right and now in my rental it's to my left and I never even gave it a second thought.

    So now you'll do left to right DW, sink, trash.

    Actually if you have disposal's in each sink, and you have the prep sink, I'd put the trash next to the prep sink instead. More garbage will be generated by prepping than in cleaning plates. Or you can do what I'll be doing. I'm planning on my trash next to my prep sink, and under my farmhouse sink, I'll have a small pullout trash can just in case.

    Mdln, I just can't decide. I will be so sad if the island just becomes a repository for stuff, as it does in our current kitchen (though there are other contributing factors to this, like that there's nowhere else to put things in our small apartment kitchen). But I'd also hate to end up doing all my prep with my back to the room, and have a huge, little-used island to walk around.

    If you do as Ann suggests and figure out a place for everything now, (include a junk drawer!), you'll find your island stays clean.

    NoryW thanked cpartist
  • HeatherInOR
    4 years ago

    My cousin has an undermount prep sink in their mahogany island top... wood still looks gorgeous after several years.

  • malabacat
    4 years ago

    Where do you plan to put your plates and glasses? If they are going to go in the cabinets to the right of the farm sink I'd leave your dishwasher where it is now. If you move it to the left of the sink it is out of your work zone, but unloading it won't be convenient. I have a similar layout and left my dishwasher in the same place you have yours. We load it after a meal, not during, so it doesn't interfere with us moving about the kitchen. I like being able to unload my dishes/glasses directly into the cabinets and drawers right nearby. Think about how often you (and your family) are opening your dishwasher and whether it makes sense to keep it where it is, or move it.

    And I'm probably in the minority, but I've never felt the need for a prep sink. Like you I wanted an island free of anything to be able to use for prep. That's what I have and I really like it.

    NoryW thanked malabacat
  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    4 years ago

    I've never seen the attraction of a prep sink. I think if one regularly had caterers in the kitchen it would be useful, but I sure don't want multiple sinks. I think all the fire/water/ice stuff is over-rated. Most of us are making the best of the kitchen space we are given - no walls coming down, pipes/gas lines moved/doorways moved. Unless the kitchen is gigantic, it really doesn't matter. An island makes a great landing space if there is a significant distance between the sink and the refrigerator (by necessity). For me, good counter space with separate work zones, trumps everything else. But that's me and MY kitchen!

    NoryW thanked Anglophilia
  • AnnKH
    4 years ago

    Anglophilia, I think all of us have had to "make do" in a kitchen at some point - I did so in my kitchen for 19 years before we finally had the money (and the right plan) for a remodel.

    The point of a carefully considered remodel (or addition, in this case) is to eliminate as many "make do" situations as possible. A well-placed prep sink can separate the prep and cleanup zones.

  • NoryW
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Cpartist, you totally have me thinking more deeply about dishwasher placement. It's good to know the switch was easy to get used to. But yes, either way, we'll have disposal and garbage for each sink.

    Malabacat, that's a really good point. We're in the early days of this plan, so we're just beginning to think through the details of what will go where.

    The more I think about it, the more I think that leaving it where it is would be the best placement for dirty dishes coming in from the rest of the house, from the living areas and dining areas, giving people a direct scrape-rinse-dishwasher route. Adding a prep sink in the island allows that wall to become a true cleanup zone, which is nice, right? And I don't think I'll mind losing that bit of workspace when the dishwasher is open, since I'll have all that island to work with. Does that make sense?

    Anglophillia, for me the attraction of a prep sink in this setting is it means I'll be able to do most of my prep work facing out into the room, which works much better for me.

    AnnKH, exactly, I'm soooooo sick of "making do!"

  • laughablemoments
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    As long as the prep sink doesn't get plunked in the middle of the island, you will find it to be quite useful. Just make sure it goes closer to one end (I'm thinking the end near the coffee station) so that you get as much uniterrupted counter space as possible. If two or more people are using the kitchen at the same time regularly, you will really appreciate the extra water source. I also agree with moving the DW to the left of the farm sink. Trash pullout can go to the right of the farm sink, or under the island. Some folks put the trash in the corner of the island so that it can be accessed from both the cleanup sink side of the island and the working prep side.

    ETA Link: Beaglesdoitbetter's kitchen Scroll down to see her corner island trash setup.

  • homechef59
    4 years ago

    I use my prep sink to thaw items. I use the faucet to fill pots and measuring cups. I could cross to the regular sink, but I just spin to fill at the prep sink. I make my husband mix up all of his protein smoothie drinks at the prep sink so he doesn't get in my way. I really think a prep sink at the end of the island would be a great addition and you will be surprised how much you find yourself using it.

    I have had dishwashers on both sides of the sink. You adjust. If you want to move it, you can. I would want it as close to the upper cabinets as possible. Looking at your layout, the wall cabinets in the corner is where my plates and bowls would go. Glasses would go on the wall cabinet on the other side of the window. You are stepping to the side either way when you empty it.

    I can't count the number to kitchens I have visited where the desk arrangement is either a junk pile or ignored entirely. I suggest additional pantry space on that wall. Designate a drawer for the junk. You will pay bills at the banquet or on the island because they are more comfortable for sitting down. Plus, that desk is in a major traffic way. The chair under the desk will be in everyone's way.

    In case no one has mentioned this to you, every base cabinet that can be a drawer stack makes for a more spacious, efficient kitchen. Drawers rock.

  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    Looking at your layout, did your house ever have a butler's pantry?

  • lascatx
    4 years ago

    I vote a big yes on a prep sink -- at the end of the island where the fridge and coffee are if you stay with this configuration. That gives you water for the coffee and for prepping. It can also be used for thawing, draining pots with water, grabbing a little water for what is cooking, someone getting a drink without bothering the person at the main sink. In our kitchen, adding a prep sink doubled the potential prep and work spaces.

    That said, I would think about whether you want the fridge, micro and coffee at the opposite end of the kitchen from your table. I am also not a fan of DR's you have to access through a hall. That's usually a deal breaker for me, but it doesn't bother everyone. If this isn't something you have had, make sure you think about how it will function with a dinner party or holiday dinner.

    The powder room location is something else I would check -- I don't know what you are working with and the limitations or choices, but that seems less than ideal to me. On the other hand, maybe there is a little more privacy for the self-conscious guests. ;-)

  • NoryW
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    We've decided on the prep sink. Thanks to all of you for helping us figure it out!

    laughablemoments, garbage in the island might be a good idea, I'll have to check it out.

    homechef, permanent desk space is in the kitchen is a total necessity for me and the way I handle all the household paperwork. But I do plan on giving the desk-related storage needs a lot of thought, to try to minimize the mess. It will never be pristine and 100% clutter-free, but to be honest, neither will the rest of our house.

    But yes, drawers!

    Cpartist, it did have a butler's pantry! Not where you'd think, though, but between the kitchen and the room to the left, which was the original dining room. I've attached the original floor plan from the 1890s, just for fun...the back stairs and butler's pantry were removed sometime before the 1980s, when the last owners moved in.

    lascatx, the dining room is definitely in a suboptimal spot...actually even less optimal than it appears, because we're putting it in the left side of the front room, instead of the right (where it's pictured in our plans). But, honestly, we'll only use it a few times a year, and it's a worthwhile sacrifice for us to have a family room that's more integrated with the kitchen. It's an 1894 house, so we're lucky to have a powder room at all! (We're actually enlarging it; it's currently only 3 feet wide.)

  • kelleg69
    4 years ago

    In my last kitchen, I had a prep sink in island and a large clean up sink on the perimeter. I loved it. I would stand and cut veggies, etc. while looking out at the kitchen. I measured my colander and other things to make sure they fit in the sink before deciding which one to get. And, yes, you will def want a disposal in there. We also had a soap dispenser built in (I like them) and an airswitch for the disposal. Mine was off center. But, it had at least 18 inches from and of island. It was near fridge and we were able to pull stuff out of fridge and set at the end there. I never regretted having one. I like being able to prep while looking out at the people sitting at the island. Never had to walk over somewhere to wash the veggies or my hands, etc. I had my knives (I call my "cutting center") in the drawer to the left of the prep sink. Also had towels there and cutting boards. Good luck. You have come to the right place for good advice!

  • cpartist
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Can you put the dining room back where it was and use instead have the two front rooms used for what they were originally intended? Seems even more than sub optimal where you're putting it and ideal where it was originally.

    Wonderful house btw. My second house was an 1898 colonial revival/victorian/farmhouse. LOL

  • zippity1
    4 years ago

    my kitchen is arranged much like this one, i have shelves on 3 sides and bar stools on the 4th side (island size is near the same) my dishwasher is to the left of the sink and my "everyday" dishes are on the shelving at that end of the island putting the dishes away is a breeze my main work area is the corner between the sink and the cooktop and kitchen waste is in a pull out directly to the right of the sink underneath my work area, which is very handy i would like a prep sink in my island - especially when i have guests (daughters and grand daughters) helping with preparation

  • suzanne_sl
    4 years ago

    I treasure the large, open work space of my island. Think cookies cooling on racks, holiday dishes full of yummy holiday foods waiting for the last thing to be done before serving, school projects requiring poster board and paints. With a good sized sink across the way, I don't need a "bonus" one taking up valuable real estate. Just me. My SIL's dinky "prep sink" rarely gets used for prep and hasn't for the 15 years she's had it. It tends to have soda bottles and such stuck in it when family comes to visit. When I prep, I need lots of space (which is why I got a Kohler Stages 45 :-) ).

    As far as DW placement, I've had one both right and left and don't find a difference to handedness. If you do keep it on the right, be sure you get on that doesn't have a door handle sticking out that you will bump every time you're working in the space between the sink and stove - which will be constantly.

  • NoryW
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    kelleg, that's exactly how I envision using our island prep sink, so I'm happy to hear that it worked so well for you! And great idea, to keep the cutting boards and knives right there.

    cpartist, nope, we're happy with our first floor layout. Our front room is one large room instead of two, so it would just end up as one vast family room, leaving us with no separate "grownup" living room (and after living in a very crowded apartment, we're really looking forward to having a more formal sitting area). We're putting the dining table on the left, because we genuinely almost never use it, and the right side of the front room is the more pleasant part of the room to sit in (thanks to the windows). And it's really only a difference of five paces. With little kids, we need the family room, with its toys and TV, to be the most accessible room from the kitchen, and to have the sight line.

    It wouldn't work for a family that did a lot of entertaining, but we don't. So I have no worries that it'll work out great for us. And we can always re-situate the space when the kids are older, if we want to.

    Did you love or hate living in an old house (or both)?

    zippity, good to hear the layout works for you! If you had a prep sink in the island, do you think it would become your primary workspace, instead of that stretch between the sink and the cooktop?

    suzanne, good point about the dishwasher handle...I think we want a handle, as a spot for a dish towel, but you're right, we'd bump into it all the time on the right.

  • cpartist
    4 years ago

    Did you love or hate living in an old house (or both)?

    My first house was a 1927 bungalow, so I guess I can say I loved it. Drafty old windows and all. We looked down here in FL for almost 2 years for an old house we could move into but every one had too many things wrong (meaning stairs or step downs, etc) or they got rid of anything that made the house charming. Because we're already in our 60's we had to think in terms of aging in place.