• Ruth, Photography by BWRM

Sink In Kitchen Island: Pros and Cons

Should I have the sink in the kitchen island? – This is one of the questions I get asked the most as a kitchen designer. Seriously, I feel like I have this conversation with every client. (At least the ones who have kitchen island designs)


And, with a lot of things kitchen design, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. It’s completely personal and depends on your style preference and the way you want to cook and use your kitchen.


And, again, with everything kitchen design, there are always pros and cons to every choice.


So, this post is focusing on having a sink in the island bench. The pros and cons and everything else you need to consider. So you’ll know if it’s the right choice for you and your kitchen design.


Let’s get into it!




Why Would You Want To Have The Sink In A Kitchen Island?

Having the sink in your kitchen island is a common choice in many kitchen island layouts. And this could be for several reasons.

Functionality

Having the sink in the kitchen island can help to create the perfect working triangle. You may have come across these terms before, it’s all about optimising the functionality of your kitchen layout. The working triangle is tying together your sink, cooktop and fridge. Having them all within easy access in a step or two, rather than in a long line or on other sides of the kitchen. Having the sink in the kitchen island behind your cooktop is a great way to achieve this working triangle, which makes day to day use of the kitchen much more optimised and functional.


When You Don’t Have A Window In The Kitchen

Quite often kitchens are positioned in the centre of our homes and that can mean that there aren’t any external windows on the walls being used for kitchen cabinets. Windows provide a natural break and an ideal location for a sink, as it means there is nothing overhead in the way when your washing up, and (sometimes) there’s a nice view to look out on while you’re doing the dishes. However, when there is no window, having the sink in the kitchen island can still achieve those goals. There’s nothing overhead to get in the way, and you can look out into the room for a more social and pleasant washing up experience.

When You Don’t Have Enough Countertop Space Against The Wall

Probably the most popular kitchen layout I come across is a straight single wall of cabinets with the island in front of them, known as an open galley kitchen.

The mistake I see people make here is that they try to fit everything on that single run of cabinets against the wall in an attempt to keep the island clear. However, unless you have a very long run of worktop on the wall this will most likely lead to a poor layout.


Fitting a cooktop as well as a sink on the same run requires a good amount of space. They will need to be set in from the ends of the run, for safety or regulations. And they will need separation from each other, again for safety but also to provide you with some useable countertop space for prep or for small appliances to live, such as your toaster, kettle and blender.

So when you don’t have enough space for both, moving the sink to the kitchen island makes a lot of sense from a layout point of view. It creates the separation needed and gives you lots of nice larger open areas of countertop space so nothing feels cramped. The alternative would be to place the hob on the island but this comes with its own set of cons, most notably what you do about an island cooker.


Aesthetics

Lastly, but by no means least. Having the sink in the island can really help with the aesthetics of your kitchen design. A classic design principle (and one I can get a little obsessed with) is the idea of symmetry. While perfect symmetry might not be achievable in every kitchen, paying attention to the overall balance of your kitchen design is very important. Going back to my very popular single run and island layout example. Having the sink in the island separate from the cooktop means that there is only one item in either of the worktops. This means that you can centre the cooktop in the run of cabinets against the wall with the cooktop or range-hood as a key focal point to the kitchen. Similarly, with the sink in the island, this can be centred and the island can be built around it to create symmetry and balance. Having both the sink and hob on the same run (or island) can feel cluttered and unbalanced sometimes, losing that focal point and wow factor to a kitchen.



Things To Consider When Having The Sink In A Kitchen Island

Now that we’ve gone over some of the reasons why you might want the sink in a kitchen island, there are a few practical things to consider.

Plumbing

If you decide to have the sink in the island keep in mind that you will need to get a water feed and waste pipe in place. This means chopping up the floor and plumbing these bits early in the renovation or building process.


Dumping Ground

Be aware that sometimes the sink area can become a bit of a dumping ground for dirty cups and plates. We all do it (maybe not Marie Kondo). Having the sink in the island may turn your wonderful kitchen island into a bit of a mess magnet. Which can really dull that wow factor a kitchen island can provide. So, be honest with yourself. If you know you’re going to struggle to keep the sink area free from clutter and you really want that kitchen island wow factor, then maybe the sink in the island isn’t the best option for you. (Unless you consider a sink in your butlers pantry too)

Functional Layout

If you’re having the sink in the island, keep an eye on the layout and functionality of the kitchen island, especially around your sink.

I highly recommend placing the dishwasher next to the sink, in the island. That way you won’t be dripping water everywhere when you’re loading the dishwasher after giving the plates a quick rinse.


Similarly, I recommend placing the bin next to the sink and dishwasher, so you can scrape plates easily and avoid dripping gravy everywhere before placing them in the dishwasher or washing them up in the sink.


Also, make sure your island has enough space for the type of sink you want, a drainage area and space on either side of these so things don’t drop off the edge of the worktop.


The same goes for the walkway space between the island and cabinet run along the wall. You want at least 1m of walkway space between them. A little more is great, but too much can be a bad thing.

Sink And Tap

Considering the type of sink and tap-ware you install in your island can have a big impact on the overall design and feel of your kitchen. A Butler-sink can be a great feature and focal point to your island. However, because of that they aren’t very discreet and don’t give a modern flush finish. An under-mount sink will be far more discreet and contemporary. However, you will need to have a solid worktop such as marble, quartz, granite or timber to install one. The type of tab plays a very important role aesthetically. Because it’s the only thing sticking up from the island, your eye will naturally be drawn to it. So choose wisely.


Opting for something a little more compact or stylish can really help keep things discreet or add a nice intentional focal feature to the island.


Advantages Of Having A Sink In A Kitchen Island

  • Creates a great ‘working triangle’ and can provide a more functional layout

  • More sociable and provides a nicer view when doing the dishes

  • Can help to achieve a more symmetrical and overall aesthetically pleasing layout

  • Helps to create larger more practical sections of open worktop space – Ideal for prep or small kitchen appliances

  • Don’t need to worry about kitchen island extraction – Freedom to place pendant lights overhead.


Disadvantages Of Having A Sink In A Kitchen Island

  • Need to get plumbing into the centre of the room – can be difficult/costly

  • Sink tends to be a ‘mess magnet’ – spoils the wow factor of a kitchen island

  • Type of sink and tap may distract from the aesthetics of the kitchen island

  • Requires a larger island size to fit a sink and still be practical – Not practical for small islands

Final Thoughts…

There you have it! The pros, cons and everything you need to know to decide whether having the sink in a kitchen island is the right choice for you. Everybody’s kitchen is slightly different, and the way we use them and our workflow within them are also unique to us. While there are definitely good design principles to try and follow, ultimately the right layout is the one that works best for you. So, are you team sink, hob or nothing at all?

There’s no real right or wrong here, it’s more of a personal choice, but being aware is important.

A poorly designed island will drive you mad!

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