While the majority of American kitchens have only one sink, the trend toward two is growing quickly in new construction and major remodels. Why would you possibly need two kitchen sinks — that is, if you are in the fortunate position to be able to afford this luxury? In a nutshell, for better kitchen workflow.
There’s a lot to think about when planning a kitchen layout. This story will first make the case for having two sinks, and then address considerations for the all-important prep sink — the place where you’ll likely spend most of your kitchen time.
Why Having Two Sinks Is So Great
Everything in its place. Having two kitchen sinks allows one to be the dedicated cleanup sink and the other to be the prep sink. With this division of sink labor, the space around each sink gains a designated purpose. Prep tools, bowls, colanders and appliances can be stored near the prep sink, while dishes, silverware, serving pieces and glasses can be stored near the cleanup sink and dishwasher. When you separate the cleanup zone from the prep zone, you improve traffic flow and organization.
Multiple cooks in harmony. Another benefit of having two sinks is that multiple cooks can work in comfort simultaneously. With only one sink, prepping and cleanup activities all take place in the same location, creating a cramped work area no matter how expansive your kitchen is in square footage. Two well-placed sinks eliminate this problem.
Efficiency for solo chefs. The two-sink setup also works better for a soloist. It prevents dirty dishes from getting in the cook’s way or from forcing the chef to stop in the middle of a task to clean out the sink so that it can be used. Instead, dirty dishes go in the designated cleanup sink instead — and the cook(s) can keep right on cooking.
Dual Sinks in Action
This picture shows me preparing a meal with clients in the two-sink kitchen I designed for them. I’m chopping vegetables at left, while another woman rinses vegetables at the island prep sink. At the cleanup sink on the back wall, a man loads prep tools and mixing bowls into the dishwasher. As you can see, with two sinks everyone has space to work without being in one another’s way. The cooking process is more enjoyable and efficient.
Now that you’ve seen two sinks in action, let’s look at some specific things you’ll want to consider when planning where to put your prep sink.
1. Prioritize the Prep Sink
When planning your kitchen, it’s critical that you give the prep sink the best real estate in the room. That’s because you probably spend more time chopping and prepping food than you do rinsing dishes.
If you want a social kitchen, put the prep sink on the island. If you have a beautiful view, put the prep sink facing the window. When I make these suggestions, some of my clients object, because prioritizing the food prep sink may mean locating the cleanup sink so that they’ll be doing dishes in front of a wall. But remember, most dishwashing takes place after dinner when there isn’t much of a view anyway.
2. Know the Ideal Prep Sink Size
The most effective prep sinks are single-bowl, 16 to 21 inches wide, with a garbage disposal. The sink must be large enough to fit your largest colander and most frequently used pots and pans, without being so large as to waste important counter space. While the prep sink’s primary purpose is food preparation, you should also be able to comfortably wash a pot or pan within it as it comes off the stove. This allows the prep sink to function as a secondary cleanup sink after a large gathering.
3. Consider Counter Space
You’ll want as much room for food prep as possible. Four feet wide by 2 feet deep is the minimum continuous prep area you should have next to the prep sink. Ideally, I like my clients to have 6 to 8 feet. If you don’t have room for a 6-foot island, consider a peninsula instead.
If you’re locating your prep sink on an island, don’t center it in the middle. And if you’re placing the prep sink on a perimeter counter, don’t place it in the middle there either. Instead, put the sink to one side so that there is as much continuous counter space as possible.
Think about it: Even a modest meal for six requires two or more cutting boards, raw ingredients, containers, tools and small appliances. And if you are like me, there’s also a snack and some wine to enjoy while readying the meal. Whether you are preparing food, plating up or serving a buffet, these activities are easier to do on one large surface, instead of jogging from one too-small section of counter to another.