“Sink some style into your bathroom”

- Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Have you looked at your bathroom sink lately? I looked at mine this morning as I washed up and thought, “I have got to change this thing out. It’s boring. And uninspiring.”

The sink in question is in the master bath of my weekend get-away cottage in Moss Creek. It is a rather dated affair, a low, 30” high, cultured-marble countertop with an integral oval bowl. It rests atop a truly forgettable oak vanity cabinet. Remnants of the previous owners’ renovation, these elements are certainly nothing offensive, but a real snooze design-wise. And I just have this thing against cultured marble. I can still see the bathroom countertop from a childhood home with its hideously swirled, turquoise-and-ivory surface. It was cartoon-ish at best. At least the one in this bath is solid white.

Now, what do I envision in its place? That’s a tough question, as the possibilities are endless. No longer limited to the standard white basin for washing hands and brushing teeth, today’s styles are anything but mundane. Sinks can present a tremendous design opportunity with a nearly infinite array of shapes, sizes, materials, and structures to choose from.

Pedestal sinks have been around forever it seems and they can be traditional or contemporary in design. Often made of vitreous china, they are most ideally situated for a powder room installation where they take up less space in the room and counter space is not usually as important. Depending on their location and material finish, they can function as a sculptural element as well.

Deck-mounted sinks attach to a countertop from either above or below the surface. Self-rimming sinks (or drop-ins) overlap the countertop from above to form its own edge. Most often you see this application with a laminate or tile countertop. These are inexpensive and simple to install but can appear a bit dated and the slightly raised edge tends to collect grime, so it is harder to clean. Under-mounted sinks are installed from below, with a cut-out for the shape of the sink in the countertop, a sleeker and much more modern look. With their slick installation, they are easier to maintain as well.

Under-mount sinks are fine, in fact, a nice choice, but why not make a statement? Once considered cutting edge and the latest thing, they are status quo today with the growing popularity of stone and other solid surface countertops. Sometimes a simple, oval, under-mounted, vitreous china bowl can act as a foil for a boldly colored and patterned granite or marble countertop. But, let’s push the envelope a little and consider, at least, a rectangular-shaped bowl. Or, maybe a basin made from hammered metal, glass, or even encrusted with mosaic tiles.

How about a vessel bowl? A vessel sink usually sits on top of the counter surface, sometimes partially sunk, and always provides the unexpected and a dash of style. Some vessel sinks forgo a counter altogether and mount to the wall with iron brackets. Vessel sinks can be fabricated from glass, porcelain, metal, carved stone, even found objects. I have seen urns and even a Chinese wok put to duty as a washbasin.

And do not discount the integral bowl option. Integral sinks have come a long way since the dreaded cultured marble of my youth. Fabricated as part of the countertop, the sink has no seams or joints, so cleaning is a snap. Gone are the ridiculously faux-marble patterns and available are sumptuous textures rendered in cast-glass or metals, carved from stone slabs or even cast in concrete.

So what option am I going to consider for mine? Probably something that will reflect the contemporary and Asian themes I have already established in the house. Just like a nicely detailed fireplace can be the focal point in your living room, or a well-dressed bed can be the highlight of your bedroom, why not have the sink be the focal point in your bath? Let it echo design themes from the rest of the house. Don’t miss the opportunity to inject a little design drama into this component of your everyday space. 

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