Home Life Bathroom sink: Afterthought or centerpiece?

Bathroom sink: Afterthought or centerpiece?


A beautiful bathroom sink is the centerpiece of a beautiful bathroom.

Yet so many homeowners leave the decision about which sink to install up to their contractor to plumbing supplier.

My friend Cathy Carr, the showroom manager for The Plumbing Warehouse over on Lynbrook Boulevard, tells me that a bathroom sink should be a very personal decision.

After helping thousands of Shreveport homeowners choose their sinks, she has four guidelines:

1. Think about who uses the bathroom and how. For a children’s bathroom, for example, you might want a sink that’s sturdier, more practical and less expensive than one for the master suite, where only Mom and Dad will touch it.

Jeb-Breithaupt-Headshot2. Are you willing to spend time cleaning and maintaining the sink? If so, a vessel-style copper or clear glass sink might make you happy. If not, go with an undermounted, nearly indestructible vitreous china model.

3. What is the “style” of your bathroom: traditional, contemporary, rustic? Select a sink that looks like it fits right in.

4. How much are you willing to spend? Undermount sinks typically cost less than vessel or pedestal sinks. Vitreous china sinks, or porcelain sinks, are most common and the least expensive. Prices go up for glass, cast iron, stainless steel and copper.

“If you have those four things in mind before you go to shop, your decision will be very simple,” says Carr.

As you shop for a new bathroom sink, you’ll run into four trends:

1. Undermount sinks are the way to go if your vanity countertop is granite, quartz or stone. Top-mounted, or drop-in, sinks—the ones with a lip around the edge that sits on top of the vanity and usually has the faucets drilled into that lip—detract from the sleek beauty of a natural stone countertop, Carr advises. And they’re harder to clean because dirt will inevitably get stuck along those edges.

Also “out” are “integrated” sinks made from the same material as the countertop and seamlessly molded into it so the sink and countertop are a single piece.

2. Copper sinks are especially sought after in Shreveport, where so many homeowners are embracing Tuscan-style decorating. A shiny, hammered copper sink suits the Southwestern look perfectly, and over the years will patina to a worn—but gorgeous—verde that blends right in with the décor.

A bonus: Copper has natural antimicrobial properties, which means bacteria can’t grow on it. Hospitals and doctor’s offices often install copper sinks, which could keep your bathroom or kitchen cleaner and your family healthier.

If you don’t want your brassy copper sink to patina, you can slow it down by wiping it down with brown shoe polish every few weeks, a trick that will prevent it from “greening” so quickly. Or you can seal the sink with a special copper sealer.

3. White porcelain sinks lend a timeless look to a bathroom and blend right in with the white cabinets, which are popular now. They are among the least expensive you can buy, and they come in every style: undermount, drop-in, vessel and pedestal.

Plus, they are easy to clean with non-abrasive cleaners and they’re sturdy enough for use in a child’s bathroom.

4. Vessel sinks look like big spaghetti bowls, and they sit right on top of your countertop instead of inside of it.

Vessel sinks scream “high style,” but be aware: They require a little bit more cleaning than an undermount sink because you have to clean the sides and the crannies at the bottom and back of the bowl.

Plus, they’re not kid-friendly. Children tend to grab onto the sides of a sink to lift themselves up high enough to use it. A vessel sink is attached only at the drain, and too many tugs on it could send it toppling to the floor.

5. Cast iron and glass sinks are catching the eye of homeowners who want to make a statement in a master bath or powder room.

Cast iron coated with porcelain glass is among the sturdiest sink materials. It’s easy to clean with a non-abrasive cleaner, extremely resistant to chips and scratches and lasts a long, long time.

Glass sinks require a lighter touch, as they can chip. They also require extra cleaning because they’re see-through, so they don’t hide spots and messes very well. But they’re stunning to look at, especially vessel-style models that come in lots of colors.

A tip: “Clear” glass sinks have a green hue to them. If you don’t like that, choose a colored glass sink.

6. Stainless steel, once reserved for the kitchen, has found its way into contemporary bathrooms.

Stainless is a highly modern look, so avoid pairing it with a traditional bathroom full of curvy faucets, soft colors and gold hardware. Pair your stainless steel sink with brushed nickel faucets and hardware designed with clean, straight lines or sleek, sharp angles.

7. Pedestal sinks never go out of style. Especially in a small powder room, the pedestal sink—a sink atop a pole—is a space-saver and helps keep the room clear of clutter.

For a very small space, consider a wall-mounted sink with no vanity, cabinets or pedestal, or a 10- to 12-inch “problem-solver” sink.

Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, is president of JEB Design/Build in Shreveport. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting  www.jebdesignbuild.com.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.