The Ultimate Kitchen Sink

The Ultimate Kitchen Sink

Style is key, but function takes precedence over form as kitchen sinks and faucets focus on professional-level quality and efficiency.

BY DAINA DARZIN

While design and style may vary, one thing remains a constant in today's kitchen market - consumers want the very best sinks and faucets they can possibly afford.

"There seems to be a continuous, growing market for good quality," says Tim Mullally, president/general manager of KWC Faucets Inc., in Norcross, GA. "Consumers recognize it, much more so than home builders. When consumers buy a brand new home, sometimes one of the first things they do is replace the builder-grade faucets. We see that a lot."

While the professional kitchen look lends itself most directly to this desire for the ultimate kitchen, functionality is increasingly decorative, applicable even to ornate Old World looks, according to manufacturers interviewed by Kitchen & Bath Design News.

The professional look
"There's a continued increase in the demand for professional-looking kitchens, the stainless steel, high-end restaurant look," declares Tom Smith, president of Franke Kitchen Systems Division, in Hatfield, PA.

"The professional, restaurant-look kitchen has had phenomenal growth this year," concurs Mullally, who explains that his company has been selling its professional faucetry lines - "a tall riser, with a pre-rinse unit hanging down on a hose and the pot filler spout," as well as a downsized version of the line for a semi-pro look which fits a 3/8" sink hole - to residential customers.

While contemporary looks featuring stainless steel and natural stone are today's strongest trend in kitchen design, Old World, "Grandma's house" traditional designs are still a contender, according to Chuck Sawyer, sales manager for Fountainhead, in Cincinnati, OH. "The country kitchen [and] Shaker designs are still pretty strong," he notes.

However, Mullally thinks consumers are "much more into function and easy cleaning," with respect to faucetry. "If it's a little too ornate, it's also a little too hard to clean."

L. Elise Kaplan, product manager for Avonite, in Belen, NM, attributes the dichotomy in style to the fact that it's 1999: "It's the contrast between the excitement of the millennium, and fear, which makes [consumers] go to something warm and comfortable," she explains. "It's the conflict between nature and technology."

Kitchen Sink and Faucet Trends at a Glance
  • The professional kitchen look, with its emphasis on stainless steel, remains the primary sink trend.
  • Extra-large and extra-deep sinks are on the
    rise, to accomodate oversize cookware.
  • Undermount sinks, with either granite or solid surface countertops, remain a strong trend.
  • Compatibility with stainless steel looks is making satin nickel the faucet finish du jour.
  • The filtered water faucet is in high demand for kitchen sinks, with new developments in filtered water including multi-use faucets that offer chilled and high-temperature water, all in the same faucet.
  • Pull-out sprays remain an important accessory, with metal-encased rubber hoses solving the problems of leaking and splitting.
  • Customized sinks - including size variations, triple sinks, different bowl sizes in a multi-bowl sink, and varying holes for different faucets configurations -- are an increasingly requested high-end item.
  • An extra sink in the center island remains a popular feature, frequently fabricated from a different, more decorative but somewhat less heavy-duty material.

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- Daina Darzin

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