Know Your Size Options Before Your Choose
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A double-bowl sink can help keep your work area organized.
Common sink configurations include:
- Single bowl
- Double bowl
- Triple bowl
- Main sink plus prep sink
A deep, wide single bowl can be best if you're tight on space or you want a sink where you can rinse plates and silverware before loading them into the dishwasher.
With a double-bowl sink where both bowls are the same size, you can use one side to wash dishes and the other to rinse them. Or you could have a double-bowl sink where one sink is larger than the other; use one for rinsing and the other as a prep sink for cleaning fruits and vegetables.
A triple-bowl sink gives you the wash-and-rinse function plus a smaller prep sink with disposal.
A separate prep sink on your island or by the stove can add convenience when you're cooking, entertaining, or preparing fruits and vegetables.
An Overview of Cast Iron Sinks
Cast iron sinks provide a sturdy foundation for prepping food.
Cast iron sinks are formed by pouring molten iron into a cast (hence the name "cast iron") that forms the sink's shape. They are then coated with an enamel finish. This enamel finish can come in a variety of colors and it can also be fire polished to give the sink a glossy look.
- Comes in many colors.
- Remains quiet when water hits the sink's surface.
- More likely to chip and stain than other options.
- Because the material is heavy, the surrounding counter must be able to support a large amount of weight.
Introduction to Stylish Sinks
The variety of sinks today is greater than ever before, from size and shape to style and material, your options are only limited by your creativity.
In the mid-1900s, there was a movement in the arts called "Kitchen Sink Realism," and this movement revolved around artists, poets, playwrights, and others focusing on the ordinary aspects of life. And perhaps during that era, a kitchen sink could represent all things ordinary. Luckily, in the current era, kitchen sinks do not have to be the pinnacle of plain in your home. There are enough sink options that you can create a variety of looks, from eye-catching and colorful to modern and sleek.
But to create the look you desire, you have to consider all your sink and faucet options: Stainless steel or cast iron? Undermount or self-rimming? Single bowl, double bowl or triple bowl?
And your options don't end there. This section will show you and explain to you all the choices you need to consider when looking into the very non-ordinary world of sinks.
An Overview of Solid Surface Sinks
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Solid surface sinks can provide a seamless look if you have a solid surface countertop.
Solid surface sinks are made from solid synthetic sheets formed by mixing a mineral compound with polyester and/or acrylic resins.
- Can be molded from the same piece of solid surface that's used for the countertop, which will provide a seamless look.
- Lots of colors and designs to choose from.
- You can sand out scratches.
- You don't want to set hot pots and pans in it.
About $300 to $700.
An Overview of Integral Sinks
An integral sink blends seamlessly with the countertop, allowing the faucet to steal the show.
An integral sink is made out of the same material as the countertop and is fused to it, creating a seamless transition that makes the sink and counter look like one unit. This option only exists with materials flexible enough to be fabricated into the shape of a sink basin, limiting you to quartz, stainless steel, glass, solid surfacing and other composite materials. (Glass, however, costs $200-$300 per square foot, so it is typically used for smaller surfaces such as vanity tops or dining bars, not the main kitchen counter.)
The seamless design makes cleaning a snap and, from a design perspective, makes the sink complete unobtrusive and allows the focus to remain on an elegant faucet or artistic backsplash. However, if the sink or countertop is damaged, you'll probably have to replace both items rather than simply swap out one or the other.
Quality Faucet Materials
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A well-constructed faucet can help you avoid drips and leaks.
Your options for the faucet's main material pretty much come down to solid brass or plastic. Brass is by far the most recommended choice because of its toughness and ability to handle extreme temperatures.
Internally, your faucet will control the flow of water using either rubber washers, a plastic or ceramic cartridge, a plastic, brass, or stainless steel ball valve, or a ceramic disk. A ceramic disk is recommended for the same reasons as the solid brass.
Viking 9-Speed Hand Mixer
Things to Think About When Selecting Small Appliances
Courtesy of Hamilton Beach
The following questions provide some important food for thought when shopping for small appliances. We have more information on how to choose specific products throughout this section, but this list of factors to consider is a great place to start.
Appearance: Are you likely to hide them in cabinets or in a pantry? Or will they spend most of their time on the counter? If the latter, do you want them to match your large appliances (which are likely to be in white, black or stainless steel)? Or do you want to add color or strengthen an existing color scheme by buying small appliances in a more adventurous shade?
Capacity: What quantities of food and beverages do you plan to produce with these appliances? Enough for one or two people, family dinners, or large parties?
Space: How much room do you have in your kitchen to store and to use these "small" appliances, some of which are actually rather big? Will they fit in the cabinets or underneath the cabinets? Do you have more wall space than counter space, in which case you might be better off choosing built-in instead of countertop models when possible (for example, with a microwave or a coffeemaker)? Can you save space by buying one appliance with multiple functions instead of multiple appliances with single functions?
Frequency of use: Will you use a particular appliance on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Or will you only pull it out for special, rare occasions? You may want to invest more in a machine that has to stand up to regular abuse.
Ease of cleaning: Look for dishwasher-safe components unless you enjoy doing dishes by hand.
Corded or cordless: How portable do you need your portable appliances to be? Do you like to set up at a table that happens to be a little too far from an electrical outlet? Are you concerned about blowing a fuse?
KitchenAid Coffee Maker
New coffee makers from KitchenAid have removable water tanks, variable brew-strength settings and flat brew baskets, all designed to extract maximum flavor from the coffee grounds. Features that simplify brewing include a stop function, cleaning alert, variable warming control and time-since-last-brewed indicator. Some models include power loss backup and hot water dispensers. Coffeemakers are available with 10- or 12-cup thermal carafes or a 14-cup glass carafe.
Make Snacks and Treats in Your Own Kitchen
Courtesy of Hamilton Beach
If you want to make unique flavors of ice cream, try using an ice cream maker to surprise and tantalize your taste buds.
Ice Cream Makers
Ice cream makers can usually be divided into two categories: ones with bowls you have to freeze on your own, and ones with self-contained freezing units. The latter will be more expensive, while the former simply require a bit more planning, as you'll need to freeze the bowl before making your ice cream, and then freeze the mixture.
There are manual ice cream makers that require you to mix the ingredients by hand. There are also electric ice cream makers that allow you to basically add the ingredients and then push a button to create the mixture.
Ice cream makers typically make between 1 and 2 quarts, and range from $50 to $300.
Courtesy of Presto
These simple devices use heated air to increase the temperature of corn kernels until they pop, producing popcorn. While many people opt for microwave popcorn, heated air poppers allow you to season and flavor your popcorn as you like it. They also require little to no cooking oil to work, so you can make popcorn that is healthier than microwave popcorn, which is usually packaged with cooking oils and salts.
There are two common shapes of electric popcorn poppers: a unit that looks like a tower, and a unit that is shaped like a dome. The tower-shaped unit requires a bowl to be placed under the spot where the popcorn dispenses, while the dome-shaped units have a lid that keeps the popcorn contained. Most electric poppers cost between $20 and $40.
Courtesy of Panasonic
These handy items simplify the bread-making process by eliminating the need to create your own dough. Most bread makers allow you to use a pre-made bread mix, and some allow you to add yeast yourself, which gives you control over the rise of the bread. More expensive bread makers will give you more control over what you can add to the dough (such as cranberries or raisins) and the crispiness of the crust. Finally, many bread makers offer three different loaf sizes from which to choose. Expect to pay between $100 and $200 for bread makers.
Similar to sandwich presses, waffle makers have both top and bottom heating surfaces. This allows for a fast, even cooking process. Waffle makers have a distinct look, as the heating surfaces have a raised grid pattern, allowing the mixture you pour in it to take a waffle shape.
Waffle makers can vary in size. Belgian-style waffle makers are bigger since Belgian waffles are larger and thicker than an average waffle. Other waffle makers might allow you to make triangular-shaped waffles. Some have heating surfaces that are non-stick, making it easier to remove the finished waffle from the waffler. Prices for waffle makers range from $50 to $200.