As bathrooms evolve into more than just necessary rooms, a plain porcelain bowl is no longer a given. Here's how to choose an intriguing sink that can be a focal point in a well-appointed bathroom.
In times past, a bathroom sink was little more than a bowl in which to wash your hands. Today, homeowners who remodel their bathrooms are wanting -- and getting -- more from styles that range from fun to functional to furniturelike. When it's time to look for a new sink, you'll need to know your drop-ins from your undermounts to ensure you pick the perfect sink for your situation.
There are nearly as many sink styles, and variances on styles, as there are colors in which to order them. Take some time to evaluate your needs before embarking on your sink search. How big is your bathroom? Are you counting on extra storage under the sink? Are you after a formal look, a rustic one, or one that fits somewhere in between?
Try sketching some ideas. They don't have to be artists' renderings, just a guide to help you and your designer evaluate the kinds of fixtures that will best fit your situation. A sink need not be an afterthought. You can use color, pattern, style, size, and other variables to make it the centerpiece of your bathroom design.
"Even if you haven't done any shopping yet and just have a rough idea of what you want, the sink you'd like to find is probably out there," says Julia Diaz, a kitchen designer in California's San Fernando Valley area. "A few years ago, some of the major companies started creating sinks that looked like they could be hanging in a gallery somewhere. When I was little, you'd go into someone's bathroom and there would just be a white, round sink. Today, the white, round sink is the exception."
Jeanine DeVaney, a designer in Charlotte, North Carolina, says bathroom fixtures make it easy for a homeowner to create a room that not only functions optimally, but also looks elegant or striking or whimsical -- or all three. "Anything goes in bathrooms today," DeVaney says. "Most often, though, if you have a really striking sink, that will be what people notice and comment on. In many instances, the bathroom accessories revolve around that sink."
Designers say the only real limitation with regard to sink choice is preference. Although some sinks work better than others in certain situations, most can be adapted to fit any remodeled bathroom.
"You have certain instances when a type of sink that's plumbed in a certain way won't work, but if you have no plumbing constraints, you're usually OK with any type you choose," Diaz says. "Sure, you have some that just don't look right in certain circumstances. But in terms of an absolute 'no' situation, you just don't see too many of those. Size and the kind of plumbing you have really are the only deterrents when it comes to style."
Pedestal sinks are an almost universal "yes" choice, DeVaney says. "There are so many styles available, and whether you have a small or large bath, there are sizes that are perfect for the room you have," she notes. "The great thing about a pedestal sink is that it looks really striking no matter what style you're after. There are deco ones and retro ones and ones that look Victorian and just about any other style you want. For the most part, they're just usually very classy and have a great shape."
If the styles are so numerous and varied that you're having a hard time determining just what sink you want, consider these suggestions from the designers: