What is a workstation sink? Designers explain if these oversized fixtures are worth it.

A workstation sink, also known as an apron-front sink or farmhouse sink, is a trendy kitchen fixture that has recently surged in popularity. Oversized and deep, these sinks provide ample space for washing large pots and pans by hand. Their exposed front apron lends a rustic, old-world look. But with their large size comes a higher price tag and greater installation challenges. Are these stylish sinks worth the investment for the average home cook? We asked designers to weigh in.

What Exactly is a Workstation Sink?

A workstation sink gets its name from its expansive surface area that provides enough space to function as a culinary work station.

The key characteristics of a workstation sink include:

  • Oversized basin – Workstation sinks have a minimum interior measurement of 30 inches wide and 18 inches front to back. Many are even larger with double bowl options up to 60 inches wide.
  • Deep basin – The basin depth is usually 10 inches or more. This accommodates large stacks of dishes and high-sided pots.
  • Exposed front apron – The front of the sink extends several inches below the cabinet base and is left partially exposed. This is the signature stylistic detail.
  • Enameled cast iron or fireclay construction – Most apron-front sinks are handmade from thick, durable enameled cast iron or fireclay. Stainless steel options also exist.

In terms of installation, workstation sinks use an undermount or farmhouse style. The weight often requires extra structural support.

The Signature Farmhouse Look

The exposed front apron is what gives workstation sinks their signature farmhouse, country kitchen aesthetic. The visual effect is a sink that looks like a piece of furniture anchored gracefully within the cabinetry.

Interior designer Joan Miller explains the appeal: “The slightly rounded and oversized farmhouse sink adds a touch of nostalgic charm, like something warm and welcoming you’d find in a countryside cottage.”

And while this style has rustic roots, designers say it pairs well with any kitchen decor from traditional to modern.

Cara Brookins, founder of a popular interior design blog, says: “A farmhouse sink can absolutely work in a contemporary kitchen. Choose one made of fireclay or porcelain in a crisp solid white. Pair it with metal faucets and modern cabinetry for a fabulous blended look.”

Primary Benefits of a Workstation Sink

Beyond looks, workstation sinks offer some practical advantages that make them worth considering:

Abundant washing space

The expansive single or double basin leaves plenty of room for washing large pots and pans by hand. No more trying to cram oversized items into a tiny sink.

Deep basin

The 10 inch or greater depth can handle tall stock pots and piles of dishes. A deep sink is also less prone to splashing.

Durable materials

Enameled cast iron and fireclay are very durable. They resist chipping, scratching, and staining better than other sink materials like stainless steel. With good care, they last for decades.

Adds resale value

While a luxury upgrade, a workstation sink’s on-trend style and artisanal materials make it a feature that adds value for resale. Their good looks are sure to wow potential buyers.

Factors to Consider Before Installing a Workstation Sink

While enticing, workstation sinks aren’t necessarily right for every kitchen. There are a few factors to weigh:

The high cost

Oversized workstation sinks cost $500-1000 on average. Some premium styles run upwards of $3000. This is 5-10 times more than a basic stainless steel sink.

Professional installation

A workstation sink usually requires adjustments to cabinetry, plumbing, and structural supports to accommodate its weight and size. This work adds $500 or more to costs.

Limited size options

Due to their large footprint, workstation sinks are only an option for kitchens with adequate room. Small or galley kitchens won’t easily accommodate them.

High maintenance

The enamel finish requires gentle cleaning to avoid chipping. Prolonged exposure to acids or abrasives can damage it over time.

Loud noises

The metallic construction amplifies sounds. Every clank and clatter echoes loudly. Sound dampening accessories help reduce the cacophony.

Pro Tips for Installing a Workstation Sink

Workstation sinks often require some special considerations during installation:

  • Have an expert measure to ensure adequate room for drainage pipes and plumbing.
  • Add structural bracing under the floor to support the immense weight.
  • Adjust cabinetry height so the sink lip aligns neatly with the countertop rim.
  • Seal any gaps between the sink apron and cabinetry to prevent moisture damage.
  • Insulate drain pipes to reduce noise.
  • Consider articulating faucets that swivel for added clearance over a deep basin.

Design Ideas to Make the Most of a Workstation Sink

To complement the styling of a workstation sink, designers recommend:

  • Selecting unpainted wood or marble countertops – Natural materials enhance the rustic charm of an apron-front sink.
  • Including vintage-style accents – Wrought iron fixtures, farmhouse lighting, and repurposed wood details play up the old-fashioned vibe.
  • Adding arched faucets – The sloped neck of a gooseneck faucet elegantly mirrors the sink’s curves.
  • Using an exposed pipe drain – Ditch the disposer and highlight the bold exposed plumbing.
  • Picking complementary cabinet colors – Earthy hues like sage green or navy blue enhance the country character.
  • Matching metal finishes – Opt for an oil-rubbed bronze, antique brass, or matte black faucet and hardware.

5 Beautiful Workstation Sink Designs

Here are some stunning workstation sinks and ways top designers integrated them seamlessly into kitchen designs:

1. White Apron-Front Double Bowl Sink

This gorgeously sleek white fireclay sink gets balanced by rich wood counters and open shelving. The double bowl provides loads of washing room while keeping a streamlined silhouette.

White Apron Front Double Bowl Sink:strip_icc()/white-double-bowl-apron-front-sink-58d0556e5f9b58571841056f3.jpg)

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2. Stainless Steel Workstation Sink

The stainless steel finish gives this workstation sink design a more modern, industrial edge. Exposed plumbing and metal accents play up the aesthetic.

Stainless Steel Workstation Sink

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3. Hammered Copper Farmhouse Sink

Copper’s natural patina and beautiful hammered finish bring a rich, artisanal feel to this expansive farmhouse sink design. The matching faucet is pure copper too.

Hammered Copper Farmhouse Sink

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4. Double Bowl Fireclay Workstation Sink

The clean, symmetrical lines of this white fireclay double bowl sink complement the simple Shaker style cabinetry beautifully. Chrome finishes add contrast.

Double Bowl Fireclay Workstation Sink

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5. Rustic Wood-Front Workstation Sink

This rustic sink gets extra character from its solid wood front panel and pedestal legs. The distressed finish matches the reclaimed wood counters flawlessly.

Rustic Wood-Front Workstation Sink

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FAQs About Workstation Sinks

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about workstation sinks:

Are workstation sinks difficult to install?

Workstation sinks can involve more complex installation than basic drop-in sinks. Their size and weight often require cabinet modifications, framing reinforcement, and adjustments to plumbing. Hiring a professional is highly recommended.

How durable are workstation sinks?

Workstation sinks made from enameled cast iron or fireclay are very durable. With proper care, they resist chipping, scratching, and staining for decades of daily use. Stainless steel apron-front sinks are also extremely durable.

Do workstation sinks require special cleaning?

Enamel finishes can be damaged by abrasive cleaners and pads. Gentle dishwashing soaps, soft cloths and sponges are best. Avoid exposing the enamel to prolonged acid or alkaline contact.

Are workstation sinks worth the high price?

For avid home cooks and entertainers who spend lots of time at the sink, the extra washing space can be well worth the splurge. For occasional use, an affordable alternative may suit fine. Consider your needs.

How can I reduce echoes and noise?

Workstation sinks tend to amplify sound due to the hard materials. Using a rubber drain stopper can dampen noise when washing dishes by hand. Soundproofing insulation under and around the sink also helps reduce echoes.

Can workstation sinks work in small kitchens?

Due to their large size, workstation sinks may overwhelm a tiny or galley kitchen layout. Carefully measure the available space first. For tight kitchens, a smaller sink with apron-front styling could be an option.

Final Thoughts

With their expansive washing room, ample depth, and lustrous style, workstation sinks make a breathtaking focal point in any kitchen. While a major investment, their beauty and functionality can add joy to food preparation and cleanup for years to come. For many passionate home cooks and entertainers, that’s an upgrade well worth the splurge.