Design a kitchen sink area – how to plan a well-organized wet zone

Design a kitchen sink area to prep and clean up with ease

Design a kitchen sink
(Image credit: Future)

Designing a kitchen sink area is often overlooked in favor of more glamorous fittings, but this hard-working element of kitchen design is more than just practical. Yes, it has to be able to withstand the knocks and scratches most cooks will throw at it, and yes it has to be easy to clean, but its material, installation type and even shape and size can have a big impact on how your kitchen looks and functions

Design a kitchen sink

When considering your long list of kitchen ideas, add kitchen sink ideas – and the faucets, storage and kitchen countertop that will go with it – right at the top. Here, we take you through how to design a kitchen sink area – and our experts bring you some useful advice, too.

Where is the best place to install a kitchen sink?

The wet zone of your kitchen calls for hygiene and ease of use, ideally with dishwasher and waste bin close by and in easy reach of the food storage, prep and cooking areas. ‘The best place for a sink is under a kitchen window, the perfect spot for watching the world go by as you do your chores, or in an island as a sociable spot that gives you the opportunity to see around the room,’ says Helen Parker, creative director of deVOL.

For more guidance, see our guide that explores, what do you put over a kitchen sink window?

Design a kitchen sink with marble sink

(Image credit: deVOL)

There are plenty of different styles, from traditional farmhouse options to clean lined, undermounted designs that fit neatly under the worktop for a more unobtrusive look. 

‘Ceramic sinks look classic but can be hard to clean and the unyielding surface can break glass and china,’ says Merlin Wright, design director of Plain English. ‘Stone can be beautiful, but it is expensive and hard to clean. Stainless steel is very practical, but it is not a look for everyone, while copper is a great all-rounder as it works with both modern and traditional kitchen ideas and is kind to delicate items.’ 

Merlin recommends at least one bowl, large enough to accommodate an oven tray or rack. If space allows, he suggests a second bowl for rinsing or for emptying pans when the main sink is full.

Design a kitchen sink country style

(Image credit: Plain English)

What makes a good kitchen tap?

Choose from deck and wall-mounted taps, single spout designs to suit sinks with one pre-drilled hole, bridge mixers and pillar taps which require two holes and tap sets with side rinse sprays. Taps which dispense boiling water, filtered chilled and sparkling water are also available, as single spout all-in-one designs and separate taps. 

Gary Singer, managing director of Eggersmann Design, points to the ‘beautiful array of styles and finishes’ now available which can be used to ramp up the impact of your design, but also sounds a practical note. ‘It’s very important to ensure you have a scale control system installed, as some parts of the US has very hard water and limescale build up is more noticeable on darker tones.’

Design a kitchen sink with grey modern sink

(Image credit: Eggersmann Design)

How do you layout a countertop around the sink?

Surfaces around the sink need to be hard-wearing and able to withstand frequent contact with water, which is why engineered quartz surfaces remain popular. Natural granite and marble can look beautiful, but require more maintenance, while the latest generation of porcelain surfaces are ultra durable. Drainer grooves or a sunken area can be cut into one or both sides of the sink, if required, while a full kitchen backsplash idea or upstand can protect the wall surface from splashes. 

Sophie Mason, design manager at The Myers Touch says: ‘Upstands are usually a continuation of the worktop material and, as a rule of thumb, would be no less than 40mm high.’

Design a kitchen sink with blue kitchen

(Image credit: Jack Trench / Alexandria Hall)

How do I organize my sink area?

Practical solutions for storing cleaning materials under the sink keep the worktop clutter free and easy to maintain. ‘Drawers make the best use of space in under-sink cabinetry,’ advises Jack Trench, founder of Jack Trench Bespoke Kitchens & Furniture. ‘Drawer internals can have a U-shaped notch to accommodate the sink bowl.’ You may also need to accommodate a tank if you plan to install a boiling water tap or a waste bin system.

Amelia Thorpe
Contributing Editor

Amelia Thorpe is a specialist interiors and design journalist, covering every topic to do with homes from fabrics, furniture and lighting to surfaces, kitchens and bathrooms. 

As the daughter of an antique dealer and a lifelong collector of old cookery books and vintage graphics herself, she also has a particular expertise in antiques, mid-century and decorative arts of all kinds.

Drawn to homes because of their importance in the happiness of our lives and the enjoyment they can bring, Amelia has been writing about the topic for more than fifteen years. She has interviewed some of the most influential designers of our time, from Piero Lissoni, Antonio Citterio, Jaime Hayon and Arik Levy to Nina Campbell and Robert Kime.