When it comes to maximizing available space in a kitchen, the sink likely isn’t your first thought. However, the rising popularity of workstation sinks might have you reconsidering. “Whether a kitchen has a small footprint with limited counter space, or a large kitchen with two or more sinks, a workstation sink can maximize flow, efficiency, and productivity,” says designer Crystal Hackl of Inspired Haven Design.
In essence, a workstation sink is a traditional sink that can do more. “Workstation sinks are designed with an integrated ledge that supports a range of accessories, creating a flexible and multifunctional workspace that streamlines everything from meal prep to cleanup,” says Katya Palat, Director, Brand and Creative at Delta Faucet. Available accessories include cutting boards, drying racks, strainers, utensil holders, and prep bowls. Some accessories come with the sink, while others are available for additional purchase. These items can be used individually or in configurations of multiples; some models even have a second ledge to accommodate two levels of accessories.
Workstation sinks maximize your kitchen workspace by allowing you to utilize the area directly over your sink for chopping, slicing, drying dishes, draining produce, and many other kitchen tasks
Both workstation and traditional kitchen sinks come in a range of standard sizes, from small bar sinks to oversize models fit for commercial kitchens. They’re available in the same standard installations—from undermount sinks to drop-in and farmhouse styles—which makes them as DIY-friendly as a traditional sink, depending on your knowledge and comfort level.
Workstation sinks are also found in a similar variety of materials. “Stainless steel is still the most popular material, but granite composite and even fireclay sinks are available with the workstation design,” says Palat.
A number of factors are converging to make workstation sinks a must-have kitchen upgrade. At a high level, the way we use kitchens—and thus kitchen design—has been changing, especially since the pandemic. “The evolution of the kitchen into a part of the living space in a home means that we want to create kitchens that allow for social interaction during food prep and cleanup,” says Hackl. Workstation sinks support a more social kitchen by helping the space accommodate multiple cooks more easily or by allowing the cook to accomplish multiple tasks in one area rather than moving about the room and away from the social activity.
“The conventional focus on formal work triangles in kitchen design has shifted into the planning and creation of functional work zones, such as food prep, cleanup, refrigeration, cooking, baking, and even auxiliary zones such as dining, crafting, planning, and/or computer work,” says Hackl. With zones in demand, a workstation sink is ideal because its accessories allow it to shift from a traditional sink to a prep area and/or a clean-up zone.
Where workstations differ from traditional sinks is the functionality. “Workstation sinks maximize your kitchen workspace by allowing you to utilize the area directly over your sink for chopping, slicing, drying dishes, draining produce, and many other kitchen tasks,” says Palat. The accessories can turn the sink into a temporary countertop or a more productive cleaning area.
“In a small kitchen, a workstation sink means that you’re no longer having to choose between a full-sized sink and counter space,” says Hackl. A common workstation sink accessory is a cutting board, which lets the sink act as a prep zone. “Smaller workstation models may come with large cutting boards that can double as sink covers, creating an extension of the countertop that can be very useful in a kitchen where counter space is at a premium,” says Palat. Some models have a cutting board and integrated prep containers, making it even easier to chop and sort ingredients at the sink.
With a workstation, it’s no longer just a sink and faucet: reconfiguring accessories allows you to do more. “Workstation sinks maximize efficiency and help keep the food prep zone tidy,” says Hackl. “By including rinsing, chopping, scrap disposal, meal prep bins, and clean-up into a single location, we avoid moving from sink to counter and back with wet hands and/or messy food.”
“Prepping and cleanig are easier with a workstation, since messy tasks like chopping vegetables and even rolling out dough can be completed right over the sink,” says Palat. But even if you don’t use the sink as a food prep area, even doing dishes is easier with the help of workstation accessories.
“A workstation roll-up drying rack with removable caddy allows you to easily dry dishes and utensils right over the sink instead of using a countertop drying rack that runs the risk of making a mess and leaving puddles of water, making it much easier to maintain a clean and dry countertop,” says Palat. “To save time and hassle, most workstation accessories are designed to be dishwasher-safe,” she adds.
Although they are practical upgrades for any size or style of kitchen, there are a few things you should keep in mind as you consider if a workstation sink is right for you.
You likely won’t use all the accessories at once, and there are also instances where you won’t use any. Storage for the extra pieces is something you should weigh in your considerations. “With such a variety of accessories, you’ll need a place to store those that aren’t in use, somewhere near the sink for ease of access,” says Hackl.
With all the accessories you may end up using, you will have a few more things to wipe down and keep clean at the end of the day. Wood accessories may need extra attention. “You’ll want to wipe them down and dry them off frequently to avoid staining or otherwise affecting the finish,” says Hackl.
In some common kitchen layouts, where the sink faces away from the rest of the room, a workstation sink may result in the cook having their back to the household activity even more than before. “In a kitchen with a sink that faces a wall or window, away from the social zone, you may find that you use your outward-facing space for prep so your back isn’t to the rest of the room,” says Hackl.
“On the one hand, workstation accessories allow you to organize all of your prep and wash activities in one space, but on the other hand, you may need a big open sink to wash large pots, pans, sheets, and the like, and may end up storing your accessories more often than you use them,” says Hackl. If you’re someone who likes to leave dirty dishes to soak in the sink, or who doesn’t do a lot of cooking and food prep, a workstation sink might not be your best fit.
With their advanced design and included accessories, workstation sinks typically have a higher price tag than a traditional sink. Costs can climb, too, by purchasing additional accessories or organizers for accessory storage.
This article was written by Kristina McGuirk from Better Homes and Gardens and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.