Farmhouse Sinks In or Out?

Farm style sinks, also called apron front sinks, have been around since the late 1800's---early 1900's. And they are currently very trendy.  If you are remodeling your kitchen and are considering a farmhouse sink, you may bewondering if they will go out of style.  The consensus is no, they just need to be used in the right atmosphere/design palette.  If your design aesthetic is traditional, inspired by Joanna Gaines, retro, or cottagey, the farmhouse sink will fit in just fine. If your design is very modern or contemporary, it will not feel right.  And if your cooktop area is your 'focal point', then your sink doesn't need to be.  

Farmhouse sinks are charming, homey, durable, elegant, functional and nostalgic. Those are just a few of the reasons they're so popular.  The farmhouse sink originated in a time when there was no running water. The idea behind the sink was that it was a place to hold large amounts of water, which was fetched by hand from nearby wells, lakes and rivers.  If you're thinking about choosing a farmhouse-style sink for your kitchen, here's what else you should know:

~~The traditional farmhouse sink is generally a lot deeper than modern stainless steel undermount or top-mount sinks. The design enables the user to stand directly in front of the basin, with no cabinets or countertop in between. This feature made the farmhouse sink more comfortable to use at a time in the past when women would spend a large part of their day there - preparing food and washing dishes, clothes and even babies.  Though you could still wash a baby in today's farmhouse sinks, you'd probably find them more useful for washing large pots, big baking sheets and oven trays, and even barbecue grills - items you would generally struggle to wash in a typical sink. And if one large bowl isn't enough, you can find several double-bowl options too.

~~Installation: farmhouse sinks were originally designed to sit slightly to the front of the surrounding cabinets, so that any water flowing down the front of the sink would run to the floor instead of landing on and damaging the cabinets. This is how farmhouse sinks still are typically installed in a kitchen. They also are usually installed just under the level of the countertop so the counter can slightly overhang the sides of the sink, making it easy to wipe water from the counter straight into the sink.

~~Fixtures:  farmhouse sinks add a feeling of nostalgia to a kitchen and bring a sense of rustic character that enhances country and traditional style kitchens. Complete the look by pairing your white porcelain farmhouse sink with a beautiful traditional-style tap, many of which are available with matching white porcelain handles. Typical farmhouse sinks do not have a hole for the faucet, so the tap needs to be positioned in the counter or in the wall behind.

~~Materials:  white farmhouse sinks are most commonly made of fireclay or porcelain.   Fireclay sinks are made of clay, which is heated to an extremely high temperature that makes the sink hard and durable. It also gives the sink it's beautiful high shine. The durability of fireclay means that it is resistant to scratches and chips and is easy to clean.

Porcelain sinks are a ceramic material, again heated to high temperatures, although not quite as high as fireclay. They look similar to fireclay sinks but are less expensive. Porcelain sinks are not quite as durable as fireclay and are more prone to chipping and discoloration.

Farmhouse sinks are available in stainless steel, which has a more contemporary feeling.  Farmhouse sinks are also available in copper. The copper can sometimes have a hammered finish and a colored patina applied when the sink is manufactured. Over time, natural copper develops a beautiful patina as it reacts with the different substances that come in contact with it.

Some other considerations:

~~Seal. The measurements of fireclay and porcelain farmhouse  sinks can vary slightly, and the surfaces can be a bit uneven. These are natural characteristics of these materials and shouldn't be considered flaws. This means, however, that when the sink is fitted under a perfectly even countertop, there can be slight gaps where water can escape. After it is installed, ensure that your farmhouse sink is correctly sealed around the edges. Designing the countertop so it overhangs the edges of the sink sufficiently will help water flow straight into the sink bowl and keep it away from the edges.

~~Design. Though designing a farmhouse sink into a new kitchen layout is easy, it can prove more difficult if not impossible to incorporate one into your existing kitchen cabinet. The size and nature of farmhouse sinks mean they require custom cabinets to be designed to suit them, as well as a different countertop design. If you are not planning to replace your cabinet sink base, you will probably not be able to retrofit your existing cabinet to adapt to the farmhouse sink.

~~Surface. Pristine white porcelain sinks look stunning; however, they are a bit unforgiving in that they show every bit of dirt and grime. Having said that, they are easy to keep clean. And the hard surface of fireclay or porcelain farmhouse sinks can be noisy when you're washing dishes in them and is far less forgiving than stainless steel when breakable items are dropped in them, so take extra care when washing your wine glasses. 

~~Size. If you are concerned about wasting water, look for a farmhouse sink that has a smaller capacity. The depth of the traditional farmhouse sink is great for washing big items, but it means to fill it you'll need a lot more water than for a typical sink.

On A More Somber Note
Fall is here along with the earlier arrival of darkness.  You are probably already lighting candles in the evenings for ambience, and as cooler weather arrives you will be using your fireplace more and more.  There are several fire threats you need to watch out for, from squirrel activity in the attic (they love to chew wires), to leaky gas lines from your outdoor kitchen and lanterns, or a blocked chimney.  These fire safety tips can prevent a fire from happening in the first place and will keep you and your family safe should the worst-case scenario become a reality.

Inspect and Correct. Have your electrical systems, gas lines and chimney inspected by professionals. This can ensure any red flags are corrected before they even get close to starting a fire.  Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.

Install Smoke Alarms. Make sure you have a smoke alarm installed on every level of your house. There should also be one in each bedroom and/or outside sleeping areas. Test them every month and automatically replace the batteries every year.

Decorate with care.  Use care when decorating your home this holiday season. Nearly half of holiday decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source, while two out of every five home decoration fires are started by candles.  The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year's Day and Christmas Eve.

Holiday cooking.  Did you know that Thanksgiving is the leading day for cooking fires? In fact, there are three times as many fires on Thanksgiving Day as any other typical day of the year.  If you are frying, grilling, or broiling food, stay in the kitchen. Turn off the stove if you have to leave the kitchen, even if only for a short time.  Keep flammable objects-pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, and paper or plastic bags-away from the stovetop. Wear close-fitting clothing that won't drape over or touch burners while you are cooking.

Turn off the power.  Winter is a time when electric heating blankets and space heaters are popular.  Make sure these items are turned off while not in use, and especially while you are out of the home.   If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit.
Have a fire escape plan. Use the Home Fire Escape Plan from the Red Cross (click here) to create an escape plan for your family. Go over it thoroughly and we recommend practicing just in case.
There should be two escape route options, an agreed upon outdoor meeting place and the drill should be no longer than two minutes from start to finish.

10 Ways Symmetry Can Rescue Your Room
Human faces, snowflakes, violins, the Eiffel Tower - so much of our world is symmetrical, it's no wonder the eye is drawn to things with a mirror-image quality, including interiors. No matter your decor style, embracing symmetry can help your space look its best. Whether you're bringing grandeur to a small space or doing more with your art collection, here are 10 reasons to work symmetry into your rooms.

Symmetry can make your dining room feel fancier. Formal symmetry (where two sides of a room are close to mirror images of each other) dresses up a space. In the dining room, try hanging framed artworks on either side of a large mirror for a classic, elegant look. Or place matching lamps, sculptures or vases at either end of a buffet table - the more objects repeated on each side of the room, the more formal the space will feel.

Symmetry makes mixing up the dining set easier. Mixing and matching dining chairs is simple when you stick with a symmetrical arrangement - a pair of slipcovered armchairs at the ends and wood chairs along the sides, for instance. Even though the chairs at the heads of table are completely different from the others, the look feels well balanced.

Symmetry can deliver a big statement on a small budget. If you want to make an impact without spending big, choose budget finds arranged symmetrically. Bold black stripes painted on the wall (a project you can do yourself) set the tone for a chic black and white scheme. A simply framed, blown-up black and white poster centered above a settee and flanked by matching end tables and lamps completes the picture in mirror-image style.

    Symmetry can do wonders for your art collection. If you have a piece of art you love, but it's too small to stand on its own, try surrounding it with smaller, identically framed art. What could have been a canvas swallowed up by too much wall is instead a focal point. Other sure bets in arranging include an evenly spaced grid or a vertical column of art in matching frames.

    Symmetry help balance strong architectural features. If your room has a large or an especially striking architectural feature (like a fireplace or bay window), using it as the center of a symmetrical arrangement is a good way to bring balance to the room.

    Symmetry can turn a doorway into a passage with presence. Passing through a plain doorway becomes an event when a pair of sculptures on pedestals stands guard. If pedestals aren't your thing, the same effect can be had with a pair of large plants, or with matching art pieces.
    Symmetry can make a small space feel important. Sneaking in symmetry where you can is a great way to bring a bit of grandeur to a compact space. A set of floor-sweeping drapes and a pair of artworks can do wonders to make a small space more elegant.

    Symmetry can help downplay a tech feature. Surrounding the TV with pairs of identical items - chairs, topiaries and graphic curtains - helps the eye travel around the space, instead of instantly settling on the "big, black box."

    Symmetry provides an anchor for eclectic collections. Keep vintage treasures and eclectic art looking good by starting with a base furniture arrangement with some symmetry. Even if you don't have identical items, you can still approximate the look by using what you have. Two sofas facing each other look balanced (even if they are not the same), matching lamps help nonmatching tables fit in, and identical shades on windows help tie everything together.

    Symmetry pulls together a living room like nobody's business. If your living room seems to be missing something, have a look around and see how many pairs of identical items you can count. If everything is a one-off, the feeling of the room may be a bit scattered. Try adding a pair of matching table lamps, a set of matching pillows on the sofa or a pair of armchairs upholstered in the same fabric. Of course, having pairs is not enough - be sure to position your matching items across from each other to create symmetry that pleases the eye.