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ideal number of bowls for kitchen sink? 1, 2, or 3?

i'm trying to struggle through the relative merits of single vs. double vs. triple bowl kitchen sinks. my husband and i are completely renovating our new home (we just got married! still getting used to saying "my husband." : ) any input you hounds could provide would be so very helpful, since i'm getting stalled on a lot of the kitchen details, including this one.

ONE BOWL: i can see the allure of having one very large sink that fits large pots and baking sheets.
TWO BOWLS: i would like to install a garbage disposal, and thought it would be nice to have a little bowl dedicated to that in addition to a large bowl.
THREE BOWLS: in case i do have one small bowl dedicated to garbage disposal, it would also be nice to have two large bowls, one for accumulating dirty dishes and one for prepping food, which would come in handy for large dinner parties.

what do people think? also, do you have recommendations for particular sinks? i am leaning towards an undermount triple bowl blanco, 513-690, stainless steel with two bowls 17"x18", and one bowl 9" x18". but perhaps a large single bowl with a garbage disposal, and a separate prep sink would be more functional? and maybe cheaper. help! thanks!

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  1. undermount, bit more expensive, but you won't have to worry about the sealant/gasket failing (as an architect friend put it "who ever thought surface mount was a good idea?")

    at the very least 2. if you have a D/W it can give out and washing dishes in a single sink is a bitch. it sounds like budget is not a huge issue, so if you go for 3 you might consider a small prep sink away from the workhorse (so to speak) sink so as not to bunch up functions. you'll want to have the disposal hooked to the one by the D/W, but again, if cost isn't a problem the prep could have one too.

    1. Having just gone from two bowl to one, I say one bowl unreservedly. For the first time, I can was all my large pots and roasting pans with ease; no more maneuvering pots under the faucet to make sure it's completely washed. Even if you don't have room for a second sink elsewhere, get a one bowl sink. Our sink was fabricated out of the same granite as our counter, and it is a farmhouse style. Love it,love it, love it!

      1. When we redid our kitchen 3 years ago, my designer recommended a single bowl so decided to go with a franke single bowl which is huge. have never regretted the decision simply because its so practical. I am able to wash large quantities and volume at times in there. I did consider a double bowl at that time and she dissuaded me for which I am grateful. I would go with a large single and then if space permits a smaller prep in another location.

        6 Replies
        1. re: foodwich

          hi foodwich - how did she dissuade you?

          1. re: shirlotta

            by suggesting less space with the double and the accommodating ease of the single. think large stockpots. when i pile in the dinnerware after a party i send her grateful thanks.

          2. re: foodwich

            i agree with the one bowl franke, did you get the orca, foodwich?

            1. re: chuckl

              hmmn i dont think so. will check on the franke site and revert.

              1. re: chuckl

                nope. i didnt i want to say its a huge 30 plus inches but i did get the stainless sink dish insert so it keeps the sink in good condition as in protecting the finish from scratches and also buffers the glassware and dishes.sorry vague about the dimensions since it has been a few years.

            2. Count me in the single bowl faction. Double bowls, even if the two bowls are different sizes, are never large enough. And to combat the issue with hand-washing dishes in a single bowl sink, I put my largest stainless steel bowl to use as a wash basin, freeing up the rest of the sink to use as the "staging" area for dirty dishes and as the rinse station.

              Single bowl gives you much more flexibility and I don't see how a single bowl precludes having a garbage disposal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: janniecooks

                Having gone from my parents house which had 2 bowls and my current house that has 1 bowl - I would go for the 2 bowl option.

                My parents had 1 bowl dedicated to dirty dishes & disposal...while the other bowl contained the dish rack and kept dishes that needed to dry more - LOVED IT - it freed up so much space on the counters!

                Oh and note. DO NOT GET A WHITE PORCELIN SINK! stainless steel all the way!

              2. A lot depends on how big your bigger pots are and how often you use them. Also how good you are about getting things washed and out before the next preparation step. A triple bowl is probably bad since you will never have a bowl big enough for larger pots/pans. A double is perhaps the best compromise if you want a fairly large bowl but the flexibility of an extra one to do things while the other has stuff left in it (e.g. while soaking pots). A single would be fine if you are diligent about getting each job done immediately so the stuff doesn't back up when you suddenly need to do the next job. We put in a double, plus a separte prep sink some distance away. Each one has a disposer. It works pretty well, but I do have big pots/pans that don't fit in even the largest bowl I have.

                The surface mount/under mount decision will be made when you choose your counter top material---if you go with laminate, you must surface mount. If you go with solid such as granite, you will under mount. It's more a cost issue than anything (the cost of the counter top, not the sink).

                On a related point, if you have space I strongly suggest two dishwashers. The extra flexibility they bring is well worth the slight net additional cost.

                1. We just built a new house and have one really big sink (big enough to soak our thanksgiving turkey roaster), and then a second smaller one on our island. And we absolutely love it. And definitely get undermount, because it's much easier to clean.

                  1. We have 2 bowls and are quite happy with the arrangement. The smaller one, which has the disposal, is still large enough for a 9x13 pan to sit flat on the bottom. The larger one is big enough for just about everything. I prefer having the disposal in the same area as the regular sink, as opposed to a separate small prep sink; my trash can & recycling are all by the main sink, and that way I can dispose of trash, place dirty dishes in the dishwasher or other sink, all staying in the same place. As to Roxlet's concern about maneuvering the pots under the faucet, we have a pullout hose style faucet, that easily reaches anywhere in both bowls. Another plus of having 2 bowls is that, when we have an excess of dishes for hand-washing that exceed the space in the regular dish-drainer to the side of the sink, I have an auxiliary dish-drainer that fits over one bowl, and the other is still available for washing.

                    1. We are in the country and our waste goes into a septic tank. So I chose not to have a garbage disposal.
                      I did choose a two bowl, with both the same depth, but the larger one is significantly larger than the individuals of a double bowl. All of my roasters fit in it as do my canning supplies.
                      We have a dishwasher, but with hard water, I prefer to "do" dishes and most are done in the smaller sink. And I rinse into the large one, where that water goes to soak the cooking parts of pots and pans.
                      For us, it works.

                      I got the sink at a kitchen seconds store for $15. (They were so cheap, I bought two, and one stayed with our previous house.)

                      1. thank you everyone for all the input! hmm. so it sounds like people are more in the one bowl camp, with some people pro-two bowl. for those who use one large single sink, do you find it easy to divide between prep work and dish stuff? i am not so good about getting things cleaned while i'm cooking, although maybe in the past that was due to extremely limited tiny new york apartment kitchen issues. maybe 2 bowl would be better for me... but the flexibility to wash large things easily is alluring, as i like doing braises and baking.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: shirlotta

                          I'm in the one-bowl camp, too, although for a different reason. I live in a smallish apartment with a family of four, and yes, the one-bowl sink can be annoying during prep. However, when I've had two-bowl sinks in the past, I've found it WAY too easy to just pile up dirty dish after dirty dish in the lesser used bowl and keep putting off cleaning up until it's truly awful (and when I say "I" I mean a husband and two kids...). The one-bowl sink forces me to keep things in order in a small kitchen.

                          On the other hand, if you're the type who won't be forced into keeping order, only having that one bowl could get pretty annoying... I think you just have to know yourself and how you cook/clean. Consider your cookware too. I use Le Creuset mostly and don't like it banged around in a small sink while cleaning. I'm also less likely to leave it sitting in the sink anyway out of fear of rust.

                          1. re: shirlotta

                            Try to do all the prep work at once and wash things that you won't need again as soon as you are done with them, or as soon as you can get to them; rinse and put in to the dishwasher as you go rather than waiting until the bitter end. Rarely do the dirty dishes pile up and if need be I just stack them neatly to one side of the sink. DH browbeat me into cleaning as I go, now it's second nature.

                          2. jfood likes his one bowl sink with a disposal. It is very versatile:

                            1 - it can hide the dishes from the first course instead of on the counter
                            2 - it can handle washing large pots
                            3 - it can handle cutting boards

                            Othe suggestion is purchase a thick gauge. If you go too thin every time you drian pasta into the sink you will hear a big BANG.

                            Mrs jfood designs kitchens et. al. and she wants to swap to a 2-bowl, but jfood is doing his best to keep the single.

                            1. If you stop and think about the way you use your sink(s), you will probably be able to decide if you are a 2-sink person or if one sink will do you. I have to have my sink of hot soapy water ready for dishes and counter wiping during food prep and after meals (my gramma taught me well) so I wouldn't ever want to be without my double sink. I have the Shaw's Original two-bowl farmhouse sink in fireclay which is an absolutely wonderful sink. It is super easy to clean, the bowls are huge, and it looks great in my kitchen. It was a definite splurge but well worth it. I personally prefer fireclay or enamel to stainless steel as I was prone to scratching and denting my stainless Kohler sink in the previous kitchen (and it's impossible to remove scratches and dings from the stainless).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: koigirl

                                I'm glad I'm not the only person left in the world (other than my mom) who wants a sink of hot soapy water to wash dishes and clean up!

                                I do have slight compromise -- I have a Kohler sink with a 1/2 height divider, so I can still get big things in to clean. The 1/2 height still gives enough depth for the hand washing I do.

                              2. I don't have a lot of dishes, so I hand-wash. One basin wouldn't work at all. I need one for the soapy water, the other for the rinse

                                1. thanks for everyone's feedback! i think i'm going to go with a one bowl on the island, with a prep sink elsewhere in the kitchen. a lot of the problems with dishes piling up that i've had in the past have sprung from not having enough space anywhere in the kitchen to get things done, while preparing large meals. i want to go undermounted, stainless steel, and am probably going to go with blanco or franke. thank you!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: shirlotta

                                    I don't think you'll be sorry. What I love about my big sink is that things that used to live on the counter -- like scrubbers, sponges and strainers -- now live right in the sink and I still have tons of room to wash everything I need two. We have a separate sink in the butler's pantry, but that is rarely used for clean-up.

                                    1. re: shirlotta

                                      Good choice. Whenever I see a kitchen that doesn't have a sink large enough for the largest pan that fits in the stove, I can tell it was designed by a contractor and not by someone who cooks. Alas, it seems I usually end up living in such places.

                                    2. I've got a 2-bowler: one big, one small with disposal. I'm quite happy with it. But then,
                                      I have no idea why there are two. I'm happy with 2 but of there were one or three I'd be
                                      just as happy.

                                      It's a white porcelain sink. I like the porcelain because when it's clean, it's *so* clean
                                      looking. On the other hand, I've got all kinds of rubber mats to deal with the forseeable
                                      event where I have a bit too much wine with dinner and drop the Le Creuset and
                                      oops now we've got an expensive situation.

                                      On the porcelain upside, I like not getting the *boom* every time I strain the pasta
                                      water like used to happen with the stainless one-bowler in my old place.

                                      I don't think there's ever been a time in the five years or so I've been here that I've
                                      said, "Oh excellent! I wouldn't have been able to do this if there were only one."

                                      Gee, I'm not being very helpful at all here. Sorry.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                        In my experience you always need one more bowl than you actually have ;)

                                      2. We have no dishwasher so two sinks are really important, one for soapy water, another for rinsing. Ours are stainless steel, and we have no problems like a banging noise when draining pasta water, or with scratches.

                                        I'm a bit confused with all the talk about 'fitting your biggest pot'. Does everyone else expect to totally submerge a four gallon stock pot in a sink? I think our sinks would be classified as average sized, and I have no problem fitting stock pots upright in them, or sideways. But submerged? no. Perhaps the problem is more to do with the distance between the sink and the tap/faucet? And as for baking trays, I just splash with water and scrub, then dip one side then the other into the clean water to rinse. Why have I never experienced this 'fitting' problem?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Gooseberry

                                          A big stockpot is manageable, if you've got enough clearance under the faucet, and a baking sheet is manageable, because they're fairly light, and you can always figure something out when you've got an inadequate sink, but if you have things like heavy broiler pans or a large double-burner griddle or a heavy 10-12 quart rondeau or cast iron dutch oven, a large sink makes things much easier.

                                        2. I have two, but find I use the larger one almost exclusively and just keep an over-the-sink drying rack in the smaller one. However, when I am defrosting a small turkey, or chicken or other meat/fish, it is nice to have that going on in a separate bowl to minimize the chance of cross-contamination and to avoid any chance of handsoap getting into the pot that is holding the frozen food being defrosted. If you can swing a single large sink and a second separate prep sink, that is really the ideal. Then you can have one large bowl and something else to use for your other tasks.

                                          I don't think you need to dedicate a bowl to garbage disposal. But, I would put a disposer where you wash large pots and delicate serving pieces, because that is where most of the garbage will end up. If you can splurge on the second prep sink, it too can have a little Insinkerator put in there to catch the cucumber and potato skins. It only adds a little bit to your cost, but it is wonderfully convenient.

                                          1. Hello
                                            I have two bowls in my present kitchen and I find them hard to use - the smaller ends up just sitting there not being used at all. I am building a new home and I will have just one large sink. If you have too many bowls, you may find they turn into dead areas that you don't really use. My new sink is stainless steel. There will be separate grooves for the cutting board and drainer to slide back and forth. They can be easily removed for cleaning or to put away, but I don't have to use counter space for the chopping board - which is nice in my small kitchen.

                                            If your kitchen it really large, it might be nice to have a sink in a different part of the kitchen to be used by more than one person for dinner prep....