What to Account for When Planning for Sinks and Faucets

Kitchen sinks and faucets have changed dramatically in the last decade. Sinks are deeper with more shapes than ever before; faucets have changed from three-piece units with separate hot-and-cold knobs to sleek single-level units and back again.

What that, you need for closer attention to is the operation of the faucets. Especially if they’re going to be mounted in front of a window or a bar top.

Here, let me show you an example of what I mean at the sink window:

Under Window Faucet image via Kelly Morisseau

See how little space there is between the sink and the window?

If I’d have to estimate (it’s a couple of years old now and I’m going from memory), I’d say there’s about an inch of clearance between the back of the faucet and the white window sill.

One inch. Not a lot of room.

Part of the issue is that a window sill protrudes over the counter space depending on the material below it. (In this case, slate tile, so we have a 3/8″ tile and the overhang 1/2″ beyond it.)

Add to that the kitchen sink depth that I talked about in the beginning – sinks have grown in depth from 16″ to up to 20″ and more. Take away the 1-1/2″ for the front edge of the countertop to overhang past the cabinet case, and the cabinet itself and there’s only 22-1/2 of space left at the back – just enough for a faucet, but it’s sure close to the windowsill. This is where you’ll see the DIY forums filled with questions about how to fix this.

In this case, the faucet has the lever on the top which tilts upward. So far, so good, right? Right.

But what if the clients didn’t want that faucet? What if they wanted a faucet with a side lever, like the one below? Now we have an issue because the lever not only tilts out to the side, it tilts backwards as well–bang. Straight into window sill.

Grohe Ladylux Faucet with side-mount lever image via Kelly Morisseau

While we’re at it, let’s say “ow” for the client’s knuckles — they’re not going to fare much better.

This detail should be thought out prior to installation. If not, the poor client will either be buying a new replacement faucet OR installing the base of this one at a 45 degree angle. Not what they were hoping for. (This picture shows the base at a 90 degree angle, but it’s not something that stirs a lot of enthusiasm here.)

Please note that I’m not trying to single out this faucet (a Grohe Ladylux faucet immediately above) as being at fault. That’s not the case at all – I really like this faucet. It, and many other side-lever operations as well as reproduction 3-piece faucets (shown below) simply require us to pay more attention to how they operate.

Moen Showcase bridge faucet image via Kelly Morisseau

Having said that, if you came to me clutching the faucet to your chest and casting tragic puppy dog eyes in my general direction.

Here’s what to look for at the design stage (because I’m a sucker for puppy dog eyes):

  • Lower the windowsill enough to free up the operation of the lever, and/or,
  •  Change the depth of the sink cabinet to a minimum of 26″-27″ (depending on how custom the cabinets.)
  • As an added note, it’s always helpful if the countertop installers are made aware of this.  They then won’t center the sink, but will fabricate with cutout as close to the front edge of the cabinet.

So, the faucet in the first photo wasn’t a lucky co-incidence — it was something discussed with the homeowner to make sure everything was working as it should.

And now you know what to watch for. Your knuckles will thank you. :)

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Note from the Hosts:

I know the title might have read “. . . Fractions of an Inch . . . .”

We would like thank Kelly for offering up this post. She is a talented blogger and kitchen designer based out of Northern California. She writes the blog Kitchen Sync (get it! and maybe a book someday soon). On Twitter @Kitchen_Sync. She was tagged for this project by both Sean @SLSConstruction & Paul @Paul_Anater. jb

This article originally appeared on http://kitchensync.typepad.com/. For much more on selecting a Faucet and for Kitchen Design in general, please check out those categories on our site. Thanks. ~jb