Do You Need A Second Sink? Examining The Trend Towards Two Sink Kitchens

Adding a second sink is starting to show up on a lot of kitchen to-do lists. It’s one of those features that you probably wouldn’t even think to want if you hadn’t heard of it before, but makes so much sense when you do. Having a second sink, whether a small prep sink or a second full-sized one, can solve a whole host of common kitchen annoyances. But before you give in to the instant-want for this feature, take a little time to ask yourself: do you really need it?

Remember: Sinks Need Plumbing

The Sinks Should Be Far Apart To Be Worthwhile, But Not So Far That The Plumbing Becomes Prohibitively Expensive (by Jeffrey Harrington Homes, photo by Zvonkovic Photography)
The sinks should be far apart to be worthwhile, but not so far that the plumbing becomes prohibitively expensive (by Jeffrey Harrington Homes, photo by Zvonkovic Photography)

A secondary sink isn’t right for every kitchen, and in some cases can be a lot of trouble and expense for something you might not even use. Even small sinks need both a water supply and a drain line, which means a good amount of construction. With a few exceptions, this project will almost always need to be part of a larger renovation. Before you so much as start looking at a sink, you should consult a contractor about the cost (and feasibility) of plumbing the area you have in mind.

Size Matters

A Kitchen This Big Can Easily Justify Having Two Sinks (by Tervola Designs)
A kitchen this big can easily justify having two sinks (by Tervola Designs)

If getting plumbing to your ideal spot is both feasible and affordable? Ask yourself what need the sink is going to fill – and whether or not the sink you have already does it. Second sinks work better the bigger your kitchen is; even in a moderately sized kitchen, it isn’t a big trip from one end to another. A secondary sink might save you a few steps while making your coffee in the morning, but if there isn’t much space between the two sinks, it might not be worth the expense. For example, I’ve seen kitchens that have two sinks side by side, which seems unnecessary at best. On the other hand, very large kitchens with two obviously separate prep stations almost demand two separate sinks.

Who Does The Cooking?

Two Sink Kitchen (by Workshop/apd)
Setting up back-to-back sinks can make it possible to get more people involved in meal prep without overcrowding your kitchen (by Workshop/apd)

Two-sink setups really shine in busy kitchens. For a family that cooks together or a couple that entertains, having only one source of running water can be a pain. Adding a second sink can allow two people to work comfortably in the same space without rubbing elbows. Though, again, this really works better the bigger the kitchen; even a small sink can monopolize the counter space in a too-small kitchen.

More Than One Work Area?

Butler's Pantry With Prep Sink (by Venegas and Company)
Butler’s Pantry With Prep Sink (by Venegas and Company)

Secondary kitchen sinks are great for a second prep space, but it’s important to figure out ahead of time where the prep space is and why you need it. For example, having a second sink on the far side of a large kitchen island makes sense; a second sink will let you prep and clean up without forcing you to repeatedly cross the kitchen. Separate prep spaces can also be nice if you have a dedicated baking station where you keep basic ingredients and appliances but don’t want to hike back to the main sink to add water or wash your hands. Finally, if you have a large, butler style pantry, including a second sink in that space can save a lot of foot traffic.

Will Just A Faucet Do?

If your primary reason for wanting a second sink is that you don’t want to have to tote a heavy container of water around your kitchen, installing a second sink might actually not be the best option. For people who often make large quantities of soup or pasta, installing a pot filler above or alongside your kitchen range is a much more efficient solution. A pot filler will allow you to fill pots, pans, and kettles directly on the stove. For those who want a faster, simpler way to brew coffee or tea in the morning, installing a second sink near your espresso machine or coffee setup can work. Adding a drinking water faucet to your primary sink, combined with a point of use water heater and an undercounter water filter can actually get you better water that’s hotter, faster.

What About Entertaining?

Kitchen Island With Bar Style Sink For Entertaining (by Dwell Design Studio)
Adding a bar sink to your island not only makes it better for prep, but can let you play bartender for your guests (by Dwell Design Studio)

If you entertain frequently, adding a second, bar style sink can allow you easily sit and serve drinks without having to leave your guests for repeated trips across the kitchen. Though this is a feature more commonly associated with a home bar than a kitchen, in a sufficiently large kitchen – either with a large kitchen island with multiple seats, or a kitchen with a separate eating nook – even a relatively small sink can add significant convenience for entertainers.

Update: Since the original writing of this post, kitchens have only gotten bigger and more central to our lives and homes. With new trends highlighting everything from a second island to even a whole second kitchen, adding a second sink has become something of a no-brainer. But the rule still stands: if you’re going to install a second sink, don’t do it because it’s trendy, but put one where it’s going to be useful!