Prep Sinks and Cleanup Sinks — Why You Might Need Both

Prep Sinks and Cleanup Sinks — Why You Might Need Both

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

With few exceptions, the question: “Should I include a prep sink as well as a cleanup sink in my kitchen?” always arises when planning kitchens for my clients. Many clients are confused about the purpose, and need for, a prep sink as well as a cleanup sink. Most of us grew up with a single sink in the kitchen, so the idea of having or needing two sinks is novel. Back in the day, a second sink in the kitchen, by most middle-class standards, would be considered a bit odd or excessive.

So — to lay to rest concerns and confusion about this topic, I thought it would be helpful to reference NKBA’s guidelines on prep sinks, with some input from my own experience. Assuming we wish to plan on having both types of sinks in the kitchen, let us begin by specifically explaining each sink’s purpose.

Purpose and Placement of Cleanup Sinks

The purpose of the “cleanup” sink is pretty straightforward; some refer to this sink as the “main” sink. However, the term “main” (in kitchen design “lingo”) is not accurate, as it suggests that the sink is all-purpose when, in fact, it serves only one purpose: cleanup of pots, pans, dishes, and whatever else. Typically, the cleanup sink is placed slightly away from the cooking and food storage areas of the kitchen. The cleanup sink no longer functions as the third boundary of the traditional “work triangle” because it is not required for prep work.

Purpose and Placement of Prep Sinks

The prep sink is intended to be used by the cook to wash and prep produce, fish, poultry, pork, or beef. It also can serve as a “pot filler” for pasta or as a water source for other types of food preparation. Ideally, it should be located near the cooking and food storage areas so that the cook can access it easily. If possible, there should be ample room to one side of the prep sink for workspace. NKBA guidelines recommend a space that is at least 36” wide and 24” deep. If this is not possible, keep in mind that we have the ideal and then what is available given space limitations. What’s most important is that you, as homeowner, are comfortable with the sink’s placement and that its placement helps, not hinders, your cooking tasks.

Additionally, and sometimes inadvertently, the prep sink’s location may be closer to the family room or breakfast area. In this case, the sink can be useful for other purposes, especially if one adds an InstaHot water dispenser to it. A cup of hot tea no longer requires that one refill the kettle and waste precious energy heating the water for its preparation.

Two Sinks are Better Than One

If space allows, having two separate sinks with distinct functions is always preferable to only one. This allows for a more open feel in the kitchen with less traffic jams in the two sink areas, especially in today’s busy world.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Ageless Kitchens and Your Kitchen Remodel

Ageless Kitchens and Your Kitchen Remodel

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

The title of this article has two meanings–both important and relevant to all who use the kitchen.

First, for all homeowners, nothing is more rewarding than living day-to-day in a kitchen that feels “timeless” in style and aesthetic. Imagine a kitchen, maybe the one you have now, that you enjoy today — if it had been designed with this goal in mind. Fast forward 10 to 15 years and imagine that you have that same feeling and appreciation for your kitchen. This would put your kitchen into the category of “ageless”.

The second meaning relates to the actual ages of family members and friends who use the kitchen. “Ageless kitchens” are enjoyable to be in and work in, regardless of one’s age or physical abilities and limitations. Wouldn’t it give you peace of mind to know that, if you wish to stay in your home for years to come, you will be able to work in and enjoy your kitchen without limitation?

Achieving these two objectives is best accomplished by enlisting the expertise of a professional kitchen designer as early as possible in your kitchen design or remodeling venture.

Here is what I advise clients who want to have a classic, ageless kitchen that will withstand the test of time:

  1. Keep it simple—the less elaborate the details, the more likely years from now no one will think the kitchen is “dated”. Less is more.
  2. Stick with a neutral color palette. Yes, some might think that this might be boring — but you can always punch up the color interest by accessorizing using your favorite colors. As an added bonus, the neutral color palette will make accent colors “pop” even more.
  3. Invest in decent appliances and ensure the space allotted for them will support future replacement down the road.
  4. Invest in all plywood construction built cabinetry whose finish is top-notch by industry standards.

Kitchens that can be used by all, regardless of their physical ability or disability, are designed according to established Universal Design principles. Considering that, by the year 2020, over 20% of the world’s population will be over the age of 65, it is wise to pay attention to Universal Design Principles when designing or remodeling kitchens.

Important Universal Design Principles for Kitchens

  1. Work aisles in the kitchen should be 42” (for one cook) to 48” (for two cooks)
  2. With perpendicular walkways, one should be a minimum of 42” wide.
  3. Allow for knee space somewhere in the kitchen at a work center (sink or cooktop)
  4. Incorporate easy-to-access below counter storage for heavily used items.

Additional Resources

For more information on Universal Design in the kitchen and throughout the home, read: What is Universal Design?.


Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Planning and Collaboration: The Key to Kitchen Remodeling Success

Planning and Collaboration: The Key to Kitchen Remodeling Success

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

I just received Home & Design magazine’s “Late Spring” issue. I always enjoy opening it and seeing what has debuted lately in the DC/Metro area. What caught my interest this month was the article “Fresh Start“, offering great insight into the reincarnation of a 1950’s split level home in Mclean. The project’s outcome and the tale told therein should be heeded by all homeowners considering the undertaking of a remodeling project.

The photos reveal sequences of tranquil spaces throughout the home; all elements, as can be seen in the photos, take on a fresh airy feel, with each room’s transition into the next as seamless as the one before–including a comfortable relaxed kitchen (my expertise, of course.)

So, besides the beautiful pictures (all illustrating that these particular homeowners love the color blue), what caught my interest? The following excerpt, which echoes perfectly what I embrace when working with my clients:

“The renovation process was remarkably smooth, which Leggin (the architect) and his clients attribute to the seamless collaboration of the design team early on. ‘They met every two weeks for six months to discuss the vision for the plan,” says the husband. ‘It was a totally collaborative process.”

Bingo. They began early. They included several design experts. The homeowners engaged themselves fully with the experts, thereby ensuring that the end result was what they wanted.

To read the full article, “Fresh Start: A Talented Design Team Transforms a Mundane McLean Split-Level,” click here.


Sandra Brannock has designed beautiful and functional custom kitchens for clients throughout Northern Virginia and the metropolitan Washington, DC region. For more information about Expert Kitchen Designs services, call Sandra direct at (703) 801-6402 or email sandra@expertkitchendesigns.com.