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.
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.
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.
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.
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