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REAL ESTATE

Is Your New Kitchen Sink Totally in the Wrong Place?

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    kitchen-sink-island

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    Are sinks better in the corner?

Sorry to break it to you, homeowners: No matter how carefully and lovingly you planned your dream kitchen renovation, it turns out you might have installed your kitchen sink in the wrong spot.

Kitchen nightmares!

At least, that's the claim being made by renegade designer Matthew Quinn, who is no fan of the traditional -- and ever-popular -- kitchen island. More often than not, he points out, islands have sinks installed in the middle, with equal counter space on each side. This makes sense from a symmetry and aesthetic standpoint, but not so much when it comes to food prep. Reason: Unless your island is (to quote one presidential candidate) yuge, the counter space on each side of the sink may feel cramped.

Even in the best of circumstances, homeowners "end up with a maximum of 2 feet of counter space on either side," Quinn told the Los Angeles Times. "For someone who really cooks, you want as much prep space as possible."

So Quinn decided to buck tradition and try a radical new idea: Move the sink to the corner. Suddenly, you've got double the counter space -- plenty of room for even the most space-limited cook. Another benefit is that the sink can be accessed on two sides, so you're not bumping hips with guests as they wash their hands while you're rinsing the dishes.

Last year, Quinn took this surprisingly simple idea mainstream with the SocialCorner sink, a commercial stainless-steel sink made by Home Refinements. The idea has been hailed as revolutionary by many designers; however, it may trigger panic in homeowners who've already installed their sinks in the center of the islands, who are now thinking: Damn. Did I just make a very expensive mistake?

While it is possible to move a sink after it's installed, you'll pay dearly for this change. According to New York kitchen designer Gordon Cronce, a new 4-foot-by-6-foot granite countertop would cost around $4,500 to $7,000 to cut and install, not to mention moving the plumbing underneath.

You can curb these costs by keeping your original countertop and just plugging the old sink hole with a new piece of counter. But even if it's a perfect fit, the seam will be visible, as well as the change in grain. Fortunately, there is even cheaper option out there.

"I once had clients who had their sink in the center of their kitchen island who told me, 'This is stupid,'" Cronce recalls. "So we cut out a new sink in the corner and, in the hole where the old sink was, we mounted a maple butcher block. So, rather than trying to match the granite, we created a distinct surface. It looked great."

And the price tag for this tweak is about half of what you'd pay for a new counter -- as low as $2,000.

So take heart: If you hate where your kitchen sink is placed, there is hope. This is also a good lesson for homeowners who plan to upgrade their kitchen down the road.

"Ask your contractor for a full-scale model so you can really feel what the space is like," says Cronce. "Things may look fine on a floor plan, but you'll only know how it functions once you're in it."

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