Stacia’s one-piece, custom kitchen stainless steel sink and counter top

retro-modern-stainless-steel-drain-board-sinkStacia and her husband recently built the “retro modern farm house of their dreams.” We first met her when we featured her Easylux storage unit.  Now, she has sent us photos of her fabulous, custom made stainless steel counter top with integrated drainboard sink. The sink and counter top initially installed in the kitchen were problematic, Stacia explains. She wanted a counter top and sink that not only wouldn’t stain or leak, but also, one with appropriate vintage style.  Could this be the best of both worlds?


Stacia writes:

I thought you might be interested in our new stainless steel sink/counter combo we installed over the last couple of days. Even though our house is only a couple of years old, we had some issues with the sink and counter we originally installed, and they needed to be replaced. I originally bought a black “granite” composite sink, and we began getting hard water stains on it immediately. We have a water softener, but the kitchen sink is the one place it doesn’t run to. It was also easily stained by stuff like coffee and berry juice. I could keep up with rinsing and cleaning away foods that would stain, but the hard water was impossible. We also had other problems with alignment of the laminate backsplash and some faulty caulk that wasn’t watertight from the beginning, so mold was seeping in.

new-vintage-farm-houseWhen we designed the kitchen, and the whole house really, we tried to keep our focus on what we wanted, not what various designers, retailers, etc. felt was trendy or necessary. I’ve always liked the utility and affordability of Formica so we went with that. Giant stainless steel range exhaust fans were pushed at us, but we found one that is restaurant-grade and flat-to-the-ceiling (far more affordable and doesn’t block the view of the rest of the room). Everyone had a tile backsplash, but we didn’t feel the need for that. I wanted and got the maple cabinetry, as well as a floor plan with lots of storage but a very tight work triangle.


retro-modern-stainless-counter-sink-comboWhat I also really wanted when we built the house was a big metal sink with a drain board. I started by looking at restaurant supply stores online, but that wouldn’t work with our cabinetry. No other place carried such sinks in our area, and going the special order route seemed overwhelming when we were already building a custom house with thousands of other decisions to make. So when I needed to replace the original sink, I had the time to go back to the stainless idea and look at everything I could find, from Ikea to Elkay to having one fabricated nearby. I had by then discovered your site, and read the articles about sinks there. For many reasons, the pre-made choices were not going to work right for us, and the metal fabricator I contacted could do counters but not the sink.

crate-for-sink-counter-comboThen I found They are located in Buffalo, New York, and completely custom make whatever you need. They have a calculator on their site that shows the costs right up front. I think they are very competitively priced too. I bugged them for months asking them to bid the project in many different ways, and they were always patient and helpful. We ended up replacing the entire 12-foot-long counter, complete with integrated backsplash and large drainboard sink, for right at $4,000 including shipping halfway across the country in a very impressive crate. And 16-gauge steel too!

integrated-stainless-steel-counter-with-drainboard-sinkMy husband hired a local handyman to help him install it, which only cost another $85. I know $4,000 is a lot of money, but for what we got it is a great deal if you compare it to other stainless options especially. All our other counters are inexpensive Formica, so this is the only high-cost item in our kitchen (besides the cabinets themselves, I guess) and just adds a layer of luxury and utility and sparkle to our kitchen. We are super pleased with the result.

retro-modern-farm-house-living-roomI probably would have ended up in a retro house since my husband and I have collected mid-century furniture and household stuff ever since we started dating nearly 25 years ago. But we wanted to live in the country and had some acreage we bought a few years ago and decided to build. The result is a farmhouse with mid-century sensibilities. I kept asking the carpenter who did the trim, “Can you make it more plain?” We wanted clean lines, lots of light, and quality over quantity. I’ve always felt like a bit of a lurker on Retro Renovation since I don’t have an old house, but so much of the site is valuable even if you are not renovating. It is a fantastic resource. Thanks for the inspiration!

Stacia — your counter/sink combo is fabulous. Pam says that she is sure that if she shows her husband your sink and counter top, he will want one, too — these are so darn utilitarian and will last forever.

Kudos to you and your husband for building your dream house — working to see beyond what is “trendy” today — and rather, to create a style that you will love an enjoy for many years to come. In my opinion — it is always worth splurging a little for high quality elements that will stand the test of time and also make you smile. This is especially true for high use areas like counter tops and sinks that take daily abuse — and which you use a lot, every day. Many thanks for giving us the details about your custom stainless steel counter top and drainboard sink — and for inviting us into your lovely home.

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  1. lynda says

    Very beautiful and very practical. you will enjoy this for many, many years. I have an old Elkay with the attached drainboard from the 70’s and it still looks great in our kitchen. Your well done search certainly paid off! Great house!

  2. Janet in CT says

    The countertops, and the cabinets too, look terrific! And I always admire the little finishing touches like the turquoise radio! I am wondering though – does the stainless spot and stain too? Years ago when we bought our first house, the cooktop and wall oven drove me crazy keeping them clean. I was bemoaning the fact to my mother-in-law and here’s a great kitchen cleaning hint. She told me they used baby oil – rubbed it on and then polished it up and it looked perfect! A couple of years back a friend built a new house complete with a stainless stove and was also complaining about the spotting and I told her what to do. She was thrilled to learn this little trick. Of course you have to rub it down well to remove any oily residue.

    • Sarah g (roundhouse) says

      Makes perfect sense since stainless steel cleaner always has that oily/greasy feel to it…. I wonder what is cheaper per ounce

    • Stacia says

      Awesome tip! We used olive oil to hide the white discoloration on the old black sink but it always looked bad again after a few days. Now that I know how hard the water is in this area I make sure to dry everything off a little more often so the minerals don’t build up. The problem with the old sink was that the surface was porous and the minerals soaked in and there was nothing to be done.

      I clean it with a solution of vinegar and water. You have to be careful since the acid in the vinegar can discolor the stainless but it’s fine if it is watered down and wiped off completely. I use this with all my stainless and it really works. It is really not at all onerous to keep clean, unlike granite or soapstone or corian, for instance.

  3. gsciencechick says

    It is just gorgeous! What a wonderful custom option. LOL, I grew up in that area of Buffalo where Specialty Stainless is located. WTG for hometown/US made!

  4. says

    Very handsome! We just had a 13″ stainless steel countertop with integrated sink made at Weiss Sheet Metal in Avon, MA. Super nice and super professional company to work with. Will try to get some good pictures to share.

  5. JKaye says

    Stacia, your new home is lovely, and looks appropriate for its rural setting. A salute to you and your husband for working hard to make your home dreams come true. Your kitchen and the rest of the house looks well planned and very timeless.

  6. June Cahill says

    It’s just perfect for your space – and what a fabulous resource for others! Well worth the time, effort and $$. Kudos!

  7. Jay says

    I think I am in love with your stainless counter/sink combo. What a great investment – it will last several lifetimes. There’s a reason they use stainless in commercial kitchens – it’s sanitary and durable. I would love to do something like this but my cook top is dropped into the same counter as the sink. Your stainless dishwasher looks nice under the sink – very cohesive. I also like the new cabinets with the old time feature – rounded knickknack shelves at the window. The open tops of the wall cabinets are crying out for display of more retro goodness but I can understand the desire to keep it clean and uncluttered. Thanks for sharing.

    • Stacia says

      They could work around your cooktop too! Look at the examples on their website. :)

      I will be displaying more retro goodies on top of the cabinets–just don’t have enough of the right stuff yet! I love the hunt though!

  8. Nancy says

    I love this so much. Early in my marriage I lived in old houses that had integrated drainboard and sink and I have really missed it!

  9. Stacia says

    For the folks in our area of Columbia, MO, I should give credit to Rick Lee at RSI Kitchen & Baths. He helped with the cabinets and the vent fan when we built the house, and came out to make sure I had the measurements right when I ordered the stainless counter even though it would be from another company. That is customer service!

  10. Dot says

    How cool! What a beautiful kitchen and house.That’s why I love this site, it just goes to show there is more than one way to retro! Love the house you’re in, I would love a stainless steel farmhouse sink in my Cape Cod/early American, thanks for idea!

  11. Nancy says

    Stacia, I hope you check back and are willing to answer a few questions…

    What finish did you go for? Is it the antique matte or the #4?
    Are you bothered by the tight corner radius at the bottom of the sink? Love my current round corners!
    Do you find the counter extra loud &/or cold? With laminate, noises are muted and the surface is a neutral temp – which are two things that are minor concerns of mine by going with SS.

    You made a wonderful choice and your kitchen is fabulous! And you have pretty much confirmed that SS is the answer to my counter woes. We also have natural maple cabs and I love nickel and SS against it. I also love my laminate and am keeping it on the non-sink side of the kitchen – but am lusting and dreaming of an under mount sink and this reinforces my decision to go this route. I’m a patina lover and am not afraid of visual wear and tear. I’m pricing with local vendors and appreciate having this additional source to compare by.

    Just as an FYI for those that may chime in… I’ve seen the new under mount w/ laminate combo in person and really don’t like the sink material that’s the only choice.

    Thank you for sharing your kitchen w/ us!

  12. Stacia says

    Nancy–I am not at all bothered by the less-than-round corners. In fact, we had a stainless sink at our old house and the corners were so rounded there was only a small area where you could set a glass without it tipping over. Also the underside is sprayed with some kind of sound-deadening stuff. There is a rather pleasant metal sounding thunk when you put something in the sink but that’s about all the sound it makes. I’ve never even thought about the temperature!

    As for the finish… We did not go with the antique, but just the plain one which I guess is #4. They talked to me a lot about the antique finish because it hides scratches and I’m sure they have had complaints about scratching before. But I am aware that stainless scratches… It just does. Those first couple of scratches are a little hard to see but it is like you said, they become part of the patina. Ours already has lots of scratches and they just don’t bother me, although I’m still a little more careful with it than with my other counters.

    Plus, I asked them how they make the antique finish… They use very fine sandpaper and pre-scratch it all over. So I asked them if I could just do that myself if the scratches ever start bothering me and they said yes, absolutely. We were unsure of just how dull the finish would look so we didn’t want to start with the antique finish.

    Hope that helps! We really do love it and would recommend the company to anyone. Good luck!

  13. says

    LOVE the stainless steel sink/counter combo! With all of the trouble I’ve had with my last porcelain sink, I’ve sworn off porcelain. I’ve had stainless sinks in the past and they are so much easier to keep clean. Problem is, I need a 38″ sink and that size is even more difficult to come by than it was nine years ago.

    Your home is lovely. :-)

  14. susan roseman says

    Hi Stacia, Just want to say that the 4k for the sink was worth every penny. it will look fabulous even years from now.

    We put one in our kitchen remodel and it is one of my best decision.

    Who cares about scratches!

    And when the dishes are washed and I wipe down that stainless steel… I feel like my kitchen is super clean.

  15. Janice says

    Formica also scratches and I have some on my recently installed kitchen. Freaked me the first time I saw one, but it’s like Stacia said, scratches happen and it just gives the countertops, furniture, house character and show that it’s used and lived in. Stacia, is that wallpaper on your lightswitch plates or did you paint the design on them? Spotted that little design element right away! Very nice kitchen!

    • Stacia says

      Janice–I did paint the switch covers. There are almost 30 of them (including outlet ones) in the whole room and as the room became more “finished” their boring whiteness really stuck out. So I primed and painted them the same color as the walls then painted them with silver atomic stars. Now they stick out in a good way! Fun, easy project. :-)

  16. Sally says

    Hello, I love your kitchen and the faucet that you chose. We are doing something similar. Would you mind sharing the make and model of faucet? Lovely house!

    • Stacia says

      Our faucet is a Moen. We ordered it from a kitchen place with all the other faucets and plumbing fixtures in the house. I don’t know the model but we bought it in 2010, and probably a salesperson at a kitchen design store in your area could look it up for you if you show them the picture. I do know its a bit nicer than the ones you can get at box stores like Lowes–metal interior parts instead of plastic, etc. Hope this helps!

  17. Tyler says

    Hi Stacia,

    We love your sink, we are in the process of having one made that seems to be almost identical!
    We were wondering if you could maybe help us with the dimensions that your chose for your sink, and what the total dimensions are of your counter (l x w))?
    We are struggling to decide on the correct proportions. This is not something that is commonly done where we live and so none really has any idea as to how to help decide the size!

    • Stacia says


      Our counter depth from the wall behind the backsplash to the front is 25.25 inches. If I remember correctly this is a standard size. It is almost 12 feet long, and the length was determined by the space between the wall and refrigerator.

      The sink itself is 18 inches deep, front of the counter to the back, and 28 inches wide. With the drainboard added in, the total is 46 inches wide.

      I don’t know where you are getting yours from, but the company I bought mine from has a number of standard choices (in addition to custom) and a price calculator on their website, and those helped immensely. You can also see if you can get a cabinet person to come to your house to confirm your measurements. I don’t know if you’re getting cabinets or not, but it would be worth paying them something to help you get your measurements right. I was definitely nervous to order something expensive and custom online that I would have to pay for whether it fit or not!

      Hope this helps. Good luck and let me know how it works out!

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