Stacia 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?
BE AWARE UPDATE: A reader commented that his contractor would not install a stainless steel countertop in his kitchen — the contractor said that the building code would not permit this metal countertop in residential uses. I am not an expert. Consult with your own properly licensed professional(s) to assess this issue so you can make your own informed decisions.
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.
When 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.
What 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.
Then I found specialtystainless.com. 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!
My 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.
I 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.