Dave Mayer of Reginox explores the latest trends in sinks and taps that he says housebuyers are searching for.
There was a time when the kitchen sink’s purpose was no more than being somewhere to wash up. A ‘1.5 bowl’ stainless steel sink was standard, and the tap was purely a functional item that delivered water. The importance of the sink has always been underrated – a huge amount of time spent in the kitchen is spent at the sink. It’s arguably the most-used appliance in the kitchen.
Luckily, consumers have now recognised that the choice of kitchen sink is a critical decision, particularly in a new home. They understand it’s important to install the right kind of kitchen sink to not only suit their lifestyle, but to endure the everyday usage.
With an increasing focus on homes as multi-functional spaces – recognising that a home is now so much more with a huge number of people now working from home as well – consumers are investing more time into identifying their kitchen needs, and balancing that with their design desires.
So, what does that mean for the industry, and what are the latest trends the market is responding to? From a design perspective, sinks are continuing to mirror the overall trend for minimalist kitchen design. Slab-sided sinks with clean modern lines or even acute angles, softened by gentle curves, remain very much in vogue, and complement the trend for linear kitchens with curved-end units. The emphasis is on striking designs that are easy on the eye but are still ultimately usable and practical.
Granites are more interesting than ever before, with creative designs and colours that are likely to fit well within the multitude of today’s ‘mainstream’ kitchen colours. Ceramics are now almost as likely to be found in contemporary settings as they are in ‘farmhouse kitchens,’ with modern designs and colours lending themselves well to the consumer looking to add something different. However, homeowners’ love affair with stainless steel continues, due to a combination, longevity, ease of maintenance and its ability to look good in any style of kitchen.
Neutrals such as white, cream, beige, grey and black are staples within the kitchen, and more sinks are becoming available in these colourways, whether manufactured from granite, ceramic or even coloured stainless steel.
The 1.5 bowl is still the most popular configuration in the UK, likely a result of habit, as it has been the most common for many years. However, the large single bowl is increasing in popularity, and many customers find that when they do switch from to a single bowl, they realise they really don’t need the extra half.
With the majority of modern households having dishwashers, a large single bowl is far more practical as it enables larger items that won’t fit in the dishwasher, such as woks and oven trays, to be easily washed up in the sink.
Inset sinks remain the most popular option, as they are easy to fit and can be installed into any work surface. Integrated sinks are equally easy to fit and can provide a sleeker, more streamlined appearance than inset models. Undermounted or flush mounted sinks have the best looks when installed, but can only be fitted into solid surface materials, such as timber or granite. They have grown in popularity over the past few years due to the increased availability of solid surfacing at more affordable prices.
Undermounting enables the worksurface to be shown off to its best advantage, offering a stylish alternative to the more traditional inset method. They are a little more expensive than inset sinks and have historically been considered a higher end product but, as the market has grown, models have become available at all price points.
There has never been a greater choice of taps available for consumers to choose from, and there is no doubt that an aesthetically striking tap can be a real focal point in the kitchen. Once merely a commodity item, the tap has been elevated to a position of much greater standing and, as a result, there is now a vast selection available for consumers to choose from, delivering more than just water.
The choice of tap style and material is really down to personal taste in terms of the blend of functionality required and a design that will sit well with the sink and overall look of the kitchen. Usually, consumers will choose the sink first and then choose a tap that complements it – so a curvy tap for a curvy sink or an angled tap for an angular sink.
The single lever Monobloc tap remains the most popular choice by a long way, although boiling hot water taps are proving to be a real growth market.
BOILING HOT WATER TAPS
Boiling hot water taps are currently undergoing massive growth, with consumers favouring three-way taps that offer instant hot, ordinary hot and cold water, and now the four-way tops adding the further dimension of filtered water.
No longer a luxury item; boiling hot water taps are starting to almost become the norm in the modern kitchen and, as prices continue to fall, they will become even more accessible.
Taps should be WRAS or equivalent approved, which is the hallmark of quality. Two taps can look very similar yet be worlds apart in terms of quality and it makes sense to invest a little more money upfront for a quality tap that will last, rather than risk having to replace a cheap one just a few months after purchase.
Whoever installs the tap will be able to check and advise on compatibility with any pre-drilled holes and compatibility with water pressure. If a boiling hot water tap is being installed, it is likely that a suitably qualified electrician will also need to be involved as hot taps can draw a lot of current.
Dave Mayer is sales and marketing director at Reginox