Part nostalgia, part industrial chic, schoolhouse sinks lend unexpected charm and instant character to bathrooms and laundry or utility rooms looking to score extra credit in style.
Featuring a high-backed shape with a deep basin, rolled front rim and gooseneck or wall-mounted faucets, the utilitarian sink originally used in school bathrooms and factories has never looked cooler.
The roomy trough basin can accommodate a built-in soap dish and single, double or triple faucets. It also earns an A+ for being kid-friendly and practical.
Steve Simpson, principal architect for SDG Architecture in Redwood City, says that's exactly why he chose one for a classically styled farmhouse-style home in Menlo Park.
"The client wanted it to be very family-oriented, with an indoor-outdoor feel," he said.
So Simpson installed a double-faucet trough sink in a bathroom situated just off the pool deck and adjacent to the laundry room.
"It was always conceived to be a fun space for the kids," he said, "and it worked out very well. It can also be used for the laundry room because there isn't a sink in there. We got a lot of mileage out of one sink."
Homeowner Kirsten Hansen installed a commercial Kohler sink from the Brockway Collection in her beach-friendly home when her three kids were little.
"I saw it in a magazine," she said, "and I thought it was such a cute idea for kids and a fun way to add a little character."
The sink adds an unexpected touch to her Long Beach home and has garnered several compliments from guests, Hansen said. Installation wasn't a problem, but she notes that the cast-iron sink, available in 3-foot, 4-foot and 5-foot lengths, is super-heavy. Although the wall-mounted trough can be installed with the bottom exposed, Hansen chose to build hers into a countertop.
Smaller, single-faucet industrial sinks, such as the Alape Bucket sink ($249) from Rejuvenation, evoke a similar feel. Manufactured in Germany, the chic, glazed steel bucket sink features a basic plug and chain and was inspired by utility models made popular in the 1950s. Today, it is form as well as function that has made it a darling of design.
Treasure hunters seeking vintage sinks can scout for originals on Etsy, Ebay, Craigslist and at local salvage yards. Antique sinks may require refinishing, but nostalgia and soul come standard.