Marry utility and aesthetics with this suits-all kitchen classic
Houzz UK Contributor. Freelance journalist and interiors obsessive, renovating a… More
The enduring appeal of this simple ceramic sink continues to shape the style and feel of contemporary kitchens. Although often used interchangeably, a ‘butler sink’ is the English version of the ‘Belfast sink’. The difference is said to be based around the fact that Belfast sinks had a weir to stop water from spilling. The London version had no overflow and was more shallow. Many of the versions we see today are also inspired by old French styles, which used fine clay to shape slimmer sides. Take a gander at this selection of splendid sinks to see if they might be what your kitchen is missing.
Since butler sinks have such strong historical associations, why not choose a vintage-style tap to team with yours? This country classic design sits well with warm neutrals, meaning its brass finish will shine bright next to wood, terracotta or travertine (as here) flooring. A muted palette keeps this scheme contemporary – without tipping towards twee.
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Soup up your styling
For Shaker chic with an urban edge, appropriate accessories are essential. This kitchen is a blank canvas onto which eclectic pieces have been added to make the space feel fresh. The sink has a double bowl for flexibility and looks stunning surrounded by a smart quartz worktop. One long floating shelf above the sink is unobtrusive but effective, creating space for an ever-changing arrangement of artful objects – including neon pom-poms and a zebra!
Crave kitchen kudos but aren’t sure where to start? Take a shortcut to style by mastering monochromatic design. A butler sink looks clean and crisp next to dark cabinets, while white metro tiles are a contemporary classic that will stand the test of time. Follow through by peppering the space with other black elements – such as lighting. You can always introduce colour with specially selected artwork.
When considering a butler sink, it’s essential to keep in mind the type of worktop you’ll be pairing it with. Due to the exposed edges at either side, laminate is a no-no. Wood can work, but it must be sealed effectively with an oil or varnish and re-treated regularly to avoid black staining from water. If you’re not interested in careful maintenance, a synthetic stone composite will be both hard-wearing and lovely to look at.
Keep it country
For fetching farmhouse vibes, design your sink to sit above a set of dainty double doors. This small detail will make your kitchen feel a tad more traditional, while providing easy access to cleaning products or the food waste box. However, unless you live alone, it’s best not to keep the bin or the recycling in this cupboard as you’ll find there’s often someone standing in front of the sink!
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In larger kitchens, it may be possible to position the sink within an island, as opposed to along a wall. This is a more sociable spot for food prep if you enjoy entertaining and it’s also ideal if you need to keep an eagle eye on the kids. It’s important to maintain the ‘kitchen triangle’ if possible, so experiment with different layouts to see if an island spot creates problems (or solutions) for your cookspace.
Spotlight a section
Make your butler sink an effective focal point with winsome worktops and inset upper cabinets that create the impression of a Welsh dresser. This scheme is unified through the use of strong but tonal colour, while substantial stretches of marble provide natural decoration. Subtle grooves cut into the stone beside the sink prevent water from pooling on the draining area.
Wide butler sinks are often split into two sections – this can be useful if you’re the type to pop the washing-up in one side while prepping veg in the other, for example. However, if you’re more likely to bung everything except oversized items in the dishwasher, you may want to opt for a sizeable single sink. This will mean straightforward soaking for large baking trays and no wet worktops.
Welcome a wild card
If you’d rather tweak tradition, how about cool copper? This version has the look of a butler sink but its hammered metal finish makes it more striking. Copper has long been used in kitchens, meaning that it works equally well with classic or contemporary styles. As a material, it has innate antibacterial qualities and will develop a pleasing patina over time (without turning green).
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Select a space-saver
An enormous kitchen is not a prerequisite for being able to incorporate a butler sink. Bijou versions are available and will give you the same effect, if not equal crockery-washing capacity. Choose a space-saving style such as this nifty number and make it a central part of your kitchen-planning process.
Do you fancy a butler or Belfast type sink in your kitchen? Let us know how you’d style it in the Comments below.