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Should You Put a Sink on Your Kitchen Island? We’ve Had Islands With and Without a Sink: This is What I Suggest

Our kitchen is the one on the left side with no sink. The right-side kitchen island is similar to what we had in the past (I don’t have any photos from back then if you can believe it). Don’t let my amateur photo dissuade you… the right side photo is better quality but believe me, when I say not having a sink on an island is the way to go.

Two houses ago we had a spectacular galley kitchen with one long, massive kitchen island with a sink.

3 weeks ago we moved into a new house with a large kitchen island with no sink.

I now know firsthand the pros and cons of having a kitchen island with a sink.  

My preferred kitchen island is one WITHOUT a sink

Like I said above, I’ve now had both types of kitchen islands – one with a sink and one without. Without a doubt, I much, much prefer my kitchen islands to be sink-free.  It has nothing to do with aesthetics. It’s all about function and when it comes to kitchens, function reigns supreme. 

There are several reasons I prefer sink-free island. They are:

It’s so useful to have one large, clear surface area in a kitchen: Regular counterspace gets cluttered and is broken up into sections due to appliances.   The island is your chance to have one large, clear, clutter-free surface area in your kitchen.  This clear space is so useful for food prep and entertaining.

It’s the ideal smorgasbord location: We entertain regularly.  99% of the time we put out the dishes in the kitchen so people can help themselves.  Last weekend was our first dinner party in our new house with a sink-free island. We had 11 people over.  We put all the food on the island.  It was perfect.  People could access the food on both sides of the island.  It was clutter-free.  It looked fantastic.  

While some folks might think it’s good to have a second sink on a kitchen island, I don’t agree

Example of a kitchen with two sinks. One on the island and one on the counter.

Here’s an example of a kitchen with a second sink on the island. Actually, if I were to add a second sink, this is the way to do it. It’s small and on the end leaving plenty of counter space… but still, I prefer having the extra counter space.

If one is great, two is better, right? Nope.  Not always.  Yes, one sink is a necessity in the kitchen but two isn’t going to make your kitchen all that much better.  I can tell you right now that I’d rather have clear counter space on my kitchen island than a second sink.

Our kitchen isn’t one of those massive kitchens some houses have. It’s sizeable but not even close to so big it warrants a second sink somewhere. I don’t think I’d want a kitchen that big.  Sounds like too much of a hassle just to get around.  We host plenty of parties but it’s not like we have 100 guests over for balls regularly.

In my experience, the most valuable space in a kitchen is counter space

Think about how you use your kitchen. Do you work on the counter or in the sink more often? Okay, if you don’t have a dishwasher, you might put more time in at the sink but most kitchens have a dishwasher.  I work on the counter and need counter space far more than I’m at the sink.  This means having more unobstructed counter space is more important than another sink. 

It’s also true that the most accessible space for guests in a kitchen is the kitchen island

We entertain pretty regularly and this is where our kitchen island without a sink really shines.  Let’s face it, people congregate in the kitchen. We often put all the dishes on the island and let guests help themselves. It’s better for everyone to access the dishes on the island than navigate in the bowels of the kitchen accessing food on an interior counter.

Don’t kitchen islands look better with a sink?

IMO, nope. Not one bit. What does it matter whether a sink is on the island or on the counter.  That said, we do have a photo gallery of kitchen islands with sinks here. Check it out.

In fact, having a sink on your island can make your kitchen look uglier

Dirty dishes in the sink

Okay, in a perfect world this would be cleaned up but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Do you want this front and center on your island or off to the side on the counter?

In fact, spaces around a sink usually get cluttered up with dishes.  Islands are often the most visible space in a kitchen.  Put those two considerations together and you end up with sink clutter being the most visible part of your kitchen. Nobody wants that. 

Isn’t it more convenient to have the sink centrally located in the kitchen on the island instead of off to one side of the kitchen on the counter?

On the face of it, you might think putting the sink on the island is the most convenient location in the kitchen but it’s not.  If you could use the sink from both sides of the island, then that’s a very good convenience argument but that’s rarely the case.  Most kitchen island sinks require you to be on one side of the island which means you need to move to a particular side of the island regardless. What’s the difference between moving to one side of the island or to an area of a counter where a sink is located? None.

At the end of the day, it boils down to personal preference

This is not one of those “you’ll ruin your house’s value” or make some awful mistake decisions.  It’s actually pretty minor in the big scheme of things but if you’re planning out your custom kitchen, this is a decision you’ll need to make.  I thought since I’ve had both kitchen islands I should weigh in.

My preference: no sink on the island.