How I Organize The Area Under Our Sink

posted by Andrea | 09/30/2013

I know this might sound crazy, but one question I get over and over and over again is how we use and organize the space under our kitchen sink.

Because it’s a farmhouse sink, we actually had to special-order a cabinet base to fit it; and then we used a template that came with the sink to properly cut part of the front off the cabinet base. So as you can see by the photo above, the cabinets under our sink are REALLY “short”.

I knew this, I planned for this, and it honestly wasn’t an issue at all when it came time to organize our kitchen.

However, since I very regularly get asked how I manage with such a tiny area under my sink, I figured I’d just show you :)

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What do you store under your sink?

As you can see by the picture below, the plumbing pipes and garbage disposal take up the majority of the space under the sink. We basically only have room for our plastic dishpan (which contains all our kitchen cleaning supplies) and dishwasher tabs.

Here’s a closer look at what we keep in the dishpan.

That’s it.

We literally don’t keep anything else under our sink — partially because there isn’t room, but also because I’ve never liked the idea of storing stuff where it COULD potentially get wet and where it’s really hard to reach.

This method has been working very well for us for over a year now, so we don’t have any plans of changing or altering it — but I’m always open to change in the future if it stops working.

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Now if you’re like many people I know, your next question will probably be…

Where do you keep your trash can?

Unlike the many Dutch people in our families, we can’t keep our trash can under the sink – unless we had a tiny can that we emptied every day.

We realized this when we were laying out our kitchen design and planned to keep our trash can in the cabinet to the left of the sink — along with our extra trash bags, a dust pan, and hand broom.

This is one of Nora’s favorite places to get into mischief :)

And since I’m already answering some of the more common questions I get regarding our sink, I figured I’d keep going with a few other questions I’m asked on a very regular basis.

How do you wash AND rinse your dishes with only a single bowl sink?

I get this question ALL the time… and it makes me laugh every time. Honestly, I’m not sure why this is confusing for people, but never-the-less, I figure I’d answer it in this post.

It’s actually really easy!

We just wash the dishes inside the sink, rinse them over the sink with hot water (so the water in the sink doesn’t get cold) and then set them out to dry on my most favorite drying mats.

We purposely chose a faucet with a high goose neck so we would have LOTS of space between the water level in our sink and the end of the faucet. This way, it’s very easy to wash and rinse dishes in the same single-bowl sink.

Here’s more information about our specific faucet.

Sometimes (not very often) we only have a couple dishes to wash that we don’t want to put in the dishwasher, so we use a small dishpan or large bowl to hold a little soap and water to wash those few items.

How do you clean and care for your sink?

I’ve actually already answered this in another post — you can read about it here!

What exact sink did you buy?

We purchased our sink online from Signature Hardware. I had never purchased anything from them before, but we were VERY pleased with the quality of the sink, with their customer service, and with the price (MUCH less than purchasing it from a hardware store!)

I would not hesitate to purchase something from them again — and after reading many reviews, it seems others share my opinion.

I can’t find the exact sink we purchased on their site anymore, but this one is almost identical. We have a 30″, single bowl, fireclay sink in white. Ours is finished on all 4 sides so we could have rotated it to put the drain on the right side — but because of our kitchen layout, we wanted it on the left side.

Our sink is under-mounted (which I would highly recommend) but you can also “flush mount” the sink or “raise mount” it an inch above the counter. All options are possible with farmhouse sinks, you’ll just need to decide before you order your counter tops and when you cut your cabinet base.

Oh, and if you’re wondering where we purchased everything else in our kitchen, check out the end of this post.

If you had to do it again, would you purchase a farmhouse sink?

Yes, Yes, YES!!!

We (and I do mean both Dave and I) LOVE our farmhouse sink and would most definitely put a farmhouse sink in any other kitchen we ever build or renovate.

We love how big the sink is, how easy it is to wash large pans and dishes, how it looks in our kitchen, and how easy it is to clean and care for.

I’m excited to use it to bathe baby #2 — unless he/she is a crazy splasher like Nora :)

I seriously have nothing negative to say about our sink. And when I asked Dave if he had anything to add, the only thing he could come up with is that being quite tall (6’3″) he has to bend over a little further to wash dishes since the sink is under-mounted and very deep. Until I specifically asked him to think about it, he had never complained of this before so I don’t think it’s a deal-breaking issue for us!

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OK, I think that’s it. Those are the most commonly asked questions regarding our farmhouse sink. 

If you have more, feel free to leave them in the comments or use the search bar at the top of my site to search for “farmhouse sink”. You’ll get several posts that show up.

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23 comments

  1. Stel

    09/30/2013

    Love your sink, it’s beautiful.
    As for the trash can – it’s also common practice in South Africa to have it under/nearby the sink! (Lots of Dutch decent here :-)
    I saw a great idea that I used when building our kitchen – the trash can tilts out and is fitted to the door in a wire bracket – one of the best kitchen ideas ever.

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  2. Jenny

    09/30/2013

    Personal question Andrea, how tall are you? i didn’t realize your husband was that tall, that is the same height as my husband. Only I’m 5’11″. You don’t look a ton shorter than Dave. I’m curious if you have trouble with counters being too short. I think your bathroom cabinet/counter is taller than normal isn’t it?

    Also, I LOVE your farmhouse sink. So beautiful.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — actually, Dave is quite a bit taller than me. I’m 5’7″ (pretty average for around here). Our kitchen counters are standard 36″ tall and that’s fine for both Dave and I. Our bathroom counters are all 36″ (we built them that way) and that is a little higher than a “normal” bathroom vanity — but it’s becoming the new normal I think :)

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    Sarah Reply:

    I used to want an undermount sink like yours, but when I tried one at a friend’s house I thought it was seemed low, since I’m 6′ tall! I guess I agree with Dave, tell him thanks for sharing that bit of advice!

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  3. Stacie Kaltz

    09/30/2013

    I love your kitchen! Love the farmhouse sink! I love how organized you are, you are just an inspiration!! I have a question, with your bin under your sink and everything in it, do you then empty everything out everynight to do dishes? I do not have a dishwasher but love the idea of the bin with all needs in it, however I cant see myself taking everything out everytime I do the dishes, which is at least twice a day. Any ideas??? :-)

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    Andrea Reply:

    No, no! We have several wash bins that we use all over our house for various purposes. We have a couple in the laundry room (right off the kitchen) that we use for cleaning purposes so we just take one of those to wash the dishes in. But as I mentioned in the post, we hardly ever wash the dishes this way. We usually just let the dishes sit on the counter until we have a good amount and then wash them in the sink :)

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    Amy S. Reply:

    If you wanted to keep your necessary items in a bin but still need one available for washing…just get two and nest them.

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  4. Jen

    09/30/2013

    I love hidden garbage cans. We used to have ours sitting out in the open and it was so gross. when we remodeled out kitchen we had one of those pull-out drawers with the garbage can built in installed. It has its disadvantages, as it can get dirty in there and it’s hard to reach the back and keep the edges clean, but overall we like it. And the recycling bin just fits in the pantry.

    And I am a total proponent of using bins like yours under sinks! I have almost all the same stuff under my sinks that I did before I got bins, but by simply corralling all of it, I can now find anything I need quickly, nothing gets knocked over or spilled, and I can organize by specific tasks rather than just having it all hanging out in there. Bins are the easiest organizing solution we use!

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  5. Jenny

    09/30/2013

    Thanks for the great ideas! My husband and I are currently building a home and are just now designing the kitchen. One kitchen-related question for you: What dishes do you hand-wash and what dishes are you comfortable putting in the dishwasher? How do you decide what things are better to hand-wash? I’ve decided that when we move to the “new kitchen”, I’m going to purchase some new pots and pans and things like that. I want to keep these things looking new for as long as possible. Thanks again for all of your great information!

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    Andrea Reply:

    We pretty much put EVERYTHING in the dishwasher. The only items we hand wash are large pots and pans, large bowls, or really large food storage containers that would “waste” tons of space in the dishwasher. I put small pans int he dishwasher all the time :) Also, if we are going to hand wash some dishes anyway, I usually keep out our good knives to hand wash as I know that’s better for them.

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  6. Aa.

    09/30/2013

    I don’t have a dishwasher, but a thing that we do in Romania is having a draining object on the side of the sink, like this one.
    http://www-thegift-ro.allshops.ro/produs/1699844/Scurgator+de+vase+etajat+Sterk.html

    Since we hand wash everything, it is the best solution. Actually everone has one here, because there are few people who own a dishwasher, not because it would cost a fortune, but I think it didn’t became a hit here.

    Besides that, houses and apartments are really small, so imagine fitting a dishwasher in my 15 feet kitchen (i wrote correctly, it is 15 feet, if you wonder :D ). I don’t mind that much the size, but it botters me that my husband and I cannot cook together, we cannot fit in the kitchen since it is so small. :D

    Oh, an under my sink I have the owner’s sink, because he didn’t want to buy a new one so we bought one, and when we move we take it with us or we donate it and install his 30 years old one back. :D

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  7. Wilma

    09/30/2013

    I love your Dutch references. We keep the garbage can, recycling bag (that we empty into the outdoor bin) and compost bin under the sink, like good Dutchies, haha (well, my husband is not Dutch but I am in charge of all things organizing). I love the idea of the pull-out bin, as well–we couldn’t get it to work in our tiny kitchen when we designed it, however. The mat in the sink and the washing bin are so reminiscent of my mother. Love it!

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  8. Vivian

    09/30/2013

    I think people who have Dutch and other Middle Euopean backgrounds have similar predispostions for garbage stored away etc. I have a galley kitchen that runs about 8 feet both sides…. and I did put a dishwasher in it. As a consequence I am pretty selective with what is “allowed” to live in my kitchen. I struggle with under my kitchen as I do keep some plastic shopping bags (I know my bad.) My husband uses them to take his snacks to work as he come s home for lunch. Yes I have offered to get him something he could reuse that would eliminate my need to keep a few of these bags around and make me a greener consumer. …. Old dogs don’t learn new tricks sometimes.

    The one thing I was wondering about was what you keep in your dishpan? What is that mat that is made of clear plastic disks? Do you have hard water or soft. Our’s is very hard and this means constant wiping down of all chrome to keep spots or hard water residue from building up. Thanks for explaining everything.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Vivan, you can read about our faucet here (it’s totally spot resistant so I never have to wipe up spots)
    And you can read about the plastic mat in our sink here.
    Hope this helps :)

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  9. Amber @ Steps To Save

    09/30/2013

    What a pretty farmhouse sink! My husband chose a chocolate colored sink with our last remodel and I am beginning to like it more and more.

    I’m not dutch (that I know of) but I like my garbage to be unseen. Between smells and having little ones that would find “treasures” in my garbage when it was not hidden, we got a custom garbage drawer put in with our last remodel and it was one of the main items I wanted.

    I also keep very little under my sink because of potential leaks and the fact that our last leak was under our sink and it made a disgusting mess.. :(

    Thanks for sharing your tips! Hope you have a great day~

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  10. JoDi

    09/30/2013

    We have our trashcan under the sink and some kitchen cleaners. Trashcan in a cabinet to one side would be fine too. I just like it out of sight and within easy reach!

    I love your farmhouse sink so I’m glad to hear it’s functional too. I don’t understand how people don’t understand how you wash dishes in a single sink! I’ve never had anything else. I’ve always disliked double sinks because of the lack of space. I don’t fill my sink to wash dishes. I just run the water for the few things that don’t go in the dishwasher & if I have to scrub something I turn the water off while I do it. For me, filling the sink would be wasteful (although I’m sure it works better for others), and I’m kind of grossed out by how dirty the water gets so I’d rather run it! :-)

    I use a drying mat too and LOVE it! I never liked keeping a drying rack on the counter all the time so I was really happy when these came out.

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  11. Chalyse Meiklejohn

    09/30/2013

    When I only have a couple of dishes to wash, I also don’t fill the sink. But I don’t use a bucket either. I use one of those dishwashing wands with a sponge/scrubber on one and and in the wand you can put dish soap so when you use the sponge, soap comes out. That way, we can use soap and water to wash the dish without filling the sink and then just rinse and let dry! ;) maybe easier than using a bucket for just a couple dishes?

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  12. stephanie

    09/30/2013

    Dumb, random question: Do you really use gloves to wash dishes? I’ve never thought of doing so. What’s the benefit?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Actually yes! Dave and I both use gloves every time we wash dishes. I guess the 2 major advantages for us is we can use super hot water without affecting our hands and our hands don’t get dry or cracked (especially in the winter months)

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  13. Jennifer

    10/01/2013

    You’ve own me over on the farmhouse sink…as soon as we can upgrade!

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  14. RS Robinson

    10/02/2013

    I think one reason you get so many questions about how you wash and rinse in one sink is that some people (like my mom) think you have to wash on one side and rinse on the other. The two shall never mix!! I really can’t remember her reasons for that and it’s not something that I’m hung up on but some people are. You know every family has their own “rules” about the way things should be done and for some families it means not rinsing clean dishes over the dishwater. To each his own!

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    Stephanie Reply:

    Exactly! My Mom can’t stand it that I don’t have a clean side of the sink and a dirty side. I use my double sink very much like Andrea uses her farmhouse style. Probably because my husband grew up with a large basin and one small basin for rinsing. Basically all their dishes ended up in the large. He helps me in the kitchen and instead of trying to change him and risk him telling me he is done helping I switched to his way. It now seems a waste of usable space to have a clean side and a dirty side. I just clean both sides daily.

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  15. John Bolin

    10/12/2013

    Great practices. I say that you really know how to keep a house clean and free from unwanted bacterial infections. I admire your work ethic when it comes to doing house chores. Some people, me included, can’t stand doing all those chores but when it comes to maintaining the house for health concerns then I think that we all should give time for it.

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