Q: My condo is small but open for the most part. The kitchen runs along the back of the main living space, and the sink faces the wall. It turns out I miss seeing out a window more than I thought I would when I bought this place. I wanted to add an island with a sink so I could look out into the open space, but the floor is concrete and the building association won’t allow it. Is there something else I can do to create a more open feeling at the sink?
A: A beautiful window over a sink is a very traditional feature because it works! Back when people spent more time handwashing dishes, it was nice to be able to look outside or watch the kids playing in the backyard. Today, even in an apartment, the additional light is welcome. And as you know, the extra sense of space is really nice.
Sometimes, if a kitchen is at an outside wall, a window can be added during a more extensive remodeling project. Or, your idea for a sink at the island is a good one. But for your place, or for anyone else who can’t make big changes to their kitchen, at least make sure you have ample headroom over the sink. Give yourself at least 36 inches or more if you are tall. Open shelves are a great way to keep some storage and give a more spacious feeling than closed cabinets. On the wall over the sink, a mirror will help create depth and will allow you to look out into the living space over your shoulder. Choose a mirror that’s antiqued at the edges if you don’t want to look at your own reflection while washing dishes or peeling potatoes.
And, consider adding some light. A traditional touch that also works is a pendant or a wall sconce centered over the sink. Often in kitchens there is just lighting at the ceiling, above and behind you. This makes any room, especially workspaces like kitchens, feel dark and small because no matter where you look, you’re looking into your own shadow!
If your building’s management or a landlord won’t allow a new lighting fixture, under-cabinet lighting might make more sense. As with anything electrical near a sink or water, check with a licensed contractor or electrician for the best light fixtures for your situation.