One Really Big Sink

As a general rule, I do not get excited about things that are related to doing the dishes. (Shocking, I know.) I mean, unless the thing is a magic wand that I can wave and the dishes are magically done… that I would actually get excited about. But everything else? Meh.

So it came as a bigger surprise to me than to anyone that the thing I’m currently most excited about in my mostly-unfinished kitchen is the damn sink.


Right? Ugh. It’s like I don’t even know myself anymore.

I will say this. I bought 95% of the things I needed for this kitchen remodel back in July of 2015. Cabinets. Hardware. Appliances. And all of it sat in boxes for a good seven months before I actually tore into the kitchen. There was plenty of time to find and purchase a kitchen sink, but I didn’t. Even after I started the real work, and after I realized I was going to fall behind if I didn’t pick out a sink soon… I still didn’t buy one.

Then I mentally called myself names for a while and told myself to get my ass in gear so the kitchen project didn’t get stalled and… still didn’t buy one.

Then I made some half-hearted attempts to research sinks, balked a little (uh, a lot) at the cost of a solid cast-iron farmhouse sink, decided to handle the whole sink problem the way I normally like to handle my dirty-dish situation… ignore it and hope it goes away.

It did not.

But finally, finally something clicked. Brittany (friend, and fellow power tool junkie from Pretty Handy Girl) posted something about the her kitchen renovation from a few years ago, I saw her sink, and I was like, BRITTANY TELL ME YOU LOVE THAT SINK SO I CAN JUST BUY ONE AND BE DONE WITH THIS PLEASE. And she obliged (but with less caps than I used.)

The sink is the Kohler Whitehaven self-trimming sink. Brittany has a 30″ sink, but my sink base cabinet is an unprecidented 39″ wide, so even though I wanted a smaller sink, I ended up with the 36″ version, and still had to modify my cabinet a bit to make it work.

Brittany’s advice was that it was an awesome sink, but it will get dinged up from pots/pans, so to make sure I also got the Kohler cast-iron cleaner, which totally takes care of any dings. Okay, done. I got two bottles just to be safe.

So, in the process of the kitchen renovation, I had a big, strong bearded man help me remove 2 of the 3 slabs of granite, but I left the existing sink and surrounding counter as long as possible because I have already maxed out the number of dishes I’m going to wash with a hose and a bucket in my life, okay?



So this is what it looked like for a couple of weeks, then, one fateful Saturday, I decided the old sink was coming out and the new sink was going in that day. (Ha.)

Here’s how I pictured this going in my head: Remove sink, pick up granite that would inevitably crack around the sink hole (the other pieces did too, no matter what we did to try and keep them flat and together), remove granite one piece at a time, modify counter, install new sink (which, incidentally, weighs 150+ pounds), hook up plumbing, done!

I figured I could get as far as moving the new sink into place by myself, lure a friend or two over with the promise of some cold beers to help me get the sink in place, and all would be well. (Again… ha.)

First of all, that damn sink was cemented in granite and WAS NOT COMING OUT.

I know, because I tried to get it out with this…


A floor jack.

And instead of the sink popping out, it ended up lifting the entire counter, sink still attached. So I thought I may be able to get this whole thing out in one piece without it breaking, and I would much rather have a functional section of granite and sink to donate to someone instead of busted up slabs.

So I spent a good hour lifting the thing up on wedges to try and move it off the existing cabs. This, by the way, is why I (barely) bitch when my trainer makes me do hundreds of squats in a session. Because sometimes I need to be able to lift a section of granite counter by myself…


And I can.

But, of course, when I was one lift away from having the counter clean out of the way, this happened…


The good news is that I sensed impending disaster about 2 minutes before that happened and decided to put my steel-toed boots on. The other good news is that it was really easy to move in 3 smaller parts.

This piece of the cabinet did break when 200+ pounds of granite and sink landed on it, but in retrospect I should have just removed it from the get-go and everything would have been a hell of a lot easier. Lesson learned.

Now, these self-trimming sinks are made to fit in typical sink-base cabinet sizes (i.e. 30″ or 36″) with minimal modification. Since my cabinet is 39″ I needed to make a new front piece the right size for the sink. Luckily, I own all the tools. (And this only required a couple of them.)

Here’s the tracing of the template on to 3/4″ cabinet-grade plywood (I use graphite transfer paper instead of cutting the original template as suggested):


Cut out with a jigsaw:

Rip down to size on the table-saw:

(I actually didn’t love my cut on the first piece so I made a second one as well.)

Then I put the new piece in place with pocket screws:


The sink itself is effing heavy, and requires some additional reinforcement in the cabinet. I installed horizontal and vertical supports (all of which had to be slightly modified from the installation instructions because of the size of the sink base.)


At this point I was seven hours in to a project I thought would take “a couple of hours” and found myself just standing in my kitchen glaring at the vertical supports I’d mis-cut for an unspecified amount of time. Long enough that I think I formed a new wrinkle between my eyebrows.

At that point I was like, listen, you can either keep at this right now and either it’s going to work and you’re going to be elated OR you’re going to end up in tears. So… maybe go have a beer?

Yeah. Beer was the right choice.

So it took another day until I finally got here:


And then it took three more days of buying random plumbing parts before I even got close to getting the disposal and drain hooked up…


I can’t tell if the DIY gods were smiling down upon this part of the project or laughing in my face, because there’s no way I expected this to work without moving that PVC drain pipe coming up out of the bottom of the cabinet (which, no, you don’t see that every day) but in the end– and with the help of a sawsall, and several glasses of wine– it did…



(You had to know that wasn’t the end of the story, right?)

All I needed to do was open these two new jars of primer and pvc cement to get the pipes in place. That’s it.



Listen, I know all the tricks. I used a pipe wrench. I tried tapping the lid. I tried soaking the lid under hot water. I tried prying the lid off. I bruised the palm of my hand beyond belief…


And then I was like OH HELL NO, I am not going another day without a working kitchen sink because of some stupid defective lids.


So I cut them off.

This is a theory I might adopt universally for things that are giving me problems… Just saying.

Also, I win.



And here’s the thing… I LOVE THAT SINK. It’s my favorite thing in the kitchen–both the way it looks and the fact that it’s huge and I can pile a ton of stuff in it. Up until this point I was mostly just resigned about spending the money for it, but, actually, it’s only been in a week and I’d already say it’s worth every penny. Go figure.

Plus, over the weekend I got 2 steps closer to having a functional (but definitely unfinished) kitchen again, by starting to get some dishes out of boxes and back up in the cabinets…


And by cutting some particle board to act as temporary counters (since I haven’t even started the decision-making or purchasing process for those yet.)


LOOK AT ALL THAT COUNTER SPACE. Such an improvement from the original layout…


Once I get the range and new hood installed things are going to slow down in here (I can already feel the garden pulling my attention away) but I’m determined to keep making at least small progress every week until the kitchen is done.


25 Responses

  1. Not sure if your plumbing is up to code, but it looks like you have an s trap, not a p trap. Usually after the p trap, the pipe goes horizontal to the drain pipe and vent before going down again. What you have will pull the water out of the trap.

    Is there a p trap below the floor or cabinet? If so you can get rid of the one in cabinet. Two p traps aren’t good either and not to code.

    You could add an AAV by replacing the elbow after the p trap with a tee and put the AAV up as high as possible above the tee.

    1. It is, in fact, a P trap, insofaras the horizontal pipe coming out of it is twice as long as the bend, it’s just at a weird angle in the pic. It doesn’t go into the wall and up to a stink-stack, but if you look at the original plumbing, it never did. So… this is as up to code as the previous plumbing ever was.

      1. It was probably to code at some point, but s traps are not anymore. No one want sewer gas coming back up into their kitchen or bath. Adding a AAV would be pretty easy. But also just running some water in the sink should also fill the trap should it actually get drained if the sink is drained with a good amount of water in it.

        Love the sink by the way. And that was some good thinking on getting the can open, I would have been running out to get a new can.

  2. Yep! When I first laid eyes on this sink I thought, this is a huge awesome farmhouse sink that will be very functional and super handy when your garden comes in, etc. etc. “I can’t tell if the DIY gods were smiling down upon this part of the project or laughing in my face, because there’s no way I expected this to work without moving that PVC drain pipe coming up out of the bottom of the cabinet (which, no, you don’t see that every day) but in the end– and with the help of a saws-all, and several glasses of wine– it did” Yep, it’s amazing what you can do with PVC, if needed you could have carefully heated a straight section and curved it some if needed. Now I claim not to be a lic. plumber, how ever I was once a plumbers helper at 15 and have been to an extensive school of hard knocks diy plumbing since, Big props Kit for shortening / lengthening / turning your PVC / taking up as little space as possible under the sink using existing down drain pipe. I don’t plumb often ~~ But when I do plumb I usually drink Modelo Chelada and add a few pieces to my plumbing parts inventory for the next project. Your P-trap looks like a fine trap and with the ( T ) on the top of the pipe coming up through the floor turned as it is it should leave H2o in the trap after the sink drains. If it doesn’t or your sink doesn’t drain well or slow you can always get another T like you have and turn 180 so the arched direct flow in the T is coming from the disposal. I think you have enough horizontal run that it won’t pull the trap empty, if so just come off the right side of the T over and up between the sink and the edge of the cabinet with a check / AAV. I soooo like your sink ~ Great installation!

  3. That is a beautiful sink. Well worth the struggles you had to deal with to make it happen.

  4. You continue to amaze me. I just wanna come hang with you for a few weeks to watch and learn. I can open a bottle of wine though!! HA!!

    Love the sink and it looks so much brighter in there. Are you going to leave the doors off the middle cabinet? I hope so ~ love it!!


  5. Great sink. I will be doing a kitchen renovation probably next year. Keep us informed how you like having just one sink rather 2 sinks. I think one makes more sense, but I’ve never lived with just one sink.

    Also what did Brittany mean by dings from pots and pans. Did she mean the enamel chipped off or just that it got kind of scratched up and dirty from the pans? I can handle the second problem, but chips in the enamel are not really fixable.

    Nice job on the kitchen. I’m glad the bearded dude made you go eat – he sounds like a reasonable guy.

  6. Now having a separate bath seems silly. You can bathe in your kitchen… lol

  7. This was an adventure reading this! I know that feeling of “I haven’t eaten and if this doesn’t work the way I want it to I might lose it”. I’m remodeling my house right now and I’ve had at least 3 of those meltdowns this week! The kitchen is coming along beautifully and I’m excited to see the end result! 🙂

  8. Sounds you had a fulfilling job done. What you have done there is so inspiring, it encourages to try remodeling some outdated house corner. Thank you for sharing your moment of hard work.

  9. Just a wow from me. The kitchen looks gorgeous! I will remodel my kitchen with your style.

  10. Nah I think you should find a man for you (like that beard dude) to help you lift things in the house 🙂 You are such a strong woman. Manage to do all that heavy stuff. Fortunately, the sink doesn’t drop on your feet. Wonderful progress and nice try by the way.

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