The sink is probably the most utilitarian part of any house. They are mainly in the bathroom and kitchen, but in some tropical regions, there’s an outdoor wash-basin for laundry, and a little hand-basin in the dining room for people to wash their hands before and after they eat. But just because it’s functional doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful.
One way to jazz up your sink is to replace it with a stone basin. They can be carved from solid blocks of marble, limestone, or travertine, depending on your budget and the look you’re going for. All three stones are porous, so you need to seal them for best results, and they all have a low-slip factor when wet, so they’re ideal for use as a sink.
Companies that supply stone basins usually have them ready-made, complete with slots for your sink and tap. Your regular plumber may have a hard time installing the stone without damaging it, so ask the stone supplier about installation before you bring the basin home.
The supplier will also advise you in sizing, because stone basins can be quite heavy, so you need to be sure your wall and plumbing can support their weight. Basins can be carved out of an existing stone countertop, or you can buy a standard-sized one. Carved out basins are generally rectangular, while the ready-made ones are round. This avoids wastage.
Accessorise your stone basin with a stone soap dish or a backsplash. If you’ve carved out your countertop, these are good ways to utilise the stone that you scooped out. If you’re using marble, hone it for a matte finish or polish it for high shine. Honing is better in the kitchen, because acidic food stains can etch your marble sink, and honed surfaces can hide the stains better. In the bathroom, polish is fine, because bathroom products are mostly alkaline.
Another interesting use for stone basins is the foot bath. They are generally used in spas and hairdressing parlours, where they add a touch of luxury to your pedicure or foot massage. But you can install one at home. In some cultures, it’s standard practice to wash your feet when you get home, so a luxurious stone foot bath is a classy way to welcome yourself home.
If you live by the sea, you can install that foot bath just outside the door, maybe next to your outdoor shower. It’s a stylish welcome to guests and residents, since they can rinse the sand off their feet before they come into the house. Even if you live in a grassy suburb, plant a stone basin near the back door and train the kids to clean the debris off their feet before they come into the house after playing. It can also wash off salt and chlorine after a hearty swim.
If you’d like your stone to look a bit more artistic, you could give it an amorphous shape rather than a standard symmetric one. It may seem out of place in your modern home, but for outdoor sinks, it will give your home an eccentric natural touch. These basins are favoured because they don’t require much maintenance.
Your kitchen basin will probably need extra care. You’d have to rinse off food leftovers to avoid staining the sink, especially because you’re not always sure what’s acidic and what isn’t. As a guide, some common food acids include wine, tomatoes, selected spices, and anything citrusy.
A lot of natural stone is calcite in nature, so don’t clean it with acidic detergents. Use mild soap or special stone cleaners such as limestone cleaner. Never use abrasive pads or corrosive detergents. Every time you’re done using the sink, dry it with a soft cloth, especially if your water is hard. Natural stone is porous, so keeping it dry lengthens its lifespan. Hard water can also cause sediment stains on your basin that are hard to get rid of.
If you’re shopping for your stone basin online, ask as many questions as you can to be sure of what you’re getting. Photos will always look nice, so if you can, get the seller’s contact details and try to speak to an actual person, preferably on phone. If not, email or use live chat.
Find out the exact dimensions, and whether the basin has a sink hole or a solid bottom. You don’t want any surprises. Also ask whether the stone is actually natural. Many modern suppliers market concrete or realistically rendered artificial stone, so always double-check.