That sinking feeling

Pop quiz! Who said this?

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard!”*

When I first envisioned our new old kitchen, I imagined a white apron-front sink (sometimes called a farmhouse sink). [Photo: unknown]

white farmhouse sink

These babies aren’t cheap, but because the sink is a focal point of the room and a place where I spend a lot of time, I didn’t want to skimp … but I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg, either. A fireclay sink like the one in the photo starts at about $600—and you can pay much more.

One day the light came on. I don’t need to spend that kind of money! I have the perfect solution right here in my own backyard—FOR FREE! Want to see? Come out to the greenhouse. Are you ready? TA-DA!!

vintage farmhouse sink with drainboards

Isn’t she gorgeous?? Yes, this is the same sink that topped the metal cabinet that was in my kitchen when I bought the house in 1984 … the very latest in sink style from the 1940s or earlier. I LOVED this sink. I used it for years, and loved the big single bowl and the handy drain boards on each side. Because I was sad when my ex replaced it with a modern sink, he installed it on a 2×6 frame in the greenhouse … where it waited patiently to feel the love again. Dear old sink, your time has come! You are about to become a star!

For months we talked about how to get it out of the greenhouse. Being cast-iron, it weighs a ton. And I know for a fact there are spiders in the greenhouse. I don’t do spiders. If you were a spider, wouldn’t you live under this sink? I fretted more about contacting a spider than whether I could lift my end of the sink.

Eric doesn’t like spiders much, either, but he’s a guy, so he knew it was his duty to try to eliminate them. Besides, he needed my help to lift the sink, and this was the only way he’d get it.

Eric sweeping spiders and webs off the vintage sink

It took all the strength I could muster, but we got her out and safely on the grass. Yep, the spiders ran … but they were the daddy longlegs variety and I don’t mind those quite as much.

underside of sink

She’s not ready for her close-up, but if I had been camping in the greenhouse since 1996, I’d look rough, too.

top side of dirty vintage sink

Here she is, hosed off and perched on sawhorses on the deck. Much improved, eh? You can see the potential now, right? I about wrecked my back, lifting. I don’t know how we’re going to get her in the house.

cleaned sink on sawhorses

We had Miracle Method refinish our bathtub a couple of years ago, so we called them in again to refurbish the sink. The refinishing process is stinky and requires an outside window for ventilation. But … most of the windows in this house, including the kitchen ones, have been painted shut for decades. I ask you, how does that happen? Who in the world would paint their house and decide, “Hey, let’s just paint ’em shut! We won’t hear the trains as much!”

window being repaired

Eric removed the stops and clamped the ropes so they wouldn’t disappear into the weight pockets (important!).  Then he introduced his new friend, the heat gun, to the old paint. Wow, that thing is HOT, and it cooked the paint right off! Before long we had an operable window in the breakfast room!

open kitchen window

Eric cleared out the room, taped plastic across the arched opening, and set up the saw horses. The OR was ready. What was I doing to help? Well … I made us peanut butter toast … and left for work. Eric brought the sink inside easily with a hand truck. Hmph.

palstic hanging in archway

Sorry, no pictures of the Miracle Men in action … but here’s a peek inside the  OR between coats. Oooh …

sink during restoration

After letting the sink cure overnight, the guys came back to buff her out.

refinished sink

Now what do you think? She doesn’t look a day over 30! In fact, she looks so good, I’m thinking about having a little work done, myself!

*Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.


17 thoughts on “That sinking feeling

  1. 1910housetohome

    We’ve just had a Farmhouse sink put in (here we call them Belfast or Butler Sinks) and whilst I love ours I’m seriously jealous of your good looking lady! What an amazing upcycle – you must be thrilled to bits.

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      I can’t wait to see her installed! 🙂 But we have a lot of work to do before we get to that point. Patience … meanwhile, where do we put a giant sink??

  2. Stacey

    She is sexy! Shiny and new — ready for her close up. What a great use of what you already have and love. Not to mention how perfect it is for your style of home. I’m so curious about the Miracle Method. We have an old tub that I’m worried will need help in the next 5 years of so. Obviously you are happy with the results. Just curious as to how it holds up. Keep us informed!
    It’s beautiful.

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Hi Stacey – Our tub seems to be holding up well after three years. Refinishing doesn’t last as long as the original finish, but it does extend the life. In the tub and sink’s case, they were both very worn and porous after 50 or more years of use, so extra years are a bonus! Of course you should use nonabrasive cleanser (which I didn’t do before). It’s worth it to me to have these old fixtures in the house. They don’t make ’em like they used to!

  3. cathy

    I saw the title and my heart sank because I thought something had gone wrong … but you were just reeling us in to let us know what has gone right 🙂 Lovely sink. I looked up the people who did it and I just may use them for my bathtub. What a great idea!

  4. Karen B.

    What a great sink and I love the fact that she was living in the house for years and now gets a new outfit and returns to her former glory. I will be eager to see what hardware you select.

  5. Amy Johnston

    I love these old cast iron sinks! We are restoring an old farmhouse, and I chose to use one of these in my kitchen. We are also using the smaller ones with the single drain board in our master bathroom.

    1. D'Arcy H Post author

      Love it when people use these oldies! 2019 update: Eventually the finish failed on our kitchen sink. Last year, we had it redone. We have to be very careful not to nick it, and we use a plastic grid in the bottom for protection.


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