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You Did What at Your Age?  Installed a Farmhouse Sink! 

Two plumbers, a carpenter, and a kitchen remodeling company told me a farmhouse sink couldn't be installed in my kitchen without replacing the entire countertop, but I knew otherwise.

Not only did they tell me I couldn't do it, they all had a hefty price tag to do the project for me. That meant it would cost several thousand dollars, which didn't include the cost of the sink.

Our house was built in 1928, so a farmhouse sink would fit beautifully with its style. A countertop holds the weight of a standard sink due to its lip sitting on the counter. But the weight of a farmhouse sink, at least the kind I chose, sits on a sturdy frame underneath the counter, not the countertop itself.

We can do this!




I decided that between my 88-year-old Dad and me, we could do this ourselves. I drove to IKEA and bought the farmhouse sink that fit the size of our kitchen-- not too big; not too little. That committed me to do the project, but not before I chauffeured that chunk of ceramic around for days until I got up the gumption to start. Thank heaven for YouTube videos. 

I thought we could do the project over a weekend. But we got to practice our disaster plan by going without water for three days after we flooded the kitchen. We had taken out the old sink and cabinet, and Dad didn't realize the water cut-off valves were put in wrong (not by us this time). On Sunday morning, Dad went outside to turn on the water so we could shower before church, and then he went into the garage and piddled around for about five minutes. All that time, a geyser of water was hitting the 12' ceiling in the kitchen, and an inch of water covered the bamboo floor by the time he came in my bedroom and woke me up with the news that the kitchen was flooded. And he hadn't turned off the water yet.

I didn't panic this time. That was because a month before, my father had flooded his on-suite bathroom trying to fix a toilet valve, and he couldn't get the water to turn off completely. Some friends from church came to our rescue. So this time around, I knew what to do. We turned off the water, and it took about 3 hours to ShopVac the flooded kitchen, sop up the water in drawers, cabinets, dishes, and pans around the kitchen, and dry out everything. Two weeks later, I was still finding dishes full of water in the cabinets. These tough bamboo floors survived, though.

Click on the gallery below to see a slideshow.

We flooded the kitchen only once.


I've realized in the past couple of years that my father, who has always been my family's technician and handyman, has forgotten much of his how-to knowledge. That's been hard to watch, and a little frightening when I realized I needed to keep an eye on everything-- and especially watch for those mistakes and forgotten skills. I'm grateful Dad taught my nephew RJ to do all kinds of maintenance, and he's taken over the mantel of family handyman. RJ came to our rescue to fix the plumbing issues and re-install the garbage disposal. 

Installing the farmhouse sink gave me the confidence to do other things I didn't think I could do.

But I did much of the work, which involved a lot of measuring (some of it wrong), using power tools to cut out the cabinet and countertop, building the sturdy frame to hold the sink, painting the inside of the cabinet, tiling around the farmhouse sink (my first attempt at tiling!), and installing the faucet, which RJ tightened for me. Dad finished the cabinet front around the sink. This farmhouse sink is much more functional and easier to keep clean than the original stainless steel sink. We are thrilled with the results!

This project was definitely a second wind starter.

This weekend project actually took about a week and countless trips to several hardware stores. In my younger years, I would've thrown up my hands and given up, but age has taught me perseverance, and it paid off. Installing the farmhouse sink gave me the confidence to do other things I didn't think I could do. And the price to install the farmhouse sink ourselves? Just under $500 for everything, including the sink!

Donna Van Cleve

May 2020

Archived - "You Did What in Your Age" and "Around the House"

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