THE OLDtwo-hole kitchen sink had one side for soaping, another for rinsing. Cooks nowadays use a deeper basin for pre-dishwasher rinse and a shallower basin, with removable colander and cutting board, for food preparation. The disposal is set into the shallow side or has its own separate compartment. Even double faucets are now single-stemmed, leaving room for new options, such as a pull-out spray, hot and ice water taps, and soap and lotion dispensers.
Europe's updated sinks, widely copied in the United States, feature many innovations. They are made of marble, granite, light enameled steel and tough spacecraft plastic. They have graceful new shapes--Porcher's ellipses, Alape's circles, Franke's half-rounds, Eljer's elongated octagons. Dirt-trapping metal rings that used to rim sinks are gone; American Standard's squared corners fit flush tiles, and other firms manufacture self-rimmed models.
Colors are brighter, too. Kohler offers 12, plus granite speckles. Porcher's white and beige sinks are banded in red or royal. Most people still buy neutrals to match their cabinets, but gray is fast becoming a favorite in stainless steel and solid, heather or faux -granite enamel. Black sinks, also gaining acceptance, blend dramatically with black-mirror built-ins and appliances. Bates & Bates' brass- and nickel-plated sinks from Mexico, in shiny, matte and hammered finishes, have intricate Art Deco geometric shapes.