Dry sink image courtesy of @gardengatherings
If you’ve been lucky enough to stumble upon an antique dry sink, congratulations! Dry sink cabinets are considered to be antique gold to vintage furniture enthusiasts and can be updated in several fun ways to bring them into the 21stCentury.
If this piece of pre-plumbing furniture has got you scratching your head though, don’t fret. In this guide, we’ll be answering the common question, “what is a dry sink and what is it used for?”, as well as sharing the best dry sink decorating ideas to get your creative juices flowing!
What Were Dry Sinks Used For?
In order to understand why dry sink cabinets are so unique, you must first know this piece of furniture’s original purpose. Dry sink cabinets date back to the pre-plumbing era, from the early 1800s, and were commonly found in the kitchens, bedrooms, or porches of Victorian-era homes through to the early 1900s.
As their name suggests, they functioned as an early version of a sink – just minus the plumbing and water on-tap. Instead, an antique dry sink featured a slightly recessed top, in which a pitcher and washbasin would sit. There would also be a hook, bar, or other design feature where a towel could be hung up to dry after use.
Dry sink cabinets also featured cupboards and shelves, which acted as storage for washcloths, shaving supplies, soap, and other toiletries.
Once a person had finished washing up, they would remove the basin and empty its contents, before putting the basin back in its place and refilling the pitcher.
As the years progressed, dry sinks moved away from their recessed top design and began to favor a flat, marble-clad top instead. During the Victorian era, marble was a popular display of wealth, and dry sinks also began to show off this design trend.
Best Dry Sink Decorating Ideas
Now that you’ve read about the interesting history of the dry sink, as well as how their designs were adapted over time to embrace the latest Victorian era design trends, you might be excited about giving your own dry sink a DIY makeover.
Below, we’ve rounded up the 10 best dry sink decorating ideas the internet has to offer! What will spark your imagination?
Dry Sink Decorating Ideas:
1. Repurposed Dry Sink Coffee Bar
If you’re a coffee aficionado or live with someone who is, then why not upcycle your antique dry sink into a DIY coffee bar? Live Love Thrifty gave her vintage dry sink a new navy-blue color using chalk paint and swapped out the existing knobs for shabby chic inspired ones from Hobby Lobby. Spraying the existing dry sink’s basin with copper spray paint also gave the piece a modern look so it wouldn’t be out of place among its other farmhouse inspired pieces of furniture. Add-in some wooden cutting boards and a faux marble tray, and you’ve got yourself a simple, yet stylish new coffee hub the whole household can enjoy!
2. Striped Black and White Dry Sink
This small pine dry sink could certainly do with a lick of paint, and that’s exactly what Reuse, Repurpose, Upcycle did with it! Transforming the plain design into one featuring stark black and white stripes has certainly made it eye-catching. Perhaps our favorite part about this DIY dry sink transformation is how she swapped the existing towel bar for a mirror and additional drawer. Although this basic antique dry sink is missing some of the intriguing design features of wider and shorter versions, it now serves a vital purpose as a dresser that’s perfect for storing accessories, makeup, jewelry, and more!
3. Upcycled Dry Sink Wine Bar
You’ve no doubt heard of bar carts, but how about transforming your antique dry sink into your very own private wine bar? The furniture’s recessed top makes it perfect for storing wine bottles, champagne flutes, or even a statement hurricane filled with wine corks, as Belle and Mortar has done here! It’s the ideal way to turn your alcoholic beverage stash into an on-trend statement within your home. Plus, the dry sink provides plenty of cupboard space to keep other items (such as bottle openers, koozies, and cocktail recipe books organized and out of sight.
4. Antique Dry Sink Spring Makeover
Spring is just around the corner, which makes now the perfect time to repurpose your dry sink for those fresh and floral months ahead. Revived by Delia created her own custom paint color using Milk Paint Base, followed by blue, green, and white acrylic paints. The result is this light green, springtime hue, which instantly transforms the dry sink into vintage chic. With the addition of pretty floral paper for the drawer liners and some simple white decor items, this is an excellent way to breathe new life into an otherwise tired-looking dry sink.
5. Soft Pink Dry Sink Revival
If you’re looking to give your vintage dry sink a fun and feminine makeover, then a coat of soft pink paint might just be the answer – as Tara Lou Badger has done here. The original wooden surface was preserved on top, but given a glow-up, including sanding it down to the raw wood and finishing it with a protective, clear coat. Adding traditional knobs and handles to the dry sink also maintains its antique heritage, while the shade of soft pink roots it firmly in the present. It’d be perfect as an entry table, nightstand, or just about anything else you have planned for it!
6. White Cottage Style Dry Sink
If something a little more neutral is more up your alley, then this white cottage style dry sink project by Embracing Change is worth considering. The look is achieved with a matte white paint (such as chalk paint), before the edges of the furniture are sanded back to give them a shabby chic appearance. For a pop of contrast, try spray painting your antique dry sink’s brackets and knobs black, or replace the existing ones altogether with some in a darker, more modern shade. Pair with your favorite decor items and you’ve got yourself a fantastic centerpiece for your home!
7. Saltwash Coastal and Copper Dry Sink
You won’t believe the makeover Petal and Ply did on this dry sink cabinet! What was once a deep red, flower-adorned antique dry sink has now been turned into a coastal inspired stunner that wouldn’t look out of place in a beach house! The trick to this DIY project is Saltwash, which is a powdered paint additive that helps you achieve that sun and salt air-soaked look you often find on buildings by the sea. The wooden elements honor this dry sink’s history, while the more modern elements have us reminiscing about long summers spent at the beach.
8. Mint Kitchen Dry Sink
Dis you know dry sink cabinets are also perfect for doubling up as storage for kitchen items, including plates, bowls, glasses, and tea towels? We love this display by Miss Mustard Seed, as she has paired her dry sink with an old-school chalkboard for displaying her shopping list, as well as a beautiful, antique stool. Even without a lot of work, you can quickly and easily turn a dry sink into a versatile item within your home that’s full of vintage charm.
9. Potting Bench Dry Sink
If you’d prefer to use your antique dry sink in an outdoor setting, then we may just have the perfect DIY project for you. Home Road turned their dry sink into a potting bench, complete with terracotta pots and other gardening accessories such as mini rakes and shovels. You can even keep cleaning cloths, gardening gloves, and packets of seeds within the dry sink’s cupboards – the choice is yours! Milk paint was used to give the piece of furniture a sage green hue, before parts were lightly sanded off to maintain a vintage aesthetic. So easy!
10. Dry Sink Drink Station Makeover
Whether you entertain a lot or simply enjoy having cool, refreshing drinks on-hand, turning your antique dry sink into a drink station is a brilliant idea. Take inspiration from The Crowned Goat, who gave her dry sink two coats of French Linen chalk paint and purchased a panel of cork to line the inside of the dry sink. Baskets provide excellent cupboard storage vessels, while a cake stand, vase of flowers, and some ice-cold drinks sit atop the piece. It’s a great way to give your second-hand dry sink a second life!
Repurposing a Dry Sink Summary
After viewing our round-up of the best dry sink decorating ideas, which one is your favorite? Do you have a dry sink, and if so, how do you use yours in your home? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!