Kitchen Windows Over Sinks: Is is Really a Good Design Idea?

There are a lot of questions that undoubtedly arise when designing the heart of the home, and whether or not you should put a window over the sink is one of the most common. As someone who has spent many an hour standing at my kitchen sink looking wistfully out the window — or okay, yes, nosily at neighbors — I can see plenty of benefits to doing it this way.

But aside from providing a nice vantage point to watch the world go by, there are also practical reasons for putting your kitchen window over the sink. ‘It brings natural light, making the space brighter and more inviting,’ explains Casey Ridley, founder and president of The Designery, a specialist in kitchen design and renovations. ‘A window also improves ventilation, helping to get rid of cooking odors and excess moisture.’

But it isn’t always the best place for a window, particularly when it means sacrificing all-important storage, or paying extra to waterproof around a window frame. It all depends on the space and layout you have to work with. So if you’re planning to put your kitchen window over the sink, here are some things to consider first.

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Which kitchen layouts work best with a window over the sink?

Where your windows are positioned can have a massive influence over your entire kitchen layout and the way the space functions and flows. Putting the window over the sink is ‘especially useful in U-shaped and L-shaped kitchens, where the sink often becomes a focal point,’ says The Designery’s Casey Ridley. It works even better if you can make it a kitchen window pass-through, connecting the kitchen to your dining room or outdoors spaces.

But just because you have the space below a window doesn’t mean it will work best. ‘In smaller galley kitchens or kitchens with limited wall space, a window might not be as practical due to storage needs,’ adds Casey.

You also need to look at the kitchen as a whole. ‘A window over a sink works best in kitchens where you have your range on the opposite side of the sink to create a functional work triangle,’ adds Phoenix-based interior designer Leigh Herr, of Mackenzie Collier Interiors.

Are there any drawbacks to placing a kitchen window over a sink?

Apart from limiting your storage and cabinetry options, other drawbacks to positioning your kitchen window over the sink involve access to existing plumbing and electrical services. Unless you’re building from scratch, these connections can be incredibly costly to move and may just end up making the decision for you.

And then, of course, you must consider how the space will be used. ‘The area around the sink is typically a wet zone, meaning water splashes can regularly reach the window, making it prone to stains and requiring more frequent cleaning,’ says Brian Quick, product manager at Anderson Windows & Doors.

Along with the added maintenance, this will also dictate what materials and finishes you can use in the space. ‘It’s important to choose water-resistant window materials, like Fibrex, to prevent damage from moisture,’ says Brian. ‘Additionally, you might want to install a tiled backsplash around the window area to protect the wall and make cleaning easier.’

Putting a kitchen backsplash around a window is ultimately going to be a more expensive option, so it’s definitely a drawback to consider with this layout design.

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(Image credit: Julie Leffell Photography / KA Design Group)

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How do you dress a kitchen window above a sink?

Deciding to put a window above a sink will not only impact your more structural finishes, such as your window frames and benchtops, but it will also dictate softer materials, like how you’ll dress the window.

There are a few things you should always keep in mind when it comes to any kitchen window treatments, but according to interior designer Leigh Herr, above a sink you’ll need something moisture resistant and easily movable. ‘You don’t want wood shutters or a fabric curtain, so a vinyl blind or roller shade would be better,’ she says.

‘Roman shades are a good choice since they can be raised, lowered and even automated, reducing the need to bend or lean over the sink,’ says Anderson Windows & Doors’ Brian Quick. ‘Faux wood or aluminium blinds are also great because they’re durable and easy to clean. Waterproof shutters made of polyvinyl are stylish and resist moisture, making them another excellent option.’

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How does a kitchen window over a sink impact cabinetry and storage?

Put simply, where there is a window there isn’t storage. While this certainly isn’t the end of the world, it just means it’s even more important that the kitchen cabinets you do have are working extra hard.

‘Since you’ll have fewer upper cabinets around the window, you might need to consider alternatives like open shelving, taller pantry units or storage inserts to maximize space in lower cabinets,’ says Casey.

Brian Quick from Anderson Windows & Doors also recommends trying to align the sink and window vertically, centering the sink under the window to maintain symmetry. ‘This helps ensure the window doesn’t disrupt the flow of upper cabinets,’ he says. ‘You might consider installing shorter upper cabinets or open shelves around the window area to prevent conflicts.’

If such alignment isn’t possible, you can slightly offset the sink to maintain a balanced look. ‘Using narrower cabinets on either side of the window is another strategy to maximize storage while accommodating the window,’ Brian adds.

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(Image credit: Justin Jordan Photo. Design: Bethany Adams Interiors)

So while a sink with a view may seem like a straight forward choice, it isn’t always the most practical decision when it comes to your kitchen design. It’s important to weigh up all the factors including how it may impact your storage options, whether it flows with your ‘work triangle’, where your existing service outlets are and any added costs associated with tiling around the window or waterproofing the space.

And if after considering all that you still think it will work in your space, well, lucky you.

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