When my husband and I decided to renovate the third floor of our 1890 home in Louisville, Kentucky, we started from scratch. Yes, there was an old sink up there, but there was also some very gross wallpaper — and we didn't keep either.
I was determined to outfit the space (an eventual full-time Airbnb) with interesting finds from architectural salvage shops, flea markets, and auctions. But for everything there is a place, and IKEA has its place in this kitchen under the eaves.
Well, to be fair, perhaps we should call it a kitchenette.
With a perilously sloped ceiling, this little kitchen presented a challenge, to say the least. The sink would have to go in the same place the old one did, but that space had shrunk when we bumped out the teeny-tiny bathroom. I loved the idea of finding some funky antique dresser and setting a basin in it, but that's beyond my skill level, and the biggest factor in anything for that space (after cost, that is) was weight. There are 32 vertiginous outdoor steps to get up there (hence the name of our rental, Vertigo!) so I had to pick and choose my heavy stuff wisely.
When I saw IKEA's new-for-2017 SUNNERSTA Mini-kitchen, I'm pretty sure a cartoon lightbulb popped up over my head. That was it! It was perfect. This little sink set in a minimalist cabinet was outrageously inexpensive (just $139!), small enough for an attic kitchen, and light enough that we wouldn't have to hire movers.
The trouble was in those early days of the launch, there was almost nothing online about real people using it. I scoured the internet, prowling Pinterest and Twitter to no avail. With no other real options, I shrugged and made the leap.
Buy: SUNNERSTA Mini-kitchen, $139 at IKEA
Ordering and Assembling the SUNNERSTA
And then things got frustrating. It wasn't in stock online (even though the site let me put it in my cart). It wasn't available in my nearest store in Cincinnati or even Detroit. I called and learned that I could back-order it – but they couldn't tell me when it would be in. The apartment was nearing completion and I had to make a decision. In desperation, I randomly tried adding the version of the sink that came without the coordinating faucet to my cart one morning and bingo! That version was in stock. I hurriedly picked out a faucet with a sprayer (the sprayer is key, I later learned) that cost almost as much as the sink, loaded up a bunch of other goodies to make the shipping cost worth it, and clicked "buy" before it could disappear.
That weekend, an avalanche of boxes from IKEA arrived (to the dismay of our FedEx guy). I can not assemble something from IKEA to save my life — my last attempt at putting together a shoe rack ended with much cursing, more beer, and a mangled and useless set of bars.
So I turned this assignment over to my husband who has a congenital inability to look at directions. I did not have high hopes. I left him with a beer and our pup, and returned a couple hours later to find that we had a sink! Turns out, it wasn't especially complicated to put together. Not only was he not cranky, but he also had a compliment: "I like the concept," he said. "You did a good job picking it out." Assembly required and no frayed tempers? Win!
A Small Hiccup
But we scratched our heads over the next steps. There was nothing to cover the drain hole or connect to the plumbing. Obviously they'd missed a part. I called IKEA: They could ship me a two-buck strainer for $50 if I wanted. No, that's OK. Apparently, I figured out afterwards, the sink with faucet comes with the strainer, but the sink sans faucet does not. Either way, you have to get your own pipes to connect to the plumbing. I'm glad the guy on the phone couldn't see my face turn red, embarrassed at my ignorance.
Several trips to the hardware store later (plumbing is hard!), and we finally got it hooked up. At that point, I immediately saw why it's called a mini-sink. Accustomed to a big old double basin in my downstairs kitchen, it took some getting used to this dollhouse-sized sink. And was I ever glad I splurged on the pull-out sprayer! The basin is petite, and with the sink butted up against two walls it would be impossible to get any larger dishes into it and under a stationary faucet without banging the wall. Speaking of larger dishes, this is not the sink for anyone with a predilection for big plates. My cute, oversized colorful plates don't fit so I have to stick with more modest-sized dinnerware.
For the first few months these were on the level of minor annoyances, though, not deal breakers. I had to laugh at the sink's appearance on this cautionary list:
What the hell is this? I'm honestly unclear as to why anyone would buy this unless they lived in an actual prison cell, and even then, I feel like you'd be better off building something yourself or cobbling together a few shelving units of higher quality. This thing looks like something a child should be playing with, and, more importantly, doesn't look like it could withstand even a year or so of moderate kitchen use.
The Final Verdict on the SUNNERSTA Mini-Sink
Several months in I think we made the right call, although I say this with reservations. On the plus side, it's easy to keep clean, its perfect fit makes it look custom for the space, and the simple styling keeps the kitchen looking streamlined. I might add a skirt to cover the decidedly non-cute pipes, but that's no biggie.
One big drawback recently presented itself: It's sprouting rust spots like crazy. Turning the kitchen over to short-term guests means it often sits wet, because why would anyone wipe it dry when they finish? (Quite frankly, I probably wouldn't think to do that.) And that has led to a multitude of rust spots in the basin and anywhere water pools. The spots dissolve with some scrubbing, but then I just swap rust for ugly scratches. The next time we have a vacancy I'll hit it with some baking soda and see if an application of poly won't help.
At the end of the day I didn't have to spend big for big functionality, but it's also a good reminder that sometimes you really do get what you pay for.
See More IKEA Kitchens
Are you thinking about getting one? Do you already have one? Share your thoughts on it in the comments.