I’m a firm believer that when you move house rather than change everything at once, it can often benefit you to live in the space for a while and see what works and what doesn’t work for you. When we purchased our house in Abruzzo, it came with several unique things. A lavatory in the living room opposite an old television set – handy if you don’t want to miss an episode of your favourite show. A bathroom downstairs that had everything apart from a lavatory. A desiccated grasshopper in the shutters and an old outside sink.
A lot of Italian houses have these ugly concrete sinks complete with washboard under an outside tap. Now part of me would like to think that this was the family sink for washing dishes, cleaning clothes and possibly baby bathing. But maybe that’s too romantic a notion. Maybe the outside tap was the family’s only water source many years ago, but back then I guess it would be buckets that were filled and later, possibly 1950’s, the invention of the ghastly concrete sink was the mod-con every rustic cottage wanted.
They really are rather unattractive objects and our first thought was to remove it and once smashed to smithereens it would become part of the hard core in the new downstairs floors.
However we never did get around to doing this as our sole water supply at the start of the restoration was the outside tap and it made sense to retain the sink until it became obsolete.
Unlike my neighbour (see photo) ours didn’t have the horrible tiles and lumpy feet so aesthetically it was more pleasing on the eye. (But not much).
Over the coming months people commented on how the sink remained and how they’d removed theirs. We nodded and did mention that we’d be doing the same once we had a fully functioning kitchen sink.
However over the coming months the sink proved itself; you could say it became worth its weight in concrete. I even grew to like the thing, especially its chipped edge and its two balletic legs, displayed at an angle.
It is possibly one of the most useful things we have inherited with the house, it’s great for washing vegetables from the orto saving splashing the kitchen tiles with mud. On passata making days, it’s great for washing large tomato stained saucepans and the washboard is good on sunny days for drying the pots and pans.
It’s also good for using as a cold frame for hardening off tender plants. In fact ours did spend one year as a planter, it looked very nice with geraniums and summer bedding flowing over the edges: But pretty gave way to functionality and after the summer was over it was consigned once again to proper usage.
But how things change – we often have people say to us that they wish they’d kept their old sink as they now find they have need for it, and I know of one person who after smashing up one has since paid to have another one installed.
It just goes to show, that you’re better off living with things before making snap decisions. My outdoor sink is still ugly but I wouldn’t be without it.