In the bathroom, the rim popped just above the counter or was anchored below. The color almost always was porcelain white or almond-tone bisque.
In the kitchen, the choice was double or single, top or under-mount, and usually stainless steel or white.
Now, sinks grab for attention.
In the bathroom, they can look more like beautiful bowls. Made of sparkling glass, porcelain, metal or stone, they can sit atop the counter as a centerpiece. Like art glass or collectible china, they come in imaginative colors, patterns and combinations. Makers often label them "vessels."
In the kitchen, bigger has become better. Country-style farmhouse sinks up to 4 feet wide look ready for a bumper crop. Though stainless steel remains the best seller, today's sink can be made of copper or heavy-duty cast-iron, resins or stone.
"Definitely, those are major trends," said Jennifer Sheffield, showroom manager of Plumbing Unique in Rancho Cordova, Calif. "The apron-front kitchen sink (extending over the counter front) -- even oversized -- is very popular. People are going back to the basics with one big bowl."
Versatility is part of the allure of vessel-style sinks; they come in many materials, shapes and sizes. Villeroy & Boch -- known for its fine china tableware -- offers four shapes of washbowls in its Loop & Friends line: round, oval, square and rectangular.
Vessel style evokes 1800s washbasins that sat on marble-top dressers before the average home had indoor plumbing. Not surprisingly, some of the new vessel sinks are painted with delicate floral designs like their antique counterparts.
"People are going away from a very modern look in these vessel sinks to something more traditional, like bronze or stone," Sheffield said. "We're seeing more of a decorative element, too, like hand-painted decoration, carved designs or infused color in glass."
In place of plain white, consumers are gravitating toward earth tones, Sheffield said. "But we're also seeing vessels in crimson red, burnt orange and silvery travertine colors. People also like the look of bronze, copper and aged metals."
In kitchens, consumers continue to want a commercial look, like something a celebrity chef might have. That means big, deep and highly functional sinks -- sometimes more than one.
According to a recent study by Kitchen & Bath Design News, stainless-steel kitchen sinks still lead the marketplace. They last a long time (30 years or more), look good with all sorts of kitchen designs and are easy to clean. They blend with popular stainless-steel appliances. Stainless steel also is very "green": It's 100 percent recyclable.
But copper sinks are on the rise. Copper's warm color sets the tone for the kitchen, the heart of the home. An example is Diamond Spas' 48-inch trough skirted copper sink.
"We're definitely seeing more copper in the kitchen," Sheffield said. "Copper is antibacterial by nature. It goes with a Spanish hacienda or a rustic Tahoe cabin. Copper can also look very modern."
Kitchen & Bath Design News also noted that more consumers -- almost one-third, by some estimates -- want color in their kitchen sink. That trend dovetails with the demand for natural stone or composite sinks that blend with granite and quartz countertops. These surfaces also are sustainable, durable and easy to clean. Other materials gaining popularity are fireclay and integrated concrete.
With new deep-color, scratch-resistant enamel finishes, cast-iron sinks have made a comeback in the kitchen as a "green" alternative. About 93 percent of these sinks are made from recycled materials.
The new options offer homeowners plenty of ways to make a splash.