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The Versatile Breakfast Bar; Dining, Food Preparation Area

Use It for Dining, as a Food Preparation Area, or to Organize an Open Floor Plan

© 2010 by Charlotte Cook; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.

A Breakfast Bar and kitchen interior; photo by Kelly Smith

A breakfast bar and kitchen interior

This article was updated on 05/20/21.

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Breakfast bars, also called kitchen islands, and/or a bay window seat are a great place to enjoy that first hot drink of the day (coffee in my case) and can make a very effective focal point for your kitchen.

Before choosing a surface and size for your breakfast bar, it’s important to think about what you’ll be using it for on a day to day basis. If you will be preparing food regularly on your kitchen worktops in this area of the room, it’s important that it’s hard wearing and very easy to clean.

Choose Your Countertop Material

Stone surfaces, such as granite countertops, are durable and very easy to wipe down after preparing food. They also give the kitchen a classic look. These types of surfaces are somewhat resistant to heat, which is an advantage when it comes to preparing and serving hot food, although you should always use a trivet or dishtowel under hot pots and pans for extra protection.

This material also works well for dining, as a breakfast bar also doubles up as a seating area for accommodating a large number of people. Traditional wooden surfaces are slightly more difficult to clean and are less durable but an annual sanding and refinishing will remove any chips or scratches which can harbor dirt.

Task Lighting in the Kitchen

You can highlight your breakfast bar as a focal point of the kitchen by using halogen or LED spotlights above it to illuminate the area, which will also be essential as task lighting if you do choose to prepare food or perform other intricate chores on your breakfast bar.

If you have a small kitchen then you will know that making the most of the space you have is really important. There are many different styles of breakfast bars and many come with storage space underneath the work surface, which can be a great place in which to keep kitchen items, which creates much needed room elsewhere. Of course, a walk-in kitchen pantry is essential if you are a prepper or simply want to stay in control of your inventory.

The kitchen as the Heart of the Home

Kitchens typically see some of the highest traffic volume in the home. Keep your kitchen clear and clean by creating a seating and storage area near the most popular entrance. Keep the main fixtures close to each other to minimize the steps involved in preparing your meals. If you're putting in an island, be sure it isn't too close or too far for comfort. Think about opening doors, passing by other household members, and using multiple surfaces for meals. You want it close, but not too close. Of course, always keep in mind the architectural kitchen work triangle.

Working with Modern Open Floor Plans

For open floor plan rooms, a breakfast bar is a great way of dividing up the kitchen from the dinning or living areas.

It’s important for this living arrangement that, despite there not being any dividing walls, there are features that clearly zone areas of the room, and a well placed breakfast bar is perfect for this. This is a perfect case of functionality having a meeting of the minds with style.

The great thing about a breakfast bar, or kitchen island if you like, is that it’s multi-purpose and will fit in all styles and sizes of kitchens, which is probably why they are the must have feature of some of the most busy kitchens around the world.

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