Au Revoir Breakfast Bar?


I’m up to my ears in cabinets right now, as I work to finish my current client job, but the past few clients I’ve worked with were making modifications to their kitchens that got me thinking about trends when it comes to breakfast bars.  I’m noticing people are doing away with the two-tiered breakfast bar, in favor of one, large flat counter height surface as a bar.  I have to say, I’m intrigued.  Especially as a current member of the two-tiered breakfast bar.

I can see the appeal.  The single level opens up the space even more than you would expect, but it also opens things up in a way where everyone can see all of your stuff.  The clutterbug in me gets a little antsy at that.  Although, it’s not like everyone can’t see all of the crap I have on my second breakfast bar tier…  It’s like a little shield for me I guess.  A mental shield, anyway.

Let’s look at the difference between the two in pictures.  The two-tiered, bar height breakfast bar seems to be going to the wayside (at least in my limited pool of observation).

Here you can see the two tiered breakfast bar in action.  This kitchen looks to be on the smaller side, and I can see where a single level, counter height bar would make the kitchen feel a little larger, can you?

Now look at this farmhouse kitchen with a single level counter height bar.  If a two-tiered bar had been put in place here, it definitely would have cut off the layout.

Even though this two tiered bar could work beautifully at counter height, the built-in storage at the end wins me over.  Plus, the bar surface is wood vs. the stone on the rest of the kitchen counters, and it ties in with the desk, so that’s a win in my book.

In this kitchen, I think a single level, counter height bar would have looked better.  I think when you have a stand alone island, you have a better case for counter height.  It just makes more sense, and single level feels more seamless.  Not that this isn’t a beautiful kitchen.  It just seems to divide the kitchen with a two tiered island.

Where in this kitchen, with a similar layout as the one above, the single level island/bar makes the kitchen feel like one big space.  Undivided.

My last client kitchen project had a two tiered breakfast bar that they brought down to one level.  It was an awkward one.

Even without the new counters installed, you can see the difference.

Now this is just … dreamy, isn’t it?

Kitchens with peninsulas of some sort seem to be the biggest candidates for the two tiered breakfast bar.  In this kitchen, they have both bar options.  Interesting.

If I had money to burn, I would entertain the idea of going to a counter height bar, but that would mean that I would have to be on top of my dirty dishes at all times.  That could be a tough sell.

So which side are you on?  Do you like the two tiered breakfast bar, or the counter height option?


  • Reply
    Lisa @ Shine Your Light
    September 15, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    I'm a fan of the single tier because I love a big expanse of countertop, but my sister in law has the two tier and it is nice for hiding her cooktop and the mess that ensues. You're so lucky to have an island and a peninsula!! So much space in your kitchen!

  • Reply
    Julie Boarder
    September 15, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    We've had the single tier for 12 years and I wouldn't change it for the world as you get more useable space. I'm also a realtor and I am not seeing two tier being done these days in new builds or renos. That being said, if it's your house and you love it, that's all that matters unless you're doing it only to sell.

  • Reply
    Karen S.
    September 15, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    I love the single tier and am noticing this trend in model homes right now. We have a two-tier right now that is way too high. We do not use it ~ it is a clutter magnet and that is it. I would love to change it, but we have granite……….

  • Reply
    September 15, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Karen, I'm in the same boat. We have granite, and that's not changing (unless I win the lottery). I would be very tempted to go to a single surface – if I got my cluttery-ness under control. 😉

  • Reply
    Mary Ann Pickett
    September 15, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    We just changed a client's two tiered into a one level larger expanse for a client and it opened everything up (her kitchen is smaller than yours though) and there is more serving space and a place for her kids to spread out and do their homework. But we had to change the tile countertops anyway so the timing was good for putting in marble. Good luck!

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