Building a Breakfast Bar: Tips, Tricks, and Inspirational Ideas

These countertops are the perfect place to enjoy your morning cup of Joe.

It’s that little perch where you sip your morning coffee, eat your oatmeal and skim the headlines on your tablet. There’s no doubt the breakfast bar is a brilliant way to sneak extra living space into the kitchen. Even a very small one, given a little planning, can accommodate one, and I speak from experience — my breakfast bar is where I start, and often finish, the day.

Breakfast bars are also ideal spots for perusing cookbooks or sorting the mail, or for letting cooks rest weary backs and feet while keeping an eye on bubbling pans. All you need is a couple of stools and a skinny ledge to work that coffee-shop-at-home vibe: Suddenly your humble kitchen feels like a sociable hangout, instead of merely a place to cook, stack the dishwasher or load laundry. Here are some ideas for planning yours.

Related: Create a Hardworking Space With a Dish Rack

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Domus Nova, original photo on Houzz


Look for unusual stools. An eye-catching set of bar stools can perk up even a tiny breakfast nook. These vintage metal and rose-colored-velvet numbers have elevated a cozy galley space into a stylish coffee stop.

Bar stools come in just about every style under the sun, so don’t rush your decision when planning your breakfast bar — take your time until you find a design you really love. And don’t forget to sit on them before you buy. Are they comfy enough, are they high enough and will their dimensions work in your space?


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Rendall & Wright, original photo on Houzz


Offer a movable feast. Breakfast bars don’t need to be built in, as this freestanding wooden butcher’s block demonstrates. It doubles as a place for a glass of wine and a sandwich, or a croissant and coffee. The wooden stools, red bricks and wicker baskets all add to the warm, country effect.


Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

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Create a breakout cafe area. You don’t have to sacrifice a slice of countertop or island unit when you build in a breakfast bar, especially if you’re fortunate enough to have a roomy kitchen. Here a separate high table adds the air of a continental coffee shop, the perfect perch for espressos. Red Tolix stools add fiery color.


bulthaup by Kitchen Architecture, original photo on Houzz


Extend the island top. In this long, slim kitchen, the owners have extended the top of the island unit, meaning people can tuck feet under without knocking knees while enjoying a cuppa. When they’re finished, they can tuck the stools underneath to keep things streamlined.


Chandlers Ford, original photo on Houzz


Mix up your surfaces. The cooking and eating zones on this island unit have been ingeniously divided up, thanks to different worktop materials. It’s a simple trick that makes it instantly feel less like a workaday kitchen and more like a multifunctional space. Curvy, upholstered stools also help give the wooden bar area a more relaxed, comfortable feel.


Stephen Graver Ltd, original photo on Houzz


Add some metal magic. The sturdy metal Tolix stool is something of a breakfast-bar staple for a reason: This 1930s classic looks great in just about any setting.

Here in silver it gently toughens up a pretty white country kitchen (complete with sparkling marble), but it works in modern, vintage and eclectic settings too, and comes in a range of colors.

Related: Mix and Match Metal Chairs for Some Extra Shine


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