Every kitchen needs a little perch where you can sip your morning cuppa and scan the headlines before heading out the door each morning—or where the kids can munch on cookies after school or do their homework while a parent prepares supper. If you crave that extra space in your kitchen, here are a few DIY breakfast bar styles for you to choose from.
Measurements and Choosing Your Bar Top
Before you start constructing anything, consider a few details.
Breakfast Bar Height
The average bar height is 42 inches tall. You want to keep your bar between 36-42 inches or else your barstools won’t fit under comfortably.
Whether you want your bar built extending out from a wall, to create a division between spaces—or along an empty wall as a shelf—you need to leave an adequate passageway. Forty-two inches is the magic number, here, too. Remember, even if you have enough room to walk, you may need to fit appliances, furniture, or even a wheelchair through the space at one point or another.
Before deciding where to build your bar, find the studs in the wall. You want to mount the bar on at least two studs, which are spaced 16 inches apart behind the drywall. Use a stud finder to locate them, then measure out where the bar will go.
How Deep Should a Bar Top Be?
Pretty much any solid surface, at least 24 inches deep, could make a beautiful bar top. Consider a solid piece of hardwood, cut straight or with its natural live edge. Or, purchase a solid surface countertop like Corian, use ¾-inch plywood, or something salvaged like an old door. Once you choose your top, cut it to size and finish as desired before making the base.
How to Build an Extension Bar
This style extends out from a wall, supported by a pedestal at the other end. Homeowners often choose this style to provide a division between the kitchen and family room. For the pedestal, you can purchase a 5-by-5-inch pre-made wooden beam, or use a salvaged porch pillar or an old barn beam.
- First, create a support system using the 2×6 pieces by screwing them together to form an I shape. You’ll mount one end of the I to the wall and secure the other end to the pedestal. Paint, stain, or finish to match the top.
- Once you have the base support finished, mark a small line 42 inches from the floor at each stud you chose in your supporting wall. Use your level to make sure they’re even. Also, make a center mark on the side of the pedestal that will face the wall.
- With someone assisting you to hold the base in place, use your drill to secure one end to the wall with two screws, one above the other, on each side of the central piece.
- Next, screw the other end of the base to your pedestal, lining up the center mark you made with the center board.
- Run a bead of construction adhesive along the top edge of your base. Lay the bar top in place, centered.
- Once it’s where you want it, screw in place from the underside.
How to Build a Breakfast Shelf
If you don’t have the room for a bar to extend out into the room, a shelf along the wall makes a nice place to eat your morning toast. For this style, you only need the bar top of your choice and a few shelf brackets or architectural corbels. If your bar is over 4 feet long, use more than two.
- Find the studs in your wall using a stud finder and mark lines 42 inches up from the floor. Use your level to make sure they’re even.
- Screw your shelf brackets or corbels to the wall at those marks.
- Lay the bar top, centering it over the brackets, and screw in place.
How to Create an Island Extension
If you already have a kitchen island, adding a breakfast bar is easier than you think. Simply buy and install a new countertop for the island that is a few feet larger on one side to create an overhang. If you can’t match the old counter you’re removing, never fear. Just opt for another color or material that coordinates equally well with the room
Other Breakfast Bar Options
If you’re not the handy type, or you want something temporary, consider purchasing a ready-made island on wheels. Here are some ideas to whet your appetite: a kitchen center and breakfast bar, and a breakfast bar on wheels.
Once you have your breakfast bar in place, pop some cookies in the oven so you have something to savor while trying it out.