Are bar height counters no longer in vogue in kitchens?
doctornancy
May 7, 2014 in Design Dilemma
I'm buying a "semi-custom" home, ie. I get to select finishes and have the option to make minor structural changes. The kitchen and family room are adjacent (really a great room) and a large island separates the kitchen from the living area. I was thinking about taking some of the counter from the island (it's plenty big enough to do this) and creating a second taller (bar height) counter to visually separate the kitchen and living area, and to "hide" the kitchen sink (the sink is in the island). The builder and sales person said bar height counters are passé. Your thoughts? My images are photoshopped versions of the model home.
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pphlelps
If you entertain a lot and would make good use of the bar height, go ahead and put it in. It is hour house.
1 Like   Thanked by doctornancy    May 7, 2014 at 6:59PM
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chromatic
I totally understand wanting to hide the sink. I always have some dirty dishes waiting to load. I would do the secondary step up bar counter in an open plan like that.
0 Likes   Thanked by doctornancy    May 7, 2014 at 7:15PM
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njschaefer78
I think it's just personal preference. We have an open great room & kitchen in the house we're building and have a raised breakfast bar on our large island. I am not one to have every dish washed and put away after every meal, so the raised bar is hopefully going to mask my untidy ways! :). Function over fashion for this particular choice...for me anyway!
1 Like   Thanked by doctornancy    May 7, 2014 at 7:28PM
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Lynda
I'm a bit of a neat freak and don't ever keep things on counter or dishes in the sink, but I still like a raised bar.
0 Likes   Thanked by doctornancy    May 7, 2014 at 7:37PM
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Karin Madgwick
Raised bars are out of fashion. Having one height benches give you much more bench space for preparation and entertaining.
2 Likes   Thanked by doctornancy    May 8, 2014 at 4:52AM
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rogerc
By all means, you should do what ever you like, both functionally and aesthetically. I never care what's trending and have found that most things I've done that were thought to be out of style at the time, are back in style sooner or later.

Personally, I prefer the look of a single, expansive counter top. It seems to make our kitchen and family room feel like a more continuous space. Just my opinion. Here's ours under construction.

By the way, my favorite piece of the entire remodel is our Kohler Iron Tones kitchen sink (under the window). It's absolutely beautiful and at 10" deep you'd have to really be looking to see a few dishes sitting at the bottom of the sink.
3 Likes   Thanked by doctornancy    May 8, 2014 at 5:25AM
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decoenthusiaste
Bar height counters and bistro sets were always "out" in my book. If you plan to put seating with it, they are pretty useless for toddlers or older folks who may be in your home. I think open plan kitchens will fade eventually when people get tired of keeping them spotless for guests to see from the adjoining space.
0 Likes   Thanked by doctornancy    May 8, 2014 at 5:37AM
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ceilsan32
I agree with decoenthusiaste- too much noise and visual clutter. I hate being disturbed when cooking. How can people watch TV in an adjacent "family room" when you are operating a stand mixer/ food processor, etc. for long periods of time? Given that most homes are now constructed with drywall rather than plaster only increases the decibel level of competitive noises..I certainly don't want the visual distraction of a kitchen full of dishes, etc. needing cleaning when I'm entertaining.
1 Like   Thanked by doctornancy    May 8, 2014 at 6:03AM
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rogerc
Oh I promise you, there will be no focus on keeping things spotless in our home. ;)

We live a lifestyle of 'reasonable orderliness' for our own sake... and that will have to be just fine for our guests.

I do agree with your thoughts on counter ease-of-use. With the really tall stools, I sometimes feel like I'm climbing into something, rather than sitting down to relax.
0 Likes   May 8, 2014 at 6:04AM
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doctornancy
Thank you, everyone. For me, the aesthetics are the issue. Arguments FOR 2-tiers: it creates a visual separation between the kitchen and family room, it's what I've always lived in (what I am used to seeing), there is a back-splash for the disposal switch and electric outlets, the faucet and kitchen stuff is less visible from the family room (I'm a really neat lady - OCD?! - so this isn't much of an issue, though my eye does go directly to that faucet sticking up). Arguments AGAINST 2-tiers: it is a choppier look, introducing another horizontal layer, the counter space is chopped up - can no longer use the island as a serving surface. Have I missed anything?
0 Likes   May 8, 2014 at 6:54AM
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doctornancy
rogerc - gorgeous granite!
1 Like   May 8, 2014 at 6:58AM
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flopsycat1
Aesthetics would be an issue for me too, and I think chopping up the island would be visually jarring. It actually looks so nice and seamless as it is. As to your list of pros and cons: 1) where are the outlets and disposal switch now? 2) a bump-up would add another caulk seam to catch crumbs and deteriorate over time. 3) the elevated bar would not do much to conceal kitchen clutter, especially for anyone standing up. 4) extra cost and time to change the island. I say leave it as is, live with it. You can always change it later. Use the money to buy nice, simple drapes for the dining room windows.
0 Likes   Thanked by doctornancy    May 8, 2014 at 7:18AM
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flopsycat1
Ad: Just found the outlet on the side of the island. Change out the cover from white to one that blends with the dark wood.
0 Likes   May 8, 2014 at 7:21AM
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soberg
Definitely, the up to date and trendy approach is to have the island all one height. But all of the reasons for the two-level approach are still there. It depends so much on the space, your style, your preferences and how you live. The disposal switch can be an air switch in the counter top, no problemo, and outlets can go in the sides of the island.
0 Likes   Thanked by doctornancy    May 8, 2014 at 7:26AM
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beachlily
Roger...love your sink choice...adding it to my ideas ( kitchen is now gutted).

Two tier island...while I get why people want to hide their mess, I find them too high to be really functional . Our brother has one in a beautiful custom kitchen and one regrets it because too high for grandparents to get on bar stools and he can't count the amount of times serving trays fell off narrow area...and his island is huge! So we are going for one level island....but then again, I don't have true open floor plan so I can be messy)
0 Likes   Thanked by doctornancy    May 8, 2014 at 7:49AM
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rogerc
beachlily - You really need to see this sink in-person to appreciate what a piece of art it is. The photos on Kohler's site don't do it justice at all. The enameled finish is so deep and rich looking you just want to touch it. (I really am obsessed with this sink). And they're guaranteed for life against chips and cracks.

We'll have this very simple prep faucet at the island vegetable sink (also a Kohler Iron Tones). Using air-switches at both sinks for disposals. Outlets are well-concealed in the island sides. So the overall look will be uncluttered and minimal.
0 Likes   May 8, 2014 at 8:23AM
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ernchet
We're in the process of making the same decisions. We opted for a single height in order to maximize the open feeling of the space overall. To help control the mess of dirty dishes on the counter, we're adding a second dishwasher. That way while one is running, we still have somewhere to put any new dirty dishes. The extra expense is under $1,000 and it's possible that each of the dishwashers will last twice as long since they'll share the workload.
0 Likes   Thanked by doctornancy    May 8, 2014 at 8:45AM
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pphlelps
I think of a bar height for people who have cocktails! Cocktails all the time!
0 Likes   May 8, 2014 at 10:16AM
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doctornancy
pphlelps - I like cocktails! Hadn't thought of that. I'll have to add it to my "FOR" list.
2 Likes   May 8, 2014 at 2:45PM
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doctornancy
Yesterday was a "2-tier" day. Today a single counter height day. Oh, dear..... 5 more days to decide. Here's my latest photoshop comparing the two. Any votes?
0 Likes   May 10, 2014 at 9:58AM
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studio10001
Now that you show the photos, it seems that the sink will not be hidden w either choice. If you are willing to forego the bar seats that are presumed to accompany a bar height, you might incorporate a higher and ( feasibly) more functional wall that could hide things better, and give you back your serving station.[houzz=
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0 Likes   Thanked by doctornancy    May 10, 2014 at 10:10AM
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doctornancy
Studio - you introduce another option. Thank you.
1 Like   May 10, 2014 at 10:16AM
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adivra
I just got rid of the higher bar and couldn't be happier. It's forcing me to be extra neat, but the trade off of lots more space is worth it.
2 Likes   May 10, 2014 at 10:34AM
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studio10001
That puts it in very good perspective.
0 Likes   May 10, 2014 at 10:37AM
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studio10001
Loving this for you:
[houzz=
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1 Like   May 11, 2014 at 8:47PM
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doctornancy
Adivra, Thanks for your photos. You're right - the single counter really has a cleaner look. A friend also went from 2-tier to a single counter height and she finds that she is using the space much more. So, though I seem to change my mind regularly, I am leaning toward the single counter look.
0 Likes   May 11, 2014 at 9:17PM
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