Beating the dead horse: counter-height breakfast bar overhangs

try_hardJanuary 18, 2008


I know this issue has been discussed ad nauseum, but I have to ask again.

1. How deep is the overhang on your counter-height breakfast bar?

2. If you have barstools there, do you feel like your overhang allows enough room to scoot comfortably close to your plate without banging your feet and knees on the cabinet?

3. How tall are you?

4. Anything you'd do differently regarding your overhang/breakfast bar dimensions?



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16", using 3mm granite & no support.
We have barstools & there's enough room.
5'2", 5'9"

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 2:21PM
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15" overhang
We do have barstools and haven't any problems banging knees.
I am the tallest at 6'0".
I have longer legs, so we definitely would not go any smaller. 15" is the perfect size for us.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 2:35PM
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Our counter height breakfast bat overhang is 15". I wouldn't go any smaller. I am 5'7" and mu husband is 6'2". I think the NKBA recommendation for depth of counter height over hang is 15" but you can check that at their website.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 4:56PM
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Mine (old kitchen slated for demo) are 7.5" & 8". Knee bangers all the way. I'm 5' 8" and generally the shortest person who sits there. But for actual utility it does work (not too much room between the plate and lap. What I'll do differently? 15"!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 5:37PM
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Our overhang is 11" and it has created no problems. Bar surface is 17". I also did not want brackets so wanted to keep overhang the minimum that allowed for comfort, I relied on cantilevered flat metal to support 3 cm granite. I am 6-3 and leggy.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 8:01PM
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Raised eating counter on the island is 16" wide, almost 8 feet long.

Cantilevered over a 5" high back wall on the island, with 3 corbels to support it. Cambria quartz, 3 cm thick, simple rounded beveled edge.

Extends 10" out from the back wall of the island.

I'm 6'3", with long legs, and have no problem sitting at one of the 4 barstools and eating. In fact, I'm writing this on the laptop on the eating bar right now.

We also got simple backless stools custom made...welded steel frames, 2 1/2" thick cushions on top. Very modern, and they tuck neatly under the overhang.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 8:15PM
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OK, I don't have mine yet, but it will be 15". I have a friend with a 12" overhang (counter-height) and to sit comfortably at her counter to eat, I have to sit slightly sideways. I'm only 5'10", but I'm all legs (35" inseam!)... My DH is 6'5" and he doesn't sit at her counter at all b/c it's just too uncomfortable.

To be honest, if we had had the room I would have had an 18" overhang...but 15" was pushing it as it was.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2008 at 10:30PM
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1. Overhang is 14" and works wonderfully. No corbels, we have posts.
2. The seats of our chairs are 24" high (4" apron) and we are very comfortable. No knee or feet bumping.
3. 5'8" & 6'0". DH has long extremeties and loves sitting at the island.
4. No regrets, we didn't want to narrow our walkway so 14" was it. Of course now we see we could have shaved off a couple of inches of the walkway (it is exactly 42") and been fine, but it still works great for us.

As a bonus, one end of the island is open - table like - so if anyone is taller and happens to be uncomfortable at the 14" side they can always sit at the end.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 12:14AM
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17", 6' tall and perfect for us.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 1:49PM
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18" overhang on each end of an 8'x4' island, metal slab support. Perfect room, but corbels protrude in the way of seating. Guests always hit their knees on the corbels. We are use to them and avoid hitting ourselves now.

My counter chairs have a ladder back. When we have guests over and set up a food buffet, we have to move the chairs. Stools would solve this problem, but I didn't want stools.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 3:30PM
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12" overhang comfortable, never noticed a shortage. We are 5'0 and 6'2". Seats will not push under counter all the way they do hang out but it's not an issue with us.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 4:31PM
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Ours is 11 or 12 inches. To be honest the kids are usually the ones who sit there but I occasionally sit there to read the paper etc. and it works fine for me, I am 5'10". If it was my only eating area I might want it deeper. We originally planned an 18" overhang but after sitting at a 12 " overhang at a showroom we decided 12" was enough for us.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 5:30PM
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I appreciate everyone's information. I found out that a friend has a 12" deep counter-height breakfast bar and I went over there to try it out. It worked just fine. However, I will be mindful of the corbel placement issue - hopefully we can have them arranged in such a way that it reduces the risk of knee-bumping.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2008 at 10:07PM
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UPDATE from Original Poster

A month has passed since I started this discussion about a breakfast bar overhang for my new construction home.

The kitchen cabinets and island have been built, installed, and painted. Tomorrow I have to give my final approval for the amount of overhang on my counter-height breakfast bar.

I knew that if the island had been built to the specs and placed at the correct spot in the kitchen, I should have room for 12" of overhang. The kitchen is open to the family room but separated by a very wide doorway. This doorway is 9" deep. Adding to the feeling of separation is the fact that the kitchen ceiling is 9 ft but the family room is vaulted to 14 ft. To further accentuate that separation, we plan to paint the kitchen golden yellow and the family room beige. Here are some photographs that might help you envision what I'm talking about. As you can see, the island overhang/breakfast bar will be on the family room side of the island. So when we eat at the bar, our backs will be to the family room.

According to my measurements made at the time the kitchen was being designed, a 12" overhang would mean the overhang would stop just at the kitchen edge of the 9" deep "doorway" that separates the kitchen from the family room.

But because I'm a "measure twice, cut once" kind of gal, I decided to go to the job site and make sure the island really was in the pre-defined place before signing off on the granite plans. I found that the island is sitting about 3" closer to the family room than planned. In other words, I could do a 9" overhang and the breakfast bar would be entirely within the kitchen, or I could stick with 12" and the breakfast bar would creep about 3" into the 9" doorway separating the kitchen from the family room.

Before I go any further with my story I should state that moving the island or refusing to buy the house until the island is moved/rebuilt is not an option. One of the lessons I have learned from this is that in addition to my cabinet drawings, I should have insisted upon a whole-room drawing that identifies precisely where the island will be situated. I didn't ask for that, it was not presented to me, and I feel that I have no basis for complaining about its location, nor do I want to postpone completion of the house for them to move the island, repair the wood floors, redo the plumbing in the island, etc. DH and I are living with my parents until the house is done so we don't want any delays.

Back to the breakfast bar -- In my opinion, if I can only fit a 9" overhang then I might as well not even have a breakfast bar because I have very long legs and won't be comfortable sitting there to eat. But I really, really, really wanted and needed a breakfast bar so I'm determined to find a way to make this work. I am considering sticking with the 12" even though the granite will "intrude" into the doorway by a few inches.

We have not yet decided on barstools. We could go with the saddle style (no backs) and tuck them completely under the bar when not in use. Those would not stick out into the family room at all. Or we could go with a more comfortable stool with a back but it might stick out into the family room and look like the island is creeping into the family room.

Opinions, advice, questions, reassurance - all are welcome at this point. I'm so frazzled and so ready to be finished with this project! We're lucky that this is really the first problem we have encountered in the building process but the appearance of the kitchen, family room, and breakfast bar is important to me.

Thanks for listening and for any comments.
P.S. I'm also posting this in the Home Decorating forum.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 6:02PM
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how much space will there be between the front of the island and the bank of cabinets? I personally wouldn't want the breakfast bar sneaking into the FR area. I think I'd move it, if possible to move (spacewise) or forget the snackbar part of the island. It would bug me forever. It's an easy fix now..not easy later. How long is the island?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 7:23PM
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oops...sorry I see the island is 6ft

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 7:41PM
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We only have a 11" overhang at our breakfast bar. I kept looking at it and thinking something was off then after the subtop was put on I questioned it. I was assured all was right. After they put the corbels on I noticed they had to shave some inches off of them. I panicked and drove over to the granite fabricators shop. He asked me to meet him at the house with a barstool. Once I sat down at the bar with a bar stool I realized that a bigger overhang wasn't necessary.

Can you grab a barstool and check it out? I kept putting my leg up to our overhang and freaked cause it looked so short in comparison to my leg. The granite guy actually laughed when I illustrated it. I am quite a bit taller then him and he said it was my freakishly long legs that skewed the results.

If you think it is necessary to add the inches to make the bar user friendly I would do so.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 8:03PM
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Debbie_2008: The island is 36" x 108". There is plenty of space between the front of the island and the wall cabinets. Moving the island isn't an option since it's already been bolted down, stained, plumbing pipes set, and the wood floor would be damaged by moving the island.

xoxosmom: My mom has a counter-height bar with a 20" overhang so I'm going to set up some boxes under hers to mimic overhangs ranging from 9" to 12" and see if I can make do with something shorter than 12".

I appreciate your feedback and suggestions!


    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 8:21PM
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One thing you could do is widen the doorway from 9" to 10,11 or 12" or whatever you want, One way is to add molding on the FR side around the doorway, really thick molding, perhaps have some type of shelf above the doorway for displays or not.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 8:23PM
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Our raised breakfast bar has an overhang of 10". We are 5'8" and 5'3" and sit there comfortably. Our son is 6' and hasn't complained about hitting his knees.

Here is a picture:

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 9:15PM
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I don't see any problem with having the island stick into the doorway. Am I missing something? I'm assuming the flooring will be the same in both rooms? Are you going to have swivel stools, so people can converse easily both ways?

Your chairs/stools are going to be in the FR part regardless, so what's a few more inches of granite? (I'm assuming you aren't tight for space in the family room?) Our overhang is 12", and my belly hits the granite before my knees hit the peninsula underneath.

If you're worried about the transition, maybe paint that back wall of the kitchen doorway the same colour as the kitchen.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 9:33PM
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I may have missed it, but how wide is the FR doorway ?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 9:37PM
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Raehelen: I just assumed that the kitchen island should be within the kitchen. And when I realized it might bleed over into the family room, I began to worry that it would look strange.

Buehl: That doorway is really wide - maybe 17 feet, I think.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 9:51PM
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I agree with raehelen on this one.

Trust me, don't skimp on this. Hubby decided to (without my input) and I am rather unhappy with it. It's not functional in the least and just sits there as a junk collector.

If it comes to it, it's much easier to remove some of the granite than it would be to add more.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 10:10PM
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I also agree with Raehelen... Your FR doorway is so wide that even w/a 9' wide island overhanging into to it you'll still have 4' on each side...plenty of room for traffic. Also the fact that the doorway is so deep will also help you maintain a little bit of separation. So, don't skimp, go for the full overhang you had planned.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2008 at 10:50PM
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try hard, i think you should not forgo your breakfast bar or your ability to use it comfortably. if i understand the way you describe it, the 12 inch overhang will only protrude into the doorway, not the actual room, and then only by 3 inches. it really sounds fine to me.

unused, sitting there with stools tucked, i think it will be seen as the kitchen. whether you use the 9 or the 12, your actual bodies or backs of stools will probably graze the family room but so what? counters and bars are often transitional spaces to the next room anyway, and i think that either way it will be fine and you will enjoy it so go for the 12!

by the way, former owners of my house made the counter bar extend 11 inches which we find comfortable for knees. however, they removed the wall between kitchen and dining room and the entire counter protrudes the 11 inches into our small dining room which completely throws off the center of the room and makes the stools way too close to the dining table. i can't gut the whole space, so i live with it and really love using the counter bar.

your situation is far far better and i bet it will look fantastic.

good luck and let us know what you decided.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 5:37AM
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A big Thank You to everyone who took the time to respond to my post. I am going to stick with my original plan and not fret about the overhang being in the doorway.

It's funny - it seemed like such a big deal to me yesterday, but after sleeping on it and reading the feedback I got here, it's no longer feels like a major problem. Thank goodness I can relax about this and wait for the next crisis to come along...


    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 9:15AM
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