Change kitchen/family room bar to counter height?

Ntr8April 14, 2014

We currently have a small bar area between the kitchen and the family room as can been seen below. We have finally begun the process of changing out the bright blue counters with granite (considering typhoon bordeaux or colonial cream). With speaking to our contractor, the idea was raised of dropping the bar to counter height so as to be one plane back from the sink. My wife really likes the idea, thinking it will help open up the kitchen to the living room, because despite the glass cabinets unless you are tall the bottom trim is right at eye level. I have two concerns with this, first that the cabinets over the sink are positioned to reflect the elevation change of the bar and would that look odd with it? And second, I think the bar hides some of the sink sundries such as soap, sponges, dishes, etc. that tend to collect around it.

Any thoughts or words of advice? I know many people have similar setups to the proposal with an island, but with the cabinets above it I don't know if that changes the aesthetic. Also, it if factors in we have four young children (ages 1 - 7) who would be able to get up and down with a counter height stool easier than the bard stools we currently have.

This post was edited by Ntr8 on Mon, Apr 14, 14 at 15:25

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A couple of more views to illustrate the currently layout. BTW, these photos are from prior to us moving in so the wall and floor colors are different now.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 2:04PM
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Last image.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 2:05PM
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I'll bet there are duplex receptacles in the backsplash which have to be properly terminated/replaced.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 2:06PM
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I think the counter height is more functional, I don't think it will change the aesthetic much of the upper cabinets. If you put the dish soap in a decorative jar, some think like oil would be in with a pour spout, it doesn't look so bad. A tilt out in front of the sink could hold sponges/scrubbies etc.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 2:20PM
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Oops, made my last comment before the latest pictures went up. Looks like the duplex is on the cabinet side.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 2:24PM
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@tre - As you noticed, there are no outlets under the bar or on the backsplash so nothing to worry about there.

@jread - Good idea for the tilt out.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 3:26PM
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I think if I wanted to open the space, I'd take the upper cabinets and soffits out.

Then, I'd decide if I wanted bar height or counter height. It is strange to me that it just stops. I'd want it all one way or the other, all the way around.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 3:31PM
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It can't carry all the way around due to clearance issues with the corner between dinette and f.r. (can be seen in 3rd photo). It would make it a tight squeeze back there. Also, if we took down the cabinets, we'd have virtually no cabinet space for dinner ware. It could be done, but wouldn't be practical. Or at least, less practical then it is now. :)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 3:45PM
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Yes, I think you should lower the bar to make it counter height. It will be easier for your children to sit at the stools...just make sure the stools are heavy enough on the bottom that they're not 'tippy'. Metal stools are often nice for this reason :)

Also, I think the granite is going to look wonderful!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 3:51PM
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Well, I always have a few dirty dishes hanging out next to my sink in addition to my dish cloth and dish soap. So I would prefer to keep the higher level to help hide those things. But you all may be much tidier than I am!

It would be nice for the kids to climb up easier, but that's a pretty short lived concern.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 4:08PM
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I see what you mean about the upper cabinet height and I'm sure the reason it was built this way was to hide the sink.
If it were me, I would leave the bar height. With the sink exposed, you have to be very fastidious about keeping it clean or it will look cluttered all the time. Also, the upper cabinets staggered height would look, I think, bizarre.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 4:57PM
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I am just not a fan of raised bars. Noone likes to sit at them, so they are there for the sole purpose of hiding kitchen clutter. I'd rather just keep the kitchen a little neater, and frankly, I think the benefits of a one-level space way outweigh the benefits of hiding clutter (also, I find raised bars to be their own clutter-magnets - instead of dirty dishes, it's mail and purses and other detritus). Had two raised bars in my previous home - we tore out both when we redid that kitchen. We now have an open-space lr-dr-kitchen, one-level island and I like it so much better.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 5:02PM
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We have a U-shaped kitchen, open to the dining room, with the sink at the end. Anything on the counters near the sink is visible from the dining room. The only time things tend to get piled up near the sink is if we can't put dirty dishes in the DW, because it's full of clean dishes. That situation never lasts too long.

Anything more than that (needs to be hand washed, too lazy to open the DW) can easily hide in the sink. We love our sink tip-out for scrubbies, and hang our dishcloth in the sink (scroll down to the bottom of the attached link).

Here is a link that might be useful: dishcloth solution

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 5:43PM
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I don't suppose the cabinets are all of the same width? If so, you might be able to rearrange them so that you have the middles "higher" than the outers, and then have the counter all the same height. If you are sticking with the cabinets as is, I think I'd keep the bar. It will just look strange otherwise, imo.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 6:08PM
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Thinking about this so more and doing research into other designs, I have found that it is not uncommon to raise the cabinet height over sinks to provide more clearance. I think we do the counter height extension and remove the bar, it will still look as if it was designed that way to allow sink clearance. I hope they don't mind, but I borrowed a photo from numbersjunkie to illustrate the principle. That being said, we are leaning towards lowering it. Thanks to everyone for the help.

This post was edited by Ntr8 on Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 18:19

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 6:18PM
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Just addressing the counter vrs bar height - IMHO if you make it counter height - won't it end up lookinglike you actually have two islands?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 10:30AM
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I had an island and a peninsula in my old house and they were both counter height (after I tore out the bi-level on both). Loved them.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 11:34AM
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