Kitchen Island Design – Bar Height or Counter Height?

We’ve all heard the saying that the kitchen is the heart of the home. The phrase might be overused but it rings true! We all gather in the kitchen whether we are entertaining a crowd, or just waiting on dinner with the family to be served. At the center of this all-important, go-to room is the kitchen island.

Our kitchen islands are the hub of life at home, whether it’s preparing your grandfather’s favorite rhubarb pie for his birthday, baking holiday cookies for the neighborhood cookie exchange, or just making your favorite dish of macaroni and cheese for the kids, the kitchen island is where it all happens. Even when we aren’t cooking, we are hanging out at the island, doing homework, going through the mail, or dropping our keys and purses.  

Most new home floor plan designs include an eat-in kitchen with a kitchen island or peninsula. Browse the plan library of any new home builder and you are likely to find that the vast majority of kitchen designs include countertop seating.  The plans offered by Eastwood Homes are no different. Our homeowners love the functionality of built-in kitchen seating. Large kitchen islands with seating are a must-have in spacious kitchens, but even smaller spaces can make use of an eat-in peninsula space, which offers the additional seating similar to a free-standing island without the perimeter walkway requirement. 

While there is widespread consensus about the attraction of kitchen islands, there are two distinct types of kitchen islands with seating, and the right choice can cause debates during homebuying. So, which is better: counter-height islands or bar-height islands? Both options have their own advantages!

Counter Height

  • A large, flat island allows you to highlight the beauty of a piece of quartz or granite rather than dividing it up for different levels. This is the most common reason, we feel, that people choose counter-height islands!
  • A single-height eating area provides a clear line of sight, allowing the space to feel larger and more open.
  • Counter-height seating is definitely more comfortable for children and the elderly.
  • A large, flat surface allows more space to spread out for real life – homework projects, cookie decorating, reading the newspaper, searching the web, etc.

Bar Height

  • A raised bar helps to hide the clutter that generally gathers around the sink – like soap and sponges, and even dishes. This is the biggest proponent for bar-height islands!
  • A bar-height counter can help to create a definition of space between the kitchen and the rest of the home.
  • Bar-height counters are great for spreading out appetizers during a party.
  • Generally, if a breakfast table is positioned near the bar top, the chairs at the table will be at standard height. The height of the bar stools will provide a visually appealing variation.

We’ve chatted about this with our team, and we are torn. Many of us have lived in homes with both types of eat-in spaces. There is no hiding the fact that the bar-height islands or peninsulas do a great job of hiding those dishes in your sink and that bottle of dish soap that is sitting out. But the beauty of a large piece of uninterrupted quartz countertop is hard to ignore! Examples of both styles can be found in our photo gallery. 

In recent years, we have experienced more and more of our homebuyers who have requested the counter-height island or peninsula. This has become such a common request that we have actually begun offering counter-height peninsulas in our most popular floorplan, the Cypress, which previously only offered bar-height peninsulas.

We don’t have concrete proof, but we think the design trends are weighing in favor of the counter-height eat-in space, but that shouldn’t sway you from choosing what’s right for your home! So, which do you prefer? Which is right for your home and your lifestyle? What other pros and cons can you think of for each style? We would love to read your comments!


Ebony Clay

11/03/14 9:43am
I prefer counter height

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