The popularity of the open concept kitchen often means the inclusion of a kitchen island.
Kitchen Islands often include a dining bar and the Kitchen Dining Bar sees a lot of action in the course of a day.
It hosts breakfast, acts as a home office, provides a place for a quick lunch, keeps guests at bay and is the coveted spot during a party.
Because of this you need to get the design of the dining bar right and ensure you are safely supporting it.
Let’s have a look at the top 10 options for safely and aesthetically supporting a Kitchen Dining Bar.
To start our discussion on Kitchen Dining Bars we need to look at some design guidelines.
The first thing you want to do is decide how many diners you want to accommodate.
Each diner needs a minimum of 24″ of width to comfortably sit at a counter. That means you will need a minimum of 96″ of space for 4 diners.
Depending on the height of the dining bar you will need different counter overhang depths.
I always suggest designers sit in a chair, a 24″ high stool and a 30″ high stool to visualize how much leg room is needed. This way you will not be tempted to “cheat” the overhang space.
If the dining bar is at the 30″ to 32″ high table height you need to provide a minimum of 18″ of counter depth.
If the dining bar is at the 36″ high counter height a 15″ deep overhang is needed, and if the bar top is at the 42″ height a minimum of 12″ depth needs to be provided.
If you are working on a design that incorporates Universal Design, plan the dining bar for all users by specifying a 28″ to 34″ high counter with 18″ of overhand depth and 30″ to 36″ of width.
The last thing you want to consider in the initial specifying of a dining bar is the clearance behind it to a wall or a piece of furniture.
As the chart above shows 32″ to 60″ of clearance will give varying degrees of passage space. Choose the one most appropriate for your client’s kitchen.
For more information on Kitchen Design Guidelines check out our course A Beginners Guide to Kitchen Design.
I wanted to start with showing these guidelines and clearances because I have seen many new kitchens lately that are “breaking” the rules.
When not enough depth or width is allocated to the dining bar it becomes an uncomfortable place to sit at, even for a short amount of time.
Most of the “mistakes” I am seeing are in the design of dining bars at the 36″ high counter height.
In many cases only a 9″ or 12″ overhang is planned and often less than 24″ of width.
When not enough depth is planned, the back of the cabinetry will become damaged over time because the diner’s feet will not have enough room and will constantly be kicking the back of the island.
It is also uncomfortable to sit at a shallow overhang because your knees do not have enough room.
From an aesthetic point of view, the stools will always look out of proportion when the counter overhang is too shallow.
When not enough width is planned it becomes impossible for diners to get in or off a stool, especially if they are seated on one of the middle stools. It is just too tight!
The reason so many kitchens have inadequate dining bar depth at the 36″ high counter height really comes down to cost.
Most countertops can cantilever 12″ without any support so it has become a default spec to save the cost of a few support brackets.
This is too bad because first, the extra 3″ of depth will make a big difference in the comfort of the dining bar and second, there are some great solutions for dining bar supports on the market.
Let’s look at my top 10 choices for Dining Bar Support.
There are multiple off-the-shelf dining shelf brackets available in the market place.
These brackets are very functional but should be chosen with some aesthetics in mind.
First, match the wood species of the bracket to the rest of the cabinetry so that the bracket can be stained to match.
Second, match the shape of the bracket to other elements in the room.
For instance if you have a curved dining bar choose a curved dining shelf bracket.
If most of the lines in the room are geometric, go with an angled bracket.
For a more decorative approach search out carved corbels for counter supports.
Manufacturers of carved corbels have a variety of designs and sizes to choose from.
There are many wood species available so it is easy to match them to your cabinetry or millwork.
When going this route, increase the 24″ wide minimum by the width of the corbel to ensure you have enough room for each diner.
Square posts are a simple way to support the corner of a counter overhang.
They are often an economical choice that can also add style to your Kitchen Design.
They provide the most support at a corner of a counter overhang on an island or peninsula.
A nice detail to include is an apron running between the posts and between posts and the cabinetry.
A horizontal apron will elevate your design and provide a finishing touch.
Turned posts will add a decorative element to the support of your dining bar.
This type of support is often found in Country or Rustic inspired Kitchens, but can also work well in a Transitional décor style.
With the variety of choice in turned posts, look for one that works proportionately with the other elements in the room.
Avoid choosing one that is too thin.
If you are working on a grand Traditional style Kitchen, consider a carved post for dining bar support.
An elaborate carved post can become a focal point in the room and give the island a furniture feel.
Look for unique designs that produce one-of-a-kind looks for your client’s Dream Kitchen.
As an alternative to wood consider metal support brackets.
Metal brackets provide a lot of support within a narrow footprint.
Designs available include curved fluid lines as well as geometric angled shapes.
Match your metal brackets to your hardware finish for a coordinated look in your Kitchen Designs.
A counter can be well supported by extending the side gables of an island.
Ideally make the gable 2″ to 4″ thick so that it proportionality works with your size of your island.
This form of support is great for adding strength to the corner of the counter overhang.
If you have little ones running around you will appreciate the “wall” it produces, stopping accidents at toddler head level at that corner.
Similar to the extended gable is the counter waterfall support.
The counter edge that extends to the floor will provide added support for a counter overhang.
This is the perfect look for a Contemporary or Modern styled Kitchen Design.
Always check with your countertop fabricator to determine how far apart this type of support can be.
For some products there may still need to be additional bracket supports in the middle of a wide and/or deep dining bar overhang.
The support of a counter overhang is the ideal spot to introduce an artisan piece.
The style of the Kitchen you are designing could allow you to introduce a variety of looks.
Also consider different materials that could be used to fashion a support for a dining bar.
Above are some examples made from metal but what about a rustic piece of wood or an acrylic post?
With a bit of planning you could include a hidden support system.
These products are made from metal and are installed prior to the countertop being installed.
This option will produce a very streamlined look and allow the overhang to meet the minimum 15″ depth or more.
If you are designing a floating countertop look this would be the solution.
As illustrated with my top 10 forms of support for dining bars, there is no excuse for undersized overhangs.
By paying attention to this detail your will be offering your client functionality for their dining bar along with a great aesthetic look.
I would love to see your dining bar support solutions. Please drop a pic into the comments below.
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Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.