If you were around in the 80’s, you couldn’t escape the design trend that swept the kitchen design scene; the breakfast bar.

That’s right, the humble breakfast bar was where “it” was all happening. We’re not sure what “it” was, for many, like ourselves, it was a place you could sit, eat and be part of the kitchen at the same time. Space was a limited commodity then, as in the 70’s and the 60’s, but today’s modern living and fascination with knocking down walls and sticking in an Island unit has left the understated dining champion out on a loose end a little.

Or has it? Has the idea of what the breakfast bar was really intended to do just transformed? Are we seeing it’s evolution today compared to when we became besotted with the notion that the dining area can be part of the kitchen and not a separate entity?

Let’s take a closer look at the unsung hero, the breakfast bar.

We used to dine in the dining room
Yes, from morning to evening meal, we used to actually use a space called a dining room. Look at houses constructed anywhere around King George’s reign and the prevalence of having a separate dining area is there for everyone to see.

The dining room would be a family place to eat and a chance to show off your finest cutlery at an evening soiree or on a Sunday roast when family or friends would come round.

But things started to change, both domestically and socially. From people having more time constraints to technology becoming cheaper, more portable and easier to install, the kitchen was no longer where food was being cooked but a place to actually enjoy it as well.


What we ate started to change as well
It wasn’t until the late 70’s that a breakfast bar became a thing, well, not in design terms anyway. It was a space that was set out in kitchen design to house at best three people, four if you were lucky to have the space, but it’s purpose was simple; for people on the move, somewhere where they could sit and eat.

We weren’t looking at breakfast the same way either. We stopped eating large breakfast meals and started focusing on quick fixes. Cereals and toast started to gain masses of popularity because companies stated to do targeted product inventions; a cereal for your children, a cereal for the teenager, one for the mother, the father and heck, even guests.

The 90’s saw rise to the pop tarts, cereal breakfast bars, compact coffee machines, smaller microwaves and blenders became countertop steadfasts.

Where we sat became important
Thus, the breakfast bar was created. Out of necessity, out of design requirements and out of the fact that the materials were now available to create these masterpieces.

We had the worktops and then suddenly we had the kinds of chairs that were needed to enjoy the new space to eat at. No longer were we rushing food from one area to another, we could sit, eat – quickly – our breakfasts, enjoy a tea or coffee and not have to worry about cleaning up another room.

Over time, the breakfast bar started to replace the dining room. Disjointed eating times and lack of space meant that if you had a dining room, you were lucky. The breakfast bar was either essential or a commodity worth investing in.

Modern day design
In some ways, now, thanks to the island unit we think that the breakfast bar is dead. Actually, if anything, the breakfast bar is alive, just that it is designed differently to what we had in the 80’s and 90’s.

Before, the breakfast bar was a peninsula unit, now it is an island unit feature. There is no escaping the evolution. From the time limits we have today, compared to not that long ago, we are taking more time to cook, to eat together to have more social interaction all within the kitchen. The island unit has done this naturally, getting people to sit, eat, talk.

It’s what the breakfast bar did. Today it has a different name because it is slightly bigger, more fashionable as a term but the breakfast bar is far from dead. It’s been re-designed, re-developed and re-invented.

The breakfast bar has been re-branded for want of a better term. Is that such a bad thing? No, because it gets you enjoying your kitchen, and for that all we can say is, bravo to the modest, yet brilliant breakfast bar.

modern island

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