With the rise of the island unit, the spur of germanic styling and the tall housing units sweeping across the internet like your morning toast and jam, there is one fallen hero of design that we are seeing a Da Vincian renaissance in, the humble breakfast bar.
Forget Thatcher, the great storm that Michael Fish completely missed or even the rise of American TV shows like Magnum P.I. and the A-Team; in the kitchen it was all about the breakfast bars.
Housing shapes and sizes in the 80s were getting smaller, kitchen space was a premium and we had yet to all discover the idea of knocking down walls like the current crop of builders who love at all costs to correct the misshapen rooms of another era with a hammer and plenty of steel supports!
The breakfast bar thus served as the dining area for couples and families for a more informal dining setting. For many it became the only dining surface, it combined the modern notions of space with the functionality of design. It was however limited, but today, we’ve come a long way.
Difference between a breakfast bar and an island unit
So the big question becomes, “what is the difference between a breakfast bar and an island unit?” and the answer is; a breakfast bar is traditionally connected to a kitchen in some form or another whilst and island unit is a stand alone feature which will, on most part, also contain storage and space to work on for food preparation.
However, a change is a foot. With more people opting for island units, they are having to look at additional ways that they can incorporate dining space into the mix.
“Island units as a feature are beautiful but sometimes they can be a budget eater, especially if you are trying to have a larger unit with more cabinet space and worktop areas as well as having to bring water and electricity to the space. . Let’s not forget an island unit should also only be considered if there is the space for such a feature so what a breakfast bar element can do is give you some of the design principles of an island unit without necessarily the cost of one either.” Stefano De Blasio
So what’s new?
One of the big changes that we have seen in recent years is the bridging of the breakfast bar with an island unit. Essentially, the eating area is either a split level feature where there are two choices of material on display, or there is a secondary, lower level where the breakfast bar is placed adjacent to the island unit at a lower level and incorporates a longer dining option.
The other big design feature that we have been using more of in our designs and one which is certainly more prominent in homes around the country let alone Cheshire, is where the breakfast bar splits a room by being added onto the back of a solid run of units.
This example below is a great way to demonstrate how the breakfast bar can be brought into a kitchen space and yet still find function to the rest of the design. The hob faces those that would be eating, the mixture of materials makes it inviting and peninsula unit is maximised to its fullest.
This other example shows that by maximising the space you have with the units in play, like this other peninsula item can make all the difference. The unit contains a wine fridge to the left hand side, whilst the overhanging breakfast area makes it more user friendly is a smaller space and keeps the dining room a feature of the home.
Bring in other areas of your kitchen
One of the essential features of a breakfast bar is how it can utilise dead space in a kitchen area. Take this example below. It has the hallmark quality of just being another shelving area. Instead the designer has created a functional space where people can go and eat a meal or have a coffee. Note how the curved design is also in-keeping with the rest of the kitchen design. Little details like this can make the most of the design space that you have available.
Extend your island, if you can
We spoke about how you should only have an island unit if your space called for it, well, if it does and if you can, have you thought about extending your worktop like the one in this example?
Now, not all homes have this as an option, but we think that you can take the concept and minimise the overall size of the unit and increase the run off for the breakfast area; concepts are just that, ideas that provide inspiration for you and with your ideas and vision can build up your own design elements.
Ideal locations for a breakfast bar?
You want to be able to incorporate a breakfast bar in spaces which either; fulfil a functional requirement – so if you can’t get an island unit in your kitchen, or choose not to have one or, you have “dead” space. This is a space which, left unused provides nothing for your kitchen as a design feature.
Think, under window areas, nooks and back facing walls which are used generally for shelving or storage. Having somewhere to sit where you can enjoy a meal or a cup of tea or coffee is always a bonus, especially when we’re placing so much time into our homes and lives today.
What kind of breakfast bar interests you? What would you like to see more of in kitchen design and breakfast bar units? Let us know.