How can I design my kitchen so that I can attach my bar table to a kitchen counter in the most architectural sense?
I have an enclosed galley kitchen and want to open one side of the wall, but may not want to make the open side entirely into a kitchen counter/bar. I’m concerned that the counter/bar table would look too big in comparison to the living room space. I think tha I prefer the end of the open side (1/3) to be a dining area or specifically an isolated bar table (furniture) that I’ve bought to be set right next to the kitchen counter/bar which extends more or less to the length of the opposite side…or for a variation. Some people and one architect friend has told me that this variation would look awkward to have a space (where the bar table/furniture sits) next to the counter/bar and I should really have a continuous kitchen counter/bar in symmetrical length to the opposite side. But I just don’t like the image of such a long kitchen counter that would seem to dominate my whole apt.
In fact, I would like the flexibility of having some kind of independent dining space next to the counter (if not the unattached bar table)…but I just don’t know if this makes architectural sense.
Also, the stove will be on the corner of the open side (other end of the bar table/furniture) and since I will not have one of those special vented stoves, a partial wall that goes up to the ceiling will still remain between the living room and kitchen which makes this project trickier. On the (partial) open side, I will have a full wall (for the stove), then no wall or a low-wall for the counter and then a space for the bar table/furniture.
How can I design my kitchen so it is not so awkward? How far should the stove wall extend to make the design less awkward, if it would help…as far as the end of counter? Even if I had borders (soffits) wrapping around the top of my kitchen to separate the kitchen and living room space, does it not solve the ’strange’ space next to the counter? Would installing a post between the counter and bar table/furniture, creating a large window help? Do I still need the border? What are my alternatives? Just FYI, the entrance to the kitchen is on the predesignated bar table/furniture side and currently I have a closet in place of the ideal bar table/dining area which the door opens up in the living room that I am knocking down when I open up the kitchen. Thanks.
In the first place, there isn’t a right answer to this question. Each options has it’s pro’s & con’s and in large respect it’s a personal decision driven primarily by your aesthetic sense and how you imagine using the space. I’ve illustrated 2 options. Option 1 eliminates the closet, opens the kitchen up from just beyond the stove (leaving a 36″ wall) and provides an eating bar along the remaining 98″. Option 2 does the same thing except that the eating bar is only 57″ long and the remaining space is open for a small dining table. The illustration shows a 36″ square table.
Option 1 is the typical option. Generally speaking, I think most people would do it that way and that’s probably what I would advise. This option has a number of good design qualities. It provides a hard division between the kitchen and the living area (while still remaining open). It provides a stonger definition of the kitchen. Especially with respect to the refrigerator, without the bar in front of it, it becomes open to the living area, perhaps even feeling like it isn’t within the kitchen. This is a subtle aesthetic point, but I prefer the refrigerator to be obviously contained in the kitchen. Any open plan raises this issue. Also, if the bar ends at the edge of the fridge it provides further definition of the walk way between the stairs and the kitchen. That definition get’s blurred with the shorter bar. One further issue with regard to space definition, you need to consider the flooring. If you have carpeting in the living area then you end up with a challenge of where to terminate the carpet and start the kitchen flooring.
Your question suggested that you thought that option 2 might be more flexible, but I think the opposite is the case. The larger bar can be used both for food preparation and for eating. The space provided for a small table could only be used for that. The larger bar also makes the kitchen feel larger to me. Look at the 2 illustrations side by side and see what you think. Is an 8′ bar too large for a kitchen that’s 11′ long? I don’t think so. The illustrations don’t give you the impression that the longer bar is out of proportion with the space.
Another benefit of the longer bar is that the eating area is entirely out of the food preparation & passage way traffic areas. The dining table shown in option 2 ends up with seating in the kitchen and or hallway.
Regardless of the option you choose I’d make the wall that hides the stove 36″ wide and I’d continue that wall below the counter top/bar to the end of the cabinetry. That also adds to the definition of the living area by providing a “living” type wall surface at the bar. It’s also probably a little less expensive. I don’t think I would put soffits above the cabinetry. It’s often a good idea, especially in larger spaces but in smaller spaces it can enclose the space too much. Something you can do to provide definition from the ceiling would be to drop some small pendant lights over the bar. They make a great transparent division of space. Again, because of the size of the spaces I wouldn’t put a floor to ceiling end on the bar. I don’t think you need either a wall or a post at the edge of the cabinetry.
In any case, the decision to have a 5′ bar with the remaining space for a small table isn’t a bad one. It just blurs the division of traffic and space. You should do what you think works for you. Now if you’re planning on selling this soon, don’t personalize it that much and install what would be typical. I think most people would prefer the longer bar.
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