How to build and decorate a breakfast bar

Breakfast bars offer convenience for sitting, snacking and socialising in the kitchen. This type of feature is often popular because it gives the person working in the kitchen an opportunity to chat while working, so they don't feel isolated or away from family and friends. The bar should be deep enough for a place mat and wide enough for at least two stools. There should be room under the bar to sit comfortably so the knees don't bump the wall. Breakfast bars can be decorated with a condiment dispenser that holds napkins and salt and pepper shakers or perhaps with a big decorative biscuit barrel. Decor should be functional, cheerful and casual.

Measure an open kitchen wall for the breakfast bar. The bar should be 105 cm (42 inches) high from the floor and at least 140 cm (48 inches) wide for two stools. There should be at least 90 cm (36 inches) between the bar worktop edge and any obstacle. This allows for walking room past the bar area.

Move a stud finder across the wall and locate all of the studs within the length of the bar top. Mark each stud location in pencil on the wall with an arrow. Measure up from the floor 105 cm (42 inches) and mark for the top of the worktop. Use a level to draw a horizontal line across the wall, the length of the new worktop.

Select two corbels per every 90 cm (36 inches) of worktop. A corbel is a decorative shelf bracket. Measure 3.7 cm (1 1/2 inches) down from your top of worktop line and draw a second parallel line. Mount corbels evenly spaced so that the top support edge of the corbel is even with the bottom line. Use long wood screws and screw directly into the studs in the wall.

Cut 2.5 by 5 cm (1 by 2 inch) boards starting 5 cm (1 inch) from each end of your breakfast bar. Measure 5 cm (1 inch) from the end to the first corbel. Cut and screw the board into the wall along the bottom line. Measure and cut and install a board between each corbel and from the last corbel to 5 cm (1 inch) from the end. These will act as support ledgers to the back of the bar.

Cut 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) plywood 2.5 cm (1 inch) smaller in depth and 5 cm (2 inches) smaller in length of the finished worktop. Screw the plywood down into the ledger at the back and up through the corbel. Use pilot holes to prevent splitting the wood. Apply construction adhesive to the top of the plywood. Position the worktop centred on the length of the plywood and against the wall. Screw up through the plywood into the bottom of the worktop using 1.8 cm (3/4 inch) screws.

Paint or stain your corbels to match your kitchen decor. Apply a bead of caulk along the back edge of the worktop to hide the seam at the wall. Decorate the top of the breakfast bar with ceramic or stainless steel condiment systems that hold napkins and salt and pepper. Position placemats in front of each seating area. Add a large festive biscuit barrel to welcome guests. Add cushions to your stools to match the curtains or other fabrics in the room.


Mount a wood box (imitating a short wall) along the back of a peninsula or island base cabinet. Screw and glue it from the underside of the worktop. Attach plywood and corbels to the wood wall similar to the steps above and attach the worktop with glue and screws from the underside. Paint out your wood wall to match your corbels and kitchen. This will allow you to mount a breakfast-height bar to the back of your existing open worktop spaces.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Corbels
  • Long screws
  • Screwdriver
  • 2.5 by 5 cm (1 by 2 inch) board
  • Screws
  • 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) plywood
  • Construction adhesive
  • Paint or stain
  • Worktop (laminate or wood)
  • Caulk
  • Condiment tray
  • Place mats
  • Biscuit barrel
  • Cushions
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About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.