When it Comes To Countertop Design Raised Bars Are A Thing Of The Past

The Problem With A Raised Bar Countertop Design

The kitchen island is one of the most requested elements for homeowners when we're designing a new kitchen. It's a functional addition to the kitchen space giving homeowners a place to prep meals, meet for breakfast, and it's the perfect place for doing homework with the kids. In fact, if the kitchen is the heart of the home, the island is the heart of the kitchen!

Replacing an outdated Raised Bar Countertop Design

With the rise in the trend of open concept living, countertop design and the kitchen island has taken on even more significance. As the kitchen became a part of the home's entertaining space in an open concept, a large kitchen island is a great way to delineate the kitchen area from your living space.

When islands became popular, the trend was separating the cooktop out and placing it on the island, then using the under-counter storage for pots and pans. The cooktop became an extension of the traditional kitchen working triangle. Today, the trend has changed to placing the sink and dishwasher into the island so you can face your guests as you clean and prep meals. Think about it... we spend most of our time in the kitchen preparing meals and cleaning. Shifting these appliances to the island added socializing back into the mix.

Two-tiered Countertop Design

For a while, the two-tiered island became a trend. With an upper countertop installed for bar stool height dining, homeowners also liked the visual shield that the upper level provided between the kitchen and the living area.

But as the trend began to grow, homeowners who had lived with the design for a while began to have some issues. The problem with two-tiered countertop design was that unless you had enough space to create a full-sized workspace, the top shelf often stole space from the prep area around the cooktop. Homeowners also found that they were often left with a long skinny shelf that wasn't really comfortable for dining, and very little usable counter space.

Today most homeowners opt for a single level countertop design for its versatility. The island is a key element in the kitchen, and even more so in an open concept home. An island gives you prep space for meals, an eat-in kitchen for quick meals, and a buffet and wet bar when entertaining. It's where you gather to catch up on each others day, and where the kids do their homework while dinner is being prepared.

Making A Change to Your Countertop Design

If you have a two-tiered island, you have options. For many homeowners, a kitchen remodeling is a once, maybe twice-in-a-lifetime project. So if after living with your new kitchen, maybe you feel like you “almost” got it right, but later felt that the design would offer more functionality with a few changes. Sometimes it's as easy as replacing the island with a more functional version.

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If you're unhappy aesthetically, redoing the kitchen island can help you to better tie the kitchen and living space together. Refinishing the cabinets a different color than the main cabinets, or upgrading the countertop from a solid surface to natural stone can improve not only the aesthetics but the functionality of the island. For example, if you love to bake, installing a marble countertop can give you the perfect work area for rolling dough. Or maybe you'd like a warmer look, try a butcher block countertop to up the warmth, and provide a great prep surface.

If you're happy with your kitchen flow and the size and placement of your island but opted for a two-tier design that you'd like to change, it's often possible to have your contractor come and cut down the shelf, refinish the base, and replace the countertop.

Cutting down the high bar can help open up visual space, giving you a more clear view of the living area or your family room. This would make your island a single surface that is standard countertop height. Replacing the countertop and leaving an overhang means that you still have seating for informal meals and homework. All you need to do is pull up a chair. You'll also gain usable prep space.

Working With Your Kitchen Designer

Whether you choose a new kitchen design, replace your entire island or alter your countertop design by cutting the high-shelf off of your two-tier island, work with a kitchen design professional. A kitchen design firm will be able to explain your options, discuss the cost of replacing your kitchen island and present a variety of materials and cabinet choices. They will make sure that any work performed is high-quality and that if you replace your island, it fits within your current design. If you're cutting down an existing island, make sure the contractor you choose can handle the finish work required.

Your kitchen island is a major element in your kitchen design, and can also serve to help define your living space. It's functional can help the flow of your living space, and give you plenty of prep space in the kitchen. Reinstalling, refinishing, or replacing your existing island to create a more functional kitchen can be a smart investment.

If you're planning a kitchen remodeling project in the greater Tuscaloosa, Alabama area, give the experts at Toulmin Cabinetry & Design a call at (205) 366-0807. We can help you update your island, or work with you to design your dream kitchen. Call for a free, no-obligation consultation today!

View Kitchen Island Countertop Designs in Our Kitchen Portfolio