Choosing the correct bar overhang is a complicated decision. A lot more goes into it than many people expect, and getting it wrong can make your kitchen makeover essentially pointless, as you won’t be able to use your kitchen island!
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What is an overhang?
An overhang is where a surface extends past its support beams and into empty space. Most kitchen countertops have a small overhang, and kitchen islands have larger overhangs. Purpose-built bars also have overhangs to allow sitting space.
Many people choose to create an overhang by extending the counter of a kitchen island so that their kitchen has a breakfast bar, providing them with a seating area in the kitchen that they can use for mealtimes or food preparation.
Choosing the correct bar overhang
When doing a kitchen makeover or designing a bar for your home, there are a number of things that you need to consider in order to get your overhang just right.
What will you use it for?
Are you creating a home bar? Will you ever need to eat there? Perhaps you’re creating a kitchen island to make your kitchen space a bit more practical. Breakfast bars are a great way to make your kitchen more sociable, after all. The purpose of your overhang will dictate a lot about what size you need, which in turn will impact the other decisions you make about your overhang.
If you’re hoping to use your overhang as a breakfast bar, therefore will be regularly eating at it and will be sitting at bar stools whilst you do so, you need at least a 10-inch overhang. This allows enough space for your knees on the stools beneath the overhang and enough space between your torso and the overhang for you to be comfortable whilst you eat.
If you are building a bar in a mancave or garden, you are unlikely to need quite as much space since you don’t really need to be able to eat off of a bar. However, it is still recommended to get at least an 8-inch overhang, as otherwise, you won’t be able to put your knees beneath the surface and instead will hit your knees on the sides.
How much space do you have?
Certain aspects of your new project will depend on the size of your space. If you’re building a breakfast bar, you will need to consider your kitchen size. Obviously, if you have a smaller kitchen, you won’t be able to put a larger overhang in. Smaller spaces require smaller overhangs and vice versa. However, if you have the means, you could rearrange a small kitchen in order to make adequate space for a kitchen island or breakfast bar.
For smaller kitchens, it is also important to consider that installing a breakfast bar or a kitchen island will involve removing a kitchen cabinet or two. Losing storage in your kitchen can be quite frustrating, so this is something to ensure that you plan for prior to finishing the kitchen makeover.
Larger kitchens will generally have less of an issue installing a kitchen island or breakfast bar but may need to consider where they decide to extend their countertops. Placing bar stools and an overhang in the wrong bit of a large kitchen could be inconvenient and could block the flow of the room.
Does your overhang require support?
The longer you make your overhang, the more likely it is to need some kind of support, although this does depend on the material used to create the counter overhang. Generally speaking, overhangs longer than 12 inches are likely to need some kind of support. This helps to prevent the overhang from drooping or breaking, especially when used.
Supports for overhangs can be as simple as two brackets attached beneath to provide some weight-bearing support, or more extreme like legs or sides. There are creative ways to implement supports for your overhang to ensure that your breakfast bar still looks as sleek and stylish as possible whilst extending the bar area out as much as you wish.
Certain materials are more likely to need support, for example, granite is known to have quite a weak thickness strength. This means that the material may be a few inches thick, but it is unlikely to hold at longer than 11 or 12 inches without supports.
You should also consider the intended use of your overhang again when deciding whether to install supports. If you intend to place numerous appliances on your overhang like a coffee machine, air fryer or anything else, you are going to want to install something to support the weight.
How tall should your overhang be?
If you are simply extending a pre-existing countertop you may not be able to change the height of your overhang when doing your kitchen makeover. But for those installing a home bar or creating a breakfast bar from scratch, you can decide what height to have your bar built at, and subsequently the height of your overhang.
The ideal overhang will be taller than the bar stools you choose to use and will have enough room for your thighs to sit between the stool and the countertop. This is the best way to ensure that you’ve got comfortable seating.
You might also find that the taller your overhang is, the smaller you can make it without sacrificing comfort. This is due to the way taller bar stools are designed, forcing the sitter into a more upright position and allowing you to better access the top of your bar or kitchen island without having to lean forward as much.
The standard height for kitchen islands is 36 inches. For breakfast bars, it is 42 inches; this is the same height as the average bar.