When designing a bar, it's important to consider the space, personal preferences and even safety. In general, the standard bar height is 42 inches, but kitchen bar height does vary. Some bars are 36 inches high — the height of a regular kitchen counter — while others feature a raised element that brings part of the counter up to the standard bar height. If adding a wet bar, they're always built at the standard bar counter height of 42 inches, regardless of the space.
Standard Bar and Counter Heights
Whether in your kitchen, the basement or a local pub, standard bar height remains the same: 42 inches. This height is ideal for those who prefer to stand while they eat or have a drink as well as those who would like to sit on a stool or chair. It also works well for parents who'd like to chat with their children while they make breakfast and lunch for the day, to create an illusion of space when entertaining as guests can socialize at the bar while you cook and to provide colleagues the opportunity to enjoy a casual lunch together in the office break room.
Raised and Extended Counters
Because the bar counter height is 6 inches taller than the standard counter height of 36 inches, designers will typically raise a portion of the kitchen counter to accommodate this height. Commonly referred to as a raised breakfast bar, one of the biggest benefits of raising the bar is it helps block the view of food prep and cooking mess in an open floor plan. Parents with young children may choose a raised bar as it can prevent those little arms from reaching across the counter to touch a hot pot or cooktop.
Extended counters are another option for kitchen bars. Instead of raising the counter height, the kitchen counter remains at the standard counter height and is extended, creating an overhang that allows for seating. This creates one level surface for two cooks to share the workspace and guests to be face-to-face with the host as they prepare food or drinks.
Parents of young children may prefer extending the counter to raising a counter height. When extended far enough, it provides extra space between their children and hot pots and cooktops. Using the standard counter height also means shorter stools or chairs, making it easier for young children to safely climb.
Wet Bar Height
By definition, a wet bar is one that includes a sink with running water. This makes it simpler to create and serve drinks near your guests. It also allows for quick clean up. While wet bars can be found in kitchens, they can also be located in a living room or basement. Wet bars are the standard bar height of 42 inches.
Wet bars also serve as a place to store food and drink items. Cabinets often hold a variety of glassware, beverages and bar snacks. Depending on the size of the bar, some may also store silverware, plates, napkins and cleaning products. Wet bars often include a small wine or regular fridge to keep beverages cold. In large spaces, wet bars may be designed as an L or a U shape, while in small spaces they tend to be flush to the wall.
Barstool height does vary, depending on if the bar is standard bar height or counter height. Regular kitchen chairs won't work at a bar regardless of the height because they're typically designed for a 30-inch surface. When purchasing stools, don't overcrowd the space. Make sure there's a space of 26 to 30 inches from the center of one stool to the next.
Stools that are considered counter height should have a seat around 24 inches high to fit properly under a standard 36-inch counter. For the standard bar height of 42 inches, the seat of a barstool should be around 30 inches. At both of these heights, stools should easily slide in and out. If you prefer more of a "belly-up-to-the-bar" style often found in pubs, choose a stool with a seat that's 40 inches high.