As the early-morning sun gently peers through your sheer linen curtains, you slowly rouse from your deep slumber, stretch luxuriously and step out of bed into soft-as-clouds slippers. As you adjust your floral kimono in the name of modesty and pad down the hallway, the aromas of fresh coffee and your go-to breakfast meal mingle and waft out of the kitchen. You settle down at the breakfast bar where your morning feast and favourite magazine awaits, topping off your idyllic morning routine.
Or perhaps your morning routine is significantly crazier than that. It might involve herding kids like they’re cats and trying to get breakfast down their throats fast enough that they make it to school only 10 minutes late this time. You’re preparing three sets of lunches but you need to check three sets of homework and make sure three sets of towels have been packed for after-school swimming lessons too. A breakfast bar would make all of this much easier to manage, except whoever built this house erected walls everywhere.
A breakfast bar adds both style and functionality to any home, for any type of family. Whether you want to create a morning oasis, start a tradition where your whole family sits and eats together every morning or simply make it easier to keep an eye on the kids, a breakfast bar ticks all those boxes.
Just because ‘breakfast’ is in the name, though, doesn’t mean breakfast is the only time of the day you can use it. A bar that’s attached to your kitchen bench might come in handy when your kids are doing homework while you cook dinner. Sliding windows from your kitchen to your outdoor entertainment area can double as a servery. Stools near the kitchen invite friends to relax while you pour mix them a sneaky mid-afternoon G&T.
Of course, what kind of breakfast bar you choose depends on how much money you’ve got to spend and what you want to do with it. Here are a few options to suit basic, mid-range and high-end budgets.
How much will a breakfast bar/kitchen island cost on a basic budget?
Auckland Refresh Renovations franchisee Corey Rambhai says an easy and affordable way to add more room and the sense of togetherness a breakfast bar brings to a kitchen is to simply extend an existing kitchen island or bench. “You could connect a standard breakfast bar to your bench, make it L-shaped, G-shaped, make it the same height, or raise it to fit higher stools or additional storage under it,” says Rambhai.
For a mobile option, an island on castor wheels is a good option. “A mobile island creates more flexibility in a kitchen when there’s limited space, then homeowners can move the island to open up the space when they have guests,” he says. Drawbacks include not easily being able to have power on the island.
On the bright side, store-bought portable kitchen islands start from a very affordable $500 - $1000.
Not sold on the industrial look of castor wheels? Simply buying a small, round kitchen table and popping some casual yet comfortable chairs around it will help to create that family atmosphere at the bottom end of the budget - around $200 from Mitre 10. Longer, rectangular tables are just as easy an option for larger families - teakwood models start from around $1,200. One of a kind, handmade portable New Zealand kitchen islands can be purchased from $2,300+.
Adding a leaner to an existing sliding window improve indoor/outdoor flow while incorporating a breakfast bar into your kitchen or dining spaces. Prices start from approximately $1,500.
“A leaner is a great way to make more of an outdoor space while creating an intimate, relaxing indoor area,” says Rambhai. “You can treat the combination of the window and bar like a servery too, which makes it easier to pass things in and out from the kitchen.” On the inside, add a bench that’s deep enough to fit a bowl of muesli, your choice of morning brew and the morning paper (don’t forget to check that your stools fit comfortably underneath while someone is sitting on them). On the outside add another bench that enables you to conveniently connect your indoor living spaces with your outdoor entertainment area.
Taking down a wall in an older-style galley-type kitchen will help to open up your living and dining spaces too. If your cooktops are on this side, be careful not to position stools close enough for little hands to get scalded.
Basic breakfast bar costs
From approx. $200 - $2,300, excludes installation.
How much will a breakfast bar/kitchen island cost on a mid-range budget?
If you’ve got the room, adding a permanent island to your kitchen is a great way to increase bench space as well as encourage the family to congregate. If you’re using an existing kitchen space to create an island, you probably don’t need council consent which makes this type of renovation much simpler.
Higher quality, permanent kitchen island installations, including benchtops and sinks, are likely to start from around $13,000. Renovation specialist Dominic Hollands adds that if the flooring is concrete, there will a be large additional costs should the flooring need to be ripped up and redone for plumbing access purposes. Many people will choose to install a kitchen island as part of a larger kitchen renovation project - with many kitchen renovations starting from around $40,000.
Mid-range breakfast bar costs
From $13,000, includes installation.
How much does a high-end breakfast bar/kitchen island cost?
If money is no object or you simply have a bigger budget, a full kitchen renovation that incorporates a breakfast bar and outdoor leaner combo could be a great option. Prices vary depending on what supplier you use, if you design your own through a kit-set company or if you hire a kitchen architect to design it for you. A full kitchen reno doesn’t usually need council consent if you’re not moving walls or windows.
Usually, those on a high-end budget will opt for a custom made breakfast bar with a luxury benchtop. Engineered stone is a popular benchtop choice, coming in at around $700 per m2. Granite is another benchtop option, starting from around $4,500 for a slab. On top of that you will need to consider the cabinetry, design costs and labour involved.
If you’re mostly happy with your existing kitchen but you want to take it to another level, adding sliding windows to create an outside leaner is a great option. If you’re adding windows or fiddling with exterior walls you’ll need council consent, so tread carefully.
High-end breakfast bar costs
Prices vary for custom made breakfast bars
Which Works for You?
Not sure which breakfast bar option would work best for your lifestyle? Before you even think about smashing that sledgehammer into that wall, think carefully about what you want most out of the final result.
If you’re giving up storage to put stools underneath an island, make sure you’ve got enough storage elsewhere. If you want to incorporate power plugs, USB ports, the stovetop or your sink into your island, a mobile bench isn’t going to work.
Think too about lighting. Pendants might look pretty, but if your kids are going to use the space to do their homework while you cook dinner, task lighting or a mix of the two might be a good solution.
Looking for inspiration?
Make sure you check out our completed kitchen renovations to get an idea of your kitchen island options. For further advice, book in a free consultation.
Note: The costs within this article are approximate estimates only and are subject to change. For a cost estimate accurate to your specific project, please consult your local renovation specialist. All prices exclude installation unless otherwise stated.
All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.