If you’re looking to expand your seating set-up or give yourself a more obvious place to entertain, a kitchen bar can be a great way to do it. And since no bar is complete without a couple of chic bar stools, a kitchen bar gives you the opportunity to bring a pop of color, texture, or visual flair into your space, too.
Of course, there are many different ways to bring a kitchen bar into your space. You could add a kitchen island, reimagine some of the countertops you already have, or spring for a full-blown renovation. But remember, as long as you have a couple places to sit—and room to eat or drink—you should have everything you need to make a kitchen bar happen.
Take a look at some of the prettiest kitchen bars we've ever seen and consider some design ideas you could bring into your own space. You’ll be glad you put in the work the next time you’re chowing down at your eat-in kitchen—or hosting a wine night at your new bar.
Pick a Palette That Wows
Kitchen bars provide an opportunity to have fun with your décor. They’re typically made up of three pieces—your bar, your bar stools, and the lighting above your bar—so you have several different elements to play with.
You can paint your bar a bold color and choose bar stools that complement it. Or, you can use lighting fixtures to introduce a pop of color to your space. Options are abound, so feel free to take a risk or two.
Set the Tone With Your Backsplash
Kitchen bars tend to be pretty short, and the first thing anyone will see when looking at your kitchen is the sink and the backsplash behind it. To set the tone for the rest of your space, invest in a backsplash and sink combination that feels right for both your kitchen and your bar.
Remember, you can always use your bar stools to bring some flare to your décor.
Bring Your Own Bar
Many kitchens come without built-in bars—meaning if you want the extra seating, you’ll have to create your own. Thankfully, there are tons of sleek kitchen islands to invest in that serve this purpose exactly.
Snag one that suits your space and paint it to match your cabinets, or leave it as is and take advantage of the aesthetic contrast it offers.
Make the Most of Exposed Shelving
If your kitchen is lined with exposed shelves, remember that every item you place on those shelves will effectively double as décor. Use this built-in storage to set the mood in your space.
If you want your kitchen bar to really feel like a bar, line your shelves with martini glasses, pretty bottles of booze, or whatever else you want your bar to serve. Your stocked bar not only will look gorgeous, but is at the ready for your next cocktail party.
Play With Different Seating Arrangements
Most rectangular bars are lined with stools that span one side of the bar. This helps free up space in the kitchen and makes the room feel a little more defined. But, there’s no reason you have to put your stools there.
Depending on how your kitchen is laid out, it could make just as much sense to place three stools at the end of your bar facing each other. Find the best layout for your space and go with it.
Line Your Bar With Fun Tile
Kitchen bars are a great place to have a little fun. One popular move is to paint your bar a vibrant color, but you could take a slightly less expected approach and line it with bold tile instead. You could match the tile to your backsplash or pick a complementary set. Either way, you’re in for a statement-maker.
Build Suggested Boundaries
If you’re decorating an open-concept space, you may want to create some visual separation between your bar and your dining room. One great way to do this is to match your bar to the rest of your kitchen and let your dining room look a little different.
You can use pillars and other structures to establish your bar area without actually closing off your space. Take a good, long look at the space you’re working with, and let it inspire your design choices.
Have Fun With Color
It’s common practice to paint your bar to match your kitchen cabinets. But, if you wanted to shake things up a little, you could paint them slightly different shades of the same color. Paint your bar navy and your kitchen cabinets light blue, or opt for a different monochromatic palette.
Remember that a darker shade will hold more visual weight, so your space will feel more balanced if you use it on a smaller feature like a bar.
Invest in Bold Bar Stools
No bar is complete without a handful of bar stools—and there’s no reason you can’t have fun with them. Bar stools can be a great way to add a pop of color or texture to a space, and the right set can help you bring your entire space together.
Consider an Overhang Bar
Some bars come with built-in overhangs—the countertop extends beyond the bar, giving you a natural place to store a few seats. This can be a space-efficient solution if you’ve opted for backless stools, and it can also make eating at your bar much more comfortable. It’ll also cut down on spills—and that's always a bonus.
Keep Your Whole Space in Mind
If your bar leads into a dining room or living room, consider the entirety of your space. You’ll likely want your rooms to feel different but still cohesive. Maintaining consistent colors and visual motifs can be a great way to do that.
Choose bar stools and dining room chairs that look similar but not too matchy-matchy, and consider echoing your palette throughout your entire space.
Play With Different Layouts
Many kitchen bars are rectangular—but that doesn’t mean yours has to be. Take a look at the space you’re working with, and choose the layout that would suit it best. Maybe your kitchen would look great with a diagonal bar. If so, embrace it, and design the rest of your space with that choice in mind.
Paint Your Bar to Complement Your Backsplash
Odds are, the first things someone will see when looking at your kitchen are your backsplash and your bar. So it makes sense to invest effort in both of them—and to make sure they look great together. Choose colors that match, complement, or contrast, and make sure the tonal couple you’ve chosen is one you love looking at.
Take Advantage of Built-in Structures
Exposed structural columns can be a buzzkill. But, they can also be a great way to orient your space. Instead of trying to hide them or distract from them, consider whether you can use them to your advantage.
Maybe the column can run along the end of your bar, creating a suggested boundary in your space—one that makes your kitchen look even better.
Make the Most of Your Corners
If you’re decorating a small space, it pays to get creative and look for spots that can multitask. Could your wraparound kitchen counter be transformed into a small bar? If so, you can give yourself a cozy dining nook—without sacrificing much space at all.
Spring for Statement-Making Fixtures
Pendant lights and kitchen bars tend to pair really well together. In addition to serving the practical purpose of helping you see your food, pendant lights can be a great way to dress up your space. They add a touch of contrast or cohesion, which will help your space feel more harmonious.
Bring Shelves Into Your Space
If your kitchen is totally shelf-less, it may make sense to bring in a few shelves of your own. You can adorn these shelves with items that set the mood for your bar—and for your kitchen at large.
If you love to entertain, display your go-tos on your shelves. And remember, you can always juxtapose your must-haves with a few decorative accents, like candles and plants.
Don’t Shy Away From Smaller Spots
If you don’t have space for a full-blown bar, that doesn’t mean you have to go totally bar-less. A two-seat bar can be incredibly useful—especially if there are only two people living in your space. Look for countertop corners that offer enough room to eat comfortably, and consider tucking a couple bar stools under there.
Play With Texture
Many people decorate their kitchen bars and cabinets using complementary colors. But, playing with texture can be just as gratifying. Cover your kitchen counters in one material and line your bar in another. This method works particularly well if your kitchen cabinets wrap around your bar, making it clear that both are part of the same space.
Take Risks on Bold Accents
Statement-making accents can establish the mood of your space, and you should spring for one that sets the tone you’re trying to cultivate. If you want your bar to feel like a hangout space, consider mounting a TV on your wall—seriously.
This move won’t be right for everyone—and it probably only works in a kitchenette or wet bar—but if it suits your space, take the risk.
Use Matching Pieces to Keep Things Cohesive
Creating contrast with your kitchen cabinets and your bar can be a lot of fun. But ultimately, you still want your space to feel cohesive. Look for ways to bring the two together by stocking up on kitchen items that match your bar stools and displaying those on your kitchen shelves.
A great way to do this is also to echo the color of your kitchen backsplash in the pendant lights above your bar. There are several different ways to accomplish cohesion—just make sure to keep it in mind as you finish decorating your space.
Craft a Restaurant-Worthy Space
If you want your bar to feel next-level luxurious, look for ways to make it feel like a ritzy restaurant. Invest in pendant lights that look like the kind of thing you’d find in a hotel, or line your shelves with matching glass bottles.
If you can’t stand the thought of a purposeless décor accent, you can always fill these bottles with homemade simple syrups—that will really make your bar feel fancy.
Invest in Your Finishing Touches
Your bar may be your statement-maker, but everything around it is important, too. Don’t quit working the moment you find a bar you love. Look for bar stools that complement your space and search for lighting fixtures that bring your whole kitchen together.
These elements will play a key role in how you’ll experience your space both literally and aesthetically, and so they’re worth the extra effort.