Asked on Jun 07, 2012

Small bar/countertop area - I hate it and want to lower, what do you think?

Traci W
by Traci W
This bar area is pretty much useless and my kitchen is small and I feel like it "cuts off" the kitchen visually and doesn't make it appear open at all. Its usually not this big of a mess, I'm painting on the other counter so everything is schlopped to this counter. So, I want to cut it off and lower it like most kitchens are these days which give a more open feel. I was just going to use the bar top to "fill - in" that area to extend it like regular top, but it extends on the side facing the camera and the back of the lower countertop comes up, I guess I could cut it, but my hubby is not on board with this whole idea at all, so I need it to be something I can do relatively easy. Any easy ideas??? I was going to paint my countertop anyways, so I just need a way to make it all match so that when I paint it will all come together. I guess I could go to Habitat and watch for a piece that might match up sizewise for that entire countertop area, but I doubt that will happen soon. It has a diagonal seam where it joins the other piece on the wall side. Thanks for your help!
  40 answers
  • 3po3 3po3 on Jun 07, 2012
    I guess I'm missing how cutting this down would open up the kitchen or give you more counter space. In fact, I think it's helpful to have that edge to lean things against. I get nervous putting glass containers etc on a surface where they can just fall over. I guess I'm with hubby on this one.
  • You can cut this down, but remember you will need to replace the counter tops to extend over at least to the top of the wall, or remove the wall completely if there are no wires or outlets in it. Then finish the backs of the cabinets. Both big undertaking. I am not so sure it will open the wall. Perhaps just remove the counter on the wall so you can not store things on it.
  • P R P R on Jun 08, 2012
    I have one a lot like yours and have found that if i do not sit things on it, it seems a lot more open. With nothing on mine, it makes a great place to sit grocery bags on when i go shopping. Once I put groceries away, it is cleaned off again.
  • Becky H Becky H on Jun 08, 2012
    There are distinct advantages to having the bar higher than the counter, one of which is the counter can be cluttered without sharing that with the other side. Another is when electrical outlets are put into the wall elevating the bar. However, when it comes to getting the most out of the counter space, I find counter height bars to be more flexible, in that all that flat, open counter can be used while cooking and baking; while elevated bar areas interfere with that. So, when it comes to a kitchen with limited counter space, I prefer the counter height bar, and yes, it does open the area up. If you've seen my updated kitchen pics., you'll see I recently exercised my preferences and have no regrets.
  • Becky H Becky H on Jun 08, 2012
    Steve G., when baking or making large recipes, often times multiple small appliances, large baking sheets or pans are used at one time. The difference in elevations between the bar and counter often times impedes the use of that area, making large, continuous flat surfaces very desirable.
  • Douglas C Douglas C on Jun 08, 2012
    Doesn't look that difficult to cut long as there are no outlets in the area on the side away from the camera. Just take off raised counter top and cut drywall away at the height of the cabinets. Then cut 2 X 4's down and rebuild half wall. then put counter top back on the way it came off. you could also make it wider by about 8 - 12 inches if you needed more counter space. Just support it with legs or decorative corner supports. Just my two cents worth..........Enjoy.....
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jun 08, 2012
    I am not a carpenter, but I can only say that you have to do what fits best with your use of the kitchen. I am not a baker so I do not require large open spaces to place large pans and find the raised level desirable. Unless you can spring for a kitchen redo, you may just have to live with this for a while. If you are handy, you can use bead board on the back of cabinets and finished off with molding if you decide to take the wall down completely. Keep in mind that you will have to plaster and sand the wall board as well as patch flooring if you eliminate the wall. If no wiring is in the wall, it would be easy to cut it down and put in a new counter top in that area by using a piece of butcher block. While it might cost a bit to buy this, it would be less expensive than replacing all the counter tops.
  • Steve D Steve D on Jun 08, 2012
    We cut our elevated bar down. It does seem to open up the kitchen, visually your eye does not stop at the elevated portion like it did before. As mentioned before you will probably need a different counter top, or maybe a different counter top in addition to the one you already have.
  • Traci W Traci W on Jun 08, 2012
    Becky H and Steve D - finally someone who shares my vision! ;) I appreciate all the replies and I really could use the more working counterspace especially with my kids (they are visually impaired and teaching them cooking skills with more working area would be a great help). it does have an outlet on the other side, but I figure I could just cap those ends and stuff it down into the wall and it would be fine. I have no intention of taking the wall out, it is totally fine, I just want that top off. I agree with you Douglas I don't think it would be that hard and thats what a countertop place told me to do regarding cutting it, I'm just struggling with replacing the countertop, is it hard to cut? I could cut it to fit exactly and just buy laminate edging and put that on to replace what was cut off for a clean edge, right?
  • I was on a Kitchen Design call yesterday & she had the same concern. ABSOLUTELY LEVEL IT! All of my clients are, she is the 4th one. It will open the space & make the counter more useful. You will have to redo the counter top to do it properly.
  • Therese C Therese C on Jun 08, 2012
    Countertops are very easy to cut if you use a dremel tool. Mark your lines very clearly and dark with a sparpies black marker and masking tape directly over the cut lines. Follow the lines cutting through the tape to prevent chipping and you will be just fine.
  • CONNIE W CONNIE W on Jun 08, 2012
    As a Real Estate Agent I say cut it down, level it off. Everyone likes open spaces, and you need an update!
  • I just posted pictures of a countertop we installed today. We did exactly what your wanting to do, to the kitchen in the pictures. Their bar top was teired like yours is.... until the sawzall went across and leveled it out. Surprisingly, they have very little sheetrock to fix, and it looks much better now! Very easy to do, it may take 10 minutes. just be sure you remove any wires that are in the wall
    comment photo
  • Becky H Becky H on Jun 08, 2012
    I like the fact there are no support brackets; instead you brought the side out to the full length of the counter. A clean look.
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jun 09, 2012
    The key here is your statement "relatively easy". There will be nothing relatively easy about this job. And you cannot just "cap off electrical wiring and drop it inside the wall"! You have to be careful of fire hazzards and know what you are doing before you get a wild hair and start tearing out a wall. You will need experitise in plastering, painting, electrical, carpentary and fitting in a new top, including bracing it if you extend it into the eating area...just be careful because calling in a professional for help can be costly.
  • Douglas C Douglas C on Jun 09, 2012
    Traci, Cutting counter top is very easy. Use blue masking tape and tape over the line where you want to cut. Both top and bottom....Measure and mark a line with a sharpie black marker. Then from the BOTTOM side cut the line with a circular saw......Most old style counter tops are made of particle board so take your time and let the saw do the work. To cover the exposed edge, most home improvement stores carry rolls of counter top edging. Most use a standard household iron to apply. Follow directions on the package to be sure. As for the outlet that can be moved to the other side of the wall a little further down. This can be done when the top is off so you can reach you arm down inside the wall to install the box. ENSURE THE POWER IS TURNED OFF WHEN WORKING WITH ANY ELECTRICAL WIRING!!!!!!! Some contractors will guide you through the process or give you helpful hints if you ask them......Note I said SOME....Good luck with the renovation and don't let anybody tell you you can't do something..With the right information all things are possible........Enjoy...
  • Stone-Crete Artistry Stone-Crete Artistry on Jun 09, 2012
    whack it off. then make an small island that is on casters so you can move it.. ohhh and the island must contain concrete
  • I appreciate a "can-do" attitude and admire those with the initiative to try things. Having said that, some of the things that people think they can do on their own get them hurt and even worse. Modifying the electrical is the thing that will bite you in this project. Everything else is pretty benign as long as you pay attention to the proper use of a reciprocating saw. Building code requires an electrical outlet for every so many feet of countertop so as to discourage the use of extension cords with electrical appliances. If you aren't comfortable installing a new outlet, then call in a pro for that piece of the project. Keep in mind that if the existing electrical wire is not long enough to reach the new location, you can make a connection to extend it by "adding " new wire to it...but that connection must be in an approved electrical junction box and that box must be accessible, not "hidden" in a wall behind sheetrock. This is a common DIYer as well as a black-market contractor/handyman mistake.
  • Robin M Robin M on Jun 09, 2012
    Just remove it. If it's there, it will clutter. I had one just like that and had the same problem. We removed the top, and put moulding around it. It looks great.
  • Michele M Michele M on Jun 09, 2012
    You can lower it but then both sides will spill over into each other.... if you have an option I would also increase the width of the bar to make it more usable.
  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Jun 09, 2012
    I vote .. cut it down! #1 the trend is one level.. especially with small spaces, i completely agree as stated by others that visually it attracts (negative attention). Unless it is truly a "bar area" where people are getting up and down.. playing games, mingling etc, where a higher level is advantageous for leaning on ... the one level is more universal for kitchen activities. The biggest issue i see here (didnt catch if anyone else addressed it) -- is that you have what are called "postform" counter tops. At least that is what it looks like (wish I could zoom in!). That being the case, the backsplash on your counter tops are coved and part of the counter top. So removing that? Would mean you have to disconnect the sink, etc. to cut off that splash because it would be near impossible to cut it off from the top. What this domino affects to is that your tops would be at least 1" shallower -- now I have some ideas of stacking tops to overcome this, but the workload at this point is risky if you havent worked with laminate before. If you backsplash has a sharp/square seam at the counter top? Unsure? Take a close up picture... I will further share the idea of stacking..
  • Kandee S Kandee S on Jun 09, 2012
    I vote cut it down and put big counter top on it so there's a bar area and flat surface.
  • Traci W Traci W on Jun 10, 2012
    @BeckySue, here is another picture of the back side, showing the backsplash, I know we will have to cut this off as well. The sink is on another wall, didn't really follow what you were saying. We were just going to butt the two pieces together and fill in before painting the whole countertop.
    comment photo
  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Jun 10, 2012
    It is very difficult to describe.. from what I see, I think your task is incredibly risky and cannot even see how it could be done successfully. All because the backsplash is part of the counter top - the laminate is coved where the splash meets the top. First of all .. dont know that you could cut it without removing all the counter tops. You could not get a clean cut on the splash becuz of the cove. So that means removing all the counter tops. The next domino is what would happen to the splash in the corner (right of this -- left of the sink). With the 45 degree miter, it will not be a square end to that backsplash. So again.. means removing all the counter tops to get the right cuts. Sorry if I sound discouraging.. but I know carpenters who are good with laminate and they would never attempt this feat. Carries a lot of work .. with high risk. I admire your ambition... if I were in your shoes I would save for new counter tops, laminate is not expensive (typically well under $20 a linear foot for basic colors where I live)
  • Traci W Traci W on Jun 10, 2012
    I priced new laminate, I think the quote was $1400, which I still am not willing to pay, granted its better than granite, which I don't like anyways. I have no intention of cutting all the countertops backsplash for sure. I will think of something to deal with that corner. There is a seam right there where the sink counter meets this bar counter, so I can just disguise it for now until we can afford new countertops. I'm still not discouraged, where there is a will, there is a way and my brother is in construction, so if all else fails, I call him! ha! Thanks for pointing that issue out though! :)
  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Jun 10, 2012
    $1400 oh my goodness! Take some measurements along the wall and get an estimate for product at Home Depot or Lowe's .. that sounds really high! Wonder if they are quoting the same style or are they upgrading you in the laminate or the edge treatment. Wishing you the best in finding an answer that is right for you!!
  • Designs by BSB Designs by BSB on Jun 10, 2012
    here is what i was talking about "stacking" its really modern.. but hopefully it better explains it. the snack top could be stacked over the main counter top
  • Therese C Therese C on Jun 10, 2012
    I'm not sure about what is in your area, but here we have a store called "Hood's Discount Center". These kinds of stores are everywhere & they sell discontinued or weird length counters for very cheap. Try one of those places, but you will still have to probably cut it yourself. We did. We paid $50 for an 8' section of counter because the pattern was discontinued.
  • Kandee S Kandee S on Jun 11, 2012
    Traci, We did this in our house and went to Ikea got a large piece of chopping block for our counter top. Cost $100.00. as for any electric they can be moved down the wall or put on the end. I think you will be happy when you finish it and it shouldn't take but a weekend. You could use the bar top as shelf along the wall if needed. Check out Ikea store
  • Traci W Traci W on Jun 11, 2012
    Thanks for the tips! I will check those places, it would probably be alot easier to find a piece to replace the two that are there now. Habitat has alot of counter too, would just have to find something big enough to cut down. Thanks!
  • Leslie D Leslie D on Jun 15, 2012
    Traci, this what what Steve D and I did in our home. You don't have to replace the entire countertop, just add a different surface for the overhang. This bar top for us is a temporary fix, and we'll be using a natural edge wood slab later. You could do this with butcherblock countertop, etc., for this small area. I completely agree that removing the elevated bar would open up the area and update your kkitchen.
    comment photo
  • Leslie, I am impressed. That looks great.
  • Leslie D Leslie D on Jun 15, 2012
    Thank you, Lee Anne! That means a lot coming from you!
  • Kristy Champion Kristy Champion on Nov 24, 2014
    The dining table looks only a couple feet away, so unless you really need those two extra bar stool seats, I vote for removing the overhanging bar top and bar stools, but leaving the half wall at original height. Just top off the wall with a white trim board to match trim that's already there. From the picture you posted, it does not look like your kitchen back splash is attached to the bar top. Good luck! Hope to see some AFTER photos!
  • Traci W Traci W on Nov 24, 2014
    Thought I would update. We did chop and just move the upper part down. Filled with putty and I painted entire counter and epoxied? Is that right? Can't remember now! Love it though!
    comment photo
  • Kathe Kathe on Apr 01, 2016
    I would have taken the whole thing out and put a nice side trim on the back of the cabinet - but that's just my two cents...
  • Juliana Juliana on Apr 05, 2016
    How much it cost you to remove the top bar?
  • Melissa Symonette Melissa Symonette on Oct 29, 2016
    Did you have an electrical outlet or disposal switch there? I have both but want to lower my bar as well.
  • Andrew Shum Andrew Shum on Apr 18, 2017

    How much did it cost to remove the bar and what did you do with the electrical?

  • Janice Janice on Oct 13, 2023

    Be sure to check for any electrical wiring in the wall you are wanting to cut down. I understand why you'd want to do it for the increased flow of the kitchen counter but think through how "open" you really want before moving forward. Personally, I'd likely remove all of all the items piled on the current taller counter as often when a project starts it gets more involved than you might think.