Design & Decor Building Your Own Bar

| Monday, 2 August 2010 13:00

BarThumbMaybe you’re the kind of person who enjoys building things with their hands. Maybe you’re looking to breathe new life into your house parties…Maybe you’ve had your license revoked and need a place to drink that you won’t have to drive home from in the dark…

Whatever the case, you’ve decided to live the dream and build a full bar in your very own home – and for this, we salute you.

Depending on what you’re looking for and the space available to you, there are a number of ways you can go about making this alcohol-fueled dream an alcohol-fueled reality. We’re here to help you figure out what they are and which is the right one for you.

Since the best way to go drinking somewhere where everybody knows your name is to build a bar in your own house, we’ll be looking at some of the pros and cons of going store-bought vs. going DIY when it comes to your new watering hole.

The DIY Bar

Like any home renovation, installing a bar in your house is always going to be way cheaper if you do it yourself. But let’s face it – if you’re building your own bar you’re probably a pretty heavy drinker; booze and construction don’t mix, and you don’t want the words, “tragic heap of crap” coming to mind when you sober up and look at what you’ve created.

If however, you’re a carpentry ace or at least have a relatively capable person helping you, designing the bar yourself from the get-go allows you to entertain endless possibilities. We even know a few people who have managed to recreate their favorite fictional bars from TV and movies this way.


On the other hand, if you’re just a crafty person with minimal experience, it might do you well to get a little help, and may be just what you’re looking for.

We’ll begin by saying that if you can’t wrap your head around the idea of building a spice-rack or a bird-house, you probably shouldn’t bother trying to build yourself a bar. However, if you have even a novice understanding of woodworking and a few power tools kicking around, is a great aide.

It essentially takes the design aspect (and this is where many would go wrong) out of the equation by giving you pre-made plans that you can work from and even tweak slightly if you’re feeling confident.

For $19.95 you get unlimited access to all of their fully illustrated 3D diagrams of different bar design plans and shopping lists, plus any that get added to the site even after you join. You can also access their Builder’s Forum where you can share ideas and get advice from the rest of their active members, not to mention a bunch of other tips and features to help your project come together.


Also keep in mind that you can probably get away with a lot more of a half-assed approach to bar construction if you’ve opted for a backyard tiki-style bar. Even if what you’ve chosen to be your main bar isn’t the most gorgeous thing in the world, you’ll probably just be covering it with a bunch of bamboo anyways which should do a decent job of masking any obvious flaws. Attaching a bunch of palm leaves to an unimpressive plywood roof also helps it to easily fit the part.

And remember if you want better results or don’t trust yourself to pull it off, they always make plans for outdoor bars too.

The Store-Bought Bar

If you’re not set on building it yourself, prepare to have a much easier – albeit more expensive time. You have a few options available to you here, and as always, the Internet is there to make things a whole lot easier.

Begin by taking a look at your space and deciding what style best suits you and your home. Do you want to feel more like you’re in an English Pub, a chic nightspot or a 24h moonshine-slingin’ truck stop?


Once you’ve figured it out, go hunting online. If you’re lazy and have the money to blow, you’ll easily find plenty of sites like that will sell you very nice, very expensive full bar sets leaving you to do the absolute minimum amount of work.

Or, of course, you can hire a contractor to help you design it from scratch and then build it for you, but for what you’ll probably pay, prepare to tell your kids they’ll be putting themselves through college.

With a little time and effort, you can do it for much, much less, while piecing your bar together in a very unique way.

First, it never hurts to pay a visit to second-hand furniture stores. If you find a piece whose style you dig, but think it looks like trash – always remember that if it’s real wood it can be stripped, refinished and returned to a state of awesomeness. Plus, you’ll probably pay peanuts for it.


If you can find a bar unit that you’re happy with, you can then look for a wall unit that would go behind it. If you think you’ve found two pieces that might work together, strip them and finish them the same way and they’ll start to feel like a set.

Then a quick trip to Ebay will familiarize you with a billion bar knickknacks from killer neon signs, to barstools, to overhead glass racks, to tiki-torches, to straw mats, to cool-retro-bar junk. Put it all together however you want to make your bar one of a kind.


Give Us Some Lurve