How to Build Your Own Dry Bar

Map out your space before purchasing anything, and create something that truly complements!

By Michelle Downing

 

You can build your own dry bar for a nook on your main floor, to make the perfect transition from your dining room to your kitchen, or as an addition to your man cave or basement rec room. Your dry bar can be as elaborate or simple as you like. Just make sure it complements your space and style. Here’s how to do it.

 

You Will Need:

  • Unfinished kitchen cabinets and cabinet hardware
  • Paint or wood finish (painting supplies)
  • Shelving (brackets or mounting hardware)
  • Countertop
  • Backsplash and tile saw
  • Tools, including a tape measure, drill, screws, hammer, level, and saw

 

Start with A Little Artwork

 

The best way to know if something is going to look good is to see it. Unfortunately, you can’t just pick up your favorite bar and try it out in the space before you commit to it. Of course, colors and fixtures can always be changed, but you need to have a general idea of what you want your bar to look like before you start building.

 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want upper and lower cabinets?
  • Do I want a wine rack?
  • Do I want to incorporate a refrigerator?
  • Do I want a wine fridge?
  • How big should it be?
  • Where’s it going to go?

 

Obviously, the list can go on and on. A bar is just as much an expression of your style as your couch or wall color. So, try to start with your style and build from there.

 

This bar has a base set of cabinets, a refrigerator, open shelving, and a rather unique wine rack. It was built around a half-wall that already existed in the basement to fill the empty space.

 

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Size Does Matter

 

To get an idea of how much space your bar will need, it’s best to diagram where your cabinets (and other components) will go and get an idea if it works for your space. We already had a bar fridge and a set area, so we based the cabinets off the space we had left over. We simply measured from one edge to the other, subtracted the amount of the fridge, divided by 2, and voila! We knew just what size of cabinets we needed.

 

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Except, we didn’t. One crucial part of a bar is a bar top. We have granite countertops in our kitchen, and we thought it would be fun to continue the upstairs look into the basement. We lucked out and found a similar style at a granite slab company that sells the leftovers from bigger projects. Since it was a smaller size and already cut, our slab was relatively affordable, and really gave the bar a refined look. Of course, the size of the granite didn’t work for the size of cabinets we needed, so we had to scale the cabinets down.

 

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Now, we’re left with a space on the side that we needed to fill so we decided to anchor the bar. We decided to incorporate a rather rustic element and used actual railway ties on either side of the bar. We made sure they were sanded smooth so as not to be too rough to the touch, but not so smooth that they lost their natural shade.

 

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Now we’ve got an idea of what we’re doing, and it’s time to start constructing.

 

Incorporate Your Style

 

We used unfinished cabinets because we really wanted to match our cabinets to a coffee table that we had already built for the basement. Plus, of course, unfinished cabinets are much more affordable. We chose two base cabinets with doors so there would still be room for smaller supplies we wanted to keep in the bar.

 

We removed the cabinet doors and stained the base, plus the doors, both inside and out. Since the refrigerator was so much shorter than the cabinets, we also had to build a small stand for it to set on. Then, we stained a toe kick to run along the entire floor and make everything nice and flush. Once everything was complete, we secured the cabinets to the wall, making sure everything was attached securely to a wall stud. Be sure to utilize a stud finder if knocking on the walls or other ways to find wall studs don’t  suffice. Then we attached our desired cabinet hardware.

 

After the entire base was finished, we attached the granite countertop. Keep in mind that granite is heavy. You may need to enlist a buddy’s help for this project, especially if you’re trying to carry a heavy countertop downstairs. You can always buy a prefinished laminate countertop too if you’re looking for something lighter and more affordable.

 

Finish the Space

 

A great way to really finish off the space and dress it up is to incorporate backsplash. A subway tile can add a unique farmhouse look. A decorative tile can provide a classy finish. We opted for this stone backsplash to match our kitchen and really add to the rustic vibe. We also filled the wall behind it all the way to the ceiling to make for a complete look.

 

Keep in mind you will want to keep your backsplash flush with your sides, base, and ceiling, and that may require some strategic placement and cuts.

 

After the backsplash was completed, we added some glass shelving. We wanted to display some baseball memorabilia, so we choose to keep the bar open. If you prefer to have additional storage, you can always opt to add upper cabinets instead and simply apply your backsplash to the base of the uppers.

 

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Add a Unique Touch

 

We truly believe no two bars are the same, and this one was no exception. We knew incorporating the railway ties was a unique choice. We also thought it would be beneficial to optimize this space. So, we drilled four holes along the left tie to create a vertical wine rack. It made the railway ties functional, but also provided a unique look.

 

Remember: Don't store wine upright or else the cork will dry up, which can allow air to get into your wine. So, however your wine rack is incorporated, make sure it keeps your bottles stored at an angle, or on their sides if possible.

 

On the other tie, we screwed a bottle opener to allow a quick way to open our favorite brews. There are lots of options to create bases to catch your bottle caps as well.

 

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All in all, building your own dry bar can be a relatively simple process, although somewhat time-consuming. Just make sure to draw out what you’re doing before you begin, map out your space before purchasing anything, and create something that truly complements your personality. And, most of all, enjoy! Cheers!

 

Images used with permission, courtesy of Michelle Downing and www.shutterstock.com

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