A home bar is not the easiest of DIY carpentry projects, but it is arguably one of the most fun once you're done. It's a feasible weekend project for anyone with decent carpentry skills and a bit of determination.
Before Getting Started
There are many options when building a home bar.
First off, consider the location. Will it be in the living room, dining room or basement? How can you build it to match the existing décor? Is there adequate lighting in the area or should you install more? Once you've answered these questions, you can get the space ready.
Though it is beyond the scope of these bar plans, you could also incorporate a sink into the design, meaning you'll want to have a plan in advance for where the house plumbing will be accessed and routed to the bar area.
Space requirements are a minimum of six feet for the length of bar and four feet for the width, including the space needed to stand behind it. A more spacious footprint allows for eight feet of bar space and six feet of width for the bar and space to sit and maneuver on either side of it. Ideally, there will be an electrical outlet on the wall somewhere behind the bar for powering a blender, mini-fridge, icemaker, countertop lamp, etc.
Keep in mind the importance of making all your cuts perfectly square. A circular saw can be used in conjunction with a carpenter's square for this purpose, but if possible use a chop saw for cutting the smaller lumber and a table saw for ripping the plywood to size to ensure everything comes out square. These can be rented at any tool rental center.
Use the plans to help guide you in building the bar. They can be viewed and printed using Adobe Reader. Additional materials include:
- 12 - 8-foot 2 x 4s
- 6 - 8-foot 1 x 4s
- 4 - 8-foot 1 x 2s
- 3 - 4 x 8 sheets of 1/2-inch OSB plywood
- Circular saw (or table saw and chop saw)
- Tape measure
- Power drill
- Assorted screws and nails
- Surfacing materials (bar top, counter, wood veneer, paneling, paint, stain, cabinetry, etc.)
- Optional accessories (shelving, foot bar, bottle opener, etc.)
The following steps outline the basic process of building a simple home bar, but are easily customized based on your desires for the ultimate shape, size, and look of the bar. The measurements are based on a 48-inch tall bar that is eight feet long because it simplifies the process of measuring and cutting the wood.
Build the Frame
- Cut five 2 x 4s to a length of four feet.
- Lay two 8-foot 2 x 4s on the ground parallel to each other and situate a 4-foot 2 x 4 between them at each end to form a rectangle. Screw the 2 x 4s together and then add the three other 4-foot 2 x 4s to the frame as studs spaced two feet apart. This will be the framework that supports the bar top and the front of the bar.
- Mark the edges of the studs at 36 inches and screw an 8-foot 2 x 4 flat onto surface of the frame at this location.
- Repeat the same process to form a second rectangular frame, except this time, use three-foot tall studs, forming a structure 3 feet by 8 feet. This will support the lower counter and the back of the bar.
- Cut ten 16-inch sections of 2 x 4 and use them to connect the front and back framing. These will sit on top of the 2 x 4 ledge that was installed at the 36-inch mark on the larger frame.
- Stand the frame up in the desired location and screw it into the floor.
Cover the Frame
- Screw a full sheet of plywood onto the front frame.
- Cut two pieces of plywood 16 x 36 inches and screw them to the sides of the frame.
- Cut five 16-inch sections of plywood and screw them to the top of the front frame so they are centered on each of the studs and straddling the top plate. These will support the bar top.
- Cut two pieces of plywood 18 x 96 inches and screw them to the top of the front and back frames. They will overhang the frame a bit.
- Cut one piece of plywood 12 x 96 inches and screw it onto the back side of the front frame above the counter.
Install Surfacing Materials
Use the dimensions given in the frame section above to cut the surfacing materials to the appropriate size.
- Cut the material for the front and sides of the bar to the same dimensions as the plywood pieces for those areas and install. This could be beadboard or other types of wood paneling, or simply a thin wood veneer that is glued onto the plywood backing. Use the same material for the back surface of the front frame above the counter.
- Cut the bar top to the same dimensions as its plywood base and install. This could be a granite, tile, formica or a custom-milled wooden bar top.
- Cut the countertop to the same dimensions as its plywood base and install. This can be of the same material as the bar top or different for contrast.
- Choose a method to finish the back of the bar and install/implement it. This could be cabinet doors, a short curtain or simply painting the 2 x 4 framing to improve the appearance a bit.
Install Trim and Accessories
- Cut 1 x 4s (or other type of trim, as desired) for trimming all the corners and edges of the framing and install. These frame the material from step number 1 in the previous section. You will need two 8-foot strips for the top and bottom of the front of the bar; two 4-foot strips for the left and right sides of the front of the bar; two 4-foot strips for the left and right edges of the front frame of the bar (directly below and perpendicular to the bar top); four 16-inch strips for the top and bottom of the sides of the bar; two 3-foot strips for the vertical edge beneath (and perpendicular to) the counter top.
- Cut 1 x 2s (or other type of smaller size trim) for trimming all the edges of the bar top and counter and install. These frame the material from step number 2 in the previous section. You will need three 8-foot strips for the long edges of the bar top and counter (only the outer/back edge of the counter will need trim) and four 16-inch strips for the left and right sides of the bar top and counter.
- Add decorative trim if desired, such as trim inlays on the front and sides of the bar.
- Add accessories such as a foot bar, shelving inside the bar, a bottle opener on one of or both of the side walls, etc.
Enjoy a Job Well Done
Once you've installed your bar, it's time to christen it with a party. Stock the shelves with your favorite beverages, glassware and other supplies - and enjoy!