Making a Swanky DIY Bar, Part 1 of 3: Choosing Your Surface

You’ve watched season after season of Mad Men, you’ve ogled pictures of homemade bars that people put hours into, and you want to feel classy when you’re getting your drink on.  But the closer you look at homemade bars you realize you don’t have the space, the time, or the money to make this

Super Swanky Piano Bar

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or this:

Elaborate wooden backyard bar

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So what is a DIY’er like yourself supposed to do?  Get creative.

You can make a bar even if you have a small amount of space and limited resources.  Now you might not be able to have a full bar with seats, but that’s okay.  I’m guessing some of your limited space is filled with chairs and other places to sit.  The important part of the bar is making drinks in an organized and swanky environment.  There are three steps to any good bar are:

  • • Surface, where you’re mixing and preparing the drinks
  • • Storage, where you’re storing your ingredients
  • • Swank, that extra charm that makes your bar unique and just plain fun to look at
  • We’ll go over the each one, starting with the Surface.  The best place to start your bar is repurposing a piece of furniture which can easily incorporate all three “S”s.
  • A classic, dark wood credenza

  • A credenza like the one above is a great example as it has a large, flat surface on top and has shelves for storage underneath.  An antique or unique credenza has a lot of style all on its own, but work with what you can get and what works with your space.  With a little tweaking your piece is ready to become a bar.  
  • The surface is very important.  Your surface will be where you pour liquid, mash ingredient, use tools, and do most of the prep work, so unless you bar is going to be a kitchen car, you might want to make a real surface.  A real surface must be water proof, or water resistant at least, and able to take a few dings and shrug off scratches.  There are two ways to put a real surface on your piece.You can make the entire top of your piece a real surface.  If you have the means and the will you can add tile to the top of your piece and make a section or the entire top a solid tile surface, but only attempt this if you know how to lay tile.  Cover the entire top of the piece in tile and you have a real surface to work with.  Check out our kitchen back splash post for more info on laying tile.  You can also lay down hardwood flooring on the top of your piece and finish with a layer of salad bowl sealant.If that all sounds overwhelming, you can also make a smaller, easier to make surface.  A large, polished granite slab work perfectly, but you can also use a cutting board and get the same effect.  Take your surface and attach grippy rubber to the bottom.  You don’t need to cover the entire bottom in rubber, just a square tacked down or glued in each corner should work.  A non-slip furniture pad works great.

    Even if alcohol isn’t so much your style, bars can serve more than just alcohol; there are hundreds of coffee, soda, and non-alcoholic cocktails out there ready for you to experiment with.  No matter what drink you prefer, a bar in your home is a great way to entertain guests and yourself for years.

    Check the next post for ideas on how to add storage to your DIY bar at home.