DIY Building a Bar

Making your own bar allows you to custom fit it to your space, your taste, and your needs. It can also save you money. You'll need at least basic carpentry skills, but even a simple design can look great. Keep your eyes open as you pass by, or frequent, bars and restaurants for design ideas. Then plan your own.

A home bar decorated for Christmas


When you walk up to the bar at your local pub, you are standing at the "counter". What you are looking at, behind the bartender, is the "back bar." A "wet bar" refers to a back bar with a sink, and often a refrigerator.

Design Considerations

Function: Consider how the bar will be used: frequently, but for small dinner parties; or once a year for large parties? In either case, a bar does not need to be huge to entertain.

Space: Even in a large space, remember to plan for pathways and enough space around the bar, (and stools if you have them) so you won't have a crowded feeling. If you have a small space, you don't have to give up. Even if you have a small apartment you can have a small back bar. Before considering your design, measure your room and draw up dimensions of the furniture and room features (especially doors) to scale on graph paper.

Budget: Consider how much you can spend. Make a list of materials, their prices, and see what fits your budget.

Harmonizing: Fit your bar design to your room and the rest of your home. Consider color and material, in particular. For example, wood generally goes with wood. A classic wood bar will likely clash, however, with contemporary décor no matter how nice the wood bar looks.

Design Options

A cabinet bar is a stand-alone cabinet with drinks, glasses, etc., stored inside;

A standard bar is a stand-alone counter with a back bar.

An L-bar has a counter that, as the name suggests, bends at a 90 degree angle. An L-bar provides better stability and makes conversation easier if people are sitting at the bar.

A stand-alone back bar is a back bar with extra counter space for mixing drinks.


Your old furniture, or someone else's old furniture, can be used for your home bar. Shelves and dressers with their doors remove make particularly good material for back bars or a base for the counter.


A few extras such as a wine rack, lighting for the glasses, or mirrors can give an impressive look with minimal extra effort.