How to Convert a Table Into a Home Bar

Benna Crawford

Don't trudge down to the corner pub for a spot of your favorite brew when you can upcycle an old table into a bar and raise a glass with friends in the comfort of your own home. Turn old nursery furniture or an abandoned rec room table into the social heart of your next party. Get clever with al fresco bar possibilities in the backyard. A jigsaw, a screwdriver and a paintbrush will get your old table ready for some new coasters.

From Baby to Bar

Cut away an old dining table and shellac it to make a home bar.

They grow up fast -- and they outgrow their nursery furniture. Repurpose a changing table into something of lasting use by turning it into a bar cart. Remove the safety strap, and sand the piece to rough up the finish. Apply a primer coat, and then paint the entire table and all the shelves with glossy enamel or metallic paint. A silver bar cart with mirrored trays on the shelves makes crystal goblets and carafes sparkle. Attach casters to the legs of the changing table so you can wheel the bar cart to where it's needed. Hang wire baskets off the sides for extra storage. Screw small bars onto the sides to hold towels or loop the cord from a bottle opener so it's always handy.

Pooled Resources

An old pool table and a hutch are the raw materials for a DIY basement bar that looks like it's from the corner pub. Cut the pool table in half lengthwise, and then cut one-half in half again across the width. Remove the felt surface and attach the three pieces to form a U with a center well for the bartender. Custom-cut a piece of stainable wood for a new bar surface -- pine knots will bleed through almost any finish, so you may want to avoid pine. Sand and stain the whole piece, carefully preserving the padded outer edge of the pool table. Apply the same treatment to the hutch, and then give the bar and hutch several protective coats of clear polyurethane. Stock the hutch with bar supplies and your favorite brands, hang a couple of low-light pendants over the bar, and pull up some bar stools.

Self-Serve Picnic Table

Save space on the patio or skip lugging a cooler out into the backyard with a cut-out picnic table/bar. Cut a narrow rectangle in the center of the table to fit a galvanized tin, stainless steel or industrial-strength plastic rectangular tub with a lip. The lip rests on the tabletop to support the tub when it's filled with ice and bottled or canned drinks. Drill holes in the tub for drainage, and fit them with flexible tubing and gaskets to channel the runoff and prevent wet feet. Or just empty the melted ice at the end of the party and turn the tub upside down to dry.

Party Mini-Bars

At your next party, keep everyone from crowding into one corner of the room by setting up mini-bar tables in two or more corners. Sand and refinish a couple of cast-off matching end tables -- either stain and lacquer the wood or paint it with a wipe-off, water-resistant enamel. Before painting, glue and screw or nail narrow decorative molding around the edge of the top surface to discourage accidents from sliding bottles and glasses. Add locking casters to the table legs to simplify relocation, or attach bun feet or salvaged claw feet to the legs to raise the table height for easy service. Set up each mini-bar with identical buckets of white and red wine, lower-shelf iced trays of bottled beers, and an assortment of glasses and napkins. Or designate different bar tables for beer, wine, liquors and liqueurs, with appropriate glasses.