How to build a custom residential bar!

Building a bar in your home can be a very rewarding project, especially for those of you who are passionate about woodworking (or for those of you who just like throwing great parties).  Over the last few years I’ve build several custom bars for many clients. Each one is unique and has characteristics that each homeowner appreciates through a collaboration of design ideas. For me, building a successful bar is the marriage of design, woodworking and finishing skills (staining), combined!

This will be one in a series of articles focused on building a custom bar from beginning to end. For you “do-it-yourselfers”, I hope some of the tips in this series will be helpful. If you would like to see several finished bars please visit our website, and browse the “BARS” gallery.  Also feel free to send me an email with questions: [email protected]

Okay, on to serious bar building business…

Step 1.  Design      The first thing I collaborate with homeowners on a bar build is where is it going and what will be the design of the bar. As far as where it goes, usually most homeowners want the bar in the basement as a focal point for entertaining. More often than not, at the beginning of the placement process, most homeowners focus on the existing plumbing and place the bar in that area. While this is generally a good idea it many times doesn’t mean its the best place for the bar. When I space plan for a bar I first and foremost look for best place period.

The reason plumbing doesn’t play into the overall picture of where the bar is going is because of discharge pumps or more many times known as “grey water pumps”.  These pumps pretty much do what they advertise…they take the water from the bar sink and pump it up into a main drain line in the ceiling joists (upstairs plumbing). Now it must be noted bar pump installation is easily accomplished when a basement (or other area), is unfinished. If the area is finished, it becomes a much greater task…but it CAN be done.  However, I can’t emphasis enough that when possible try to tie into the rough plumbing or “gravity” plumbing as this eliminates the pump. Pumps area great but they can, and sometimes do, fail. Also, with bar pumps you want to stay away form solid waste in the bar sink (small food items, etc).

Once the bar placement has been defined the next step is the bar design itself. I’ll talk about that in the next blog entry…stay tuned!


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