Expert Advice on Adding a Wet Bar to Your Basement
Gone are the dark, paneled basement bars of the ‘70’s that felt like something out of B-grade movie. Today’s basement wet bars are sleek and smooth, graciously inviting your family and guests to gather and mingle. Options range from the simple snack station to a full-on kitchenette—the choice is yours.
Wet bar vs. dry bar
As the name implies, a wet bar includes plumbing for a sink. With plumbing lines already in place, many homeowners elect to add an ice-maker, refrigerator, dishwasher, and/or microwave, as space and budget permit. A wet bar can be designed as either a walk-up or sit-down style, the latter of which can accommodate bar stools. A dry bar, on the other hand, provides lower cabinetry with a countertop (no plumbing) and can be used as a staging area for serving food and drinks. The cabinets (often uppers are also added to a dry bar area) serve as convenient and accessible storage for games, hobby supplies, or anything else you want to keep out of sight but close at hand.
How much space do I need for a wet bar?
How do you envision your wet bar? Will friends be gathering around on bar stools, eating and drinking, or will it mainly be a station for drinks and snacks that will be consumed in other parts of the basement where activities take place? Assessing your budget, envisioned use, and available space prior to embarking on your basement finish ensures that you end up with the bar that best suits your needs.
What type of flooring works best for a basement wet bar?
Typically, flooring surrounding a wet bar is the durable, hard-surface type such as tile or LVT/P (luxury vinyl tile or planks) even if the surrounding area is carpeted. Given the proximity of a water source and the likelihood of food and beverages being served, selecting a durable, easy-to-clean, waterproof flooring makes sense. Many options have the look of wood, stone, or expensive tile, and can easily flow with the decor of the existing main floor of your home.
What styles of lighting should I consider?
Pendant lights are popular for directly over the bar, and for good reason. They offer a great deal of flexibility in terms of spacing, height, styles and shade types. Opaque shades provide task lighting, illuminating the bar surface. Non-opaque shades illuminate the space around the bar. Recessed lighting, LED strip lighting, puck lights or LED disks compliment the pendants and add task lighting and ambiance to work surfaces, shelves, and the general area around the bar.
What are my countertop options?
Wood is generally more affordable than other options. It can be quite beautiful and can fit a variety of styles. Natural stone, such as marble and granite, are more expensive but are durable and retain their beauty for many years.
You can also choose from a diverse range of different shapes and designs for your bar countertop, including a straight line bar, an L-shaped bar or a rounded wrap-around bar.
Neutral counter tops allow for bolder styles and colors in other design elements, while some homeowners opt for making a statement with a unique material such as etched glass, stainless steel or concrete.
Do I need a full-sized refrigerator?
A mini refrigerator may be all that is needed to hold beverages and supplies without taking up too much space. However, if you do a lot of entertaining, or have a large family spending time in the basement, a full-size refrigerator may be preferable because of the added convenience with more space. The size will impact the design of the wet bar. In addition to a standard-sized fridge, consider including a wine chiller or a beer kegerator.
What other features should I include–storage, seating, TV?
Home furnishing stores and catalogs offer a wide range of ready-made cabinets and bar seating to use as a starting point for any basement wet bar. Custom cabinets are also an option depending on your needs and budget. Cabinets should be durable with easy-to-clean surfaces. Make sure to have sufficient space behind the bar to accommodate supplies and appliances. Under-cabinet storage and appliances make efficient use of space and open shelving adds interest and openness to the design.
Seating should be comfortable and functional while contributing to or blending with the overall design aesthetic. Tall bar stools that swivel make getting on and off easier.
For a true sports bar feel, a flat screen TV ensures that anyone watching the game will catch all the action. Consider the placement of the TV when designing the bar to maximize visibility.
How much does it cost to build a basement wet bar?
The cost of a wet bar depends on the choice of materials, finishes and appliances. Custom cabinetry, high-end appliances and items such as wine chillers all add to the cost. If budget is a consideration, prioritize your needs and wants, and work with your basement finishing company to get the most for your money while creating a wet bar you will be happy with for years to come.