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How To Build Your Own Basement Bar At Home

Molly GraceOctober 16, 2019

If you’re a hostess with the most-ess or are just looking for a place for your friend group to hang out that doesn’t require dropping loads of cash on bartender-made concoctions, an in-home bar might just be a good investment.

A basement bar can really increase your satisfaction with your home, especially if you enjoy having parties and entertaining. Carving out a space in your home where you, your family and your guests can relax and enjoy a few drinks can be well worth it in the long run, so long as you take the time to plan out what you want ahead of time and create a budget that works for you.

Here are some ideas and considerations for building a bar in your basement.

Finish Before You Start

If your basement is currently unfinished, it probably goes without saying that you’ll want to finish the space before you start inviting people to hang out in it.

Finishing a basement can be a costly endeavor, usually ranging between $10,000 to $30,000 or more. However, it might be worth it – and not just so you have a space for your at-home hangout.

A finished basement generally offers an above-average return on investment when compared to other home renovations.

Determine What You Want

This is the fun part: envisioning what your bar will look like. What style or look are you going for? Rugged dive bar? Classy cocktail lounge? Do you want something really simple, or are you looking to make a statement with a funky, eclectic spot that has all the bells and whistles?

Part of what you’ll decide is how much you’re willing to spend on the project. Keep your budget in mind as you consider the materials and features you want, and think about what aspects are most important to you and what you’d be willing to compromise on.

The Bar

You have a lot of different options available to you when it comes to constructing the bar itself. You can go with a simple wooden structure, a modern stainless-steel look, a stone bar, marble or granite countertops, a more rustic, distressed wood bar, a sleek, polished wood bar – there are materials and colors and styles to fit every desired look.

Think about what features you want in your bar as well. Do you want lots of cabinet space to store your bottles? Or do you prefer to set them out on display?

Think about the bar’s practical needs. You might consider a wet bar, meaning your bar has a sink with running water. You will probably also want some sort of refrigeration, either with a mini-fridge, a wine cooler or a full-sized refrigerator, depending on your needs.

What type of drinks do you plan on serving? If you’re serious about your beer, a built-in tap might be the way to go. If wine is more your speed, maybe you want a big wall-mounted wine rack.

The Drinks

Of course, a bar is nothing without drinks. What type of bar will you stock?

If you’re building a more general purpose bar for parties and the like, stock it up with some basic staples. You don’t have to worry about having anything too fancy (unless you want to). A few different types of spirits, a small variety of sodas or juices, and (if you’re feeling fancy) some cocktail bitters will serve you well.

If you want to be more thoroughly stocked, you might consider adding a couple liqueurs, a few different garnish options, and some higher-end liquors that you enjoy drinking.

If you have a specific drink that you’re an aficionado of, you can stock your bar with that in mind. Display your favorite varieties of whiskey, store your ever-growing wine collection or keep your go-to brews on tap.

If your budget is feeling stretched from building the bar, don’t stress about stocking it all at once. You’ll build it up as you go along.

Other things you’ll want to have are all the tools of the trade. This includes a corkscrew, bottle opener, cocktail shaker and, of course, a sufficient amount of glassware.

If you want to keep it basic, keep a few of each of the following on hand: tall glasses (also called highball or Collins glasses), short glasses (or rocks glasses), cocktail glasses (the kind you’d serve martinis in), shot glasses, wine glasses, and pint glasses or beer mugs. Add to this list any glasses that are specific to your favorite drinks, like a margarita glass, champagne flute, or brandy snifter.

The Environment

Think about what decor and furniture you want in your home dive.

Neon signs are always popular, as are mirrors. Hang a big mirror behind the bar for a classic look. Or find a piece of art that speaks to you.

Good, comfy seating is vital to any basement bar. Since you’re at home, you have the luxury (and perhaps the responsibility) of providing seating that people will actually enjoy.

Look for sturdy stools with backs for your bar seating. And if you don’t already have a couch or a few armchairs in your basement, consider some cozier seating options for you and your guests.

Finally, don’t neglect your bar’s lighting, as that will set the mood of the space. Some new lighting fixtures to match the design scheme, a lighting strip around the bar or a light-up liquor shelf will add to your bar’s ambiance.

The Entertainment

Whether you’re having a big party or hosting a low-key hangout, you want your basement bar area to have some sort of entertainment medium for you and your guests to enjoy, as you can’t expect the bar alone to do all the heavy lifting.

To really play up the dive bar vibe, get a pool table. If you’re a connoisseur of great music, a nice new sound system could help take your parties to the next level.

If you’re building a spot for your crew to watch your sporting events of choice, you might want to invest in a nice TV.

Your bar’s entertainment doesn’t necessarily have to be something expensive. If you like hosting weekly game nights, you could devote a small bookcase to your favorite board and card games. Or your classic movie collection.

The key is to find something that you’ll enjoy, and that will make people want to spend time in the basement you just spent all that time and money renovating.

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Basement Bar?

According to Angie’s List, a simple basement bar should cost around $2,000 to $4,000. Obviously, you can end up spending much more than that depending on the types of materials you use and all the extras you purchase. A larger bar with more features and nicer materials can cost upwards of $10,000.

If you’re handy, you can potentially save some money by taking on some of the work yourself, though certain tasks, like hooking a sink up to running water, should be left to a professional.

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    Molly Grace

    Molly Grace is a staff writer focusing on mortgages, personal finance and homeownership. She has a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University. You can follow her on Twitter @themollygrace.