Dear James: My combo living room/dining room would be better for entertaining if it had a wet bar. How can I build a very strong one myself, and what is the best size for it? —Ted T.
Dear Ted: You cannot go wrong for entertaining, convenience, and resale value by adding a wet bar to your house. The small refrigerator, freezer, sink, and tall bar stools can be used by your entire family. Obviously, it comes in handy when entertaining and relaxing with a drink.
It is good that you mentioned “strong,” because a lightweight, flimsy one can be uncomfortable and dangerous. People who have been drinking may have impaired balance and may fall against the bar. Also, with the typical tall bar stools, even a sober person can lose balance and reach for the bar for support.
Hopefully, one end of a standard straight bar can be attached to a perpendicular wall to provide much more stability than a freestanding, totally detached bar. If you are designing a detached bar, design it to be L-shaped to give more depth and stability to at least one end.
Another design for increased stability for a detached bar is to build a small storage closet at one end. The closet will provide additional depth at that end to support the bar. Make the closet strong by using a 4-by-4-foot posts as its frame. It will be hidden inside a corner of the closet, so it won’t take up much space.
A homemade bar can be made any size, but a depth of about 24 inches is typical. This is deep enough to provide stability and adequate top surface area. If you plan to use tall bar stools, design it with about a 10-inch overhang. This makes it comfortable to reach a drink on the bar top without banging one’s knees on the bar front.
It is also wise to have a small overhang in the back of the bar. This not only looks good but also provides protection for the shelves and refrigerator from a spilled drink. For tall bar stools, the height of the bar top from the floor should be 40 to 44 inches. A 6- to 8-inch footrest ledge is comfortable for an average-size person.
Any typical kitchen countertop material also works fine for a bar. These include solid surface materials, granite, marble, laminate, etc. The heavier countertop materials are popular today, and the additional weight creates more stability for the entire bar.
Plan the height and depth of the shelving under the bar based upon the items you plan to store. Measure the height of the liquor bottles so they all fit, unless you plan to place them on shelves on the wall behind the bar. A blender is often used at a bar as well as the typical mixing tools. Don’t forget room for glasses and eating utensils and perhaps a small microwave oven.
If you want to get creative with the styling of the bar, consider several options. For a ’50s-style bar, consider adding a root beer fountain and ice cream freezer for the children. A stainless steel countertop and black-and-white checkered stool would be nice. Another more contemporary design may use an all-wood countertop and stools.
Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244, or visit Dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Creators.com. Copyright 2020 Creators.com