, , , , , , ,

Step 1. Custom or Non Custom?

Home Bars are becoming more popular for a variety of homeowners.  It can be a focal point for some in the main area of the home, others may want it for a terrace level/basement enhancement, or specifically, for a man cave.   In terms of home entertaining, a bar in the home helps to create the perfect place and atmosphere.

There are a number of high quality bars that can be purchased that are not custom made.  These can be purchased from furniture stores, speciality stores like Crate and Barrel, internet retailers, or catalogs like Frontgate.   Depending on the size of the bar you want, these bars might work well for you.  However, some of these bars can be expensive and they may not have all the features you would really like.  So before you decide against purchasing a non custom bar, check out your local manufacturers and other custom bar manufacturers that will ship right to your driveway.  The rest of this blog post will be for people who make the decision to proceed with a custom bar.

My friend, Fred, has the quintessential custom bar in his home on the terrace level.  His bar is a beautiful classic bar with a bonnet on top and the piece of the bar that lifts up for entry.   I always admired Fred’s bar and thought if we ever were to purchase a custom bar, I would like one similar to his bar. He has an adjacent room that has a multi-bottle wine rack with display shelves and unique crates that hold mixers and soft drinks.  That is how I got interested in having a custom bar in my home.


Fred’s Bar (The KB)


Fred’s Wine Rack and Display

Step 2. Select Your Design

Now that you have made the decision to have a custom bar built, I would suggest you go to the internet and look at several custom bar manufacturers’ websites. There you will find multiple pictures of bars they have built and other additional information that may assist you. You may have custom bar makers in your local area, and many will be glad to discuss in person their operations.


Fred’s Bar Closeup

Step 3.  Selecting Your Location

Now that you have a general idea of a design you would like, you will need to select the location and the amount of space that you would like to devote for the bar. You will need to decide if you want a back bar. This will help determine the total size the bar will be. It will also be a factor in the ultimate cost of the bar.

We decided to add additional square footage for our sunroom. It was a major project that involved changing our roof line from a shed style roof into a cathedral ceiling. We had to remove the existing roof on that part of the house. In that process, I convinced my wife that it would be a great idea to add a home bar at the back of the new sunroom. She agreed.   I used to be a sales and marketing executive and even I was impressed with my sales ability on this one!

If you are thinking about adding new space for your existing home or having a new home built, incorporating your bar into the design provides advantages. You can easily wire the space for the lights of the bar and/or television and other placement of electrical outlets. Additionally, you can do the plumbing for a wet sink and ice maker.


Location Of My Bar

Step 4.   Setting a Budget

Now that you have the location, footprint size of the bar, and a general design idea of the type bar you would like, you can set a tentative budget for the amount you would like to spend on your bar. I emphasize tentative as you will need to be a bit flexible. In your idea of a dream bar, you may have everything picked out.  But in reality, as you go through the process, there may be details that you just must have that you haven’t thought about. And there may be some items that you decide you can forgo. So try and be somewhat adaptable about the budget. I will give you a couple of examples from my experience.  I really wanted to have a bar with the bonnet like my friend’s bar.  But the new sunroom did not really conform to a bonnet design. Not having the bonnet reduced the price of the bar. But I really wanted to have a wood front on the ice maker and the refrigerator. And after seeing a bar that had medallions on the bar and egg and dart molding I really wanted that for my bar.  That raised the cost of the bar.  Being a former CEO of a furniture importer, one of my designers told me that it’s sometimes little things on the piece that draw your eye and makes one so attracted to the item. So it is with the bar.


My Unfinished Bar Without Egg and Dart Detail

Step 5. Selecting The Features

Decisions, decisions, decisions. I did not realize the number of decisions I would be making in regard to the bar. What style bar do you want, classic, contemporary, industrial?  Do you want a custom mirror?  What type lights and how many lights do you want? How many shelves do you want?  Do you want a space for a TV and if so, what size?  And you will need to make decisions on the appliance items and other accessories you want in your bar.  Do you want a refrigerator, ice maker, beer tap, dishwasher, wet or dry sink or a built in trash bin?

What size sink and what finish?  What brand of appliances do you want to select for your bar?  Are they customizable for adding a coordinating, matching color of door? What color finish do you want on the bar?  If you have a bar rail, what finish do you want on the rai?.  Your manufacturer will walk you through much of this, but these are some of the things you should consider. The manufacturer will be cutting holes for the various appliances you will select so you need to preselect the brand appliance so they know the exact dimensions.  Some bar manufacturers have worked out details with appliance manufacturers and they have good prices for those items.  So check with your manufacturer.


Wood Insert Doors For Ice Maker & Refrigerator

Step 6. Select Your Manufacturer

When selecting your design, you have already researched the various bar makers that ship and/or local manufacturers that you can work with. It is now your decision to select the maker that you believe will deliver the bar at the price, the quality, the design, and the time you want the bar delivered.  I would recommend you select at least two manufacturers (if possible) to obtain quotes.  I have found that the manufacturers were not interested in negotiating their prices.  Hey, it’s custom!   However, if you have two or more makers providing quotes, and if all things are basically equal, then you will be obtaining the best price possible.  I would ask about the terms and how much the deposit will be. And I would get a contract with everything that is supposed to go into the bar including any cost of shipping and installation.  Get a color panel that that has the finish and gloss level that you want.  You keep one panel with your signature and the manufacturer keeps one so they finish off your bar perfectly.  Most custom bars take about 10-12 weeks to build.  I would also see if the maker either can send you photos of the bar as it goes through the production process or if a local maker, if you could visit once when it is at the unfinished state.


Close Up Of Egg Dart Detail

Step 7. Installation

I was fortunate that my maker was local and that the cost of my bar included installation.  If your bar is being shipped to you, some makers will come to install the bar but that can be expensive.  Alternatively, they may have local installers they can recommend.  You will need to check with your bar maker for details. Make sure you are at home so you can inspect the bar and make sure everything goes as planned.  Remember the bar is a real investment that will provide you many years of fun and memories.  And if you sell your home, it will add value in the sell price to your home as well.


Bringing The Bar Into Home


Going Into The Pool?


Bar On Wheels


Back Bar Into Position


Top of Back Bar Awaiting Installation


Yes, It’s  Heavy!


Final Touches For The Bar

Final Thoughts

If you decide to purchase a custom bar, I hope all goes as smoothly as my custom bar production experience.  I have enjoyed my bar every day and have created many fond memories with friends and family.  As the owner of my bar manufacturer related to me one day, he had a client that was selling his airplane and buying a custom bar.  His reasoning was that he only used his plane 2 or 3 times a month, but he would use his bar everyday.  I’ll drink to that!



First Night Bar Was Installed


Mike’s Bar Today

Until next time, have fun at your favorite bar!


You can contact me at mike@bartalk.org

Twitter Instagram:  @bartalk4