Building your Own home bar
Every guy wants a place to hang out with friends. And the ultimate feature for any man cave is a bar. We talked with dozens of bar builders—DIYers and pros—and collected their best ideas for the perfect home bar.
Most of our bar builders just wanted a convenient spot to get together with the guys—a watering hole without crowds or noise, where you can flip on the game or music you want or switch it all off. But several also mentioned saving on entertainment. A night out on the town is expensive. But if your guests chip in for drinks and snacks, an evening in your home bar is dirt-cheap. So if your wife isn't too thrilled with your bar plan, present it as a smart investment strategy.
Anatomy of a Bar
A. Standard bar height is 42 in. Bar stools will be easier to find if you stick with that height.
B. The overhang should be at least 8 in., but when it comes to knee room, more is better.
C. Most bar stools are 30 in. tall—perfect for standard bar height. But watch out: Some stools are several inches taller or shorter.
D. The bar top should be 16 to 20 in. wide, including the molding; more than that is a waste of space.
E. Bar molding serves three critical purposes:
- It keeps spilled drinks from dribbling off the bar and onto your lap.
- It provides a comfy armrest and lets you properly slouch over your beer.
- Most important, it makes your home bar look more official.
F. The drink rail is where drinks get poured on a traditional bar. It's a nice feature, but not a necessity for a home bar.
G. A drip lip—simply a thin strip of protruding wood—keeps spills from running off the bar top.
H. A lower counter is the perfect place to slice lemons, set bottles or install a bar sink. But it adds complexity to the project and eats up a lot of space, so home bar builders often skip it.
J. The minimum stool spacing is 2 ft. of bar per seat. That will feel crowded to big guys, so go to 30 in. if you can.
K. The foot rail should be 7 to 9 in. off the floor. Metal railing (usually brass) is expensive ($200 for an 8-ft. run), so many home bars have a simple ledge instead.