Custom Bar DIY: Designing the Perfect Home Bar (Guest Post by Adriana Lopez of Porch)

by | Jan 27, 2021 | Home Bar

If you enjoy going out for an occasional adult beverage, then you’re probably really missing being in bars by now.  Now that we’ve adapted to this “new normal” of staying safe at home, it’s the perfect time to consider designing your own home bar. Customized and ready for you to enjoy, you can make yourself craft cocktails in the comfort of your own place.

It can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish! With just a few steps, you can easily design a custom bar where you can mix, sip, and mingle. From having the most important drink essentials to the actual build-out, here are some tips that will inspire you to design your new DIY-style bar.


Start with the Space You Have

Before you start, keep in mind you’ll need to designate a space for the buildout in your home. Whether your house is large or small, start by focusing on a home bar that’s fun and functional. Make sure your space is comfortable and that there’s enough room for storage, mixing drinks, and serving simultaneously. Also, remember to consider your budget in advance.

Obviously, larger homes with an extra bedroom, extended garage, or a basement offer you bigger possibilities. But, if you live in an apartment or condo, you can always enjoy creating a home bar in a corner of your living room or a section of the eat-in kitchen. Do a walkthrough at your place to get a few ideas for the right bar location. When you start the process of designing and building your bar, you’ll come up with fun ideas and designs — no matter how large or small.


Designing and Building your Bar

There are no rules when it comes to creativity and style when you are building your DIY bar. There are certainly a few must-haves, but you’re free to design and build any way you see fit. If you need a bit of help with the build, you call in a DIY-ing friend or family member, or you can always hire an expert. You can purchase a pre-built bar cabinet at your local or online furniture store, or for those who want to truly DIY, here are some important details for you to consider.


Bar Dimensions

Height: Should be 42 inches high with an overhang of at least 8 inches.

Depth: Average bar tops are between 16 and 20 inches deep, but you can make yours deeper if you have the space or narrower if you don’t.

Barstool height: Standard barstools are typically 30-inches tall. You should look for stools after you build the bar to ensure a proper fit, and consider ones that have adjustable height settings.



Wood. For the frame and top of your bar, use high-quality lumber and plywood. Use standard wood screws to connect the frame!

Bar top. You can get super creative in this part. There are endless choices for the finished top of your bar! These include wood, stone, tile, and stainless steel. Here are a few ideas…

  • Build a shallow frame; fill it with pennies, poker chips, poppies, small stones and encase it in clear resin
  • Add a concrete top; and embed it with broken glass, dye or etch it, or polish it — or all of the above
  • Construct a top from reclaimed barnwood; an old bowling alley floor, or a vintage formica countertop

Bar molding. Molding can make a bar look finished and attractive according to the construction and style. The best bet is pre-cut molding, which can be stained or painted.

Bar front. The front of the bar can be just about anything. Why not trying galvanized steel for a modern, industrial look? A tin ceiling tiles for vintage vibes? Fabric for a warm, cozy feeling? Or DIY-stained glass?



Making sure you have all the tools and fasteners you’ll need is a must! These may include the following:

  • Miter saw, table saw, circular saw, and/or jigsaw
  • Drill and wood or metal screws
  • Nail gun and nails
  • Hammer and finishing nails
  • Level, tape measure, pencil, and T-square or carpenter square
  • Hand sander and sanding paper
  • Adhesive and caulk gun

Remember your must-have safety gear:

  • Gloves for hauling wood and heavy things
  • Protective eyewear for using power tools
  • Ear plugs for using loud saws
  • A complete first-aid kit, just in case


Bar Essentials

So now your bar is complete! Stock it with the essentials to be functional.

Bar Furniture. Padded bar stools for you and your guests. The most comfortable are those with a back. Stools with a footrest are also extremely important. If you choose swivel bar stools, make it easier for people to rotate and enjoy great conversations. For extra storage, a separate bar cabinet will be useful for your bar area. And if the overall space is large, it’s a good idea to decorate it with lounge furniture.

Lighting. Give your bar area a moodier vibe with lamps, pendant lights, or even color-changing LED string lights. Just make sure they look classy.

Music. Keep the party going with music, thereby setting the perfect mood. Whether you prefer an old-school record player or wirelessly pair your phone to your Bluetooth speaker, get it all set up now. 

Glassware. It is recommended to stock your bar with a variety of glassware. Beer steins and pint glasses for brews, low-ball and highball glasses for spirits, and shot glasses for shooters. Hang your wine and champagne glasses upside down from the bar, if you’re able. They’ll still end up upright by the end of the night. Another option? Stemless, egg-shaped glasses for the wine and bubbly.

Mixology Tools. For making cocktails in the right way, you definitely need a few essential mixing tools, such as a mixing glass, shaker, jigger, and a Hawthorne strainer. Cocktails that include fresh citrus will need a juice hand-press; while a nice vegetable peeler is great for garnishes. Also, a beer bottle opener and wine bottle opener. Ice buckets are an additional touch, if you want to avoid trips from the bar to the fridge and back.

Spirits: Stock up your bar with a variety of spirits, to keep things fresh and exciting at the same time, including a good bottle of rum, vodka, tequila, brandy, Scotch, gin, and bourbon; as well as your favorite mixers. Start with a couple of your favorite liquors, then grow your bar from the basics as time goes on and you learn your guests and your preferences.



Your new home bar should have the proper storage to hold and protect your tools, bottles, and drinkware. Spirits should be stored in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. Too much light affects the flavor of your drinks and causes them to taste watered down, as well as look bleached out in color.

Mixing tools can be stored in a drawer behind the bar or in a big pitcher or vase on top of the bar. Glassware should be on shelves behind or under the bar. Keep your beverage napkins, stirrers, and straws in a caddy on top of the bar; modern metal ones look great!

To take your bar to another level, consider adding an under-bar fridge, ice maker, wine cooler, sink, or beer tap setup.


Entertaining in your New Bar Space

Adding a few classic forms of entertainment will make your bar more exciting; as somewhere everyone can gather, celebrate, and enjoy at the same time. Here are some tips for entertainment you can include so it’s always a great time!

  • Classic games such as dominos, chess, checkers, and playing cards are always welcome at a bar
  • Board games makes it great for bonding times and having fun with friends.
  • A karaoke machine allows you or your guests to be  the stars of the show. Add some more fun with colorful flashing lights, a disco ball, and a wireless sound system
  • What about a dartboard, foosball table, or pool table?
  • A jukebox is a fun and unique addition!
  • A flat-screen TV behind the bar would be awesome if  you’re a big sports fan or enjoy watching movies


The Devil is in the Details

Accessories!  Don’t be shy using them. Oversized mirrors, a fun painted mural, or a beautiful tile backsplash, will take things over the top. Movie posters, sports memorabilia, or rock ‘n roll art make the space unique. Consider chalkboards on the wall where your friends and family can have fun doodling and getting creative as they sip and mingle. When it comes to the small details, the sky’s the limit! Have fun and make sure that your custom home bar is a place where people will have fun together.


Whether it’s a huge custom bar or a charming small corner of your den, creating “the bar” in your home is an extremely rewarding experience. Look for inspiration!  Plan your bar out thoroughly before you begin building. With a touch of creativity, you can add some unique finishing touches that will make your home bar burst with personality. Pretty soon, you’ll be completely content spending time at your home bar, without leaving the house!

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