Q. I want to add a wet bar in my combined family room/kitchen. I have seen some wobbly ones, so I want this one to be stable. How should I build it, and how large should it be?
A wet bar is a wonderful addition to any home, even if you are not big drinkers. Children will like the tall barstools, sink and small refrigerator. For entertaining adult guests, the advantages of a wet bar are obvious.
The stability of a bar is very important. People who have been drinking tend to have impaired balance and may fall against the bar. Also, with the typical tall barstools, even a sober person can lose balance and reach for the bar for support.
If one end of a standard straight bar can be attached to a perpendicular wall, this will provide much more stability than a freestanding bar. If you are designing a detached bar, make it L-shaped to add stability.
Another way to increase stability is to build a small storage closet at one end. Make the closet strong by using a 4-by-4-inch post as its frame. It will be hidden inside a corner of the closet, so it won’t take up much space.
Your bar can be any size, but a depth of about 24 inches is typical. This provides stability and adequate top surface area. If you plan to use tall barstools, provide about a 10-inch overhang. This makes it comfortable to reach for a drink on the bar top without banging knees on the bar front.
It is also wise to have a small overhang in the back of the bar. This looks good and provides protection for the shelves and refrigerator if a drink spills. For tall barstools, 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 works fine for a bar. These include solid surface materials, granite, marble, laminate and so forth. The heavier countertop materials are popular today, and the additional weight creates more stability for the bar.
Plan the height and depth of the shelving under the bar based on the items you intend to store. Measure the height of the liquor bottles so they all fit, unless you want 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.
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