Last updated on September 16, 2021
A home bar is a great idea if you want to have a cozy engaging space that serves as either a retreat area in the evenings or as a snazzy space during gatherings and occasions.
Especially if you have the space for it, a bar inside your home will definitely be the center of attention on your street as it provides everybody with an area to relax, unwind, and enjoy talking with some music!
Before we get to bar ideas for the basement, let’s start with the basics.
Every basement bar needs space for…
The basement is one of the best places to put a home bar since the entire space can be dedicated solely for it and it can help conceal the noise.
If you also have the idea of transforming your basement into a bar, then the next points below explain exactly why the basement is the perfect spot.
As a reference, floor space required to comfortably fit at least 10 people is anywhere between 125-225sq.ft (12-20sq.m).
1. For general backup storage of food and beverages
A bar has to have food and drinks ready. That’s why we mentioned floor space.
It could be very cramped if you constructed a bar under our minimum recommended size because general health guidelines insist that at least 25% of the entire kitchen area be allotted for backup food and drink storage.
2. For moving and dance space
Your basement, minus the bar top counter and seating, more on this later, should be spacious enough to allow for dancing without people bumping into each other.
A 20sq.m area is usually enough for 6 people to dance at a time.
3. For a Dj when available
Especially if you get professionals, they’ll require at least 1sq.m solely for them and their equipment.
Depending on their kit, on their own, they can take up the space good for 3 people.
4. For serving food and beverages
If you plan on adding tables, then a bigger space is definitely better.
Also, relative to the total floor area, you have to ensure that there is enough pathway for you to be able to effectively serve food and drinks once things start getting busy.
At least 3-foot walkways.
5. For sitting and relaxing
Lounge chairs, sofas, couches, and even bean bag cushions all make for some very relaxing seating options.
These will need considerable space as they’re much bulkier than normal stools and chairs.
6. For pool table and arcade games
These are more luxurious than core elements. They’re nice to have, but not necessarily essential. Plus they take up a lot of space. Even a mini-pool table measures 7ft – 84×42 inches to be exact. A single arcade unit is at least 40 inches tall and 27 inches across.
But if you have the space, or if you can DIY a pool table or an arcade game even better!
The bar countertop: where the long talks happen
The bar counter is the iconic long table that graces every bar, pub, and tavern since time immemorial. It’s where drinks are made and served; where stories are told; and even where opinions and ideas are shared and discussed.
It’s where magic and mingle interact in the world of social drinking. If you had no ideas for building a bar countertop in the basement, below are all that you’ll need to make the best ones.
Materials You can use to build a bar table.
Elegant, sleek, and if you’re after longevity with a mix of more modernity.
For more traditional looks and natural ambiance.
- Plywood (+stain and finish)
Things to Build into your bar table
Core features for smoother operations.
- Bar wall – Separates the front from the back bar.
- Bar rail – Moldings that double as arm and glass rest.
- Foot rail – Additional seating support where guests can rest their feet.
The back bar: where the magic happens
The back bar is where mixing and pouring happens. It’s where glassware, liquor, and other supplies are kept.
It is essentially the heart of the bar and includes its own set of core elements to ensure service efficiency and enjoyable experiences.
Essentially a glass holder behind the bar top is used for mixing.
Catches spills and bits of food leftover. Helps maintain cleanliness and offers easier after-service cleaning.
Additional space beneath the bar for sinks, kegs, and the like to further enhance utility.
These have to be durable(load-bearing) and water-resistant (anti-corrosion).
- Same material as your bar top.
- Oak, Maple, or any other water-resistant hardwood.
- Plywood with the proper protective finish.
- Treated metal (aluminum, stainless, galvanized).
Things you can put on the main wall
Check out these design ideas for the basement bar main wall:
1. Open shelves
Open shelves as an aesthetic choice are simple, inexpensive, and very complimentary regardless of the interior.
They open up the place more and add space and warmth, not to mention their flexibility in terms of space for item-display options.
You don’t even need to consult your significant other, just get yourself a trusty power drill and the rest will follow.
2. Doorless cabinets
For a bar, doorless cabinets are a great way to showcase what drinks and treats you have available.
Besides the aesthetic appeal, doorless cabinets also provide secondary storage spaces that are easy to get in too.
The best thing about these is you don’t have to buy them – you can make them yourself using a cordless circular saw and some screws.
3. Signage art
Signs and art pieces are timeless. To some, they help tell stories, to others they help relieve fond memories and inspire dreams.
They’re great additions to a bar and will help maintain and promote a cool atmosphere.
All you need would be a dependable hammer, nails, or some adhesive hooks.
4. A television
No doubt that certain visitors would also be avid TV-goers.
A TV in the bar is a great way to further unwind and relax. Play the best-rated movies or live stream the latest sports games, a TV will provide much-welcomed entertainment. You don’t have to get multiple ones.
A single widescreen on a reliable TV mount will do.
Fridge is a must.
Beverage-specific fridges, often mini-fridges, are much smaller than their all-purpose cousins but are nonetheless essential for bars. Most beverages to be stored are beers, sodas, and pre-mixed cocktails. Most decent fridges are sized 3.2 to 5.75 cubic feet (Cu.f) and can hold between 40 – 86 cans.
Ideal locations would either be in the underbar or on the back shelf behind the bar, preferably away from heat sources like ovens, or a wood burner.
Consider these add-ons
1. A grill
Grills are great and compact grillers are even better!
While you could certainly fit a full-sized backyard griller in the basement, a smaller one would be better so that you save some extra space.
A grill helps make juicy, mouthwatering meals as well as fills the room with a haze of aromatic smoke. Help set the mood.
2. An oven
Doesn’t have to be a full oven; most electric toaster ovens are able to fit on a shelf counter and still achieve the needed temperatures to bake and cook specialty dishes.
Heat certain food or make tasty finger-snacks with something like a or a Ninja Foodi should do the trick.
3. A mini-stove
A camping stove or an induction cooker can help provide some extra heating options without having to take up extra space.
If you need something boiled or stir-fried, then you can do so from the comfort of the bar counter. An induction cooker just needs an outlet and a camping stove runs on gas canisters, roughly around 8oz.
4. Soda stream
Need to carbonate drinks?
Then a soda stream should definitely be on the list. Relatively inexpensive and quite simple to use, a soda stream can complete any bartender’s arsenal.
Whether it’s carbonating your own tonic or adding a little extra fizz to blends, a soda stream sits just about up there in a bar just as much as a coffee maker would in a cafe.
You can simply make your own cocktails without having to buy tonic water or consume unnecessary plastic.
5. Popcorn machine
Add a little bit of color and liveliness with a popcorn machine.
Popcorn makes for a great snack and is a favored munchy for conversation.
You can be modern with compact poppers, or, if you have the space, be a little more classical with something like a Roosevelt Antique Popper.
6. Deep fryer
No one can resist some good, deep-fried taters. Besides popcorn, deep-fried food such as french fries, hash browns, chicken fritters, or your big catch of fish offers more flavor and filling per serving.
They’re comfort food and no joint is just the same without one on a cold raining day. Modern deep fryers are sleek, compact, efficient, and neat. Just check out the 4-Quart Deep Fryer to see what we mean.
Your choice of lighting says a lot.
When it comes to setting mood and tone, one of the biggest determinants would be the lighting. If you want your bar to be lively, hip, fresh; or somber and relaxing, then you’ll have to get matching lights. Below are some lighting ideas to help achieve the type of atmosphere you would want for your bar.
Choose between cool and warm colors to help highlight and distinguish other visual elements such as interior color, wall accents, and various interior accessories.
- LED Track lighting. Lights are arranged along with a line ideal for accentuating areas above interest points. (I.E Bar counter, etc.)
- Pendant lights. Lights that hang from the ceiling that serve as focal points and make use of various bulbs and interesting shades.
- Industrial lights. Trendy lighting that focuses on the showcase of exposed bulbs, unfinished metal surfaces, and other mechanical aspects.
- Uplighting. An option to further make the bar counter stand out by emanating light from the bar top itself.
- Ambient lights. Subtle lighting options to highlight edges, corners, and other interior elements that would indicate separation. Also offers a more futuristic vibe.
- String lights. A lighting technique that serves more as a decorative than as the main source. Can bend and curve along with certain interiors to add variety and curiosity. Think Christmas lights here.
- Stained glass. Stained glass offers a more shaded option with a focus on colorful glass panels that help give a more classic and dramatic atmosphere. You can make various patterns and it can even be used as pool lighting.
- Chandeliers. Large and rather space-consuming, these are extravagant lights that definitely steal the show. They can emit strong light and do really well over bar tops and tables.
Has mainly to do with lumens(intensity of brightness). Style is secondary.
Some of the most common ones:
- Standard (Iridescent)
- CFL (Spiral)
- Fluorescent tubes (Can be subject to annoying flickering)
- LEDs (Most energy efficient)
Hanging glass racks?
Installing some hanging glass racks is both decorative and helps save additional space while providing more storage at the same time.
Especially if most of your guests are more into cocktails, mixes, and wine, then a hanging glass rack is the perfect choice to easily store multiple wine glasses at once.
You can go with more traditional ones with a wooden frame for some added flair, or modern ergonomic ones made of wired chrome.
Adding a couch?
A couch adds plenty of comfort to the bar. However, they also take up quite a bit of space. A standard sofa is usually 2m long, meaning that if you have 300sq.ft (28sq.m) of space, 1 sofa alone would take up about 14% of the total area.
Gaming area in your basement bar?
If you haven’t come up with easy bar ideas for the basement, go for the dartboard. Nothing beats testing one’s accuracy after having been intoxicated than with a game of darts.
Almost every gentleman’s club has a dartboard back in the day and without one, a bar just wouldn’t feel complete.
Quality dartboards are vibrant and will definitely help pass everyone’s time, not to mention provide an activity to help those who’ve had a bit too much to drink sober up.
Who says chess can’t be a bar game? It is Another great basement bar game idea for small spaces.
Whether you get a quality classic set, such as The Championship Series, or have an integrated chess table where you can enjoy either a game or some drinks, the fact is that those who enjoy a little intellectual interaction will definitely get a kick out of this.
3. Billiard pool
Pool tables can take up a lot of space. However, they can also provide even more of that amount in entertainment.
Billiards in a bar helps keep things cool and keeps people engaged.
Rowdy guests? Not a problem, as there are some quality pool tables out there under $1000 that have scratch-resistant beds.
An alternative to the pool would be a shuffleboard. They’re no shorter but are at least more slender.
You’re able to fit a shuffleboard board in half the amount of space compared to a billiard table so if you want to save space for other things this is an idea.
They perfectly combine modern design with classic taste as the actual boards used in their manufacturing are often treated and finished hardwood.
5. Beer pong
Beer pong tables look very retro and, unless you have them custom painted, can seem very out of place aesthetically, especially in a more classic themed bar.
However, appearances aside, beer pong is quite the game and really brings out peoples’ excitement.
The standard measure for a beer pong table is 8ft x 24inches – fits 10 cups on each side. And can also be doubled for a table tennis game.
6. Video games
A retro arcade machine or a gaming area will allow younger audiences to still enjoy.
It’ll need a substantial amount of space since you’ll need to allocate it for seating options, screens and monitors, and the consoles themselves.
Alternatively, active setups that don’t require seating, such as motion-sensitive games or VR, will instead need added floor space so as to allow for less restricted movement.
No bar makes it without good tunes. Even without a live band, a good karaoke machine, or even a classic jukebox will surely set the mood right.
Modern karaokes are portable and compact, easily set up, and easily stored as necessary.
If you already have TVs, all you need to do is hook it up to a laptop and a microphone and let the night ride.
8. Table football
Affectionately named “Foosball”, football enthusiasts will surely enjoy this table-top classic. These are smaller compared to pool tables, so you can probably fit 2 or even 3 of them in a 200sq.ft area.
They come in many designs and from different materials, but the good-looking ones are often those with either metallic or hardwood frames.
9. Throwing axes
If you have the space, instead of the usual darts you can opt for the more unconventional but also more interesting axe throw.
Standard pro measures require the lanes to be at least 15ft long, but in a basement bar you can tone this down to at least 5ft.
Repurposed scrap wood will do for the boards, so you just need to pick out some nice Tomahawks.
NOTE: Potentially high hazard, Cage the area so no one can go in front of the axe throw. Design it so that nothing is behind the thrower either.
Choosing a theme
Pick your bar’s main flavor. This will dictate the direction of all design elements. Here are some DIY theme plans for the basement bar.
1. All bottled-up
This theme heavily centers on showcasing and using bottles as the main design element.
All you have to focus on is how you can use bottles as meaningful decoratives.
You can peel off brands on empty liquor and have them match your lighting or color scheme by tinting or even simply space fully-labeled drinks all around to give the illusion and feeling of being in a distillery.
A sports-themed bar features livelier and more vibrant colors, often those that correspond to your favorite sports team.
You make it feel more like a sports lounge, with Livestream TVs with all the big sports channels and memorabilia such as jerseys and replica trophies lining the walls and shelves.
Don’t forget to add a Football table!
3. Virtual reality or futuristic
Other than the drinks, all you’d need for a VR-themed bar are lights and more screens.
Futuristic designs are like minimalist ones, not too much on accents and decoratives, but more on composition.
Often, ambient lighting along with sleek, black, and white colors are what you use to achieve a futuristic look.
Futuristic, low-rise furniture also helps add to the glamour.
To pull off a rustic look, the majority of visual elements must either be wood or at least look like it.
This can be in the form of wood flooring, full hardwood bar wall, and counter, wood cladding, wooden furniture frames and centerpieces, country-side lighting – basically everything that would make the bar feel like an outdoor cabin or country retreat lounge.
Have a look at getting an Alaskan mill and start milling your own lumber for this!
A modern bar is characterized by highlighting the bar itself through the clever arrangement of furniture, accents, and lighting.
Modern bars usually go with a combination of ambient, uplighting, and track lights along with compact and ergonomic furniture, wall elements, and interior room layout.
Modern bars also go with darker colors which help add space and class.
A vintage bar look is actually one of the harder themes to go with because of the effort it takes to acquire the key design elements.
Vintage bars usually have dual-tone tile floors, brightly colored leather upholstery, and a ton of various wall signages and paintings.
To really bring it home, some even include actual beer kegs, neon lighting, and even vintage jukeboxes.
A simple bar idea for the basement. An all-white bar is among the cleanest, if not the cleanest, looking theme.
It’s simple, spacious, with a very pristine appearance. An all-white theme usually has the bar area, floors, and walls in white.
Certain furniture, like bar stools and table-side chairs, are black to provide a little contrast. White is also very reflective, making it perfect for ambient lighting with bright colors.
But for many, this theme lacks character and can be just plain boring.
8. Metallic theme
This theme comes straight from a mechanic for engineers’ dream.
Basically, it will have the majority of visual elements either in metal or coated with a metallic finish.
From the countertop to table and chair legs, to cabinets and shelves, a metallic theme makes the bar look shiny and spotless. It’s like an in-between theme for modern and futuristic.
Stainless steel and Aluminum is your friend here.
9. Wooden theme
Similar to a rustic theme, a wooden theme focuses on the use of wood mainly to highlight the bar area and serve to ascend certain parts of the room like the mid-walls, tables, flooring, and parts of the ceiling (I.E wood beams).
It mainly has to do with the bar area – the countertop, front and back bar, as well as the surrounding walls, should be of the same type of wood or at least highly complimentary.
A minimalist bar theme focuses more on total composition than individual design elements.
The thing with a minimalist theme is to do it as it sounds – as simple and direct as possible. It can be a marble countertop against wooden walls with basic high bar stools, three on-roof track lights, and a shelf with one cactus for decoration.
Knowledge in mixing drinks
If you want to be a full-blown bartender, then they do offer an entire college program for that. Fortunately, you need only the basics for drink-mixing enough to at least effectively run your home bar.
Now we won’t go into too many details, but in a nutshell, remember these points:
- A base like a whiskey, a soda stream for the fizz, and homegrown fruits or real fruit syrups is all you need to start with ICE.
- Whiskey has the lowest interface taste for a cocktail base and is recommended for all fruit-based cocktails over other spirits.
- Learn and stick to the classics such as the Margarita and The Cosmopolitan.
- Aim for balance. Don’t make it a chemistry experiment and attempt to mix an entire plate of available ingredients.
- Cocktails look nice. These drinks look enticing and classy, like the fading blend of the Dark ‘N’ Stormy.
- Alcohol is key. Experts recommend at least a double shot of whatever is the base spirit to be used.
- Don’t forget the ice.
You need an awesome surround sound system
Even if you’re after vintage, you’re not gonna blast those tunes the way they’re meant to be blasted without an awesome surround sound system. With good surround sound, you can nearly double the immersive experience that your bar offers.
Whether it’s music or wanting to hear commentary on the latest NBA game, something like a Sonos Playbar offers a sound solution that’s compact, clear, and utterly surreal.
Planning to convert your basement into a home bar is one of the most ambitious home projects you can tackle. There are a lot of elements to conceptualize and work on and the entire thing is both exciting as it is exhausting.
Luckily, the project can be cut down with the help of a few power tools and some how-to guides. Get yourself at least one mate to help out and you’re that much closer to getting your dream bar.
Get your power tools together and show us what you come up with.
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