Some homeowners continue to say “cheers” to having their own bar at home.
The sizes and looks vary, from English-style pubs to tiki-themed to sleek modern bars, as do the functions, with cocktail bars serving alcohol and wine, or espresso bars crafting fancy coffees. While bars in homes are mostly for adults, some builders say smoothie and juice bars also could appeal to health-conscious folks or parents.
William Fadul, a principal with Atlanta-based Mosaic Group Architects and Remodelers, says bars have become fairly frequent requests.
Java jolt for homeowners
When homeowners invest in espresso and latte machines that can cost hundreds of dollars, the machines may garner more attention in the design of the home.
“I honestly think it’s the next thing,” said Janice Dietz, interior designer and owner of The Consulting House, based in Atlanta.
When the owner of the home selected for the 2013 Atlanta Symphony Decorator’s Show House and Gardens told Dietz that coffee was important, she decided to devote a room in the basement to espresso. The bar, which holds a commercial espresso machine from Espresso Southeast and a sink, has a metal countertop made out of pewter with a three-inch decorative solid metal edge.
Other elements, such as tile laid into wood wainscoting on the walls and two rows of glass silos from Turkey that display coffee beans, add to the room’s cafe theme. The Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer drawers (with an ice maker) are hidden by cabinet fronts, which Dietz said keeps the cabinet from feeling as if it belonged in a kitchen.
“People have become more and more infatuated with high-quality coffee, espresso and cappuccino machines,” Fadul said. “Obviously we’ve graduated over the decades from Mr. Coffee sitting on the countertop to really sophisticated machines. The nicer the equipment is, the more it deserves its own focal point.”
Bars for all home sizes
The 18,000-square-foot show house offered enough space for an espresso room with cozy seating areas, including two chairs around a table and a chair with an ottoman. But Dietz notes that homeowners don’t need to own an estate to have an espresso bar, which also could fit in a butler’s pantry off the kitchen, master bedroom/bathroom or home office.
When homeowners don’t have a basement or prefer to add a bar elsewhere, builders can tuck them into nooks on the main level. Fadul calls them “walk-up wet bars,” with cabinets against the walls. There’s often still space for a small sink and appliances such as an ice maker and a mini-fridge or wine cooler.
A simple wet bar, including appliances, can cost in the $15,000-$25,000 range, Fadul estimates, while full, more elaborate bars can reach from $25,000-$50,000, or higher.
In a Brookhaven home, Mosaic Group converted a tiny bathroom off the kitchen and den into a bar, with room for a small sink, glass-fronted cabinets and wine cooler. A coffee bar in a master bedroom in Marietta is among the nooks Mosaic Group has created for homeowners who need their coffee first thing in the morning.
Another option is to bring in a cabinet or armoire to display and store drinks, stemware and equipment. Interior designer Jessica Duncan, owner of Manor & Laine, used an old wood cabinet as a bar in her client’s Atlanta bungalow. It was important to incorporate the piece, found in Savannah by the homeowner’s late grandfather and a staple in his grandparents’ home, into the Atlanta bachelor’s home, she said. The cabinet was originally on a long wall that guests saw when first walking in, but moving it to the living room helped transform the space into a more cozy area, Duncan said. She adds that the piece is multifunctional, serving as a bar and extra storage.
“It now gets as much deserved attention as use,” she said.
When homeowners have the space, some want the bar to be the focus of areas such as a basement or terrace level. Bars can become more grandiose, with multiple stools at a custom-made countertop, extensive cabinet space and architectural features such as columns, detailed trim work and ceiling treatments. In a Roswell home with a nearly 2,000-square-foot basement, builder JR McDowell added a bar to the vast space, which was set up as a game room. Custom cabinets, with inset doors and drawer fronts, added to the traditional look of the bar. Some bars, from those in downtown condos to the suburbs, are spacious enough to accommodate a bartender during parties.
Think before you take a drink
Consider what functionality you want from the space, Dietz said. Will it be a single- or multi-person gathering area? Do you envision a space to lounge or hold meetings? These answers will dictate the type and quantity of seating, where to situate the room, the appliances, plumbing and storage needs, and the type of machine, based on what you want to serve (such as coffee, tea and hot chocolate).
It’s important to have adequate space behind the counter and to plan for traffic patterns around the bar, said McDowell, owner of JR McDowell Homes, an Atlanta custom homebuilder.
In an Ansley Park basement, Mosaic Group renovated a basement to create a bedroom and bathroom on one side, and a cozy lounge area with chairs, a TV and a fireplace next to the bar. Upper cabinets are against the wall in the bar, which also has a sink, ice maker and refrigerator.
Extras, such as cabinet lighting and a TV, could require more outlets and wiring. Homeowners typically will need a sink that measures 10 inches in depth coupled with an arched faucet, McDowell said. That way, wine glasses and other items easily will fit into the sink. Depending on how often you’ll use the space, a dishwasher may be needed.
Also, think about the bar’s proximity to existing facilities and appliances, Fadul said. If you’re interested in making cold coffee drinks, access to ice will be important.
“You don’t necessarily want to invest in a full-on wet bar with all the appliances involved when maybe 15 or 20 feet from you is a full kitchen indoors, where there may already be an ice maker,” Fadul said. “We pay a lot of attention to that, to keep the investment reasonable.”