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Old 01-03-2013, 02:10 AM   #1
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Default Bar design advice

So I'm in the (3-year long...that's another story) process of remodeling my basement. Stripped it down to the studs and rebuilt EVERYTHING. The intent has always been to have a bar of some sort in the finished product, and for the longest time, my plan was a freestanding cabinet; glassware stored in the bottom, countertop made of beer bottle caps under a clear epoxy; possibly with a small dry sink, and top-lit shelves above for the liquor bottles, with a dorm fridge in the corner next to it for beers.

Part of my reasoning for this was the drain. For some reason I had it in my head that to put a drain in, I'd have to use a catch basin and pump, pump back up to the ceiling, ACROSS the basement to the main drain stack on the other side of the house, and I've already hung, mudded, & taped the sheetrock on the ceiling. Last evening, something I should have realized a long time ago hit me square in the face: The closet that is 4' from where I envisioned this cabinet sitting is there to hide the drain stack for up upstairs bathroom! There's full plumbing - both water and drain - less than 6' from where I'm putting the bar!!!

So needless to say, last night was spent with a tape measure and notepad in hand, pulling dimensions and formulating a plan. I'm planning on calling the plumber in the morning to see what it will cost to cut out the old cast iron drain stack and replace it with PVC (something I had been thinking about doing anyway), and getting a drain line set up for the bar.

Here's my rough constraints so far: The area in question is about 12' 8" wide, 4' 9 3/4" deep, with a 7' ceiling. The basement is split down the middle by a center support beam, with columns spaced about every 7'. This beam runs parallel with what will be the front of the bar, and is approximately 6' 3" from the front of the bar area. The other half of the room will host a home theater system, which will unfortunately be slightly obscured from a viewing position behind the bar. I envision a sheetrocked stub wall supporting the bar counter, and the top built out of a hardwood faced plywood, with solid wood banding around the outside edge - or possibly a ceramic tile top

Preliminary layout in my head is an 'L' shaped bar, up against the 4'9" wall on the left side and then extending 6', leaving a 'serving' area behind it. Cabinets above the bar on the short side for glassware, and a sink in the back corner. Debating shelves behind the bar (6' side), but space might be a concern. Future endeavors in kegging could lead to a keezer in the closet next to the bar.

Design questions I have at this point:

1) How high should the top of the bar be? In a little looking around today, I saw 42" suggested, which would make sense. Last night I may have been thinking a little higher than that yet; maybe as high as 48".

2) How wide should the top of the bar be? I was initially thinking 18", but again, saw recommendations of 24". I don't want to chew up too much space -- want to have room to move behind the bar, but also would like the counter to be 'usable' space, say if friends want to play a board game or something.

3) How far back from the front edge of the bar should the support wall be? Is 6" enough overhang? 8"? 10"?

I'm going to try and measure out the rest of the basement tonight, and then draw everything up in AutoCAD tomorrow over my lunch break. The way this project has been progressing, I'm looking at 2-3 months minimum for the completion of everything anyway, and the bar will be a "nights & weekends" project for me when I have time to work on it. Any considerations I'm missing, or advice as I move forward on this?

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Old 01-03-2013, 07:16 AM   #2
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For bar height, I would think about why you want in stools. Bar stools I've found can get ridiculously expensive, even without going custom. I can measure my pub table in my garage tomorrow, but I believe it is 43" and I have 29" stools.

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Old 01-05-2013, 03:46 AM   #3
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Got a rough sketch of the basement done yesterday over my lunch hour. The bar is going to go in the upper left hand part of the image; the bottom half will be the home theater area -- it's all one open room, but as I stated before, there's a center beam and support columns dividing the room.

As it's drawn right now, the bar top overhangs the support wall 12" on the stool side, but the more I think about it, the more I think I want to cheat that down to 8", or even 6". With a 2x4 stud wall and sheetrock on the stool side, it'd only leave me about 8" of under-bar storage on the back side. Enough for liquor bottle shelves, but not much else.
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Old 01-05-2013, 04:33 AM   #4
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Maybe I'm misunderstanding your layout, but you seem to be wasting a ton of space. From what I can see, you've laid out a bar that is 6'x4'9", including counters as well as service space. Your actual available space is 11'x12'4". So unless I'm misreading your diagram, you're using less than a quarter of the available square footage (and I think your idea of adding 6" shelves is a no-go unless you're wanting to be a claustrophobic bartender). Why are you limiting the bar size so severely? It seems like a ton of space is being wasted.

Why not push well past the existing 4'9" and well past 6"? You could fit a massive bar in that space if you wanted. Again, unless I'm misunderstanding something here, it seems like you've got a lot of room to play with. The theater is going in the 11'x19' space, right? Is there anything else you're trying to leave room for? I've attached a few terrible scribbles that show some alternate layouts.

biggerbar.jpg   biggerbar2.jpg   biggerbar3.jpg  
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:20 PM   #5
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Well, to be honest, I restricted the size because as a single young male, it is always possible I'll need to upgrade houses within 5 years. Having a bar could be a selling point, having a bar that dominates a major portion of the basement (and dictates the use of said basement) would likely hurt me. That, and I hope to still have room for a small game/poker table to the left of the bar.

Extending the 4'9" is a possibility, even if it is only a foot (support wall even with the adjoining wall, bar overhanging that).

Thanks for the suggestions!

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Old 01-06-2013, 02:24 AM   #6
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That's perfectly reasonable. I understand not wanting to overwhelm the space with a bar, especially if you don't know how long you'll be keeping the place. Just keep in mind that you'll also want to minimize dead space (bigger bar is better than small bar plus unusable space), and that you'll also want to build something that the next owner won't want to replace. Realtors often say that women buy kitchens and men buy basements. Make sure that whatever bar you build is nice enough to make the next potential owner say "I want this" and not "I wish this was done better". Half of my basement is "finished", but it's not done well enough that I ever use it. I didn't consider the work there as adding value when I purchased (and I'll eventually gut it and start over).

By the way, how attached are you to that closet? Moving it might allow you to more comfortably fit a larger bar and card table while minimizing dead space. An example is attached (not that I think this is the best possible layout). Again, please excuse how rough it is.

It looks like you've got a nice space there, regardless. I'm interested in seeing how it turns out.

altlayout.jpg  
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:05 AM   #7
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Closet is to be treated as gospel, for two reasons:

1) Its primary purpose in life is to 'hide' the drain stack for the upstairs bathroom, and provide easy access to the plumbing for said upstairs bathroom (ceiling is unfinished in said closet)

2) It's already constructed, sheetrock hung, taped, & mudded. Just waiting for final sanding and texture/paint. This includes the sheetrock ceiling for the main part of the room.

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Old 01-07-2013, 04:05 AM   #8
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We refinished our basement recently with a bar, keg closet, and theater area so I think you may be doing something similar. For the bar we did a half wall which supported the bar ledge and on the other side we had cabinets that supported a the prep side of the bar.

I just measured ours and the top of the bar is 45.5" high which feels perfect to me when sitting on a 30" bar stool. The other side of the bar is 36" high.

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Last edited by ArtVandelay; 01-07-2013 at 09:58 PM. Reason: forgot to mention the overhang is 14 in, using a 18" wide top sitting on a 4" wall.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:44 PM   #9
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42" is the typical standard bar height. Depth can vary but you'll usually see somewhere between 18" and 24". At a minimum I'd say a 6" overhang is necessary but you may find you'd like something around 9", however your bar rail comes into play with this number. Typical bar rail (aka Chicago rail) varies in size from 4" to 6" which will dictate your cabinet dimensions and overhangs. Also you may want to consider foot rail installation as well.

In any event these dimensions are just standards and this your design. I'd recommend that you grab a notepad and tape measure and do a bar crawl. You'll never know what you'll like the best until you try it, only then will you confirm the dimensions your looking for, also don't forget to measure bar stools while your at it.

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Old 01-07-2013, 01:01 PM   #10
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I use 48" high bar. I like the height as it allows my keezer to slide in

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