Fresh and Affordable Basement Bar Ideas | Real Estate

Erin Browne

If you enjoy mixing drinks and entertaining family and friends, then a basement bar is the perfect space to add to your home. A dedicated bar can add functionality to your home space and one of the best advantages is that it’s customizable to your taste.

Designing your basement bar can be tricky, but there are an array of options to choose from no matter your budget or desired style and aesthetic.

  • Planning and designing your basement bar.
  • Basement bar styles.
  • Lighting.
  • Seating.
  • Countertop and backsplash.
  • How much does it cost to build a basement bar?

Planning and Designing Your Basement Bar

Before you can start building your dream basement bar, there are a few things you need to take into consideration. “What type of bar is the client looking for – a beverage center, a wine bar, a craft beer bar or a juice bar?” says Patricia Davis Brown, owner of Patricia Davis Brown Designs in Vero Beach, Florida. The type of bar will also determine what appliances and equipment are necessary, Brown adds. This will also affect the design of the bar.

Location in the basement is another concern, says Leah Smith, co-owner of Buckeye Basements in Delaware, Ohio. “Ideally, the bar should be installed in an area where an existing window will not interfere with the symmetry and design of the upper cabinets,” she explains.

Another thing that’s oftentimes overlooked in bar design is the functionality of the bar space, says Kristi Hopper, founder and designer of Kristi Hopper Designs in Coppell, Texas. “We love easy-to-clean surfaces such as quartz countertops and a small sink for prep and cleanup.

You’ll need to take note of the location of existing plumbing and electrical hookups. Plumbing is especially important if you’re considering a wet bar, which typically includes a sink and running water. However, this doesn’t mean your bar needs to be placed in an area where plumbing exists.

“By utilizing the services of an experienced plumber, the plumbing pipes can be moved or relocated so that the bar can go in a different area,” explains Jonathan Smith, the other co-owner of Buckeye Basements. “This area should be conducive to the overall design and become a focal point to add a wow factor in the end.”

Basement Bar Styles

What type of aesthetic, style or theme were you hoping to bring to your basement bar? According to Leah Smith, there are three popular styles of bars: walk-up bars, peninsula or L-shaped bars and a bar with an island.

A walk-up bar is the least cost-prohibitive and has a row of upper and lower cabinets, averaging about 10 feet long. Peninsula or L-shaped bars consist of a custom, two-sided bar wall with a countertop that is built off of the back bar. This allows for permanent seating of six or more bar stools. You can add an island in front of the back row of cabinets and that typically holds three to four bar stools, on average.

“This style requires additional trenching for electric and plumbing, and is often the most expensive,” explains Leah Smith.


Lighting is key, especially when you’re designing a basement bar. “Lighting is so important,” Brown says. “If a client collects beautiful glassware or wants to display liquor bottles, then the lighting needs to be done correctly.”

Leah and Jonathan Smith both recommend recessed, canister lighting in the ceiling and pendant lights for bars with islands, peninsulas or bar walls. “Adding a few pendant lights above really enhances the overall look aesthetically and provides ample lighting,” Jonathan Smith explains.

Brown advises running LED lighting vertically down each side of the cabinet interior to give even illumination across each shelf. The LED color temperature should be around 2700K to keep the finish colors true. “I also recommend running LED strip lighting continuously under the wall cabinets to evenly disperse lighting onto the counter and backsplash,” she adds.

A layered lighting plan is another option that allows homeowners to control lighting scenes. “Consider lighting for your bar area thoughtfully,” states Hopper. “Always add lighting that’s directional and on a dimmer to create that just-right ambiance.”


Bar seating is much more important than you might think and can be easily overlooked. Not only from a design standpoint, but comfort as well.

“We love swivel stools for conversational seating, which allow guests the ability to jump into conversations naturally,” Hopper says. “And never compromise comfort. You want a bar stool people can lean back in and relax.”

You need to allow 24 inches per bar stool to give your guests plenty of space. “Knowing ahead of time how many you want to accommodate will help the designer plan for it,” adds Brown.

Countertop and Backsplash

A basement bar countertop should be nonporous and water-resistant, making your countertop easy to clean and maintain.

“Quartz or granite are the most popular, although we are receiving increased requests for concrete tops,” states Leah Smith. “High-end laminates are also sufficient, and some clients will choose to install a simple, butcher block bar top, which can be stained.”

The height and dimensions of the bar countertop must also be considered. “There is nothing worse than having a bar height too high or too low for the bar stools, it’s not comfortable,” Brown states.

“If you are at dining table height it would need to be 18 inches deep, kitchen counter height would be 15 inches deep and bar height would be 12 inches deep. This is due to the height of the chair positioning and the ergonomics it puts the body in,” she says. “And you need to allow for leg clearances as each chair positions the body differently.”

Another essential component of the basement bar is the backsplash. A backsplash gives you the perfect opportunity to add luxury and a personal touch to your bar, says Hopper. Leah Smith recommends adding a thin-brick, stacked stone or tile as a bar backsplash.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Basement Bar?

According to HomeAdvisor, a home bar costs $8,000, on average. The cost of a custom bar goes much higher. How long it takes to build your basement bar also depends on whether you are taking a DIY approach or hiring the help of experienced professionals.

“Custom cabinetry and materials are at an all-time peak currently,” cautions Jonathan Smith. “When going custom, one can easily figure around $10,000 in cabinetry costs, or more, for a walk-up bar, an additional $2,500 or more for a custom bar wall and $2,500 or more for granite or quartz tops. Add that to the cost of plumbing and electrical work, as well as desired appliances and permit and inspection costs.”

Jonathan and Leah Smith tell their clients to compare the pricing of a bar to a kitchen installation. However, there are some areas where you can potentially save. For instance, sourcing in-stock cabinetry from big box stores.

“Such cabinets typically are not the high quality of going the custom route, nor they do often fit the space as well, but in some cases, they are sufficient and clients can significantly save on costs in that respect,” Jonathan Smith says.

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