How do you modernize a basement bar?
A popular trend is to convert your basement to a modern bar, or even a cinema room, or if you have plenty of room incorporate both into the space.
There are many basement bar ideas that you can choose from, many that have themes. I have seen sports bar themed basement bars which incorporate a pool table, a large television, a darts board, posters of their favorite hockey team or football team on the wall etc .
Other homeowners like a more relaxed basement bar theme and convert to just a cinema room with comfy chairs. Others may have a small bar area. Some even splash out and purchase the cinema chairs and popcorn machines.
So how do you build a basement bar?
It basically depends on how much room you have. We have quite a spacious basement so the area was quite easy to work with.
We already owned a very large sofa which we had to incorporate into the area for the entertainment space and the TV.
We then managed to fit in a corner bar for the wine storage and custom shelving, which I will discuss later. This was great for us as the entire space in the corner of the basement became the new basement bar area.
Our basement bar idea
When we undertook our renovation and interior design we wanted a modern basement bar look. We also wanted to have an area for movie nights and a separate area for relaxing by the bar, or playing cards and other board games.
It took a while to plan but we drew out the layout of the basement, measured it and looked around for a few ideas. The bar was the main challenge, not just the size of it but the location as well.
Choosing the paint
So we bit the bullet and went for a black and white painted room with a mid-grey carpet.
The reason why we chose black for behind the TV is because the screen blends into the accent wall and this works well when you are watching the TV.
Not to be too boring, we opted for a two tone effect on the walls so we painted large stripes, one in a black matt and the next in a black gloss.
We have quite low ceilings in our basement so the large vertical stripes give the illusion of a higher ceiling, they also gave the wall some dimension.
The two walls on either end were completed in black and the walls at the sides were painted in white.
The old gas fire
So I am quite keen on the minimalist decor and the old gas fire was somewhat of an eyesore. We had the old gas fire removed and a new electric wall mounted fire installed which updated the look, had very clean lines and gave a more modern vibe.
Classically chic bar design
Now keeping the theme of basement bar design but bringing in a cinema look we bought posters of old movies and movie stars. We purchased frames from Michaels and Amazon and put them up on the bar walls.
The older movie stars poster of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn etc were on the walls where you entered the room. As you travelled further towards the TV the posters became more recent with The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean. I have a soft spot for Jack Sparrow so I was quite happy to have him hanging on the wall.
I actually collected quite a few of these posters on one of our many trips to Las Vegas. There are a few memorabilia shops at Caesars Palace which are definitely worth visiting if you are in the area.
Wooden L-Shaped Bar
Our bar area was formed in one corner of the basement, in front of a window. The bar was purchased from a local shop and fitted the area perfectly.
The home bar came equipped with a bar shelf and room (if you removed one of the side shelves) for a bar cabinet, a wine cooler for your wine collection or in our case a small fridge.
We also managed to find some pretty cool neon light open shelves for the wall at the side of the bar. These shelves change colour at the tap of a bottom but look really nice with the bottles on them and lit up, it is quite the ultimate man cave.
These shelves are great as well if you need some ambient lighting and because we only had spotlights at that end of the room it was perfect for the liquor bottles as well. I mean you need to see what drink you are pouring out for your partner don’t you?
We had room for a small bar table and metal stools which we purchased from a local shop. The area is perfect for entertaining guests, playing cards in the evening, or watching a movie – as the bar is not too far for a glass of wine.
How much does it cost to build a basement bar?
The cost to build a basement bar really depends on what you have to work with to begin with. In our basement we really needed to replace the fire as it was getting quite old and looked it as well.
The carpet was also past its day so this took quite a lot of our budget, in actual fact it was probably a third of the total cost.
If you can work with what you already own; if your budget is a little tight then this will keep down the cost. Some of the coolest basement bar ideas do not cost a fortune.
Take advantage of the social media websites like TikTok and Pinterest. There are some great DIY ideas. A basement bar made from old wooden pallets, or old kitchen cabinets with a reclaimed wood countertop for a more traditional basement bar. Try to adapt a cabinet from Ikea, this is becoming quite the trend now.
If you have access to a saw, some sandpaper, a hammer and some nails you are halfway there.
We did splash out on a few luxuries such as the neon shelves – not necessary but we bought them. Ours cost in the region of $400 but if you take a look at the end of this article you will see you can buy shelves from $70 upwards on Amazon.
Our bar was quite pricey and we had to have it shipped in but we purchased it from a local games store.
We splashed out a little on personalized coasters with our surname on and date of wedding but that was just something a little quirky for us.
My daughter and son-in-law ordered my husband a neon bar sign as well, all personalized which glows in red above the bar. Again, take a look below as we have found a few really good deals for basement bar accessories.
Basement bar design ideas
You also don’t have to pay out for large movie posters, pick up some frames from the dollar shop. Print out smaller versions of movie posters and make a collage on a spare wall in your basement space.
If you have a collection of sports memorabilia and are going to do a sports basement bar then look at framing some of your collection and displaying it on the walls.
The Poker Table
We really did push the boat out when building our basement bar. The husband does love a game of Texas Holdem so for Christmas I arranged for a custom built poker table to be built for a games room area.
It is pretty impressive and seats up to eight people and the legs fold so it can be neatly stacked away and does not encroach on your drinking space.
As he was quite proud of his new gift and we had a spare wall we hung the table on the wall and just lift it down and set it up when we have a card night.
Obviously you are not limited to a poker table. You could purchase a foosball table or pool table and head down the route of a sports bar theme which is another great basement bar idea.
Cool bar decor with custom lighting and shelves
We did change our lighting, but as the ceilings are so low and there was no room at all for pendant lights or electricity for wall sconces so you are really limited for choice.
We removed the cheap white spotlights and purchased some rather sleek looking lights and aimed them in the direction of where we needed them the most. For example, at the bar table, pointing at some of the posters and areas where we thought we would need more light when they were on.
We did consider accent lighting but this was not in the form of a table lamp or floor lamp. To give it a more nightclub / bar type vibe we bought a strip of LED lights which we installed under the countertop of the bar and programmed these to come on with the shelf lighting.
Also hidden by the TV we have another light which reacts to the TV, so when we play our Spotify list on the TV and are sat at the bar the TV looks a little like a Juke Box.
The fireplace is another form of accent lighting as we can put the fireplace on without the heat and this also changes colour.
Ultimately the whole mood of the room can be changed with the accent lighting from red, to white, blue and green.
Updating an old TV Ikea Cabinet
We wanted to keep with the theme and we already owned a dark wood Ikea cabinet, which quite modern but just didn’t fit in with the style that we were aiming for.
We actually found some really good contact paper on Amazon which is used to cover countertops and wooden cabinets. We purchased a couple of rolls of this in black with a wood grain effect pattern.
Now I will be honest you do need to have patience when covering a cabinet and the less detail on the cabinet the better. You have to use a credit card to smooth out the air bubbles, or prick them with a pin if they are tiny but once it is on, it is well worth the effort.
Accents throughout the entire basement
Accents were the final touch to the room. Obviously cushions and throws were additional items that were needed to soften the room. These were a variety of colours and patterns, both large and small.
To break up the large expanse of white by the fireplace we bought two matching brown vases and filled them with sticks. I am on the hunt for some ferns as it is time to change them out.
Art, footstools and tables
I also put together a piece of art as the particular metal piece I wanted was a little over our budget so a DIY piece was put into action.
An added bonus was the ottoman – which is pretty big but is a perfect large footstool for anyone sat on the sofa watching a movie.
Finally a couple of side tables. One for the recently acquired Oculus and the other to pull over to the sofa to put our drinks on when we are just sat chilling watching the TV.
How much space should you have behind a bar?
The amount of space behind a bar should be at least enough for a person to walk behind it and move around freely. We managed to remove some shelves from our bar and put in our small fridge where all of the goodies are kept like the wine, mixers and soft drinks.
If you don’t have enough space to incorporate a fridge within your bar then it will have to go to the side or behind – so you may need a little bit more room.
We also incorporated our window sill into the bar by using it as a shelf for the drinks. Again, before you start putting furniture in place or buying it, you should always measure to avoid costly mistakes.
Don’t forget the storage
A bar table with storage is an excellent purchase. Don’t forget you need space for the different types of glasses – wine glasses, shorts, shots, beer etc. to give you a complete bar set.
We also have an ice machine on one of the shelves. You may need another shelf for cocktail shakers, wine and beer opener, coasters, straws and any other little gadgets that you may come across.
Bar stools and tables
We do have a high bar table where we sit, drink, play games and socialise. If you don’t have the space for a bar and a bar table then I would suggest looking at buying stools for around the bar itself.
Some bars are quite high so be very careful when shopping for stools as they may not be high enough for a bar and also be aware of how comfortable they are.
Below I have listed a few modern bar ideas for basements with links to items that may help you when you are building your basement bar.
It is all about the sound
The cinema area of the basement bar had a luxury feel to it. Our sofa is, as I have said, quite large and is a corner sofa, very comfy and I have actually had it for about 8 years but cannot bear to part with it.
We already had a Bose surround system for a TV so we ran the cables under the sofa and around the room to get the full on effect of a cinema area.
We added more sound in the basement area with a portable Bose speaker which sits on the bar.
How much does a finished basement add to home value?
It is obvious that any improvements you make to your home will add value to it. A finished basement, whether it be a cinema room, a few new bedrooms, or even both will add to the value of your home.
The statistics say that with an average two storey home if you develop your basement it increases your living space by 50%.
Another point to remember is that many unfinished basements have concrete floors, no insulation and unfinished walls and ceiling. Just by adding this will not only make your house warmer but could possibly reduce your heating bills considerably.
Personalized items to enhance any basement bar
Take a look below at a few of the personalized items you can purchase to take your basement bar to the next level. From cocktail glasses to wine chillers and personalized bar signs. We are sure there will be something there.
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1. Mix like a professional
Stand out from the crowd with a modern mixology cocktail shaker set. Tom Cruise will have nothing on you with this 24 piece stainless steel set.
All you need to mix your mules, shake your sangrias and muddle your mojitos.
This set includes a variety of tools including ice tongs, mixing spoon, strainer and shaker which stores neatly on a wooden stand. You even get a velvet carrying bag and a recipe book with easy to follow recipes. Shakey, shakey, shakey at just $40.
2. All-in-one bar
Short on space then find an empty wall. This freestanding floor liquor bar table will accommodate anyone that wants their own bar area.
No only does this bar have its own wine rack but there are holders for wine glasses as well.
Plenty of storage in the form of shelves and a bakers rack and perfectly constructed in a metal frame and particleboard shelves.
Plenty of room to serve your guests drinks and priced at just $180 on Amazon.
3. Coasting on leather
Leather custom coaster to protect your bar top, not only look stylish but also can be personalized with your own name, logo or wording. The double sided leather material will catch all of the wine drips, condensation from cold drinks and tea and coffee stains. They come in a leather holder and are the ideal addition to any basement bar. Great for gifts as well. We ordered ours from Etsy for $30.
4. Handy wine bottle kit
A five piece set which includes all of the wine essentials you will need. Currently on sale for $22.99 and you even get two lines of personalized custom printing. Inside the shaped wine bottle container you have corkscrew, bottle pourer/cortagota, wine collar, foil cutter and bottle stopper. It seals shut with magnets. You will never struggle with that cork again. Click here.
5. Personalised bar additions
Custom logo or engraved slate coasters really do add the finishing touch to any basement bar. These heavy duty coasters measure 4 inches by 4 inches and you can have them engraved with an initial, name or even a special message.
6. Light up the Liquor
Make those bottles glow with these translucent shelves which are multi coloured. Choose from a range of 60 different colours and modes such as dimming, fading and strobing.
Made from sturdy acrylic to ensure strength and longevity this is perfect for accent lighting around your basement bar.
Finished in black and sold as one unit with a remote control which allows you to operate the shelves from any room in the house. They have a range to choose from but the smaller shelf comes in at just $74.99. Light up your liquor and have some fun.
7. A Wine Chiller to envy
This beautiful double-walled cylinder made from brushed stainless steel can be personally yours to chill any good bottle of white wine. Custom etched with your monogram and it will hold a 750ml bottle of wine or if you want to splash out a decent bottle of champagne. Unfortunately it doesn’t come with the liquor but you will be the envy of your drinking buddies.
8. The drinks cart
If you are really strapped for space then just purchase a nice drinks cart / trolley. These can be either left on display or rolled out when the guests arrive.
This particular silver leaf drinks cart is in an art deco style with a couple of mirrored shelves. Personally I would leave this on display if you had the room – a totally elegant addition to any living area.
9. Cocktail glasses with a touch of class
The last time I looked at these glasses they were on sale at just $12.59. What an addition to any traditional bar. These can be custom etched with your own monogram and truly do offer a touch of sophistication. They stand 6.25 inches high and hold around 15oz.
10. Sitting in Style
These leather look stools are a perfect contemporary addition to any bar area. They adjust in height from 24’’ up to 32’’ and swivel 360 degrees. There is a black metal base with a rubber ring which prevents any damage to your flooring and they are a perfect pair with the bar mentioned previously.
11. Compact Bar – Clever Storage
This clever compact bar comes with storage for your wine bottles, glasses and any extras. Nice and slim and perfect to make a small bar area in the corner of a room.
It has a drawer for your wine openers and mixology tools and the wine rack can hold up to 12 bottles. The design comes in two styles – a more finished sleek look for your modern basement design, or if you are looking to go more rustic / industrial they have another version in grey.
Check out Amazon for more details. Very reasonably priced for an instant bar at around $310 depending on style.
12. A crystal shot or two
Impress the guests with a shot from The Giftology collection made from Waterford’s best crystal. You can buy these in five different colours with a touch of gold.
If your guests are super impressed with your style of shot glass you can gift them a set for a special occasion.
13. The Cabinet Bar
No room for a large basement bar? Try incorporating a cabinet which doubles up perfectly as a bar. This beauty fits nearly in a corner, or against a wall where you have some space. This particular cabinet is made from solid mango and has a black finished frame with a cane woven front and gunmetal handles.
The front opens out to around 30 inches and there is plenty of storage for bottles, barware and glasses. The front can even double up as an office workspace – catch up on our article – Home Office Ideas to Maximise Your Space. Just don’t hit the wine before the office clock turns five. Overall Dimensions: 38.00″w x 17.00″d x 52.00″h.
14. The bar is open
Under just 6 inches in height and 7.5 inches wide this LED personalized sign lets your guests know when you are open and ready to start serving their favourite tipple. Three lines of text and laser engraved on an acrylic sheet this quirky sign is touch control. Not only that but you can have a solid colour such as white, yellow, purple, red or blue, the colour fades and also flashes. At the time of writing this the price was $24.49 as this was on sale but check it out as it is worth every penny.
Basement bar plans and layouts
Hopefully this blog has given you a few ideas on how to approach designing and purchasing items for your modern basement bar. Obviously we have given you the process we took when we designed ours.
It is also worth noting, we designed the basement bar and cinema with the idea of being able to remove most of the items and take them with us if we ever decided to move house.
The only items that are to remain in the basement are the carpet, fireplace, paint and spotlights. Yes, the cost of the carpet was at least a third of the budget but flooring is obviously a necessity if the old covering is looking worn and shabby. If you have good flooring to begin with you are halfway there.
If you are still a little unsure as to where to begin take a look through our website as we will be featuring more bar renovations as the months go on.
Alternatively we do offer an E-design service, all we need are your pictures and measures and a budget and we will happily put you on your journey to a new modern basement bar to enjoy with your friends and family.