No idea what to do with your basement?
A popular trend is to convert it to a modern bar, or even a cinema room, or if you have plenty of room incorporate both into the space.
So how do you build a modern basement bar?
It basically depends on how much room you have. We have recently decorated our basement as the area was pretty large and we have quite a big sofa.
When we undertook our renovation we wanted a modern basement bar look, 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 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 either end were completed in black and the walls at the sides were painted in white.
We had the old gas fire removed and a new electric wall mounted fire installed which updated the look and gave a more modern vibe.
Now keeping the theme of modern basement bar but bringing in a cinema look we bought posters of old movies and movie stars and had them framed. The older movie stars poster of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn etc were on the walls where you entered the room and 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.
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. We also managed to find some pretty cool neon light 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.
We had room for a small bar table and 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.
We did splash out on a few luxuries such as the neon shelves – not necessary but we bought them. The bar was quite pricey as well but if your funds don’t stretch to brand new custom built bars then see what you can find on marketplace, or build your own.
There are some really clever ideas on some of the social media websites where bars have been created from Ikea furniture, or from old kitchen cabinets and worktops.
You also don’t have to pay out for large movie posters, pick up some frame from the dollar shop and print out smaller versions of movie posters and make a collage on a large wall.
We really did push the boat out when building our modern 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.
It is pretty impressive and seats up to eight people and the legs fold so it can be neatly stacked away. 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.
We did change our lighting, but as the ceilings are so low 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.
Accents were the final touch to the room. Obviously cushions and throws were additional items that were needed to soften the room and these were a variety of colours and patterns.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.