Post-pandemic, a basement bar should be at the top of any home renovator’s list – particularly if they love to entertain. This underused yet versatile space can add value to any house when done correctly and will provide the chance for you to entertain guests in a truly unique way.
Take time to plan every step of your new bar, as rooms in the basement can often feel dark and cramped. Whether you’re looking for basement ideas to channel a speak-easy saloon with cocktails aplenty, a dark and cozy man-cave or a stylish wine bar for escapism away from the children, make the most of your space with these stylish and innovative basement bars.
Basement bar ideas
1. Go bold with color in a basement bar
While a more neutral scheme might suit day-to-day living spaces, don’t be afraid to put your individual stamp on your basement bar. Darker, jewel colors (like navy blues and emerald greens) create a cozy, inviting environment while a dark quartz or engineered stone will create a dramatic but practical countertop.
2. Keep the space feeling fresh with a nature theme
Bring out your wild side with lots of foliage – real or not, adding some biophilic-inspired furnishings is all the rage in bars and restaurants at the moment so your basement bar will be bang on trend.
Bring out your pineapple-shaped wine cooler, flamingo string lights and coconut cups for a kitsch tiki theme or add in some glitz and glamor with a mirror and black tiles behind the bar to channel your inner art-deco cocktail bar.
3. Remember there is no space too small
Carving out any corner or nook for a basement bar will always be worth it, as this deVOL cellar goes to show. Design a basic galley kitchen where everything you need is to hand – think sink, chopping station, fridge and so on. No matter how spatially-challenged, a place to whip up some amazing drinks will make any room feel special.
Bear in mind, though, that if you are planning a basement bar – and your nearest powder room is a couple of stories up, you might like to consider basement bathroom ideas, too.
4. Opt for a classic British pub theme
Who drinks better than the Brits? Recreate a traditional pub by using painted panelling, real wood floors (try to find some reclaimed for the best effect) and freestanding furniture. Time to start pulling pints like a pro!
5. Don’t forget to add some unique lighting for your basement bar
Always consider the three key types of lighting: task, ambient and accent. Here, this stunning bar has flawlessly incorporated all three for a practical and elegant finish. For the same look ensure spotlights are recessed in the ceiling (choose a complementary color to conceal them further), pick out your favorite pendants over the countertop and barstools and include strip LED lights under shelves for maximum glamor!
6. Keep your basement bar neutral with Scandi influences
Perhaps your basement will serve more than one purpose, or maybe the space for a relaxing living room will take priority, but when looking for a smaller bar in your basement, calmer tones or pared-back styles is the way to go. Box in white-painted kitchen units with open shelving and a cheery tile for a compact but stylish scandi bar.
7. Get the industrial look
Metro tiles? Check. Metallic bronze worktop? Check. Low-hanging pendant lights? Check. Fuss free yet chic design? Check, check, check!
Industrial looks can work with basements of all shapes and sizes but particularly so in those with low ceilings which can let the mixing of materials and styles really shine without feeling overwhelming.
8. Consider the best materials for a basement bar
Although not the same practical zone that is required of a kitchen, a basement bar should still utilize hardy and easy-to-clean materials so mopping up after a spill or a glass breakage is quick and simple. Marble-effect work surfaces create an elegant bar to sit at while a porcelain tile or good quality luxury vinyl tile for the floor will keep up with the hard work!
9. Create the ultimate speakeasy basement bar
An art deco-inspired interior design is simple enough to achieve, even on a budget. Mix gold finishings (such as pendant lights, taps or bar stools) with timeless geometric tiles and bold, dark colors and showcase your favorite bottles behind the bar so they’re given centre stage.
10. Use mirrors to increase light and enhance space
Basement bar ideas needn't be really bright, but you can enhance a cramped area with mirrors on the walls. Line the mirrored walls with glass shelves full of colorful glass and you will have a glamorous finish. These mirrors will also reflect any daylight, but also artificial light at night, which should be low level, warm and atmospheric.
How do I design a basement bar?
To plan a basement extension, bar or otherwise, create a drawing of what the existing space looks like (or if you’re excavating a new floor, what the load-bearing structure will be).
To make the most of your basement, remember to never skimp on head space when converting a basement: a minimum clearance of 6.5ft is fine, but ideally aim for 7.5ft – 7.8ft will be more comfortable.
'This is your chance to also have fun with lighting,' says Amy Jones, founder of Greta Mae Interiors. 'If you are displaying your alcohol on shelves think about how you could highlight them using LED strip lighting. Low hanging pendants over the bar itself that are set on a dimmer would give the bar an intimate feeling.
'As you would with a kitchen, think about what materials you want to use on the bar area and the prep area if you are going to have one. Some drinks can stain and lemon is quite acidic so a wood worktop is likely to stain, however many people do like the patination that you get over time through these stains and all the stories they can tell. If you want something robust opt for a quartz or granite worktop, this will be far more resilient and less likely to stain.'
Lastly, when designing basement stair ideas, it's wise to incorporate solid handrails on either side – if that basement bar will be getting some serious use.
How much space is needed for a basement bar?
'Like you would design a galley kitchen, make sure everything is conveniently located so you aren't having to reach or walk too far,' advises Amy Jones. 'The ideal space behind the bar and wall for one person is 900mm as this will give you plenty of room to move about without it feeling too restrictive.
'A commercial bar height is set at between 3.2-3.6ft so make sure you choose the right stool height to go alongside this, a stool height of between 27-31in would work well.'
How much does it cost to put in a bar in your basement?
Basement conversion costs naturally vary depending on the existing space and if excavation and new structures are required.
To remodel an existing waterproofed basement or cellar with a decent quality of finish, budget at least $10,000/£8,000.
How do you plumb in a basement wet bar?
A wet bar is when various kitchen elements (a sink, wine cooler/fridge etc) are included in the design, requiring more forethought in the initial design.
When planning the layout, mark out existing water lines which you could tap into and start making a basic plan for the hot and cold supply. Drains can be more difficult to accommodate and plumb in, however, so joining to existing pipes might dictate the arrangement of the bar itself.
Although boxing in using plasterboard or drywall can be simpler when remodeling, concealing all pipework within the frame will produce a more professional, sleeker finish.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space.
Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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