How to transform a hutch into a bar cabinet – five practical considerations

From the best space-saving storage additions for bottles and glasses to techniques to preserve drink flavors, here is how to create a fully functional bar cabinet

How to upgrade a hutch to a bar cabinet
(Image credit: Anthropologie / Anthropologie / Jon Day Photography)

Purchasing a bar cabinet can be a costly investment, and finding one that suits your style and personal needs can be challenging. Upgrading an existing hutch into a bar cabinet for your home bar setup is a clever way to save time searching online and allows you to create a customized drinks cabinet tailored to your needs.

Drink and glass storage kits are easy to install and require minimal carpentry skills. With a few tips to ensure your hutch is suitable for storing drinks, this DIY project can significantly enhance your home and is simpler than you might expect.

With these tips, you can convert a hutch into a fully functional drinks cabinet, whether to store wine, cocktail ingredients, or any other drinking supplies.

How to upgrade a hutch to a bar cabinet

There are a few key aspects to focus on when converting your hutch into a bar cabinet.

First is functionality – you'll want to arrange the hutch so it allows for easy access to and storage of your drinks and accessories while maximizing space.

Secondly, ensuring proper storage conditions for your drinks is crucial.

Here's how to upgrade a hutch with all the essentials for a drinks cabinet:

1. Systematically organize your drink storage


(Image credit: Anthropologie)

Designate sections of your hutch for different types of drinks. Measure the available space and look for storage solutions that maximize storage capacity without overcrowding, tailored for specific drink storage needs.

This approach ensures drinks are preserved, allows for easy access, and enables flexible organization by variety, region, tasting notes, etc.

Consider these drinks storage ideas:

  • Use dividers or racks to line up bottles so they do not roll or shift. Solid wood or metal racks that hold bottles both horizontally and vertically, or customized dividers and shelving for various bottle shapes and sizes, can be incorporated into your hutch.
  • If wine is part of your collection, horizontal storage is crucial. "Wines are best stored on their side so the cork stays moist, preventing it from drying out," explains Thomas Litten, drinks specialist and Homes & Gardens contributor.
  • 'Finally, from a decorative standpoint, open shelving adds visual appeal,' says Ryan Nelson, CEO of Rental Real Estate. 'It allows you to display special bottles or accessories without obscuring labels and ensure space is left between bottles for adequate airflow.'

If space is limited, prioritize storing certain drinks in your hutch and keep the rest in storage for when a top-up or replacement is needed.

2. Add glassware storage

Deluxe Tamboured Bar Cabinet

(Image credit: Anthropologie)

Including glass storage in your drinks cabinet can enhance the experience of using your home bar setup by making the preparation of drinks a convenient and enjoyable process. 

There are a few ways to maximize space in your converted hutch to ensure you have ample space for glass storage. Consider installing hooks, racks, or shelves designed to hold glassware, including wine glasses, cocktail glasses, and tumblers. 

3. Consider climate control


(Image credit: Jon Day Photography)

Not only is it important to maintain a stable temperature for storing wine, but it is also important for ensuring the quality and flavor of delicate spirits remain intact over time. Fluctuating or incorrect temperatures and humidity can accelerate the aging process of these drinks, leading to undesirable changes in taste and aroma. So maintaining a stable temperature in a hutch is key for preserving your drinks collection. 

To do this:

  • Position your huth somewhere cool, dry, and with good airflow, away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
  • 'For climate control, freestanding wine fridge units can be a space-saving solution to keep wines at the proper temperature,' says Gabriella Dyson, Head of Solved at Homes & Gardens. 'Just ensure adequate airflow if using a compressor-based or thermoelectric unit.' 
  • Monitor humidity levels in the area where the drink cabinet is stored. If the humidity is too high, it can promote mold growth and damage to labels, corks and caps. You can reduce your home's humidity using a dehumidifier to achieve the ideal levels.
  • Consider adding insulation to your drinks cabinet to help maintain stable temperatures, such as reflective film from Amazon. This can minizine heat transfer.

To ensure you can maintain a stable temperature, consider installing a thermometer-hygrometer inside your drinks cabinet – this way you can monitor the temperature and make adjustments to maintain the best range for storing drinks (55-65°F for wine and 50-55°F for other dinks).

Gabriella Dyson
Gabriella Dyson

Gabriella Dyson is Head of Solved at Homes & Gardens, editing and writing practical advice for homeowners in the process of cleaning, decluttering, or attempting home improvements and DIY projects. Gabriella previously worked on, writing features about issues surrounding historic and listed building projects.

4. Reduce light exposure

Teal hutch

(Image credit: Anthropologie)

'You want to avoid rapid and frequent changes in lighting,' says Thomas Litten, drinks specialist. 'If certain compounds in alcohol are exposed to UV light, they can undergo chemical reactions which can negatively impact the flavors and aromas and even lead to spoilage.'

If your hutch has glass windows, Thomas Litten recommends, 'Use UV filtering film on glass doors or windows to protect wine from the UV light which will make sure its flavor or quality does not diminish.' This VViViD clear glass film from Amazon, offers 99% UV protection. 

5. Install lighting

Wine cupboard

(Image credit: Davonport)

Upgrading your converted drinks cabinet with cabinet lighting, like motion-sensor dimmable LEDs, provides visibility without damaging delicate bottles and enhances the overall aesthetics and functionality.

Finally, adding a designated surface for mixing or making drinks, such as a countertop or fold-out shelf, can create a convenient station for preparing drinks when entertaining or making complicated concoctions.  

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past five years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including recipe articles, reviewing products, writing ‘how to’ and ‘when to’ articles. Lola now writes about everything from organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate student, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.