Break Down on a DIY Bar Makeover

Today I will break down how we made over our bar area in our family room.

To recap this was what the bar looked like when we purchased the home (built 1980)

 And the after:

We started by ripping EVERYTHING out.

 Leaving it a complete empty shell.

Then my husband started making the lower shelves.

He built this part in the garage and then installed it into the space after. He used furniture grade 3/4" plywood. We had a sink in the previous bar but we felt it was never really needed, so instead of paying and hassling with getting rid of the pipes we built the insert out from the wall where the pipes were capped off. You can see in the photo below there's a little gap in the back.

Then the trim was placed around the edge of the outer areas of the base. He used preprimed mdf in 1x2 and 1x3 trim pieces. And we started the planking of the top half using mdf planks 1x4 size. Fyi, these are quite beefy planks and there are more options out there. We used pine planks in our daughters' bathroom and those are the ones with knots and flaws, so it depends on the look you are after. ( disregard the the diagonal piece of wood on top of base, it was just resting there)

Then triangle cuts were made for the corners to hold the countertop, and a ledge base was built for the shelf.

Sorry, I was really bad about taking better photos of all the steps but let me try to break down what happened next.

A trim piece was made for below the cabinet and for in front of the middle shelf. Then I painted and painted. The lower half was painted with Benjamin Moore's Satin Impervo (which we use on all our moldings in the house)  and the top half (the planking) was painted with Benjamin Moore's Super White, which is the same we used for our walls and ceiling in this room.

Now for the countertop... any guesses what I used? I am hoping it's not too obvious. It's plywood! I went back and forth on what to use for this countertop, and finding what I wanted in this small of space was not easy. I wanted a ceasarstone quartz originally and they don't sell by half sheet. No bueno. I could've tried to find some sort of remnant but I didn't want to feel pressured to just pick something.
Also, I wrote in another post that this bar area is right next to our open kitchen/family room area. I have high hopes to redo our kitchen one day, and I want to have this countertop be the same or coordinate with what I choose for the kitchen. I am still a little wishy-washy on what I want to use in my "someday" kitchen remodel, so I didn't want to buy something that I will be possibly be ripping out in a year or so.

I had come across this feature in Country Living months back and the home owner had painted plywood counters in their kitchen with chalkboard paint. It looked great! I thought what can it hurt, if I absolutely hate it and it looks ridiculous I will suck it up and find something else to fit here. But so far I really like it. It's a super great alternative for the time being until the kitchen is remodeled.

We put 3/4" trim around the top of the base so the counter top would be 1.5" above the base with the 3/4" plywood sitting on top. I painted the top with 3 coats of black chalk board paint and buffed it with Howard Citrus Wax found at Home Depot. I painted the bottom of the counterop white so if you were getting something from the shelf down below you wouldn't see the unfinished countertop bottom. A 1 1/2" trim piece was added to the countertop plywood and also painted and waxed.

Then we added the moldings around the whole bar opening. The floating shelves are the Holman Shelves from Pottery Barn, as well as the Savannah lidded baskets. The light it from School House Electric. The cocktail light is from Pottery Barn from years back.

That's about it... thanks for hanging in there with me. If I missed anything, let me know.


  1. Wow! What a wonderful transformation! Great job!

  2. I love this space. Such a great DIY project. I never would have guessed the countertop is plywood. I'm working on something and need a clever idea for a countertop. This might be my answer. Thanks for the inspiration.


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