What is a Wet Bar in a Home? Understanding These Unique Home Fixtures

What is a wet bar in a house?

what is a wet bar in a house

A wet bar is simply a bar or counter that has a sink and running water that is used for serving alcoholic beverages at home.  This instant party machine rose in popularity during the 1960s and 1970s

It has faded in and out of popularity over the decades but is a desirable attribute for anyone who loves to entertain.  Wet bars are most often located in the basement of a home, but can be found in other areas.

The sink means that more drinks can make it to the party. Glasses can be rinsed or washed right there without needing to walk across the house or upstairs.

Spills can also be cleaned up and ice can be dumped in the sink.  Access to plumbing opens many doors to successful parties.

More benefits a wet bar brings to you and your home

In addition to a place to have a party and entertain, wet bars also have the added benefit of saving space in the kitchen.  Get all of your alcohol and drink glasses out of the kitchen and keep them in the wet bar.

Guests will appreciate having a dedicated space for hanging out without feeling like they are poking around your kitchen.  A wet bar can truly be the life of the party.

Also, think about how much money you will save by not ordering drinks at your local bar.  The cost of installing a wet bar could be recouped quickly if visiting a bar is a common occurrence in your life.

Plus, a wet bar can be open 24 hours a day and the drinks will be mixed just how you like them.

What’s the difference between a wet bar and a dry bar?

whats the difference between a wet bar and a dry bar

The difference between a wet bar and a dry bar is simple, a wet bar has a sink and a dry bar does not.  The mixing of drinks happens at both wet bars and dry bars.

Alcohol, mixers, and glasses can also be stored in the cabinets.  The real question is if you want to include plumbing when considering a wet bar vs. a dry bar.

Adding plumbing significantly increases the cost of the project, but can also add a huge amount of convenience.

Wet bar vs. kitchenette

wet bar vs kitchenette

Typically, a wet bar is used solely for drink preparation and a kitchenette allows for both the preparation of drinks and food.  Both of these will include a sink and running water.

In addition to a sink, a kitchenette typically includes a small or regular-sized refrigerator as well as at least one method of cooking food.  This could just be a microwave, toaster oven, or a small stove or oven.

Some homeowners prefer a kitchenette in their basement to have access to snacks in an entertainment space, while others install a kitchenette in a mother-in-law-type space.

Either can be a great option for a family, extra living space, or for entertaining.

Are wet bars out of style?

are wet bars out of style

Wet bars have been going in and out of style for a long while now.  The current trends are pointing toward out of style.

However, some clarifications need to be made.  In the 1960s and 1970s, most homes didn’t have open floor plans.

Most homes had closed-off kitchens and therefore many homes had a wet bar on the main level for serving drinks.  These are the wet bars that have gone out of style, as most modern homes are embracing open floor plans.

Large homes with entertainment spaces in the basement are still very good candidates for a wet bar.  It’s much easier to serve drinks and has running water for washing glasses on the level of the party.

Think about when you have gone to tour potential homes.  Would the sight of a wet bar in the basement make you feel pretty excited?

Most people would say yes.

Does a wet bar add value to a home?

does a wet bar add value to a home

A wet bar could add value to your home, it is just important to make sure that it really fits the space.  A nice basement wet bar in an entertaining space will be your best bet for impressing future buyers.

When selling, be sure to stage the space appropriately and allow the seller to imagine hosting fun parties at the house.

Also be prepared to not get your full investment back, especially if it is a costly task to route the water to the wet bar.  Hopefully, your enjoyment of the wet bar will make it worth it no matter the return on investment.

How much does a wet bar cost?

how much does a wet bar cost

The cost to install a wet bar depends on many factors.  It can be as little as $500 for a do-it-yourself project with minimal plumbing work to close to $20,000 or more for an extravagant space with glass shelving, custom cabinetry, marble countertops, and more extensive plumbing work.

Most projects fall between these ranges with most small and simple wet bars costing between $2,000 and $4,000 and larger bars with more features costing between $6,000 and $12,000.

Cabinets generally run $100 to $290 per linear foot for stock cabinets, $200 to $560 per linear foot for semi-custom cabinets, and $560 to $1,200 per linear foot for custom cabinetry.

When it comes to countertops, expect to pay $8 to $27 per linear foot for laminate, $15 to $140 per linear foot for granite, $15 to $190 for marble, or $20 to $75 for Corian.

Installation costs to think about

A bar sink will cost between $110 and $500 with installation running about $150 to $300 without extensive plumbing work.

Expect to pay between $18 and $40 per square foot for backsplash installation.  A backsplash is important for protecting the wall, especially when a sink is involved in the design.

If you plan to install a wet bar in a basement where plumbing does not yet exist, expect to pay much more.  If plumbing is already there, expect to pay $700 to $1,000 to add plumbing to your wet bar.

If there is no plumbing and if your basement will require a sump pump or French drain, expect to pay up to $10,000.  Most other projects fall somewhere in between.

If major plumbing work is being done, be sure to get a permit through your city.

What are some wet bar design ideas?

It can be exciting to design a wet bar and make the space everything you want it to be.  There are many design options, start out by thinking about how it will fit into the existing space and compliment it.

Wet bars can be situated along a wall out of the way, have a part along the wall and then a separate bar for sitting, or be an “L” shape. Some people like the thought of a traditional wet bar with rich dark wood tones and embellishments with stools for guests to sit at.

Others go for something more modern with gray cabinets, subway tiles for a backsplash, and floating shelves for displaying alcohol. Another option is to install a small wet bar in a living room.  This can even sit behind a sliding pocket door and only opened up when needed.

Wine enthusiasts can gear their wet bars towards wine.  Consider adding wine racks into the cabinetry and a wine refrigerator to keep wine cool.

Anyone lucky enough to have a man cave in their basement can have fun with a wet bar design.  Think about a tasteful piece of artwork being the focal point, cabinetry with glass doors for viewing alcohol bottles, a place for a barkeep to stand, and an actual bar with stools and pendant lights.

Can you build your own wet bar?

can you build your own wet bar

If you are handy or have a handy friend, you can certainly build your own wet bar.  Home bars are available for purchase through many major retailers as a piece of furniture or a kit.  It is possible to add a sink to some of these designs.

Another option is to purchase stock cabinetry from a home improvement store and install it yourself along with a countertop and sink.  Just be sure to seek professional help with the plumbing if needed.

Building your own wet bar will cut costs significantly, as you won’t need to pay for labor.  It can also be a fun project and give you complete control over the design.