Home Bar Via Upcycle

Introduction: Home Bar Via Upcycle

Several months ago, my daughter mentioned that she wanted a home bar. And, of course, she asked if I could make one for her. Shortly thereafter, we were perusing our local Habitat for Humanity Restore (if you haven't been, you are in for a treat!) and I saw some great cabinet doors.

Step 1: Materials

Initially, I thought we could use the cabinet doors and some 2x2s to make a small bar. Then I went on-line to see what others had done. It was clear that I needed to think big!

My daughter was in an accident last summer. I was in the process of building a wheelchair a ramp for her, but before I could complete it she recovered sufficiently to make the ramp unnecessary. Not only did the wheelchair become a thing of the past, she gave up using crutches, never used her walker and refused a cane. She is so strong! She is my hero!

Sorry for the aside. Anyway, I had two sheets of nice plywood with a only few screw holes and a notch or two that went into my wood pile. Another trip to the Restore and we added a large bi-fold door, some 2x4s and some trim pieces. Once we removed the hardware from the bi-fold door, we had both a work surface and bar top for our new bar.

Step 2: The Plan

Ok, I don't draw that well, but I sketched out what the finished bar should look like from a construction perspective. Then, I measured the materials on hand, the space we had, and the low glass shelf/entertainment center that we planned to use as storage under the bar. Floor space is always a concern; using the entertainment center as storage under the bar solved two problems at once.

The length of the bar was determined by a compromise between the height (length) of the bi-fold doors and the length of the entertainment center. Other considerations: (1) The completed depth should be approximately 24", the standard depth for lower cabinets. (2) The bi-fold doors were about 13.5" wide. (3) We needed at least a 9" overhang on the bar top.

I have to admit that the design process was a bit fluid because that's the way I roll. By the time the frame was assembled, it was necessary to take some measurements in order to cut out the plywood for the two ends. This was partly due to the fact that both ends should pretty much be the same dimensions, and that the design still had a bit of fluidity about it that needed to be ironed out.

We only have basic hand tools, a sabre saw and an electric drill. Toward the end of the process, I was also forced to replace my defunct table saw in order to quickly add a 10 degree bevel on the top/wide edge of the 2x4s used to surround the bar top.

Step 3: The Build

The frame was constructed of 2x4s from the Restore and some 1x4 I had laying around. Reclaimed plywood, that was luckily furniture grade, was used for the front and sides.

We filled the screw holes, then attached the cabinet doors to the front of the bar. The cabinet doors serve no practical purpose; they are purely for decoration. As you can see there were two different styles of door fronts, so we simply alternated them. The doors were slightly different heights, so we aligned the doors 1" from the bottom of the bar. The top of the cabinet doors are staggered to "showcase" the differences in the top arch.

One half of the bi-fold door was attached to the bar using cleats to form the work area surface. The other half of the bi-fold door was used for the bar top. The 2x4s that had been beveled on the table saw were used to wrap three sides of the bar top, mitering the corners of the 2x4s. We added some additional plywood, molding, etc. to the bar top, then we used shelf brackets and L-brackets to attach it to the bar.

Step 4: The Completed Project

We used several coats of water-based Varathane Stain + Poly in "Cabernet" on all of the exterior surfaces. Since the cabinet doors were different species of wood, we used additional coats on the lighter wood. When that had dried for a couple of days, we added a coat of "Ebony" to tone down the red and give an overall warm glow. Before that dried, we wiped off some of the dark stain to enhance the look. We plan to protect the bar top and work surface with a wood finish that protects from alcohol stains. We also painted the interior surfaces under the bar with flat black spray paint.

The project was not cheap, but the outcome was superb. Here is a breakdown of the cost:

  • (5) cabinet doors: $3 each from the Habitat for Humanity Restore
  • (1 set) bi-fold doors: $10 from the Habitat for Humanity Restore
  • various 2x4s and trim pieces: about $5 from the Habitat for Humanity Restore
  • Plywood and additional wood: from my wood pile
  • (2) "new" 8' long 2x4s: about $3 each from Home Depot
  • (2) 8' long pieces of decorative moulding: $7 each from Home Depot
  • (2 quarts) Varathane Stain + Poly in "Cabernet": $14 each from Home Depot
  • (1 quart) Varathane Stain + Poly in "Ebony": $14 each from Home Depot
  • (1 quart) wood finish: $5 from the Habitat for Humanity Restore
  • (1 can) flat black spray paint: $1 from Walmart
  • (2) metal shelf brackets: $4 each from Ikea
  • (10) stemware hangers: less than $2 each from a restaurant supply web site
  • (3) bar stools: about $30 each from Big Lots
  • plus sandpaper, L-brackets, Liquid Nails, etc.

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable!

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    4 Discussions


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    It only took about a day and a half to build. The finish took another week or so. However, since we only worked on the bar on weekends, overall it took about a month and a half.


    5 years ago

    Why did you underlay the front with ply? Must have been monstrously heavy to move. Could we see a photo of how the back looks? Great look!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Originally, I had planned to use just the cabinet doors and 2x2s to build the whole thing, with the two narrow doors on the ends and the three wider doors on the front. After the plan changed to make the bar bigger, it just seemed natural to clad the whole thing in plywood--and the five doors did not span the entire anticipated length.

    At the point where the bar was just the frame and plywood, it was light enough for me to move it easily by myself. The tops (bi-fold doors) are hollow core and don't weigh much. The real weight came from adding the maple cabinet doors. And, yes, it is now monstrously heavy to move.