Our DIY basement now has a dry bar! Here's how we did it...
Updated: Sep 14
Our unfinished basement had this 4 x 8 feet nook, and all I could picture there was a little kitchen area. It would have been super easy to relay water supply to that area, but to install drainage would have been a massive expense that we didn't budget for. Did that stop me? No way, Jose! I made it a dry bar.
I thought it would be fun to make this post a bit different from my previous posts. First up is a short video showing the sequence of events. Then I explain how we did it step by step. Lastly, you will find lists of all the tools and materials we used with the total cost of the project.
I began by installing 1/4 inch underlayment boards on top of the subfloor. They are kept in place by nailing them to the subfloor. If you have existing flooring, you can skip this step altogether. We needed this for the baseboards in this area to line up where the vinyl meets the carpeting.
The cabinets had a white melamine finish (the most affordable option). Although Behr Scuff Defense has a built-in primer, I decided to prime them with Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3. I also used a sanding block to buff off the melamine's gloss and give the paint more grip. I used a paintbrush and foam roller to apply both the primer and paint. The airless sprayer and I still aren't friends.
The paint colour is such a beautiful flat black, and I didn't want to spoil it with a sealing topcoat. Only time will tell how well it holds up, but so far so good.
Installing the cabinets was really easy. I cut a 4-inch strip of MDF that was placed between the wall and the first cabinet. I'm no millwork expert, I merely copied how my kitchen cabinets are installed, but it does make for a more polished look. After clamping the two cabinets together, I screwed them together from the inside. I used a stud-finder to determine the studs' exact position behind the drywall and secured the cabinets to the wall.
Because I decided to buy pre-assembled cabinets, the sizes best for this space were limited to 30-inch 0r 36-inch wide, each. Two 36-inch cabinets wouldn't leave enough room for a mini-fridge. I went with two 30-inch cabinets, leaving an opening a bit too big for the mini-fridge. We used some leftover MDF to build a 7-inch box the same height and depth as the cabinets to put on the mini-fridge's opposite side. It filled the gap up and also serves as a support for the countertop. It's an open box only big enough to store a serving tray, but useful nonetheless.
I installed the drawer pulls and door handles using a template made for this purpose. It made it super easy to know where to drill the screw holes without messing it up.
With the cabinets in place, the flooring could be installed. We had leftover luxury vinyl from Stephen's hobby room, and I used every last piece! I threw away an 11-inch offcut.
Finally, it was time to install the faux brick panels! Let me tell you, the walls in that nook might look straight, but they are very far from it. Cutting the panels to size gave me nightmares, and Stephen took over. Somehow he made it work, but there were a few gaps that were showing.
We nailed it to the wall right into the studs, after applying a few dabs of contractors glue to the back of the panels.
I decided to give them a German Schmear finish, and I think it was the right choice. I absolutely love how it turned out. I had never used this technique before and winged it all the way. I used drywall compound just because that's what was on hand.
For the countertop, I chose a butcher block. I did the same in the laundry room, and it's working great. The one in the laundry room is made of bamboo, but I could only find them in 5 foot lengths. I found only a few 8 foot long options and chose one made of Birchwood as that was the most affordable.
I sealed it with Varathane Triple Thick One Coat clear finish. It's a flat finish with no shine at all and being waterbased, it's effortless to work with and clean brushes afterwards. The first coat raised the woodgrain slightly, and I gave it a very light sanding (just passing over with a sanding block) before applying a second coat. It is now satin-smooth and feels very durable.
I built two floating shelves from pine. I also made the hidden support from wood, it required no special hardware. I'm not going to elaborate on this now. My next blog post will be an in-depth tutorial on building the floating shelves. I sealed them with the same product I used for the butcher block.
Stephen installed the two pendant lights since electrical work is his area of expertise in all our DIY projects.
Finally, finishing touches and styling. We furnished it with a mini-fridge, a microwave and a coffee maker. Coffee mugs, wine glasses and a couple of bowls completed the nook. All the comfort we wanted, right there!
Tools we used:
2-inch paintbrush and 4-inch foam roller
12-inch Compound saw aka chop saw
Circular saw (a table saw is a better option, but we don't have one)
Knob and pull drilling template
Building materials we used:
1/4 inch thick Sureply underlayment or hardboard - $30.80
Luxury vinyl flooring and underlayment (we used what was leftover from the hobby room) - $71.28
30 inch wide pre-assembled kitchen cabinets (two of them) - $584.00
Zisser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 waterbased primer -$15.97
Behr Ultra Scuff Defense in black (colour name: limousine leather) - $28.00
Cabinet hardware (6 in a champagne bronze finish) - $68.38
Two faux brick panels - $120.54
98-inch Birchwood butcher block - $372.00
Varathane Triple Thick One coat clear matt finish (waterbased) - $34.97
Wood for building the floating shelves (I will discuss this in detail in my next blog post) - $75.00
Two pendant lights - $378.00
The total for building materials comes to $1,778.94. This does not include tax. Please note that this is in Canadian dollar. If you are in the US, you can expect to pay 25 - 30% less. The mini-fridge, microwave and coffee maker were approximately an additional $500. All materials were sourced from The Home Depot.
This was definitely not the most budget-friendly project we had ever done. In fact, it was one of the few times we splurged a bit to make our lives more comfortable.
We will probably be finished with the entire basement in the next two weeks and then you will find us downstairs watching a movie while we make coffee and popcorn.
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